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May 18 - 31, 2019 |

Relentlessly local coverage of Southern Chandler and our neighboring communities

CUSD to consider new school, 2nd gifted academy BY KAYLA RUTLEDGE Staff Writer

The Chandler Unified School District administration is recommending a threetiered plan to the school board that includes resetting some elementary school boundaries, building a new elementary school and creating a second gifted academy. Disproportionate student distribution prompted the recommendation after several of the district’s elementary schools on the city’s east side were

approaching capacity. Haley, Patterson and Weinberg elementary schools are all situated along the Val Vista Corridor, an area south of Loop 202 that has recently seen large road expansion projects and new home developments and includes part of Gilbert. Enrollment rates have peaked and are expected to continue rising by approximately 1,000 students over the next eight years. Here is a look at the details.

Elementary #31

A new elementary school, currently dubbed Elementary #31, would accommodate the students, administration and staff currently located at Weinberg Elementary. If the recommendation is approved, the shift will take place before the 2020-21 school year begins. Funding could come from a potential $29.3 million bond election. On June 12, the board is scheduled to discuss the bond and whether to hold the election this year.

Of the projected total, $70 million would be set aside to purchase the land for an elementary school and potentially a high school that would not be built in the near future. It also would cover construction costs for both facilities. “The bond will be critical to do this,” said CUSD Chief Financial Officer Lana Berry. The election could also cover other district expenses, including; safety measures, technology, furniture See

BOUNDARIES on page 14

3 Chandler lawmakers drove suicide prevention bill passage BY PAUL MARYNIAK Executive Editor

Celebrating three decades of performances and other events in the heart of the city this year is the Chandler Center for the Arts. This majestic overhead view only begins to convey its importance to Chandler. (Chandler Center for the Arts)

In a rare display of bipartisanship led by three lawmakers representing parts of Chandler, Democrats and Republicans in the State Legislature unanimously passed a bill requiring suicide prevention training for all school personnel who deal with students in grades 6 through 12 - and Gov. Doug Ducey on May 8 made it a law. Responding to the anguish of parents who lost sons and daughters to suicide

– including 33 in Gilbert, Chandler, Mesa and Queen Creek and five others in neighboring communities since July 2017 – both chambers last week wasted little time in passing the bill. The bill was titled “The Mitch Warnock Act” by its chief champion, Ahwatukee state Sen Sean Bowie, in honor of the son of a Mountain Pointe High School teacher Lorie Adair’s 16-yearold son, who took his life when he was a

Center for the Arts celebrates 30 years BY COLLEEN SPARKS Managing Editor

Excitement is growing as the Chandler Center for the Arts prepares to mark its 30th anniversary later this year as a cultural and civic hub that grew out of an unusual partnership between a visionary mayor and forward-thinking school district leader. The official anniversary is Aug. 25 but stars will light up the stage and festivities will take place at the iconic center on North Arizona Avenue in bustling downtown throughout the 2019-2020 season. The arts center serves more than 210,000 people a year with an extensive calendar of diverse performances and concerts featuring nationally and internationally known artists and entertainers. It also provides outreach programs including summer musical theater camps for youths and provides rotating exhibitions in its two gallery spaces, The Gallery at CCA and the Vision Gallery. It originated in the mid-1980s, when Chandler Mayor Jerry Brooks wanted to attract high-tech companies to the city as an element of his economic development plan.

Brooks and city leaders wanted Intel Corporation to come to Chandler to expand its operations. The mayor knew Chandler could lure Intel and other companies if it could demonstrate its high-quality of life, including excellent schools, sunny weather and arts and entertainment offerings. While Brooks was deliberating on how to compete against other cities, the Chandler Unified School District (CUSD) was looking for an auditorium for its high school to use. That sparked an idea with Brooks. Then Chandler school district Superintendent Ted Perry was “futuristic” and helped the district and city agree on a special partnership, recalled Chandler Unified spokesperson Terry Locke. Michelle Mac Lennan, general manager of the Chandler Center for the Arts, praised Brooks for his work in getting the center opened. “He was always a champion for arts and culture,” Mac Lennan said. “He just worked in partnership with the Chandler Unified School District on the building.” The arts center was built for $10 million, with the City of Chandler and Chandler Unified School District each See

CENTER on page 12


SUICIDE on page 4

A new beginning Getting a start on their post-high school life — and starting the season of high school graduations in Chandler are Seton Catholic Preparatory graduates Carly Anderson, left, and Miranda Piper, who picked up their hard-earned diplomas with their classmates earlier this week. For a look at Seton's grads and some of the other schools' newly grads-to-be, see pages 18-20. (Kimberly Carrillo/Staff Photographer)

F E AT U R E STO R I E S City raises array of fees . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . COMMUNITY . . . . . . . Page 10 The eyes have it at Ocotillo salon . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . BUSINESS . . . . . . . . . Page 24 Chandler track reigns supreme . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . SPORTS . . . . . . . . . . Page 39 Chandler Elks Lodge "rolls" for charity . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . NEIGHBORS . . . . . . . . Page 44 Desert exhibit debuts at gallery . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ARTS . . . . . . . . . . . . Page 53 Yummy Ocotillo restaurant a homage to a saint. . . . . . . . . . . . EAT . . . . . . . . . . . . . Page 68

More Community . . . . .01-27 Business . . . . . . . 28-34 Sports . . . . . . . . . .39-41 Opinion. . . . . . . . 42-45 Neighbors. . . . . . 46-54 Arts . . . . . . . . . . . 55-60 Faith. . . . . . . . . . . .61-63 Directory . . . . . . 64-65 Classifieds. . . . . . . . . .66 Where to Eat . . . 68-70


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Mother anguished over hospital dropping her newborn man being,” said Rodgers. “I feel like she was treated like some stuffed animal that they just tossed around.” After 12 days spent in the newborn intensive care unit (NICU), Morgan was sent home after reaching her 4-pound goal weight – with a $50,000 bill for her stay. Claiming she no longer trusted Chandler Regional, Rodgers took Morgan to Banner Health Center in Maricopa for her two-month check-up. Banner doctors discovered in Morgan’s file that she had had a head ultrasound five days after her birth to track a brain hemorrhage on the left side of her brain. The mother said she was never informed of the bleed or the ultrasound. “No one ever notified me about the brain bleed. No matter how small it is, even if you think it’s not that big of a deal I still should know. I was there every single day and called every night, and they didn’t bother to tell me any of those times about that or the ultrasound.” The discovery of the ultrasound prompted Rodgers’ to post the video of Morgan being dropped on Facebook. It was meant to “warn other mothers about delivering” at Chandler Regional and “let them see for themselves how they handle the newborns,” Rodgers said. “How many other babies have been dropped?” Rogers wondered. “Babies could be having problems now and their parents don’t know why and its because it wasn’t reported or they were never told. I want the hospital to take responsibility.” The post had more than 40,000 shares in less than 24 hours, and Rodgers is looking for a lawyer.


The video of Monique Rodgers’ twins’ birth at Dignity Health Chandler Regional Medical Center was supposed to serve as a special memory for her to keep forever. Instead it is filled with shots of one baby being dropped on her head – and is too painful for the mother to watch. Two and a half months since the accident, baby Morgan is now shaking frequently and letting out small cries followed by larger screams when picked up, said Rodgers, who will be taking the infant to a neurologist in August. “When your baby is dropped on its head you don’t know if there is going to be a lasting effect that I won’t be able to fix. As a mom you’re supposed to be your child’s protector and to not be able to fix it, if there is something wrong with her, is just heartbreaking. I’m devastated,” said Rodgers. Twins Morgan and Madison were born just one minute apart on Feb. 14. Though Morgan was the smaller newborn at 3 pounds, 4 ounces, the room was filled with a healthy cry, joy and no concerns about her overall health despite her weight. Then, a nurse slid a blanket out from under her and Morgan slipped from the doctor’s hands, landing head-first onto the table below. The team’s doctor shared a concerned look with the nurse, and proceeded wiping down the baby. “As her mother I’m supposed to be there for her to protect her and I couldn’t do that laying on the table when I had no idea what happened,” Rodger said, crying.

These frames from a video show Morgan Rodgers accidentally dropped onto a delivery table when she and her twin sister were born at Dignity Health Chandler Regional Medical Center on valentine’s Day. (Monique Rodgers/ Special to the SanTan Sun News)

“Her being dropped was totally avoidable,

band had any idea the baby had slipped

I just don’t understand what the rush was and why they were so rough and careless with her.” Chandler Regional declined comment, citing patient privacy laws. “The medical team at Dignity Health Chandler Regional Medical Center takes this matter extremely seriously and is working to conduct a comprehensive review,” a spokeswoman said in a brief written statement. Rodgers’ said neither she nor her hus-

until they watched the video later, noting on Morgan’s birth record the document accounts for a “near drop” or “almost drop” of the baby – not a total drop. Though her husband was filming and caught the fall on camera, he was looking at his other daughter being born when the accident happened. “There was no reason to rush like that with my daughter. There was no reason for them to handle her the way that they did like she was a toy, like she was not a hu-

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senior at Corona del Sol High three years ago. ‘Suicide has become a significant public health issue in the United States,” said Ducey. “We’ve already lost too many young people to suicide and I’m glad that Arizona is taking action by training the first responders in our schools – our guidance counselors, teachers and administrators – on how to identify the warning signs that lead to suicide.” Mitch’s parents expressed their gratitude, as did a Gilbert couple, Ben and Denise Denslow, who founded the suicide nonprofit The Jem Foundation after their 16-year-old son took his life several years ago - and Bowie too. “As teachers, we appreciate that our public schools are the hub of our Includes a community and that all of us have a role 16-Point to play in helping our children,” said Inspection Timothy Warnock and Lorie Adair. “We believe this bipartisan initiative will save LIMITED TIME ONLY countless lives from an often impulsive RESIDENTIAL ONLY REG. $99 act of desperation. We are grateful to the state of Arizona.” “We thank Governor Ducey for INSTANT ** rejecting the stigma associated with OR REBATES mental illness and suicide, and for UP TO FOR 48 MONTHS† acknowledging the enormity of this crisis in the State of Arizona, particularly among our youth,” said the Denslows. “SB 1468 recognizes the importance of early intervention and the important G role teachers have in the lives of our AIR CONDITIONING & HEATING students by ensuring they can identify a potential crisis and refer students to the appropriate help.” “I want to thank Gov. 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calling them “champions on this issue and integral to the bill passing both chambers.” In the long run, though, the critical impetus behind the bill’s success were the parents of teens lost to suicide. Their anguish reduced several Democratic and Republican members of at least two committees to tears earlier this year as they recounted how teachers or administrators might have been able to help their children had they been trained in identifying suicidal tendencies and what to do about it. Katey McPherson, a Chandler educator who has been one of the state’s most outspoken proponents of suicide prevention training, hailed the passage of the bill. “After years of parents who have lost children to suicide quietly and forcefully waging a fight to provide suicide prevention services and mental health resources in schools and communities, Arizona showed up for kids,” she said. “Hopefully this is just the first step in bipartisan support of youth mental health and wellness as we fight this public health crisis.” McPherson was indirectly referring to another looming issue in the teen suicide crisis – adequate counseling staff at schools. See

SUICIDE on page 8

SANTAN SUN NEWS | MAY 18 - 31, 2019






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SANTAN SUN NEWS | MAY 18 - 31, 2019

School district outsources substitute teacher hiring BY KAYLA RUTLEDGE Staff Writer

Chandler Unified School District unanimously approved a $3.6-million contract with an outside company to handle hiring of substitute teachers. The transition to Educational Services, Inc., (ESI) — expected to be completed before the 2020 academic year begins — is necessary due to long processing times for potential substitutes at peak hiring times, according to Sandy Cooper, the CUSD assistant superintendent for human resources. The inability to get substitutes processed quickly has led to potential new-hires accepting positions in other districts, leaving some CUSD classes without replacements for absent teachers. “I don’t have any reason to think they are not choosing CUSD, I’m just competitive enough to know if they

want to substitute in Chandler or Gilbert because they live in this area and they apply in both places and Gilbert processes them faster than we do, then they’re likely to accept the job over there,” said Cooper. Just before school starts, the district conducts interviews, does background checks and processes 900 fulltime employees in addition to countless substitutes that apply for positions. “[The partnership] is going to allow us to focus on the more permanent employees, and then this company can focus and specialize just on the substitutes,” Cooper said of the ESI contract. “A lot of our surrounding districts have also switched to this model, and one of the things we heard about this company is that the transition is easy and smooth,” she added. The district’s current and new substitutes can expect their checks

to come from ESI, an expedited and “Chandlerized” hiring and background check process, and a generous shift in benefits. Cooper said benefits are currently granted to substitutes who work 1,560 hours in one year, but Educational Services Inc. requires just 900 hours to qualify for benefits. In exchange for 10 percent of the total substitute teacher payroll, totaling $287,199 per year, ESI provides recruitment, background checks, orientation seminars and professional development among an extensive list of other services. Cooper said though the department has carefully looked over ESI’s services to ensure a good fit for the district, the transition couldn’t have come soon enough. Due to lack of substitutes, CUSD has had to split students among various other teachers when their teacher is absent on an increasing-basis over the last

two years. “It’s not what we want for the kids and it’s not what we want for the teachers,” said Cooper. “Another way that we deal with that at the junior high and high school level is that the teacher actually takes the class during their prep period,” she said. “So, kids are served well with another very qualified teacher but that teacher then loses their prep time and then they have to spend their evening prepping.” She added many of the current substitutes work for other districts that utilize ESI’s services so the new model is not foreign to them. She is expecting a comfortable transition. “We have a number of meetings scheduled, and we are going to do a personal orientation where they’ll understand why we’re doing this what value it is for them and for the district just to help ensure the process is easy and smooth for them,” Cooper said.

CUSD equity board may expand to include more diversity BY KAYLA RUTLEDGE Staff Writer

Additional spots on the Equity Advisory Board for Chandler Unified School District may become available next year, after some board members felt there

was not enough diversity on the current panel. “It could be beneficial to add more parents or community members to our board. We want to make sure this board has diverse thinkers, too. We’re a very diverse board but I think we’re a little

like-minded too so we want to make sure a wide spectrum of opinions are available on this board,” said Sandy Cooper, the assistant superintendent for human resources. The board was created this year to assess the current equity needs in CUSD schools, and advise the superintendent when on equity recommendations to the school board. This year, the board’s primary focus has been defining equity and what it means to highlight it in an educational setting. “Our definitions of equity are going to vary because of where we’re from. We’ve all had different upbringings, different family lives, different opportunities, so we’re all going to view what equity is and is not differently,” said Gary Fujino, assistant principal at Basha High School. “We classify people that were around initially by how they look and that’s so superficial, but the opposite side of that is we want to have somebody as a role model that looks like us to inspire us. So, I think we’re caught in a paradox there. I think we need to be looking not at groups of people but individuals on a case-bycase basis,” added Fujino. Many conversations surrounding equity have dealt heavily with race. Yet the board dives into equity on all levels including race, gender identity, sexual orientation, physical disabilities, mental disabilities and religion. Teachers have undergone equity training this year to see children’s needs individually, and practice equity by first building individual relationships with students. In doing so, Cooper said, teachers are apt to understand how the cultural, socioeconomic and identity-based needs of students can affect their learning style and capacity. “I think what we’ve done this year is say, ‘maybe all of our best intentions to connect with kids personally has fallen a little bit short because we didn’t have the knowledge and the lens and the understanding. We didn’t know what we

didn’t know,’” said Cooper. Though a concrete definition of equity is still in the works, the council has decided the ultimate goal is to see children as individuals to better address their educational and emotional needs in the classroom in order to give each child as many opportunities to success as possible. “We have the same goal but we have different paths to get there,” said Angi Stamm, a parent and community member who is not on the board but attended the meeting. Stamm is one of many parents who have spoken against the “deep equity” ltraining teachers undertook this year. At a board meeting on May 9, parent Angie Russo spoke against the use of deep equity training to the school board. “Coming from California I have seen first-hand the rotten fruit this type of program produces. [It is] destroying our kids, our communities, our state and collectively our country. For starters it promotes failed ideologies such as socialism…top off that socialism with systematic racism hidden under the term ‘intersectionality’ and you have the perfect combination to create the hell I’ve just escaped from,” said Russo. “It made everyone equal alright. Equally victimized, equally uneducated, and equally set up for failure on every level. Yup, that’s deep equity, so deep that it comes straight out of the bowels of hell,” Russo added. Raxha Bhagdey, an advisory board member and science teacher at Hamilton High School, countered, “We’re not out to get anybody, we’re out to help everybody.” Bhagdev said the purpose of deep equity is to give each student an educational experience catered to their needs. The board does not have any summer meetings scheduled yet, but invited the public to attend the future Community Council meetings in which equity can be in a respectful way.

SANTAN SUN NEWS | MAY 18 - 31, 2019




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SANTAN SUN NEWS | MAY 18 - 31, 2019

During a sobering presentation on the grim aftermath of drunken driving at an assembly at Chandler High School recently, city police showed what happens to vehicles after an accident, left, while Cari Fonseca spoke about the traumatic brain damage her son Brandon Gray sustained in 2001. (Pablo Robles/Staff Photographer)

Chandler High gives students grim drunk driving lesson BY KAYLA RUTLEDGE Staff Writer

Hoping to prevent Chandler High School students from drunk driving this graduation season, the school hosted its annual “Prom Promise” car crash reenactment to show the dangers of being under the influence when behind the wheel. “We do this because we genuinely love you, and we don’t want you or someone else to make a decision that could cost a life. Don’t turn one of the best times you’ve had so far into the worst memory of your life,” said Principal Larry Rother. In 2017, alcohol, prescription medication and illegal drugs played a role in 43 percent of traffic deaths in Arizona, highlighting the importance of the reenactment to seniors gearing up to celebrate graduation. Drama students, accompanied by Chandler Fire and Police Departments, reenacted the first hour after a drunkdriving accident takes place. Actors’ screams accompanied by sirens replicated the intensity of a car crash. The school’s seniors were able to hear everything from radio communications to the analysis of which patients to treat first, and which were not treated at all because it was too late. Students were reminded parents are more likely to forgive their child for irresponsible behavior followed by a phone call home asking for help, than getting a phone call from the hospital telling them their child died in a drunk driving accident. “We’re not going to be there when you have to make decisions about drinking when it’s in your face, so we want to show you what the repercussions are when you make the wrong decision,” said Rother.


from page 4

Dozens of teens across the Valley last winter and early this year appeared before school boards imploring them to ask the Legislature to provide funding for more counselors and social workers. Gov Doug Ducey has allocated $12 million over the next two years for additional counselors.

“And I don’t even want as your watching this to think, ‘oh what if that was me?’ What I want you to think about is what if that was your friends? Think about your parents, or if you hurt someone else that is undeserving of the repercussions of your actions,” he added. The presentation served as a chilling reminder that, “this is not ‘oh I’m so

“We’re not here to scare you, but we do need to keep you safe and letting you see what happens when you’re not making the right choices like texting and driving or drinking and driving is part of that,” said Keipert. Students sat silently in the bleachers above, as a coroner took the deceased student from the scene. They observed

embarrassed I made a mistake.’ This is ‘I just killed someone,’” said Battalion Chief Jeff West. “Once someone dies, a crash like this is no longer a DUI investigation. This is a homicide investigation,” he added. School Resource Officer at Chandler High Chris Keipert added drunk driving can be just as deadly as distracted driving. He highlighted every eight hours someone dies because of distracted driving.

a field sobriety test before the drunk driver was arrested, and they witnessed bloodied, injured students be transported to a hospital via ambulance. To solidify the importance of the assembly’s message, Cari Fonseca made a presentation about her late son, who was drunk driving in 2001 and ran his friend’s car into oncoming traffic at 50 miles an hour. Her son, Brandon, survived the crash, but was severely disabled for the rest of

his life. His best friend, position in the passenger’s seat next to him, died. “Brandon passed 12 weeks ago, but really he died twice. The first time was when that accident happened. He wasn’t who he was anymore, his life was over,” said Fonseca. A video of Fonseca’s son displayed the bright, athletic, humorous person he was before the crash that made him unable to communicate with others and move freely. “The average sentence for manslaughter is about 10 years, but Brandon was in his own prison since the crash. His disabilities limited him in unimaginable ways and left him stuck inside his own head. And the charge would’ve been against his best friend. Someone he would have never hurt intentionally,” said Fonseca. Students received a Prom Promise flyer after the assembly, distributed with the intent of starting a conversation about drinking and driving between parents and their children. Senior Joshua Weisman said he hopes his peers take Prom Promise seriously as what he calls the “season for partying,” approaches. “They’ve been drilling this stuff into us since we were kids, but now the time has come that we need to start making decisions that can change lives forever,” he said. The promise serves as a safe method for students to call their parents to pick them up if they have been drinking rather than attempting to drive home. “Use this promise seriously. It is not a joke. I would’ve much rather given Brandon a free pass that day and gotten a phone call from him rather than the police telling me he’s fighting for his life when I could’ve given him and his friends a ride.” said Fonseca.

“When fully implemented, the additional investment in school counselors is estimated to reduce Arizona’s counselor to student caseload by 17 percent,” he said in a release. While grateful for the money, school officials also say it’s not nearly enough for districts where counselors have as many as 1,200 students to respond to. Further, many students in appearances

before East Valley school boards this year talked of how counselors often are burdened with numerous clerical and administrative duties that make it impossible for them to have enough time to meet with troubled students who want to talk to them – or with students who know of classmates who are struggling and may be a threat to themselves or others. Bowie indirectly noted that looming

issue, calling passage of the training bill “a first step, but a significant one, in addressing the teen suicide crisis we have in the East Valley.” “I look forward to continue working with parents and schools in future years to further address this issue and get our teachers and educators the training and tools they need to help spot the warning signs before it’s too late,” he said.

Chandler High seniors came together for an assembly earlier this month that focused on the tragic consequences that can result from a drunk driving accident and/or arrest. (Pablo Robles/Staff Photographer)

SANTAN SUN NEWS | MAY 18 - 31, 2019

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SANTAN SUN NEWS | MAY 18 - 31, 2019

Chandler hikes fees for a range of services, facilities BY KAYLA RUTLEDGE Staff Writer

The Chandler City Council on May 9 approved by a 6-1 vote an updated fee schedule set to be implemented July 1. The departments with proposed fee updates included Cultural Development, Community Services, Development Services and Public Works and Utilities. Councilman Mark Stewart case the lone vote against the new fee schedule. The fees will go to the city’s general fund, and are set with the intention of having people who use specific services pay for them rather than offering them at taxpayer expense. “Each year departments review their fees to ensure if any updates are necessary,” said Management Services Director Dawn Lang.

Some fee changes derived from underor over-utilization of city resources. Others surfaced after tracking fee trends for similar services across the Valley. Rent has been added for the Agave, Saguaro and Living rooms at the Chandler Museum as well as the historic courtyard. Prices will range from $40 to $125 per hour for residents, between $54 to $169 for non-residents, and $68 to $188 for commercial entities. The option for families to add dependents on monthly and annual recreation fitness passes was also approved. Currently, families are only allowed two adults and four children on family recreation passes. The adjustments allow for families to add children to their city account with the city at $50 per resident per year, or $60 per non-resident per year. Business owners can expect additional

Preparing for pool safety Chandler officials earlier this month conducted a pool safety class at the Hamilton Aquatic Center. 1) Saya Miele, 4, showed you're never too young to learn CPR techniques. 2) Chandler Firefighter Rob Guayante demonstrated mouth-to-mouth resuscitation. 3) Firefighters Sara Ferguson and Guayante welcomed Jasmin Martinez, 8, left, and Addi Hewitt, 7, to the life-saving lessons.

All photographs by Pablo Robles/Staff Photographer



fees for city review of development plans. Derek Horne, director of Development Services, said the administrative review fee is the result of an increased demand for staff to review development plans, which takes roughly five hours per plan to inspect. “Currently we charge no fee for this service but it is becoming a substantial part of our workload so far this year at about 15 to 20 percent,” said Horne. “We are projecting to do about 60 of these reviews this calendar year.” The fee applies to previously approved developments that are adding both large and small additions. The fee will run at $275 for new construction and building additions that are greater than 10 percent of the building area, and $115 for minor changes. More than one change can be submitted


on the same plan for a set rate. Residents can also expect new fees for existing services, such as trash container replacement with a refurbished can for $30, and $26 to reschedule container repair or replacement when their container is not set on the curb during an appointment. Though the fee is new, residents may now call and request a replacement container for reasons other than damage. In the past the city provided new containers at a cost of $60. Lang said the proposed fees were available online for more than 60 days because, “the city of Chandler is very transparent in ensuring the public can easily find any fee the city charges.” Additional fees on the schedule approved at the meeting can be found on the city’s main webpage.

SANTAN SUN NEWS | MAY 18 - 31, 2019


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paying for half of the construction cost. The city and school district own the center and both pay for general maintenance and capital costs. Maricopa County Justice of the Peace Jay Tibshraeny was on the Chandler City Council when the agreement between CUSD and city was approved for the arts center. He later was elected and served as mayor in Chandler for many years. “I always felt that the Center for the Arts was a key component for any kind of successful downtown and plus giving the multi-use for the school district just really made this a win-win for everybody,” Tibshraeny said. “The center has just been a spectacular addition to the school district and the city. We’ve used it through the years as a venue for entertainment and joint use with the school district but we’ve also used it to help attract corporate citizens and companies to our community.” The partnership for the arts center also prompted the city to form other beneficial partnerships with the Chandler school district and Tempe Union High

Workers build a new digital menu monitor for the concession counter at Chandler Center for the Arts. (Chandler Center for the Arts)

said. “Before all the expansion and the development downtown it was really the place to be. Really the partnership went so well that both the city and school district looked for additional opportunities to partner.” Some other school district-city partnerships include the city-run library

Michelle Mac Lennan, Chandler Center for the Arts general manager, says the facility will mark its 30th anniversary with special events all year. (Kimberly Carrillo/Staff Photographer)

School District, he said. All the schools in the Chandler district use the Chandler Center for the Arts for performances, rehearsals and other events, generally Mondays through Thursdays and during the daytime on Fridays while the city uses it primarily for performances on weekends. However, the city does open up the arts center to the school district for its science fair and other school activities on weekends, as needed, Locke said. “In some ways it’s been the hub of the community for the last 30 years,” he

at Hamilton High School and city-run pool affiliated with Basha High School. Students benefit from the city library at Basha High as it is open evenings and weekends. The partnerships allow the city and school district and consequently taxpayers in both entities to save money, Locke said. He said Perry “was a very progressive guy” in his role as superintendent in the district. “He really was very futuristic and could see the value of these kind of partnerships,” Locke said. “The school board at the time and Ted Perry deserve

a lot of credit…the school board at the time had a lot of emphasis on the arts.” The late Phoenix architect Wendell Ernst Rossman headed the design team for the Chandler Center for the Arts. Rossman’s experimental work in concrete creations also included Saint Maria Goretti Church in Scottsdale and Manzanita Hall at Arizona State University in Tempe, which are local landmarks. He developed the Turntable Division Auditorium for the Chandler Center for the Arts, a design solution which has become commonly used around the world. With this design, Chandler Center for the Arts allows for two rear sections of the main auditorium to rotate 180-degrees to add two more intimate performance spaces that may be used simultaneously: the 346-seat Hal Bogle Theatre and the 250-seat Recital Hall. For large-scale shows, the “pods” open to create the full 1,508-seat theater at the center. “It’s been very well maintained,” Mac Lennan said. “The city’s done an excellent job; not only on the maintenance side, (but) some significant investment in patron amenities in keeping the center not only beautiful but state-of-the-art. We have a brand new sound system.” The Chandler Center for the Arts has an AiRAY loudspeaker system from COD Audio. “The complete acoustic upgrade means Chandler Center for the Arts guests are guaranteed an intimate, stateof-the-art theatre experience,” center spokeswoman Cynde Cerf said, adding: “CODA’s newly patented acoustic technology ensures that every seat, regardless of location will experience the same clarity of sound and volume. CODA’s technology eliminates 90 percent of the sound distortion that comes with normal sound systems, ensuring the highest possible auditory experience for all performances.

SANTAN SUN NEWS | MAY 18 - 31, 2019

“From intimate solo artists to largescale orchestras and bands, the goal is to bring artists closer to patrons by providing an impactful, complete and cutting-edge audio experience that never distracts from the performance.” Audience members got to experience the new AiRAY sound system when it made its official debut in September of 2018 when Grammy Award winner Macy Gray performed on the Main Stage there during the center’s season opening weekend. Chandler Center for the Arts has seen many milestones over its three decades. The groundbreaking for the center took place in 1988 and the Chandler Cultural Foundation, which is the nonprofit organization that serves as the programming and fundraising group for the arts center, formed in 1989. People got to watch the first free summer concert series at the arts center in 1996 and the first annual mariachi festival came to Chandler Center for the Arts a few years later. The late singer and actress Rosemary Clooney performed at Chandler Center for the Arts in 2000 and singer/ songwriter/musician Chaka Khan took the stage there in 2001. Mac Lennan, who is in her 20th year working at the Chandler Center for the Arts, said it was thrilling to meet Clooney and watch Chaka Khan perform. “She was amazing,” she said of Clooney. “What a voice. She was lovely. We’ve had a lot of legends over the years.” Of Chaka Khan, Mac Lennan said “I was so excited because I’m an R&B fan.” The 2019-2020 season will also be “star-studded,” she said. Singer-songwriter Melissa Etheridge will perform at the Chandler Center for the Arts on July 13. In honor of the three-decades in operation, the arts center will throw it back to the 1980s with Strangelove – The Depeche Mode Experience, which will perform with special guest This Charming Band on August 24 at the arts center. Strangelove – The Depeche Mode Experience performs songs from New Wave-goth band Depeche Mode while This Charming Band plays songs The Smiths created, as well as The Smiths’ lead singer, Morrissey in his solo work. Then on Aug. 25, Hollywood legend John Cusack will visit the Chandler Center for the Arts. The 1989 classic movie he starred in, “Say Anything,” will be screened and then Cusack will talk afterwards about his 40-year career and share behind-thescenes details about his breakout role as Lloyd Dobler in the movie. A gala for the 25th anniversary will continue the festivities on Oct. 26 at the arts center. Guests will dine and see a show at the celebration. Information:

SRP, Intel lead ranks of arts center's corporate helpers BY COLLEEN SPARKS Managing Editor

Intel and SRP have been longtime supporters of Chandler Center for the Arts, among other businesses. “We have been involved since the very beginning,” Renee Levin, community affairs manager at Intel said. “Intel made a charitable contribution to the CCA for their capital campaign.” Intel generally donates about $15,000

a year to the arts center and used to have a talent show for its employees at the center for 25 years. Levin is also on the board of directors for the Chandler Cultural Foundation. “Intel’s been in Chandler for about 40 years,” she said. “We just want to be a good neighbor and a good corporate citizen. Chandler Center for the Arts is a very unique partnership; they really focus on providing programs for kids as well as for adults through their outreach and we

just really feel like it’s a great partnership between the city, the school district and we just want to be supportive of that.” SRP is also proud to sponsor the arts center. “As far as our support of the arts, it’s really mostly to provide that access to the community; not only our customers but our employees to the arts,” said Andrea Moreno, SRP manager of community outreach. “We think it’s pretty important to support tçhe arts across the Valley; with

the Chandler Cultural Foundation this really is East Valley and we figure that we have a lot of service territory in the East Valley,” Moreno added. “It’s important for us to have some of those cultural opportunities for customers and their families.” Moreno added “the facility is very impressive.” “They’ve done a really good job of offering ethically diverse and really sophisticated family programming,” she said.

SANTAN SUN NEWS | MAY 18 - 31, 2019



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and equipment, transportation, noninstructional renovations and upgrades and energy management. Part of the recommendation for the new school allows current Weinberg students to be highly involved in developing its culture. Students will lend a hand in deciding on school colors and mascot, and will also help create the school song.

Gifted academy

CUSD currently has 4,000 total students who are eligible for gifted learning services but due to limited resources and space, only 1,000 are enrolled in them. Because of the vacancy at Weinberg Elementary after the new school is built, the district will have a facility primed for a new gifted academy, called Weinberg Gifted Academy. The academy will serve students on the district’s east side who are currently utilizing satellite gifted learning sites throughout CUSD. The addition of the academy will let the district offer a choice through open enrollment of attending either site. CUSD will also provide dual busing through depot sites for both academies if needed. The recommendation also allows the grandfathering of 2018-19 and 2019-20

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The Chandler Unified School District's administration presented the governing board with several boundary changes options affecting three schools that serve both Gilbert and Chandler students on the eastern end of the district. (Kimberly Carrillo/Staff Photographer)

enrollments at gifted satellites through the 2024-25 school year, so current students could pick between the two academies. “If both gifted academies are at capacity, an optional gifted satellite may be considered at an elementary site that has space to accommodate those students,” said Frank Narducci, the assistant superintendent for elementary instruction. Families and stake holders residing in


communities that could be impacted if the recommendation is approved can expect to receive a formal letter in the coming week. The board will vote on this recommendation May 22.

Boundary changes

A team of administrators and demographers recommended three school boundary shifts to ease overcrowding.



Young ladies showed off wardrobes from plastic bags and other recyclables at the city's fourth annual Trashion Fashion Show earlier this month. 1) Brooke Silvey used plastic bags and bed sheets; 2) Sierra Powers used bags as did 3) Nicolette Tate. 4) Isabel Ghosh used gift bags and related wrap materials while 5) Terrilyn Perry won first prize among adults for using old tree bark and other materials. 6) Annabelle Rothert won the 14-17-year-old division; 7) Kami Kizior turned newspaper and bags into a dress. 8) Jacquelynn, left, and Danielle Fulton also shined. All photographs by Kimberly Carrillo Staff Photographer





SANTAN SUN NEWS | MAY 18 - 31, 2019

Students and families residing in the one-mile block surrounded by Queen Creek, Ocotillo, Gilbert and Cooper roads would be repositioned from Haley Elementary to Ryan Elementary. The second shift redirects the eastern half mile of vacant land bordered by Ocotillo, Lindsay and Chandler Heights roads as well as Val Vista Drive from Ryan Elementary to Weinberg. Students in a square mile bordered by Hunt, Riggs, Recker and Higley Roads will be moved from Patterson Elementary to Riggs Elementary. If approved by the board at its May 22 meeting, the boundary changes will go into effect in 2020-2021. Currently enrolled students and students enrolled in the 2019-20 school year will have the option to be grandfathered into Haley Elementary or Patterson Elementary through the 202526 school year. Students new to the area will be enrolled at their boundary school, unless choice school options are utilized. If capacity allows, open enrollment will continue to be an option. Narducci added that many parents have expressed concerns the shift is fastapproaching, but he offered a reassurance to them. “We have never created boundaries and just created no options for families that wanted to continue their enrollments at the schools where the current boundaries are,” he said.


SANTAN SUN NEWS | MAY 18 - 31, 2019

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SANTAN SUN NEWS | MAY 18 - 31, 2019

Science’s ‘cool’ factor inspires Chandler ASU grad COURTESY OF ARIZONA STATE UNIVERSITY

Brandon Favre’s inspiration to study genetic engineering started after he modified bacteria to make it glow under a black light during his advanced high school biology class. Now, the Chandler grad says he realizes the potential implications of this experiment include fighting diseases, eradicating hunger and reversing climate change — all things that could directly impact his family both in Arizona and India. But, also, science just seemed “cool” to Favre, who earned his master’s degree recently from Arizona State University. “Admittedly, I’d say a solid 20 percent of my motivation for going into biotechnology was to make stuff glow,” Favre said. “I never quite forgot how cool a lot of what I studied was from a purely childish perspective.” Drawing on his experience with science’s “cool” factor, Favre, graduating with a Master of Science in molecular and cellular biology from the School of Life Sciences, continues to find ways to inspire others by making science education available to a wide range of audiences. His favorite means of communication is the Phoenix Comic Fest, during which he explained science to an auditorium of more than 100 people by describing different types of bacteria as if they were comic book characters. “So many people were so engaged that the panel had to end before all of the questions in the audience could be

Chandler resident Brandon Favre earned a master's degree from Arizona State University. (Courtesy of ASU)

answered,” Favre said. “It was an amazing feeling to get so many people engaged in the STEM fields, and it changed my perspective on how society views STEM.” Why did you choose Arizona State University? ASU’s mission of inclusion and advancing research of public value was probably the biggest reason I chose ASU. There are plenty of prestigious universities

out there that have admission rates in the single digits and spend their research dollars getting way too deep in the weeds, but I saw this approach to higher education to be completely broken. Problems like disease and poverty still cause immense suffering around the world, our climate continues to deteriorate and fewer and fewer people are able to afford an education. If the secret to saving the world was admitting only a handful of students and limiting a school’s research output to discoveries of insignificant value to the general public, these problems wouldn’t continue to exist. ASU’s willingness to include those who might not have had a chance to pursue higher education fosters a phenomenally creative, inclusive and positive community that would be hard to find elsewhere. ASU gives students the tools they need to reach their fullest potential, and because I wanted to be in a community of these innovators, creators and dreamers. What’s the best piece of advice you’d give to those still in school? Take care of your mental health. Stress is an unavoidable part of both undergraduate and graduate studies, but it’s important to manage your stress in a healthy way. Make sure to hold on to, or rediscover, the interests and passions you had before you started school. There’s more to you than your major. There are tons of studies out there

that demonstrate how good being in nature can be for your mental health, and getting out of the Valley of the Sun to see the monumental wonders that litter this state can really bring a new, healthier perspective on life — some of my best ideas to problems that were stressing me out came when I was breathing the fresh, cool mountain air in Pinetop and Flagstaff. What are your plans after graduation? I plan to stick around at ASU to get a graduate certificate in scientific teaching in higher education. I feel like many professors, despite clearly and deeply caring about their students’ success and happiness, are underprepared to be in a teaching role. What are you most proud of? I joined the SOLS E-Board and worked on improving the mental health resources available to the school’s graduate students. The E-Board designed programs to help students de-stress, like monthly mental health seminars and biweekly support groups, and we started getting some attention at the college and university-wide levels. The SOLS E-Board’s mental health improvement proposal was circulated among the heads of different departments, schools and colleges at ASU, and it started a very necessary conversation about the mental health of graduate students.

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SANTAN SUN NEWS | MAY 18 - 31, 2019

Ruth Chavez*

Da Naya Fuller*

Cassandra Smith*

Jonathan Dwlyoprio

Brooke Betsule

Waleed Tariq*

Brielle Raymond

Constantine Pyle

Koen Symalla

Aidan Powers

Brian Yu

Katie Pascavis

Kenadie Cooper

Emily Wright

Aarjay Pandya

Christian Walstad

* Credit: LifeTouch

Marcus Behling

Grant Williams

Tyler Christensen

Chris York

Theodore Ruth

Jerry Sun

Abel Sarabia

It’s graduation time in CUSD high schools BY KAYLA RUTLEDGE Staff Writer

Thousands of Chandler high school seniors will be venturing off to a new beginning this month as they pick up their diplomas and prepare for higher education, jobs or the military. Here’s a roundup on Chandler Unified School District ceremonies.and some of the students who will be making them special. CHANDLER HIGH SCHOOL Graduation: Austin Field, May 29 at 8 p.m. Cassandra Smith Valedictorian 4.89 GPA Extracurricular Activities: Spanish Honor Society (Vice President and Treasurer), National Honor Society (Treasurer), Red Cross Club (Secretary), Link Crew, Basketball (JV team captain) Post-Secondary Plans: Cassandra will attend The University of Arizona for Molecular and Cellular Biology. She hopes to attend medical school and become a family physician. Waleed Tariq Salutatorian 4.86 GPA Extracurricular Activities: National Honors Society (President), Speech and Debate (Vice President), Academic Decathlon, Tennis, American Red Cross Association (Treasurer), Students Supporting Brain Tumor Research Post-Secondary Plans: Waleed will attend Arizona State University for Biomedical Engineering. He hopes to attend medical school and become a cardiothoracic surgeon.

Ruth Chavez Ruth has served in a leadership role on Student Council all four years at Chandler and is currently 12th grade Student Body President. She is a vibrant young woman with boundless energy. She is active in the Chandler Buddies program as well as the National Spanish Honors Society. Ruth is honored to be the first in her immediate or extended family to attend university, where she plans to major in psychology. She will be attending ASU and her goal is to combine her love for helping others with her passion for art, pursuing a career as an Art Therapist. Da Naya Fuller Da Naya is a young lady who from the first day she arrived on our campus has worked tirelessly to achieve her goals. She has overcome significant obstacles, and has given extra effort throughout her four years in high school. Because of her outstanding work ethic, she earned good grades while maintaining proper study skills and time management to handle the academic rigor. She will graduate from EVIT (East Valley Institute of Technology) this year with a certification as a CNA (Certified Nursing Assistant). Her work ethic and discipline are exemplary. PERRY HIGH SCHOOL Graduation: Wells Fargo Arena ASU, May 28 at 6 p.m. Total scholarships awarded: $26.4 million Grant Williams Valedictorian Extracurricular activities: National Honor Society (President), Math Club (President), Tennis (Varsity). Grant runs a TV segment on AZTV7 #LiveGolden. Post-Secondary Plans: Grant will be attending Harvard College in the spring.

Marcus Behling Salutatorian Extracurricular Activities: Math Club, National Honor Society, Philosophy Club. Post-Secondary Plans: Marcus will be attending Brigham Young University where he will major in mechanical engineering. Aidan Powers Aidan is a STEM Scholar and ranks in the top 15 percent of his senior class. Aidan won first place at the HISEF (Hamilton Invitational Science and Engineering Fair) competition for his project on how to build a ground effect vehicle. He also won Best of Fair in Engineering and Mechanics. Aidan is a member of Marching Band and Math Club. He plans on attending Purdue University where he will major in aerospace engineering. Emily Wright Emily is in the top 6 percent of the senior class and has been in Performance Theater for three years. Emily has been involved in six plays while at Perry and has performed plays at, and volunteers for, the Actors Youth Theater off campus. Emily is a member of the NHS, Students United Under Modern Movement (SUMM) and helps with voter registration drives. Emily has been taken American Sign Language for four years and plans on attending UA where she will work on her Deaf education degree in educational sign language interpreting. HAMILTON HIGH SCHOOL Graduation: ASU Wells Fargo Arena, May 29th at 2:30 p.m. Total scholarships awarded: $41.5 million Nicholas Ngo Valedictorian 4.940 GPA National Merit Finalist

National AP Scholar Attending ASU Barrett’s Honor College Jerry Sun Salutatorian 4.938 GPA During his time at Hamilton, Jerry participated in Speech and Debate, Science Olympiad, Machine Learning Research at ASU in the Active Perception Group, Science Bowl, SkillsUSA and National Honor Society. He also spent his free time playing basketball, hanging out with friends, playing the piano, solving the Rubik’s cube and watching TV shows. He will be attending Cornell University in the fall to study computer science. After college, Jerry hopes to work on technology that will be truly impactful to the well-being and quality of life for others. Brian Yu Brian is a 2018 National Merit Scholar, president of the Math Club, and has been a key member of the Hamilton math team that placed first in the American Scholastic Math Competition. He is also the co-captain of the Hamilton varsity swim team. Brian would like to study math and computer science in college. Mindy Long Mindy graduated third in her class with a 4.9 GPA. She will be attending the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in the fall, majoring in computer science and management. Mindy hopes to one day be a software engineer or a product manager. She was an active participant in Quiz Bowl and Spanish National Honors Society and also performed research in the biosensors and bioelectronics See

CUSD on page 19

SANTAN SUN NEWS | MAY 18 - 31, 2019


from page 18

department at ASU’s Biodesign Institute while at Hamilton. In her free time, she likes to read historical fiction, classics and books on economic theory. Jonathan Dwiyono Jonathan graduated with a 4.9 GPA, and is planning on attending Vanderbilt University to study mechanical engineering. After college, he hopes to participate in research with cutting-edge technology and be employed as a part of practical engineering projects. The fields he is interested in include robotics, biomedical technology, and intelligent machines. At Hamilton, he participated in science research and math competitions, and was a member of Quiz Bowl, Red Cross and Science Olympiad. Jonathan has also volunteered at the Arizona Science Center and at his church. In his free time, he enjoys playing golf and creating paper models of architecture. ARIZONA COLLEGE PREP - ERIE CAMPUS Graduation: Chandler Center for the Arts, May 29 at 5 p.m. Total scholarships awarded: $20.1 million Blaise Dalton Blaise is Arizona College Prep’s second football player to commit to playing football at the next level. In the two short years of the school’s football program, Blaise has been recognized as 1st Team All CUSD Punter, 1st Team All-Metro Punter, and Arizona All Academic Honorable Mention. Next year Blaise will take the field as a Cobber playing for Concordia College in Moorhead, Minnesota as a kicker and punter. Blaise is planning to study neuroscience. Brooke Betsuie Brooke recently graduated from the Hoop of Learning at Maricopa County Community College. She is a talented artist and recently sold two of her paintings at the Heard Museum Art Show. Brooke also received the Judges Choice Award for her painting titled “Long Ride Home.” Navajo culture has inspired her art and her future education. Brooke is planning to pursue a degree in Native American studies and political science at The University of Arizona. BASHA HIGH SCHOOL Graduation: Wells Fargo Arena, May 29 at 7:30 p.m. Total scholarships awarded: $23 million Carlos Abel Sarabia Cardenas Valedictorian 4.93 GPA He will be attending Arizona State University, Barrett Honors College, studying physics. He received National Merit Scholarship, Academic Decathlon Scholarship. While at BHS, he participated in Academic Decathlon, Math Club and Chandler Relay for Life. Katie Sue Elizabeth Pascavis Valedictorian: 4.93 GPA She will be attending Arizona State University, Barrett Honors College, studying mechanical engineering. She received the Flinn Scholarship, State Farm Scholarship, National Merit Scholarship, Alisa’s Angels Scholarship and the

National 4H Congress Youth Leadership Team 2017 Scholarship. While at BHS, she participated in 4H (showed dogs and small stock, STEM, Community Service,) Science is Fun and Girl Stempowerment.


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Aarjav Pandya Valedictorian 4.93 GPA He will be attending Emory University in Atlanta, studying biology. He received National Merit Scholarship, National AP scholar and Empact Scholarship. While at BHS, he was homecoming king, President of National Honor Society, Science is Fun and LEO club. Brielle Raymond Brielle is a hardworking and passionate student who has been an active leader in the choir program at Basha High School for the past four years. Brielle has been in six different choirs, including Noteworthy, Basha’s highest choir, for the past two years. Her senior year, Brielle has become choir president and accomplished many things, such as leading three choir concerts when her teacher was unable to be there. She is also proud of her senior project where she put on a show at Sozo Coffeehouse to raise money for music resources. Brielle plans to pursue her music career at Chandler Gilbert Community College (CGCC) and ASU, where she wants to study music education and become a choir director. She hopes to change the lives of future choral students as the Basha choir program has changed hers. Constantine “Gus” Pyle Gus is a very hard-working and dedicated student. He has a GPA of 4.2 and has maintained a 4.0 or above throughout his time at Basha. He has been involved in National Honor Society for the last two years and has received the Outstanding Academic Accomplishment Award all four years. Gus played football at Basha for two years. He sustained an injury that withheld him from the field his junior and senior years, so he stayed involved with the program as a student volunteer coach. He enjoyed being a role model to the younger student athletes on the Freshman team and loved the opportunity he was given. Gus plans to attend The University of Arizona this fall and major in sports management. CHANDLER ONLINE ACADEMY Graduation: Chandler Center for the Arts, May 28 at 6 p.m. Christian Walstad Christian is a Chandler Online Academy senior who has done incredible work online. He plans to serve a mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and then will attend the University of Utah where he will pursue a career in the medical field. Christian has worked hard and earned a 4.15 GPA, which is a reflection of his grit and determination to do well in spite of hardships. We are excited for his future success. Kenadie Cooper Kenadie has attended all four years of high school at Chandler Online Academy. She is an outstanding young lady who excels in both ice hockey See

CUSD on page 24

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SANTAN SUN NEWS | MAY 18 - 31, 2019

Seton Catholic salutes 135 graduating seniors BY COLLEEN SPARKS Managing Editor

Seton Catholic Prepatory’s recent graduates are getting ready to embark on bright futures after celebrating commencement earlier this week. Graduation was May 14 at Mesa Arts Center to honor the 135 seniors. Of the graduates, 79 received 209 scholarships from 79 different colleges and universities valued at more than $2.9 million. While many students earned high grades, demonstrated success in sports and academic competitions and made the most of their time in high school taking part in leadership and social activities, three seniors were chosen for the coveted titles of valedictorian, salutatorian and speaker. To be eligible for one of those positions, seniors had to have attended Seton for at least three years. They also needed to be in good standing in the National Honor Society, have demonstrated three years of actively participating in additional Setonsponsored activities and earned a rank among the top 10 students. The students also had to have consistently shown the Seton Catholic Preparatory values of faith, determination, courage and love. Alex Bellin, 17, of Ahwatukee, was valedictorian and said he was humbled to be selected from among so many people who were qualified for the title. “It’s exciting,” Alex said. “I was actually kind of surprised. I’m obviously happy I won it.” A National Merit Finalist, he excelled in all academic subjects, especially math. Alex played volleyball for three years at Seton and played trombone in band and string bass in orchestra, as well as working at a part-time job. The oldest of three siblings, he kept a sense of humor and said the volleyball team was “getting better.” “I played right side, opposite center,” Alex said. “I like the fast paced-ness of it. The game never really seems to be over.” He said he met “a lot of great guys” on the volleyball team. Besides being named valedictorian, Alex stood out in another way: “I was the one trombonist consistently in band,” he said. Alex said he enjoyed playing in the pep band at football games and in band concerts twice a semester and said “we do a little bit of marching” in band. He started playing trombone in elementary school. He also liked playing string bass all four years in orchestra. “It was a lot of fun,” Alex said. “I started playing that one in eighth grade. I learned guitar in seventh grade; I play it at home.” He also served in the Sentinel Ambassador Society, a club of Seton students who answer questions and show youths around the campus if they are considering going to Seton. Because he lives in Ahwatukee and Desert Vista High School would have been his home high school, Alex said students often asked him why he decided to attend Seton. He had attended a public school until after eighth grade, when he decided he wanted to go to the Catholic school. “The sense of community and the Catholic aspect was really important

Seton Catholic Preparatory bid 135 seniors adieu earlier this week at commencement ceremonies. (Kimberly Carrillo)

to me,” Alex said. “I wanted to come here, learn about my faith. I was really impressed with their academics. I just wanted to change it up. I found a lot of cool people.” His favorite class at Seton was AP macroeconomics. “I’m really interested in economics and finance,” Alex said. He said the staff and teachers at Seton “really do seem to care” about students. Alex said he has gotten “lots of great advice” from people over his years at Seton but his parents’ advice stands out. “My parents always told me, ‘Don’t lose sight of what’s important, being a good person and a good friend,’” he said. They told him to work hard but not to overdo it and to always find time for prayer, Alex added. He urges incoming freshmen at Seton to get involved in a club or sport. “It always helps to know people,” Alex said. “I’ve really liked everything I’ve done at Seton.” He is going to Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles in the fall, where he is planning to study finance and probably complement it with a business degree, too. Alex earned a prestigious The Trustee Scholarship, which is equivalent to full tuition, room and board for four years. Leila Hamilton, 18, of Chandler, Seton’s salutatorian this year, is also planning to go to school out-of-state in the fall. She will attend Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland, and she wants to later go to medical school and become a surgeon. Leila plans to major in biophysics and complete a minor in economics as an undergraduate. She is also happy she was honored as one of the top students in her class. “It feels great,” Leila said. “It’s definitely a validation of the hard work I’ve put in these last four years.” She also loves math and said she enjoyed being in the National Math Honor Society, of which she was vicepresident, including competing in a 14hour math competition with her friends. Leila and her peers did one math problem with three different parts to it out of one of their houses for the national math competition. “It was a lot of fun,” she said. “The experience was the award for us.” Leila was also president of the National Honor Society and co-chair of the Sentinel Ambassador Society. Outside of Seton, she volunteers every

week at Phoenix Children’s Hospital with her mother, Sandy Hamilton. They bring toiletries, socks and games to families in the hospital. Another highlight of her time in high school was speaking at the Night of Hope fundraising dinner for the Catholic

invocation at commencement. She took part in many extracurricular activities at Seton, including Academic Decathlon, National Honor Society, National Math Honor Society, National French Honor Society, the Kairos Retreat Leadership Team and the Sentinel Ambassador Society. She was vice-president of the National Honor Society, president of the National Math Honor Society, secretary of the House Leadership Executive Council and a senior house leader for the House of St. Augustine. Seton has a “house system,” a studentled program that divides every grade level into groups that meet weekly for bonding, community service, mentorship and competition. Mariah is going to attend Barrett, the Honors College at Arizona State University in the fall, where she plans to study biomedical engineering. She said she would like to one day work at a company building neurological tools for surgery. Serving as a House leader was “interesting, it was fun at times and hard at other times,” Mariah said. She volunteered for PAWS, a nonprofit

Left: Alex Bellin, 17, of Ahwatukee, was the valedictorian at Seton Catholic Preparatory. Alex is going to Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles, where he is planning to study finance. Middle: Leila Hamilton, 18, of Chandler, was Seton Catholic Preparatory’s salutatorian. She will attend Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland, where she plans to major in biophysics. Right: Mariah McNally, 17, of Gilbert, was chosen to be the class speaker and gave the invocation at Seton Catholic Preparatory’s commencement. She will attend Barrett, the Honors College at Arizona State University to study biomedical engineering. (Kimberly Carrillo/Staff Photographer)

Schools in the Diocese of Phoenix in November. She gave an introduction speech and talked about her experience as a student at a Catholic high school. Besides her faith, Leila is also passionate about politics and enjoyed volunteering with two political campaigns. One of the candidates she campaigned for was state Rep. Jennifer Pawlik of Chandler. “I loved it, the energy and excitement,” Leila said. She said the people she met at Seton were the highlight of her high school experience. “I’d have to say the friendships I made,” Leila said. “I came from a really large public school. I pretty quickly found my people.” She said either government or physics or calculus were her favorite subjects. Leila had advice for incoming freshmen. “You should be able to find a balance between your academics and having fun,” she said. Graduating class speaker Mariah McNally, 17, of Gilbert, gave the

organization, which unites companion animals with loving families and cares for injured and orphaned wild animals. She said she trained many dogs and helped keep them calm. Mariah also teaches religious education to first-graders through Saint Mary Magdalene Roman Catholic Church in Gilbert. She said AP physics was her favorite subject at Seton. “I love physics,” Mariah said. “I love the challenge of it.” Like Alex and Leila, she said the people at Seton were the highlight of her time in high school. “I just love the sense of community, being able to know every single person,” Mariah said. “I think we all know each other pretty well.”
She said she also loved the Homecoming dance. “I like the music and the way we all gather together,” Mariah said. She also urged incoming freshmen to keep things in perspective. “Do not stress too much,” Mariah said. “Know your limits.”

SANTAN SUN NEWS | MAY 18 - 31, 2019


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SANTAN SUN NEWS | MAY 18 - 31, 2019

Homeless count shows more on streets than in 2018 SANTAN SUN NEWS STAFF

The number of people sleeping on Valley streets or in their cars increased this year by 21.7 percent over 2018, according to Maricopa Association of Governments (MAG). Numbers recently released showed those living in unsheltered situations continued to climb for the sixth straight year in Maricopa County. The annual Point-inTime Homeless Count in January found 3,188 people without shelter compared with 2,618 in 2018. “We are not surprised, and we are troubled by these numbers,” said Amy Schwabenlender, co-chair of the Maricopa Regional Continuum of Care Board and executive director of the Human Services Campus.

“This should be of concern to everyone living in the Valley,” she added. “The ripple effects of homelessness touch individuals, families, neighborhoods and communities. These are first and foremost human impacts, and at the same time they profoundly weave into societal and economic impacts.” In the East Valley, only Mesa saw an increase in its homeless population — 206 from 144 the year before. Gilbert’s and Chandler’s homeless counts were the same as the prior year at two and 54, respectively, according to MAG. Scottsdale saw an uptick to 76 from 67 in 2018 while Fountain Hills and Paradise Valley reported none. The PIT Count serves as a one-night snapshot of homelessness in the region and includes both an unsheltered and

sheltered count. Overall, volunteer counters found 6,614 people experiencing homelessness within the region, an increase of 316 people from 2018. Nearly 13 percent reported to be experiencing homelessness for the first time, which translates to more than 400 people. U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development mandates the count of those living on the streets or in shelters in order to dole out federal funding for homeless programs. The information also helps identify trends and help target critical funding and services to those most in need, according to MAG, which oversees the count in Maricopa County. For the first time, the 2019 unsheltered count also included a tally of pets. Over-

all data identified 182 pets on the street, 10 of which were service animals. The Continuum of Care, which submitted the required point-in-time data to HUD last week, is expected to release a full analysis of the 2019 count later this year. “We will dive deeper into the findings to better understand root causes of homelessness,” said Tempe Police Sgt. Robert Ferraro, who co-chairs the Maricopa Regional Continuum of Care Board. “We want to know what leads to chronic homelessness, what leads to first-time homelessness, and the causes of veteran and family homelessness.” The Continuum of Care also will look at factors such as eviction rates and affordable housing, and see what solutions can be recommended, Ferraro said.

Pets now included in county’s homeless counts BY SAMIE GEBERS Cronkite News

Every January, volunteers fan out across Maricopa County to conduct the Point-inTime homeless count in hopes of learning about challenges faced by people who lack shelter. But this year, a new question was added to the survey: “How many pets did you have sleeping with you last night?” Shantae Smith, a coordinator for the Point-in-Time count and a human services planner with Maricopa County Association of Governments, said the number of pets on the street has grown in recent years. “We wanted to start asking that question to decide whether or not is this something that we should continuously word towards in gathering hardcore data or is this just something that’s a random phenomenon that’s happening in the last six months?” she said. Smith said a major problem for pet owners is getting into shelters. Although every shelter is different, many don’t let animals in for safety reasons, Smith said. Dena Figueroa knows that circumstance well. In February, she was living on the street with her dog, Sammy, a Pomeranian-collie mix. Although her Sammy means the world to Figueroa, he provided an

Cecilia Goedel has been struggling with homelessness on Phoenix’s streets for seven years and considers her dogs her children. (Cronkite News)

obstacle as well. “He didn’t have the vaccinations, so she couldn’t stay inside a shelter,” she said. That’s when Chery King Wade and her nonprofit, Helping Hands for Homeless

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Hounds, stepped in. In her retirement, Wade makes it her full-time responsibility to help unsheltered people and their pets. She takes dogs to the vet, helps them get neutered and, from the back of her van, provides food, treats and toys. She made sure Sammy got his shots and Figueroa made it into a shelter. “Me and Sammy, we owe her our life,” Figueroa said. “I would still be on the streets.” The need is great, Wade said. “The calls keep coming, the needs continue, and I just can’t say no,” she said. Preliminary numbers from the 2019 survey showed more than 100 pets were unsheltered with their owners in Maricopa County. Smith said the survey isn’t meant as a population estimate, but more as a snapshot of the resources needed for these individuals. Vanessa Cornwall, marketing and development manager for Lost Our Homes pet rescue, helped with the count in January. While she was talking to people in the Salt River bottom, a woman living in an

encampment asked her if she could provide veterinary services to her 1-year-old pit bull, Roadie. “We actually found out he had a really, really bad case of Valley fever,” she said. Roadie had injuries to his hip and was dangerously skinny, but the owners couldn’t pay for treatment. Lost Our Home took him in and he’s now doing better. Cornwall said this issue comes up often. Homeless individuals sometimes don’t have the resources they need to take care of their animals. “Most folks experiencing homelessness will attend to their pet before they attend to themselves,” Williams said. Cecelia Goedel has been struggling with homelessness for the past seven years. She said her dogs are like her children. “There are nights I will go hungry just to make sure my dogs eat,” she said. Williams hopes that the count will paint a clearer picture for those experiencing homelessness with their pet and that the survey has potential to allocate resources where needed.

SANTAN SUN NEWS | MAY 18 - 31, 2019



Schools chief, students make new plea for counselors BY HOWARD FISCHER Capitol Media Services

A student-led group that tried to get lawmakers to enact gun control last year is refocusing on something more attainable. Jordan Harb, a leader of the March for Our Lives movement, said Monday his organization remains convinced that Arizona needs to crack down both on who has access to weapons as well as dealing with the kind of guns that can fire off many rounds and kill and maim lots of students. “I wouldn’t say that we have softened, but rather changed our focus on something that’s actually able to be done,’’ he said. Harb, a Mesa High School student, said the gun-control measures his group pushed last year — which the Republican-controlled Legislature did not enact are “still on our policy agenda.’’ What that leaves for the moment are specific and he believes immediate needs, like the lack of guidance counselors and social workers on campus as well as dealing with issues of bullying and abuse. Harb’s comments came as Kathy Hoffman, the state superintendent of public instruction, announced she was creating a School Safety Task Force to come up with ideas to keep students safer. The plan is modeled on legislation crafted by Sen. Kate Brophy McGee, R-Phoenix, and Rep. Daniel Hernandez, D-Tucson, which would have directed both Hoffman’s agency and local school boards to come up with plans to deal with students with mental health problems who may be capable of killing or

can adopt policies to prevent violence. Brophy McGee said some of that can be addressed with school design, things like limiting the number of entrances where strangers can get onto campus or into a building. “But today, more than ever, beyond brick-and-mortar decisions, there are other factors, things that can’t be seen at first glance but can be felt when one walks onto a school campus,’’ she said. “It’s the school culture which must be built Kathy Hoffman, state superintendent of public instruction, and Justin Harb, a Mesa high school student and executive director of the Arizona chapter of with as much care as the March for Our Lives, discuss a school safety task force she has created after school itself,’’ Brophy a number of Republican lawmakers sabotaged a bipartisan effort to improve McGee continued. “How school safety. (Howard Fischer/Capitol Media Services) do we build a positive school culture that injuring their classmates. strongly deals with such McGee’s bill got out of the Senate but issues as bullying and cyberbullying?’’ was never heard in the House; the HernanBrophy McGee said she supports the dez version cleared two House committees decision of the students to refocus their only to be quashed when Rep. Anthony efforts on something other than weapons Kern, R-Glendale, refused to hear it in the and access to them. House Rules Committee which he chairs. “At the end of the day, the problem is Hoffman figures she has the power to mental health, whether the weapon chosen bring together diverse interests, with or is a gun, a knife or something else,’’ she said. without legislative authorization, to at Harb agreed that looking at issues of least determine what are the problems building design and even putting more and the needs and ways that school boards police on campus ignores ways of pre-

venting violence in the first place. “Often the threat is not outside the school gates but in the classroom, sitting next to me,’’ he said. And then there’s the issue of teens who take their own lives. “Armed guards can sometimes be useful when the first shots are fired,’’ Harb said. “But we often forget that counselors and support systems and other preventative measures to keep violence from happening in the first place.’’ That question of the lack of counselors got increased attention earlier this month with a report by the American School Counselor Association that, on average, there is one counselor for every 905 students in Arizona public schools. That’s nearly twice the national average. Gov. Doug Ducey has proposed funding for an additional 224 counselors to be hired during the next two years. That, however, would bring it down to just one counselor for every 766 students. Still, Brophy McGee said her colleagues cannot ignore the fact that the incidents on campuses across the nation involve guns. “At the end of the day, we’ve got to figure out how to keep guns out of the hands of mentally unstable people, whether they’re students or whether there were adults,’’ she said. Last year, Ducey proposed allowing judges to issue orders to take weapons from people who are considered dangerous. Even with that change the measure could not get a hearing in the House. Ducey made a new plea for his plan this year but could not even get it introduced into legislation.

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and her academics. Going to online school allowed for her to capitalize on the opportunity to attend the North American Hockey Academy in Vermont during each year, while completing her Honors and AP high school courses with outstanding success. In the fall, she will attend St. Anselm College in New Hampshire, as an NCAA Division I ice hockey player. It has been a privilege to watch Kenadie flourish, competing in a sport she has such a passion for. Her ability to focus, train, learn, live away from home and still keep everything organized will be a tremendous asset to her in this next part of her journey. We know she will find even further success as a St. Anselm Hawk. CASTEEL HIGH SCHOOL Graduation: Joel Wirth Stadium, May 29 at 8 p.m. Total scholarships awarded: $10.5 million Weston Preecs 4.56 GPA, awarded President’s Scholarship at ASU, Barrett and Neely Foundation Scholarships. He is majoring in materials science and engineering.

t? o G ws Ne

Chris York Chris is the president of the Interact Club and Vice President of National Honors Society. He is a 3-year varsity captain of the basketball team, making 1st team AllCUSD for the past two years. Christ has a 4.57 GPA, is a National Merit Finalist and has a National Merit Scholarship to ASU. He plans on majoring in biomedical engineering. Tyler Christensen Tyler is one of only a handful of students in the state who have been selected through audition as a four-year AllState for choir. He is the number one bass in the state this year. He plans to pursue music in college. Tyler is a hard worker and a gifted teacher. He currently student-teaches junior high advanced choir, and they respond very well to his leadership, humor and musical knowhow. Tyler has held a leading role in every musical during his 4 years here. He is a gifted actor in our company theatre program and is also is a successful playwright. Tyler served as the Casteel marching band’s drum major (conductor) during his sophomore year. He plays several instruments and is an all-around top-notch musician and performer.

Nita Kulkarni Nita is a 4.6 GPA student and is the founder and President of the CCHS Red Cross Club, the secretary of Drama Club and Fashion/FIDM Club Vice President as well as a member of National Honor Society and the Casteel Theatre Company. Nita is active in her community and has volunteered at Perry Public Library as well as Mercy Gilbert Medical Center. She is actively involved in drama and musical productions as well as software development programs.. Nita will be attending ASU in the fall. CHANDLER EARLY COLLEGE Chandler Gilbert Community College, May 23 at 6 p.m. Koen Symalla Koen came to Chandler Early College as a freshman and has been a consistent performer academically as well as a model citizen representative of the student body. In addition to CEC, Koen has attended East Valley Institute of Technology (EVIT) for the last year, studying emergency medicine. Recently, he and a partner competed in the Emergency Medical Technician portion of the Arizona HOSA Competition. The pair will now head to Orlando in June

SANTAN SUN NEWS | MAY 18 - 31, 2019

for the HOSA International Leadership Conference. After high school, Koen plans on attending the Pima Medical Institute to become a paramedic. His ultimate goal is to be a firefighter or SWAT medic. Theodore “Teddy” Ruth Teddy has been a Chandler Early College student for the majority of his high school career. Teddy carries with him a solid 3.3 GPA and has been an active member of Student Council for the last two years. He is a past recipient of the CEC Character Award for Trustworthiness. He has been a student at EVIT for the last two years, studying Information Technology and Engineering Careers (iTEC). Recently, Teddy competed in the Interactive Media and Game Design Competition at the SkillsUSA Arizona Championships. He and his partner took first place in the state. In June, both will compete at the SkillsUSA National Leadership and Skills Conference competition in Kentucky. Upon graduation, Teddy will be attending CGCC before transferring to a four-year university to complete his bachelor’s degree in either computer science or computer programming and game design.

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SANTAN SUN NEWS | MAY 18 - 31, 2019



Legislature OKs legalization of martial arts weapon BY HOWARD FISCHER Capitol Media Services

Arizona could soon lose the distinction of being one of only three states in the nation where two sticks tied together with a piece of chain or leather could land someone in state prison. On a 42-17 margin Wednesday the state House voted to repeal laws which put nunchucks in the same category of illegal weapons as automatic weapons, silencers and sawed-off shotguns. Anyone possessing what’s on that list can end up with a Class 4 felony and a presumptive prison term of 2.5 years. That lands SB 1291 on the desk of Gov. Doug Ducey. Rep. John Kavanagh, R-Fountain Hills, said the repeal is long overdue. “One of the great mysteries of the criminal justice system is how nunchucks, two sticks connected by a thong or small chain, ever got added to the list of deadly weapons,’’ he said. The back story appears to be that several states, including Arizona, adopted the ban in the 1970s as martial-arts movies were popular, with Bruce Lee becoming a bit of an icon for the genre. But Kavanagh, who was a police officer back East in New York – one of the states that also passed a ban – said that never made any sense. “Criminals don’t carry nunchucks,’’ he said. “The average person can do far more

cuts, concussions, and eye and nose injuries. A nunchuck is engineered so that it can be used as a fulcrum: the assailant holds one stick while attacking with the other stick that is attached to the first one. As a result, serious, non-fatal nunchuck injuries often happen. The opposition to the repeal was less over the question of whether nunchucks are deadly weapons and more about what the Legislature was not doing: tightening up other gun laws. “This body has failed to have any kind of debate over meaningful, common-sense gun reform,’’ complained Rep. Athena Salman, D-Tempe. She said that so far this year Bruce Lee in the 1970s popularized nunchucks, and Arizona legislators had there have been more long ago classifi ed them as a forbidden weapon. That may change if Gov. than 17,000 incidents of Doug Ducey signs newly approved legislation. (file photo) gun-related violence in this country and about damage with a baseball bat than with a 4,500 have been killed. nunchuck,’’ Kavanagh continued. “In fact, “Instead of fi guring out the ways where the average person using a nunchuck will we can save lives, we’re wasting time on do more damage to his knees or his head nunchucks,’’ she chided colleagues. than somebody he’s attacking.’’ “How many of our constituents have Nunchucks can cause broken bones,

said, ‘You know what I really want the state Legislature to be focusing on? Taking off nunchucks as a prohibited weapon,” Salman said. “Arizonans are wondering why their representatives, why their senators are not doing anything about the gun violence that is plaguing our places of employment, our schools from preschools to universities, our places of worship.’’ But other Democrats focused instead on the issue at hand. “I don’t believe that we are going to see a sudden spike in the use of nunchucks in violent crime,’’ said Rep. Jennifer Longdon, D-Phoenix. “I think that, overall, this bill is very benign.’’ And Rep. John Fillmore, R-Apache Junction, said those who oppose the measure are missing the larger point about weapons in general. He said nunchucks don’t kill people any more than guns or sticks or pens. “People kill people,’’ Fillmore said. He had his own take on what should be a crime. “If we want to outlaw something that’s dangerous and detrimental to our society, we should outlaw socialism, liberalism, fanatical religious proliferation,’’ he said. Aside from Arizona, the other states that have a ban are California and Massachusetts. A ban in New York was struck down last December after a federal judge ruled it ran afoul of the Second Amendment.


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Around Chandler Waymo has art fair for kids today

Self-driving technology company Waymo is holding a free Interactive Art Fair 11 a.m.-4 p.m. today, May 18, at QuartHaus, 201 S. Washington St., Chandler. The family-friendly community event allows visitors the unique opportunity to participate in exhibits, including virtual reality painting, robot art, an interactive digital mosaic and arts and crafts.

Downtown traffi c hassles to last a while Work in an around the intersection of Arizona Avenue and Chicago Street in downtown Chandler will limit traffic to one lane in each direction on sections of Arizona Avenue for the next three months. The project includes the installation of a traffic signal at the intersection and other preparations for the New Square Development across from City Hall later this year. New Square is a mixed-use development with retail, office and restaurant space along with a Hilton Garden Inn. A new parking garage is also under construction west of New Square. The first phase of intersection construction will take place on the west side of Arizona Avenue, and traffic between Frye Road and Boston Street has been shifted to the east side of Arizona Avenue one lane in each direction. During phase one, access to West Chicago St. from Arizona Ave. will be blocked. Businesses on Chicago St., west of Arizona Ave., will be accessible from Oregon St. via Frye Road or Boston St. during the 5-6 week project phase. During the second phase, construction will shift to the east side of Arizona Avenue, and traffic between Frye Road and Boston Street will move to the west side of Arizona Avenue. In addition, during the phase two, East Chicago Street in front of Chandler City Hall will be closed to all traffic between Arizona Avenue and Washington Street. Visitors to City Hall should use Frye Road or Boston Street to get to Washington Street for several free parking options adjacent to City Hall. Information: 480-898-4060, or

City names new director for information tech Chandler City Manager Marsha Reed has named Sandip Dholakia the city’s new information technology director. “Sandip has been a Chandler resident for 40 years and is excited to serve the community where he lives,” Reed said. “He has more than 25 years of information technology experience with a variety of agencies, both public and private, which will provide him the opportunity to call on his experience to lead Chandler’s strategic technology initiatives.” Dholakia previously served as the chief information officer for the state Department of Revenue since 2015. He provided organizational leadership and administration oversight. Prior to that he worked for Maricopa County and Intel. Dholakia is a graduate of Northern Arizona University and also received a Certified Public Manager designation from Arizona State University.

Chandler Horizon Rotary honors local leaders The 26th annual Chandler Horizon Rotary Club “Thank You Breakfast” included giving $25,000 to local charities with money raised during the February HoleIn-One event. "We Rotarians are honored and humbled to have the opportunity to work with and contribute to these wonderful organizations and the people they serve,” President-elect Marty Herder said. Recipients and their organizations included: Bashas High School Scholarships, Basha Principal David Loutzenheiser; Desert Cancer Foundation of Arizona, Director Paula Wirth; Live Love of Chandler, CEO Mike Sorce; AZcend, Development Director Dara Gibson; Chandler Police Department/ Explorers Program, Officer Kevin Quinn; Also, Rotary/ Polio Plus, Coordinator Bob Zarling; The Dictionary Project; Chandler/Gilbert Community College Scholarship; Arizona Burn Foundation, Director Rex Albright; Pregnancy Care Center of Chandler and Gilbert, Executive Director Mary Murphy Baxter and Lisa Henry; Chandler CARE Center, Director

Katie Kahle; Chandler Police Department Victim Services Unit, Victim Services, Coordinator Katie Cain; Clothes Cabin, Director Caryn Shoemaker; Also, Hope Crisis Animal Assisted Crisis Response, Service Coordinator Marla Martella and Pam Reinke; My Sister’s Place, Director Dawn Curtis; Chandler Schools/ Destination College, Jen Hewitt, executive director of the Chandler Education Foundation; Chandler/Gilbert ARC, Director of Employment Services Michael Miller; Si Se Puede Foundation of Chandler, Director Albert L Esparza; I-Learn YMCA, Classroom Teachers Colleen Buck and Jodi Ostergren; Also, Flight 33 Director Christine Puzauskas; Project Connect 4 – Teen Suicide, Christina Burke, Suzanne Ropacki and Christina Nguyen; Rotary/ Vocational Fund of AZ, TRVFA President Roger Bonngard; and The H.E.L.P. Foundation, Doug Gardner.

2 medical buildings in Chandler sell for $1.3M

The City of Chandler’s Economic Development Division was recognized as the Large Organization of the Year during the Arizona Association for Economic Development’s annual Economic Development Distinguished by Excellence (EDDE) awards dinner. The EDDE Awards honor individuals and organizations that have made “significant contributions to the advancement of AAED and to economic growth within their communities as well as on a regional and state level,” the city said in a release. Honorees were selected from nominations submitted by AAED members. “I congratulate Micah Miranda and our Economic Development team for their significant contributions to the advancement of economic growth within Chandler and the Greater Phoenix region,” said Chandler Mayor Kevin Hartke, adding: “It’s impressive to have our contributions recognized by our peers and those in private industry.” Micah Miranda, economic development director, has led his team to several major economic development successes in 2018-19.

office and manufacturing space for the German-based laser innovator that manufactures measurement devices, fiber optics and photo counters and more. The site, at 2277 N. Nevada St., will house more than 30 current Laser Components employees who will relocate from the company’s current Tempe facility. The project has an estimated completion date of January 2020. The space is suited to hold more than 70 employees and will include a spacious canteen area and outside seating with colorful landscaping. Laser Components chose Chandler “due to its proximity to Arizona State University, as the company has a close working relationship with the university,” the company said.

Vice President Rachael Thompson of the Phoenix Kidder Mathews healthcare team represented the owner in the sale of a pair of medical office buildings in Chandle for $1.26 million. Thompson represented Resolution Fund Management in the sale totaling $1.26 million of the buildings in the 900 block of West Chandler Boulevard. “The Chandler medical office market is tight with a vacancy of under 5 percent,” Thompson said. “In both of these transactions, the lack of available product and investment opportunities contributed to the successful distribution.” Built in 1999, the buildings are close to the Loop 101 and Chandler Regional Hospital.

LGE breaks ground on Chandler wins economic Laser Components LGE Design Build has broken ground on Laser Components, the new Chandler development award

Western State Bank awards 2 scholarships

Western State Bank recently awarded two local students $250 savings scholarships as part of the scholastic recognition program, Western Pays for A’s. Ayden Acothley of Gilbert, and Nika Shiehzaden of Chandler, were selected as the Western Pays for A’s $250 savings See

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scholarships winners for the first semester of the 2017-2018 school year. “Western is dedicated to supporting our community, especially our local schools. We recognize students for their academic efforts and support them as they prepare for their future education,” said Ivy Zhang, retail banking manager at Western State Bank.

Compadres raised big bucks for charity

The Chandler Compadres have raised $630,000 so far this year for local charities thanks to the group’s two most recent fundraisers. Local charities that benefit include Boys & Girls Clubs of the East Valley, ICAN Positive Programs for Youth,

AzCend, FANS Across America, Arizona Brainfood and the Chandler CARE Center. On April 12, the group hosted its 19th annual Chandler Compadres Golf Classic, raising $380,000. “This event has been one of the best ways for us to raise money,” said Matt Marshall, Chandler Compadres’ board president. “It’s a great way for us to bring the community together in a fun way while still bringing awareness to the incredible work our beneficiaries are doing.” Since the club is an umbrella organization, they also participated in the state’s Qualifying Charitable Organizations (QCO) program last year, where tax credit donation funds were directed to their beneficiaries. That raised another $252,687. “Participating in the tax credit program was a way for us to not only fundraise but incentivize our donors as well,” said Kurt Johansen, Chandler Compadres’ treasurer. “Those who participated gave to a good cause while also getting something back.”

The organization is planning on distributing the money raised to their beneficiaries during their annual “Gives Day” this summer.

New apartment building opens in Ocotillo

Arista at Ocotillo, a new luxury mid-rise apartment community developed by Gilbane Development Company, recently opened in Ocotillo. The $40 million community is partowned by P.B. Bell, a leader in multifamily housing development, management and acquisitions who is also serving as the third-party management firm. Located at 3200 S. Dobson Road, Arista offers 211 luxury apartment homes and more than 20 floor plans ranging from 564 to 1,683 square feet. Each apartment is equipped with Cox Homelife, QuickConnect and Gigablast,



as well as smart light switches and smart thermostats both provided by Cox. The contemporary kitchen layout includes white quartz countertops, stainless steel appliances, an open concept living area, wood style flooring throughout, walk-in showers and more. “Arista’s stylistic design truly makes the community feel like a vacation away from home,” said Carrie Otto, the property manager at Arista at Ocotillo. “We want our residents to feel like they’re living a Santa Barbara lifestyle in resort-style luxury every single day.” Arista at Ocotillo offers neighboring and on-site amenities for guests, including a resort-style pool and spa with poolside cabanas and fire pit, clubhouse, fitness center with top-of-the-line LifeFitness equipment, a “pampered pooches” pet wash, “paws playground” dog park, lakefront ramada with built-in BBQ bar, Amazon Hub locker package system and a barista cafe.

State House OKs big limits on initiatives BY HOWARD FISCHER Capitol Media Services

State House Republicans voted last week to put some new hurdles in the path of groups that seek to propose their own laws and constitutional amendments. At a bare minimum, SB 1451 — approved on a party-line vote by the Republican-controlled House — imposes new requirements on those who actually go out and gather the signatures. That includes registering with the Secretary of State’s Office and prohibiting petitions from being circulated by people who have been convicted of certain crimes. Rep. Pamela Powers Hannley, D-Tucson, pointed out that the Republicans who want that change in the initiative process

are not applying those same rules to those who circulate their own nominating petitions. Rep. Jennifer Jermaine, a Democrat whose district includes part of Gilbert, accused Republican lawmakers of trying to undermine the petition process and make it more difficult, particularly for grass-roots organizations, because they’re unhappy that voters gathered petitions and overturned their 2017 proposal to expand vouchers of taxpayer dollars for parents to send their kids to private and parochial schools. “Save Our Schools Arizona did not have big money backers,’’ she said, referring to the group that defeated the voucher move. “These were moms, dads, grandparents and everyday Arizonans who stood up to this legislative body and

said ‘no.’‘’ But a potentially greater change would give the attorney general the unilateral power to alter the 50-word description of the measure that appears on the ballot. And the only remedy for someone who disagrees would be to sue. That, however, may not be a true recourse: The approved ballot description generally becomes publicly available only days before ballots are set to be printed. And that may not be enough time to pursue a legal challenge. “This is a blatant power grab,’’ argued Rep. Randy Friese, D-Tucson. He said current law gives the attorney general the power only to approve or reject the language crafted by the secretary of state. That, said Friese, requires a back-and-

forth between the two elected officials to come up with something on which both can agree. The change would cement into law what happened last year when a key aide to Attorney General Mark Brnovich altered the description of Proposition 127, an initiative which would have required that half of all power generated in Arizona by 2030 come from renewable sources. Beau Roysden added language stating that the renewable energy mandate would occur “irrespective of cost to consumers.’’ Eric Spencer, who was state elections director at the time under Republican Secretary of State Michele Reagan, called the new verbiage “eyebrow raising’’ and suggested it comes with “legal and political risks.’’

Gilbert cemetery likely to open this summer BY CECILIA CHAN Staff

The town’s first cemetery is expected to open for business this summer near the corner of Queen Creek Road and 156th Street. When Gilbert Memorial Park broke ground last July, a spring debut was announced. “Construction is well underway,” said Bryce Bunker, president of Bunker Family Funerals and Cremation. “We are excited about the progress.” Bunker attributed the delayed opening to the normal construction process such as getting approvals that took longer than anticipated. The Mesa-based business has a 99-year lease agreement to build and own the 22acre cemetery on town land. Bunker Family Funerals will pay Gilbert rent on the land and share revenue from the operation of the cemetery. Gilbert anticipated it will receive between $100,000 and $200,000 annually in rent and revenue sharing over the course of the lease, according to town documents. According to town estimates, the project is expected to generate over $13 million in

Construction of Gilbert's first cemetery, which will includes a funeral home and memorial chapel, is underway and advancing toward a summer opening date. (Pablo Robles/Staff Photographer)

revenue for Gilbert over the course of the lease, well above the $2.3 million the town paid for the land in 1999. The cemetery is being built in multiple phases. The first and largest phase calls for a 10,000-square-foot funeral home with

a chapel, a banquet facility and kitchen, private family estates for both burial and cremations, a cremation garden, a pond and an indoor glass-front cremation niche on 10 acres, according to Bunker. The cemetery will reflect the growing trend in people choosing cremation over

burial, according to Bunker. “We got several different memorialization options for cremation options to meet any budget,” he said. “But certainly lot of our emphasis will be to make sure people who opt for cremation have several options.” In 2016, cremation for the first time overtook traditional burial in the United States, AARP reported. In 2017, the U.S. cremation rate was 51.6 percent and by 2030, it’s projected to reach 71 percent, according to Cremation Association of North America. Bunker said he has a list of about 700 people so far who’ve inquired about reserving a spot at the cemetery or about the progress of the construction. When the cemetery is completed, residents no longer will have to travel to other areas such as Mesa, Chandler and Queen Creek for their final resting place. Bunker said the capacity of the Gilbert cemetery is about 75-plus years. “We look forward to serving the community with something that is unique and different that the residents of Gilbert can be proud of,” Bunker said. To be on the list for updates on Gilbert Memorial Park, 2100 E. Queen Creek Road, go to



SANTAN SUN NEWS | MAY 18 - 31, 2019

For more community news visit

Phoenix Children’s new VP discusses hospital BY COLLEEN SPARKS Managing Editor

A highly experienced healthcare executive, Chandler resident and mother of young twins is steering the growth and development of expanded services for babies, children and women in the East Valley. Lee Ann Benson, 38, took the reins as the new vice president of the East Valley market for Phoenix Children’s in January. It is a busy time for Benson and the rest of the team as Phoenix Children’s is going to expand outpatient services with a new medical office building, which will be about 80,000 square feet with 45,000 square feet operated by Phoenix Children’s providers, at Dignity Health Mercy Gilbert Medical Center’s campus. That medical building is expected to open in January of next year. Dignity Health and Phoenix Children’s Hospital are also jointly building the Dignity Health Phoenix Children’s Women & Children’s Pavilion at the Dignity Health Mercy Gilbert Medical Center, 3555 S. Val Vista Drive in Gilbert. That center is expected to open in early 2021. Phoenix Children’s already runs a 22bed Pediatric Inpatient Unit at Mercy Gilbert Medical Center where pediatrictrained nurses and hospitalists work 24 hours a day. Phoenix Children’s Care Network

Lee Ann Benson, 38, took the reins as the new vice president of the East Valley market for Phoenix Children’s in January. Benson and the rest of the team at Phoenix Children’s is going to expand outpatient services with a new medical office building at Dignity Health Mercy Gilbert Medical Center’s campus in Gilbert. Dignity Health and Phoenix Children’s Hospital are also jointly building the Dignity Health Phoenix Children’s Women & Children’s Pavilion at the Dignity Health Mercy Gilbert Medical Center. (Kimberly Carrillo/Staff Photographer)

(PCCN) collaborates with more than 170 pediatricians and specialists in the East Valley and Phoenix Children’s pediatric specialists are available for consults at Dignity Health Mercy Gilbert Medical Center. Benson had previously worked as the vice president of Pediatric Network Development and Growth at the Monroe

Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt in Nashville, Tennessee. Over her 13 years at Vanderbilt, she worked in leadership roles managing strategic planning, business development, as well as operations of clinical and on-clinical ancillary services, space and facilities planning projects, facility

security and emergency preparedness. Before joining Vanderbilt in 2005, she served as a member of marketing and strategic business development at Children’s Hospital of Alabama. Benson is a Fellow in the American See

HOSPITAL on page 29

Amazing Lash Studio gives clients glamour BY COLLEEN SPARKS Managing Editor

People craving a glamorous, sexy and polished look for their eyes are flocking to Amazing Lash Studio ChandlerOcotillo to treat themselves to the latest eyelash extensions and lash lifts in a variety of styles. Amazing Lash Studio has over 185 locations in 23 states around the country, including one in Ocotillo at 3901 S. Arizona Ave. and one at Chandler Fashion Center at 3355 W. Chandler Blvd. Customers can get longer, fuller and more curly lashes without having to take time to put on mascara every day when they buy eyelash extensions —synthetic fibers glued on eyelashes to achieve greater length and volume. In contrast, the lifts elevate and curl people’s eyelashes to avoid the need for eyelash curlers and to create the natural, attractive lashes they crave. The colorful and cozy Amazing Lash Studio Chandler – Ocotillo location is about 2,000 square-feet and opened in May of 2016. On a recent weekday morning, several women smiled as they left the studio with striking eyelash extensions. About 750 customers are active members at the Ocotillo salon, meaning they have subscriptions that allow them to save money when they make eyelash replacements, refills, touch-ups and lash removals, as well as lash add-ons.

Juan Corsillo is the owner of Amazing Lash Studio on South Arizona Avenue in Ocotillo and the Amazing Lash Studio at Chandler Fashion Center. (Kimberly Carrillo/Staff Photographer)

The members on average come to the salon about every three weeks to get refills. People lose two to four natural eyelashes per day, said owner Juan Corsillo. “If hair grows fast, your lashes shed faster,” he said. Medical-grade adhesive is used to attach the eyelashes, which are individual strands of synthetic fibers created to replicate a natural eyelash. Clients love the convenience of not having to apply

mascara in the morning and the attention they get for their lash extensions, Corsillo said. “They love the compliments they get when they go out. It’s a little bit of the ‘me time.’ For one, it’s affordable. For two, it’s accessibility. We’re open seven days a week.” People can also just walk in to get treatments. “We make it easier for people to come in on a moment’s notice,” Corsillo said.

“You can get your lashes done anywhere,” in the Amazing Lash Studio locations around the country.” Amazing Lash Studio offers four, proprietary “classic” styles of eyelash extensions. One type is “natural,” which are longer lashes across the clients’ lash line to enhance the natural shape of their eyes. Another style is “cute,” which offers longer lash extensions at the center of someone’s lash line that make their eyes look larger. “Sexy” offers longer lashes on the outer corners of the eyes and “gorgeous” extensions offer thicker, fuller lashes all over for a red-carpet style. “It really comes down on personal preference,” Corsillo said. “At Amazing Lash Studio, our customers get to have a spa-like experience where they are treated in private suites and leave feeling beautiful and rejuvenated,” Heather Elrod, CEO of Amazing Lash Studio said. The first full-set of eyelash extensions costs $79.99 and it costs $250 to replace a full set of lashes for non-members and $89.99 per month to replace the whole set for Amazing Lash Studio members. To get refills, if at least 25-percent of the artificial lashes are still on their eyes, costs $79.99 for non-members and $55.99 per month for one refill for members. While the four “classic” styles of lashes See

AMAZING LASH on page 30


SANTAN SUN NEWS | MAY 18 - 31, 2019


from page 28

College of Healthcare Executives and previously she served on the Board of Directors for the American College of Healthcare Executives of Middle Tennessee chapter and on the Tennessee Regents Advisory Council. She was honored with the President’s Award of Excellence from the American College of Healthcare Executives of Middle Tennessee in 2018. Benson also received the American College of Healthcare Executives Regent’s Early Careerist Award and she was nominated for the “Nashville Business Journal’s” Top 40 Under 40 Awards. She has Bachelor of Science degree in healthcare administration from Auburn University, as well as a master’s degree in health administration and a master’s of business administration from the University of Alabama at Birmingham. She and her husband, Beau, have two-and-ahalf-year-old twins, Lynlee and Reid. We asked her about her job and the projects she oversees.

What are your responsibilities?

This is a new role for Phoenix Children’s. It really came about because of our growing presence in the East Valley. We’re committed to just becoming an integral part of the community. Having a leader whose focus was that community was a key part of that. It’s very much a collaborative project with Dignity Health. Dignity is leading the construction efforts. They have collaborated with Phoenix Children’s. The new medical office building is on the campus of Mercy Gilbert and I’m very involved in the planning of that.

What do you like about living in Chandler?

We moved here from Nashville, Tennessee. We were seeking a community that would be a great place to raise our family. We have two-and-a-half-year-old twins. Chandler in the East Valley is the perfect place for us. We settled in the East Valley in South Chandler. Chandler Unified (School District) was voted number one in the state. Gilbert’s (schools) are incredible, as well. My commute will be wonderful.

Talk about the new Women & Children’s Pavilion.

Adding these new services will really provide a comprehensive scope of care for pregnant women and their children. We’re really focused on the continuum. We, with Dignity, are there for the entire journey. We’ll actually have the only dedicated pediatric emergency department in the East Valley. So, for all of those unexpected injuries and illnesses, we’ll have (services) there 24 hours a day, seven days a week (for) broken bones, beans in ears. One of the incredible services we’ll be adding is a 60bed, level three neonatal intensive care unit, for premature babies, babies with medical or surgical (needs), private rooms designed for the babies and the family will have space to stay in there. The neonatal intensive care unit will be adjacent to the post-partum unit. You always want to plan for the what ifs…just in case the baby needs some specialized care. It will create this seamless continuity of care for moms and children. We also will be adding six operating

rooms and two procedural suites. The operating rooms are specifically for children so Phoenix Children’s will operate those. Procedural suites: that would be for things like an endoscopy…surgical type things. The key design principle is all around family-centered care, keeping families is a key part of the care team, creating spaces for them to support them. It’s just this great comprehensive program for both women and their babies and children as they grow.

How will the pavilion differ from the Pediatric Inpatient Unit?

The difference will be in the new Women & Children’s Pavilion, we will also have a wide range of specialists. It will be a more broad range of services. We offer over 20 subspecialties in the East Valley. We will be able to work with specialists. The majority of our specialists will actually have most of their time dedicated in the East Valley. Their time is focused on the East Valley. By exception they come down to the main campus. Some of them do highly unique specialized procedures and care. What can patients expect in the new Medical Office Building? We are going to have seven key services in that clinic, as well as another rotating clinic. It will include neurology, general surgery, ENT (otolaryngology), orthopedics, endocrinology, including hematology/ oncology services as well, an infusion clinic (which will open in March of 2021). It (the infusion clinic) will be for children of all ages. The 45,000 square feet of building will all be for children. The building is 80,000 square feet total. Other practices will lease space in the building.

and include the family in the decisionmaking, that resonates.

Where was your first job in healthcare?

I started my career at the Children’s Hospital of Alabama and spent three years there and then moved on to Vanderbilt Hospital in Nashville.

What types of medicine/treatment are most needed in the region? The population growth in the East Valley has really just been astounding. The majority of that growth has been for young families. We know that easily accessible, high quality care lends itself to healthier communities and overall wellness. That was really the catalyst for Phoenix Children’s growing in the East Valley. We need comprehensive services right there in the backyard.

What is the most exciting part about watching the construction? Construction’s always fascinating to me anyway, but I think just knowing that families will have the best in care for women and the best in care for children so easily accessible. It will really be a community-wide resource to support families throughout their journeys in life. It’s incredible.

What advice do you have for any expecting mothers?

When I was pregnant with my twins, I think to understand where the best service is available, planning for the what ifs, if your child would need specialty care, as they’re making decisions about


where to go. There are different classes and things like that. Mercy Gilbert offers a wide array of courses for families to learn, everything from how to care for a newborn, car-seat safety. Finding a pediatrician that aligns well with you and the East Valley is blessed with many wonderful physicians. Having a great pediatrician partner is building that relationship so at any point in your pregnancy they identify any concerns.

What are some recent advances in technology and treatment for healthcare for women’s and children’s treatments?

The ability to identify abnormalities or potential healthcare needs of the babies when they’re in utero. We have a phenomenal (pediatric) radiologist at Phoenix Children’s who does fetal MRIs, to help mothers understand, being able to early on identify any challenges or needs that babies may have so there is no delay in care when they are born. We will have pediatric imaging in the new Women’s and Children’s as well.

How do you like to spend your free time? We love the outdoors so exploring Arizona has been a lot of fun for us on our weekends and time away. We also have a dog, a 90-pound Golden Doodle named Newton. My husband and I actually met at a running club. Information: arizona/locations/mercygilbert

Your take on the relationship between Phoenix Children’s and Dignity Health? We have created a strategic alliance with Dignity Health and it’s been wonderful. We’re able to take the best care for adults and women and paired that with the best in care for children.”

How do you juggle so many projects?

It’s always a challenge. I have an incredible husband who is a key part of our family. My family always comes first. I’ve been blessed to have a career and employers who are supportive of that. It’s just a great organizational culture. It’s a work in progress. I tend to be just a very organized individual. I keep a very detailed calendar and to-do list.

What made you interested in healthcare?

I experienced healthcare failing significantly growing up. I saw firsthand the wonderful aspects of healthcare, as well as the challenges that families experienced. My mother had cancer twice growing up. She actually passed away from cancer when I was in high school. I actually did an internship in college at Auburn University with the Children’s Hospital in Alabama. The unique culture and the positive environment and the culture people brought to work just hooked me. I think what was most apparent to me even in that young age was the complexity of healthcare and how challenging it was for families to navigate it. Having my own children, that really speaks to me, being able to simplify that

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SANTAN SUN NEWS | MAY 18 - 31, 2019

face-down for the first 48 hours after the application. After 48 hours after getting eyelash extensions, customers are strongly encouraged to wash their eyelashes twice in the morning and twice in the evening with an oil-free eye wash. Amazing Lash Studio sells its own Amazing Lash Studio’s Eyelash Foaming Cleanser. The company also sells a protective lash coating that helps keep lashes looking glossy; a retractable styling wand, which grooms and beautifies lashes; a water-resistant clear gel for eyebrows and eyelashes, a liner for lash extension and other eye-related beauty products. When people get lash lifts, the stylist is “essentially perming your lash,” to make it curl, Corsillo said. He said the lash lifts usually last for about four to six weeks. People can use oil-free mascara to their lashes as long as they wait 24 hours after the lash lift treatment. The lash lifts cost $79.99 to have done. Besides the two Chandler locations, Amazing Lash Studio has salons in Gilbert (at SanTan Village), Mesa, Tempe, Scottsdale, Mesa, Phoenix, Glendale, Peoria and Tucson. Neighboring states that have Amazing Lash Studio spaces are California, Nevada and Utah. The Amazing Lash Studio in Ocotillo is open from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Mondays through Fridays; from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturdays and from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sundays. The Chandler Mall location has the same hours. Information:

from page 28

are applied one-to-one, one artificial lash per every real eyelash, the Amazing Volume lash extensions are available in 3D (with three artificial lashes to every one real lash) and 6D (six artificial lashes to every real lash). Those give people the look of very full lashes. “Our customers really value their time, and being able to wake up looking beautiful and not worry about makeup is a huge draw,” Elrod said. Amazing Lash also offers Featherweight Lashes, a very light lash extension with a lush look. Eyelashes come in different lengths and most people get them in black, but some prefer them in brown. Every once in a while a stylist will put blue or green lash extensions on a client, Corsillo said. “We can go any length,” he said. “Length is how long you want to go. It depends on the strength of your personal lashes.” Jennifer Blunt loves coming to Amazing Lash on a regular basis for her eyelash extensions. The busy teacher and mother of two children recently saw master stylist Kelly Hedrick for eyelash fills. Licensed estheticians or cosmetologists who go through an intensive, two-week training apply and extend the eyelashes. At the Ocotillo location, 16 stylists or estheticians work and seven staff members work up front in the salon. “I don’t wear any eye makeup,” Blunt said. “I just wake up and feel pretty. My eyelashes and lipstick are really all I do. They (eyelashes) look really natural. I’m sure my husband likes seeing (them). I’m a teacher so I get up and go.” Tami Butcher of Chandler also loves

Above: Tami Butcher of Chandler is happy with the eyelash extensions she got at Amazing Lash in Ocotillo. Right: Master stylist Kelly Hedrick applies eyelash extensions to client Jennifer Blunt at Amazing Lash Studio on South Arizona Avenue in Ocotillo. (Kimberly Carrillo/Staff Photographer)

getting eyelash extensions at Amazing Lash in Ocotillo. “It’s great,” Butcher said. “The best customer service here. I’m not really wearing any makeup right now.” Clients say getting the eyelash extensions is relaxing and not painful. It feels like a “little tickle” on their lash lines, Joy Chapman, assistant manager at the Ocotillo salon said. “I can’t imagine not having them on,” Chapman said. “It just feels normal.” Anyone with sensitive skin who is concerned they might be allergic or

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The dangers of outright or age-based distributions BY JAMES PHELPS Guest Writer

“After my death, when should my children receive my money? How much is enough?” These questions are often asked by those who are inquiring about estate planning. Remember that you are in charge so the answers depend on your desired results. Two key aspects of sound estate planning include protection of assets and protection of beneficiaries. There are many situations that could expose your beneficiaries to a loss of the assets and inheritance given to them. Here are a few examples that we have dealt with: Bankruptcy. Your child files bankruptcy just before or sometime after your death. Distributions of your money to your child are intercepted by the bankruptcy trustee and distributed to creditors. Divorce. Your child receives the inheritance, commingles it inside a marital account and ends up getting divorced. Your child’s ex-spouse takes half the inheritance in the divorce. Medical catastrophe. Your child or grandchild develop a major medical condition that results in significant

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medical expenses. The medical creditors take your money away from your child to satisfy the medical expense debts. How to protect your beneficiaries For most of our clients, we recommend having Protective Inheritance Trusts (PIT) built into a revocable living trust with discretionary distribution instructions. The PIT protects each beneficiary’s inheritance from creditors, lawsuits, divorce and irresponsibility. A trustee that you select is the only one who can distribute the money to the beneficiary, and only at his or her own discretion. With a PIT, a responsible

trustee, and a statement of wishes, you can state how much and when you would like to have the inheritance distributed. A properly funded trust When you establish a trust, your estate plan is not complete until you have transferred ownership (or beneficiary) of your real estate, personal property, business interests, bank accounts, life insurance policies, stocks, CDs and “nonqualified” investment accounts to the trust. This is called “funding a trust.” All of your assets must be transferred to the trust in order to avoid Probate Court. Life insurance policies should name

your trust as the primary beneficiary in order to protect the money. IRAs and other retirement accounts should name an IRA Inheritance Trust as the beneficiary. This will protect the money and save thousands on taxes. Documentation is crucial. Keep a current list of assets that are in the trust, and make sure they have been properly transferred and beneficiaries have been named. If you do have assets that have not been transferred when you die, a pour-over will direct the personal representative in a probate action to transfer probated assets into the trust. Once the probate action is complete, all assets are in the trust, under management by your successor trustee, and your beneficiaries will enjoy the protections provided by the trust. A professionally designed and funded estate plan allows you to transition your estate to your loved ones in a responsible manner. Whether your estate is large or modest, that brings unparalleled peace of mind in knowing your hard-earned assets and finances will be kept secure, and your loved ones will be financially protected. Through your wise planning, your estate will continue to care for your family long after you’ve passed away. James Phelps is managing partner of Phelps Law. He can be reached at or (480) 418-1366.

3/6/19 5:41 PM



SANTAN SUN NEWS | MAY 18 - 31, 2019

Chandler, other Allstate agencies help homeless BY COLLEEN SPARKS Managing Editor

A Chandler Allstate agency is thrilled it can help people struggling with homelessness in Phoenix, after customers of the insurance company stepped up to make donations. The Allstate agency at 3160 S. Gilbert Road, Suite 4, was one of 10 Allstate agencies around the Valley that collected donations last month and earned a Helping Hands grant from The Allstate Foundation to benefit Homeward Bound. The Valley nonprofit serves families who are homeless but providing them with housing and an in-depth program that aims to get them back on their feet. Jacque Riggs, owner of the Allstate Insurance agency at 3160 S. Gilbert Road, said she and other Allstate branches asked clients to bring in clothes, wet wipes, diapers, toilet paper, deodorant, toothpaste and other items to provide to clients of Homeward Bound. She said about 10 garbage bags full of items were collected. “I think it’s a good amount,” Riggs said. “I was encouraged by it. It’s kind of fun how different things that you do will bring out different customers. Some either know somebody that’s homeless or they struggled at some point in their life and they’re like, ‘oh, my gosh, I want to help.’” The Allstate agencies because of collecting all the donations earned a $5,000 Helping Hands grant that they gave to Homeward Bound to use however

Holding a giant check are, from left, Alicia Gonzales, Julie Jakubek, Jay Christensen, Darcy Nied and Kate Peifer as Allstate agents and staff presented a $5,000 Helping Hands grant from The Allstate Foundation to Homeward Bound. Jakubek and Nied are Allstate agency owners, while Christensen is an Allstate agency staff member at Jacque Riggs’ Allstate agency on South Gilbert Road in Chandler and Peifer and Gonzales are Allstate representatives. (Tracey Lane)


it is needed. “I think that homelessness affects more people than we realize here in Maricopa County,” Riggs said. “As an agency owner, it’s great to give back to the community. That’s part of our responsibility. As Allstate agents we’re good at that. I’m sure the $5,000 will fill in a lot of the gaps.” Meghan Davies used to be a client of Homeward Bound and appreciates the support. She said the nonprofit saved her life and had a listing impact. Davies said after receiving help from Homeward Bound she earned a bachelor’s degree. “I could not have done anything to further my life, nor stay sober, had it not been for this program,” she said. Officials counted 25,832 homeless people in Maricopa County throughout the year in 2015, according to Phoenix Rescue Mission. That means on any given day, there might be 5,500 homeless people in the county. “Our mission is to create pathways out of poverty for families that come through our program so that they can make a change,” Sherry Roueche, community outreach manager at Homeward Bound said. “The support of volunteers like Allstate helps us create more of those pathways.” The Valley donation drive was part of Allstate’s Bring Out the Good month, an effort around the country where thousands of Allstate agency owners, financial specialists and employees give their time and donate to causes they are most passionate about helping.





SANTAN SUN NEWS | MAY 18 - 31, 2019


Left: Gov. Doug Ducey and Brian Bair, founder and CEO of Offerpad, cut the ribbon at the “housewarming” party for Offerpad’s new headquarters in Chandler on May 9. Chandler Mayor Kevin Hartke, far left, joined in the celebration. Right: Chandler Mayor Kevin Hartke, Jerry Coleman, co-founder of Offerpad and Gilbert Mayor Jenn Daniels were part of Offerpad’s “housewarming.” (Kimberly Carrillo/Staff Photographer)

Offerpad opens new Chandler headquarters BY COLLEEN SPARKS Managing Editor

Offerpad, a company that aims to eliminate the stress in selling homes, recently moved its headquarters to Chandler after bursting at the seams in its previous office in Gilbert. The company, which opened in Gilbert in 2015, celebrated that nearly 40,000-square-foot space at 2150 E. Germann Road, with a “housewarming” party that Gov. Doug Ducey, state Rep. Jeff Weninger and Chandler Mayor Kevin Hartke attended on May 9. “Our founder has been in the East Valley for 15 years,” said Dave Haroldsen, head of brand for Offerpad. “He loves the East Valley, has a lot of ties here and sees this is the perfect place to start a company. We picked this building and Chandler because we wanted a place we could grow and expand our company for several years to come. “It was the location that fit our company and employees. One of our

mottos is homes, not houses. Our mission is to provide the best way to buy and sell a home period.” There are 250 employees working in the new Chandler headquarters out of 500 Offerpad employees around the country. Offerpad also has offices in Tucson, Dallas, San Antonio, Austin, Houston, Orlando, Atlanta and other cities while the founder and CEO Brian Bair lives in Gilbert. Offerpad’s co-founder is Jerry Coleman. Bair started Offerpad after he and his executive team obtained a deep understanding of the challenges people deal with when they sell their homes. They discovered even successful sellers got overwhelmed by the stress of selling, including trying to guess the price their home would sell for, preparing the house for showings, negotiating a deal, finding moves and waiting for their closing date, Haroldsen said. Offerpad combines real estate technology with fundamental industry

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them to another area within certain distances. It makes competitive offers on homes and sellers have up to three days to move to their new home after Offerpad buys it. Offerpad also makes renovations on homes before selling them. People who buy homes from Offerpad have the freedom to check out hundreds of Offerpad’s homes on their own using the Instant Access system, where they get a code through an app or text to enter the home. Buyers also have flexibility with their move-in date and their own dedicated transaction manager to assist them through the whole process, according to Offerpad’s website. Hundreds of homes are sold through Offerpad in Arizona every year and the company only sells used homes. “Real estate is a really busy place,” Haroldsen said. “Lots of different companies are trying to figure out how to update the model. We think we’re pretty unique in the way that we operate.” Information:

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SANTAN SUN NEWS | MAY 18 - 31, 2019

Sports & Recreation


For more community news visit

Hamilton’s Malik Whitaker wins high jump gold BY ZACH ALVIRA Sports Editor

Malik Whitaker knew he had a lot to live up to heading into the Division I high jump event at the Arizona Interscholastic Association’s Track and Field State Championships on Wednesday, May 1. The Hamilton High School senior had the highest mark throughout the season, and was determined to capture his second straight state title. “Coming in, I knew there was a good crowd so all I had to do was focus and lock in,” Whitaker said. It didn’t take long for Whitaker to show that he was once again the top-dog in the competition. Tucson High’s Johnnie Blockburger cleared the 6-foot-4 mark, but was unable to go up from there. Whitaker cleared 6-foot-8, which is his personal record he set at the Brophy Prep AMDG Invitational in March. But he wasn’t done. Eyeing a new personal best, Whitaker attempted a high jump of 6-feet, 10 inches. His lower back hit the bar on his first two attempts. On his third and final attempt, he skimmed the bar with his calves. “I knew I had to boost myself and get the energy to get over it,” Whitaker said. “Man, I was so close. I wanted it.”

Hamilton medalists Boys Whitaker also represented Hamilton in the long jump during the state meet. He finished in 4th during that event after jumping 22-feet, .5 inches. Whitaker’s top-5 finishes in both events, along with top-3 finishes from Karsen Burke, Brenden Rice and the Huskies relay team in other track events, helped boost the Hamilton boys team to a 4th place finish with 54 points. Although Whitaker was unable to set a new personal record during the state meet, the senior was pleased with his ability to end his prep career with yet

Left: Hamilton senior Malik Whitaker won gold in the boys’ Division I high jump for the second straight year after clearing the 6-foot-8 mark. Right: Malik Whitaker knew there would be a target on his back at the Arizona Interscholastic Association’s Track and Field State Championships. He led the state in high jump all season long, and once again proved why by winning the gold medal. (Zach Alvira/STSN Staff)

another gold medal. “I knew the energy here was going to be wild because it is the state track meet,” Whitaker said. “I just locked in. When it was time to jump, I jumped. “It’s amazing.”

Name Karsen Burke Brenden Rice Brenden Rice Hamilton relay Malik Whitaker Malik Whitaker


Name Madison Burciaga Hamilton relay Hamilton relay

Event 110m hurdles 100m 200m 4x400m high jump 1 long jump 4

Place 3 3 3 2

Event 800m 4x400m 4x800m

Place 2 2 4

Chandler reigns supreme at state track meet BY ZACH ALVIRA Sports Editor

If Chandler High School senior Morgan Foster wanted to make a statement at the final meet of her prep career, she accomplished her goal. The Stanford University signee dominated on the track for the Wolves at the Arizona Interscholastic Association’s Track and Field State Championships last week, capturing gold in the girls Division I 800and 1600-meter runs. She also helped lead Chandler’s relay team to gold in the 4x400- and 4x800-meter relay. “I’ve had kind of an uncertain past month and a half of training,” Foster said. “I’ve been dealing with some small injuries and a really bad illness. Just to be here and get those golds is an amazing feeling.” Battling through adversity is something Foster is used to. In January, 2018, she was involved in a single-car crash that could have taken her life. She spent nearly a week in the hospital recovering from her injuries, which included a concussion, collapsed lung and a broken arm that required a plate and several screws to fix. She made her way back to the track and won the 800-meter state title just months after her accident.

Chandler medalists Girls

The Chandler High girls’ track & field team won their fourth straight state title at the Arizona Interscholastic Association’s Track and Field State Championships last weekend. (Zach Alvira/STSN Staff)

“I would definitely use the word persistent,” Foster said to describe herself. “I’ve had some small bumps in the road and I’ve had some big bumps. But every time I get back up and fight even harder. “It’s taught me a lot about who I am as a person being able to compete at all of these championships.”

Foster’s illustrious career at Chandler, where she won five individual gold medals and two silvers, puts her in the conversation as one of the best runners the state has ever seen. With her help, as well as several other Chandler contributors, the girls captured their fourth straight state championship.

Name Event Place Trinity Henderson 100m 1 Jocelyn Johnson 100m 2 Trinity Henderson 200m 1 Kelise Davis 200m 2 Jocelyn Johnson 200m 4 400m 1 Kelise Davis Jocelyn Johnson 400m 2 Trinity Henderson 400m 4 Morgan Foster 800m 1 Morgan Foster 1600m 1 Adora Adams 100m hurdles 4 Chandler relay 4x100m 4 Chandler relay 4x400m 1 Chandler relay 4x800m 1 Kimarah Holt triple jump 2 Ashlyn Hutchinson triple jump 4 Ciera Jackson shot put 1 Makayla Hunter shot put 3 Makayla Hunter discus 2 Ciera Jackson discus 3 Makayla Hunter javelin 1 Ciera Jackson javelin 2


CHANDLER on page 40


SANTAN SUN NEWS | MAY 18 - 31, 2019

The Chandler High boys’ track and field team won the state title at the Arizona Interscholastic Association’s Track & Field State Championships last weekend. The Wolves scored 113 points. (Zach Alvira/STSN Staff)

Chandler medalists Boys


from page 39

“I love my team and my coach,” Foster said. “All of the support from all of the coaches and other kids, it’s crazy it’s over. It’s been a crazy ride. I wouldn’t trade it for anything.” Chandler’s dominance at the state meet extended well beyond the girls program. Freshman Quaron Adams, who also plays football at Chandler, stunned spectators with a 10.49-second 100-meter dash. It was the ninth fastest time ran by a freshman in U.S. history and fastest overall this season. “It feels amazing,” Adams said. “I didn’t know I was capable of it. It’s a lot of hard work.”

Name Event Place DeCarlos Brooks 110m hurdles 2 Quaron Adams 100m 1 Tyson Tippett 100m 4 Chandler relay 4x100m 1 Latrell Tellis 400m 2

Following the 100, Adams, along with junior Kiondre Taylor and sophomores Eli Sanders and Tyson Tippett, won gold in the 4x100-meter relay in 41.49 seconds. Sanders, who was a part of Mountain Pointe High School’s championship relay team last season, picked up where he left off in 2018 and gave Chandler the early advantage in the first leg. “We have great coaching and practice that helps us get through the mental and physical aspect of the race,” Sanders said. “I know my teammates have my back and

Kamijah Carter 300m hurdles Quaron Adams 200m Latrell Tellis 200m Chandler relay 4x400m Nicolas Nesbitt long jump Andrew Menlove shot put Andrew Menlove discus

3 2 4 1 2 1 4

stay with me through the whole thing.” Tippett ran the second leg for Chandler while Taylor took the third. As the anchor, Adams sealed the victory. “The championship feels nice,” Tippett said. “I love hearing our name called first at the end of the day.” Following the relay, Adams ran the 200-meter dash 21.61 seconds. While he placed second behind Tucson High School’s Johnnie Blockburger, his time is the second-fastest by a freshman in the nation this season.

Chandler High freshman Quaron Adams stunned spectators at the state meet last weekend by running a 10.49-second 100-meter dash. It is the fastest time by a freshman in the U.S. this season and ninth all-time. (Zach Alvira/STSN Staff)

Chandler’s third and final gold medal in the track events came during the 4x400-meter relay. Taylor was the only one from the 4x100 team to compete in the final event of the meet. The Wolves went on to finish in 3 minutes, 19.24 seconds to win the event and seal the boys’ state title with 113 team points. “It’s outstanding,” Taylor said. “It’s a pleasure to be coming out here with this family as a team. We had a few bumps along the way but everyone stepped up. I’m thankful for all of this.”

Valley Christian boys repeat as track and field champs BY ZACH ALVIRA Sports Editor

Valley Christian High School senior Jalen Grijalva could hardly contain his emotion. Just over two months after Grijalva and the Trojans basketball team won the 3A state championship, he helped lead Valley Christian’s boys’ track and field program to its second straight state title. “This one feels really good,” Grijalva said. “Everyone did their part. All of the hard work we put in, it all comes down to this and it was truly worth it.” Grijalva ran anchor for Robert Harney, Kyle Juist and Andrew Hanzal in the 4x100-meter relay. He also anchored the 4x400-meter relay with Harney, Geoffrey Grossthal and Tim Jentgen. Valley Christian won gold in both events. Knowing he is the one closing out a race for his team, Grijalva keeps a simple mindset to stay focused during each event. “Finish,” Grijalva said. “All I’m thinking about is finish. That’s every time. I don’t want to let my team down no matter what. As long as I finish, I know I didn’t let them down.” Grijalva also ran the 100-meter dash in 11.43 seconds, and the 200 in 22.87 seconds. He finished second in both. Grossthal represented Valley Christian in the 1600- and 3200-meter runs, placing

Valley Christian medalists Boys Name Event VC Relay 4x800m Jalen Grijalva 100m Geoffrey Grossthal 1600m VC Relay 4x100m Geoffrey Grossthal 800m Jalen Grijalva 200m VC Relay 4x400m Jackson Colbrunn high jump Logan Kelley pole vault Evan Shiel javelin

Valley Christian High’s boys’ team won its second straight state title at the Arizona Interscholastic Association’s Track and Field State Championships at Mesa Community College on Saturday, May 4. (Zach Alvira/STSN Staff)

third in both. Logan Kelley gave the Trojans a point-boost by finishing first in the pole vault, while Evan Shiel and Jackson Colbrunn placed third in javelin and fourth in high jump, respectively. As Grijalva prepares to continue his basketball career at Benedictine University Mesa next season, he can’t help but reflect on what his last year at Valley Christian

meant to him. “It means a lot to me,” Grijalva said. “I feel like I did something that kids can look back on and strive to become better than. I want them to think, ‘he put in that hard work to get two, I want to put in the hard work to get three.’ “I think it’s going to be the start of something new at Valley.”


Name Chloe Fraley Chloe Fraley Rebecca Smith Chloe Fraley Chloe Fraley

Event 100m hurdles 300m hurdles pole vault pole vault javelin

Place 4 2 3 1 3 2 1 4 1 3

Place 4 4 1 4 1

Have an interesting story? Contact Zach Alvira at zalvira@ a nd follow him on Twitter @ZachAlvira.

SANTAN SUN NEWS | MAY 18 - 31, 2019

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SANTAN SUN NEWS | MAY 18 - 31, 2019

For more community news visit

ICAN helps to combat Summer Learning Loss here BY SHELBY PEDERSEN Guest Writer

Summer is quickly approaching, and youth are winding down their school year over the next few weeks. Here at ICAN, we are excited to welcome our youth to the center for full-day sessions, giving us more time to spend with them and offer a variety of learning and recreational options. Summer Learning Loss is a common phrase heard this time of year. Studies have shown that students can loose up to a quarter of their school-year learning over the summer. This gap is even greater for youth living in poverty. These youth have less resources to attend summer camps and less encouragement at home to continue reading and learning.

A 2007 study claimed that summer learning loss could account for up to twothirds of the “achievement gap” between rich and poor children by the age of 14. By the end of fifth grade, low income students are typically more than two years behind their middle-class peers. The youth who attend ICAN are very fortunate. We partner each year with the Valley of the Sun United Way on their Summer Learning Collaborative. We have a literacy coach from VSUW come to ICAN and work directly with youth on reading and literacy skills throughout the summer intersession. ICAN is also blessed with a group of volunteers who are retired teachers with a wealth of knowledge. These dedicated volunteers work with our youth throughout the year, including the summer, to develop their literacy skills. ICAN youth will also enjoy weekly

STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and math) activities throughout the summer, which will keep them engaged and exploring. ICAN also has some incredible partners for field trips over the summer, including the DPR School of Construction and Chandler Schools Pizza Camp. Summer Learning Loss can be an issue for all youth, regardless of economic background. Keeping youth engaged and learning throughout the summer can give them a big advantage going into the next school year. Here are some tips and ideas to prevent Summer Learning Loss in your home: • Encourage your child to read 20 minutes a day during the summer months – let them read something of their choice that they will really enjoy, even magazines and comic books can be a great option. • Puzzles, board games and card games

are great ways to boost problem solving skills. Plan a weekly family game night to keep it consistent. •B  uild arts and crafts together with your child. •T  echnology! Though it drives many parents crazy, technology can be a great tool to keep kids engaged over the summer. Apps like Math Champ, Opposite Ocean and Brain Quest can allow kids to be on their devices but continue to learn while they are there. If you are looking for even more great ideas on ways to prevent summer learning loss, here are a couple of links: •p melissa-taylor/best-learning-apps-kidssummer-learning • Shelby Pedersen is CEO of ICAN: Positive Programs for Youth.

Classrooms and race: “What about the children?” BY NEAL A. LESTER Guest Writer

As an African-American born and raised in the Deep South, I do not fully understand the rationale and popularity of adult dramatic reenactments of the Civil War moments and the antebellum South. I can half understand this tradition only within the historical context of romanticizing the “good old days on the plantation” — the Disney ‘classic’ “Song of the South” (1946), the tune “Dixie,” and myriad American minstrel shows and songs that constructed and glorified “happy slaves” as benevolently-owned human property. My befuddlement has skyrocketed in recent years, months and weeks as related practices have gained a foothold in the classroom. I read about and hear from parents of color around the country who are dismayed, frustrated and angry about what their young elementary, middle or high school students are experiencing in American classrooms every day, some-

where across the United States. Unfortunately, the listings that follow are not exhaustive, but underscore far too many local and national instances of educator insensitivity or ignorance. While an incident of cultural insensitivity here and there might get a pass from me as a teacher and scholar of American race relations, the frequency and gravity of these incidents is overwhelming and profoundly disturbing. These headlines alone speak volumes about this pressing issue: “Teacher Suspended for Racist Comments about Obama” (2008), “Kentucky Teacher Calls Student the N-word” (2011), “White Teacher Sues to Use the N-word” (2012). Disturbingly, racial unawareness by mostly white educators goes beyond instances of racial slurs and the N-word. Classroom reenactments of slavery, American slavery simulation games, minstrel masks worn during an assembly, a play with high school students wearing KKK costumes and walking through a theater audience and reenactments of the Civil Rights Movement reveal one of several things about our students’

teachers: blatant cultural incompetence, absence of critical thinking, lack of empathy, ignorance of American history or discomfort with talking openly and honestly about American race relations — past and present. Teaching sensitive moments in our American history is to be applauded as long as lessons are age-appropriate for the students. Given the prevalence of these poor teacher choices, I can only imagine the negative impact on students and their parents directly and indirectly: “Phoenix ASU Prep School Students Dress as Ku Klux Klan for High School Play” (2018), “Class Lesson on Civil Rights Flies Off the Rails as White Students Take the Opportunity to Spew the N-word: ‘They Took It for a Joke’” (2019), “Phoenix Mom Outraged Over History Lesson” (2019) and “Parents Lash Out after Video Shows Fifth-graders Singing and Picking Cotton on Field Trip” (2019). From these many instances at schools, I am left baffled by who is approving these lessons and how these particular teaching strategies amount to classroom “best

practices.” I also question what critical resources these teachers are using to equip themselves for culturally responsive pedagogy. It is likely that too many of these white educators — and likely others — are not adequately trained to teach competently about America’s history of race relations. Teaching the obligatory American history lessons – especially those that underscore ongoing generational trauma, comes with additional research and training on how to teach these lessons, simulations and reenactments with sensitivity and awareness. Perhaps these pedagogical “missteps” speak to educators’ own white privilege and unconscious bias. Although I am not a public school teacher, I have a degree in secondary education and have worked extensively across the country with pre- and in-service teachers and administrators on diversity issues for over thirty years. These classroom “missteps” are not the actions or poor judgement of all teachers and are not necessarily malicious. See

LESTER on page 43

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SANTAN SUN NEWS | MAY 18 - 31, 2019


An update for Brain Tumor Awareness Month BY DR. NADER SANAI Guest Writer

Here is a sobering statistic to mark National Brain Tumor Awareness Month: More than 1.4 million people live with malignant

brain tumors. Glioblastoma — the cancer that killed Senators John McCain and Ted Kennedy — is one of the deadliest. Nine of 10 diagnosed die within five years. Glioblastoma knows no social, economic or demographic barriers. It originates in brain tissue and rapidly disrupts brain function. With a median survival of 14 months, it claims the lives of most patients who are diagnosed. Despite years of coordinated


from page 42

Good intentions, however, do not cancel out the real and potential negative impact on students and parents, both those who experience these instances directly as well as those to witness these unfortunate “lessons.” And while “The Nation’s Teaching Force Is Still Mostly White and Female” (Education Week, 2017), many white teachers and administrators are keenly aware of what and how to present effectively and

efforts by the scientific community, experimental drugs continue to be ineffective. These grim realities are the result of a drought in drug development for this patient population. Since 1982, only five drugs have been approved for brain cancer patients. In comparison, for lung cancer patients, this number exceeds 50. New drug development is costly, exceeding a $2 billion price tag from bench to bedside. Attaining FDA approval can take decades and, today, a new drug has less than an 8 percent chance of making it to market. The funding and time needed for brain tumor drug development is ill-suited for today’s patients. As a neurosurgeon at the Barrow Neurological Institute and

a clinical trialist at the Ivy Brain Tumor Center, these are some of the realities that my colleagues and I grapple with every day. Despite the odds, the answers are out there, waiting for breakthroughs like we have seen with immunotherapy for melanoma and triple-therapy for HIV. The paucity of new drugs requires a bold, high-risk, high-reward approach to rapidly identify effective new experimental therapies, increase life expectancy and pursue a cure. Enabled by a $50 million grant from the Ben & Catherine Ivy Foundation, the Ivy Brain Tumor Center in Phoenix, Arizona aims to level the playing field and put time back on the side of patients in the fight of their lives.

Unlike traditional clinical trials, accelerated Phase 0/2 clinical trials test new, experimental drug combinations on a patient-by-patient basis. Initial results are available in as few as seven days, allowing patients to expediently continue onto an advanced trial or switch to a different treatment. We are focused on progress — not process — so we can quickly bring promising therapeutic options to patients living with brain tumors around the world. Because for us, this work is personal.

respectfully lessons on sensitive topics about race, gender, sexuality or class. My advice to all teachers when considering these kinds of American history simulations specifically is to understand fully what the potential negative ramifications might be and how the lessons will resonate with all students in a classroom. I would also ask teachers to self-reflect on their racial positionality as it relates to a subject and topic not about them racially or ethnically. Good teachers do and can without incident. This clearly does not mean that effective teachers can’t, or shouldn’t, teach subjects or topics not

about themselves ethnically or racially. Though two pieces of advice from the reputable k-12 educators’ resource, Teaching Tolerance, come immediately to mind for any teacher contemplating classroom simulations of American history: “Classroom Simulations: Proceed with Caution” (Drake, 2008) and ”Slavery Simulations: Just Don’t” (Bell, 2019). As for the infamous n-word in classroom content material, I ask that white teachers not fetishize this word in their lessons but rather acknowledge their own personal relationship with and understanding of this word, what it represents

historically, and how this acknowledgment might impact their classroom actions and attitudes: “Sticks and Stones: When Kids Use the N-word” (Trimble, 2014). No student, parent, or marginalized community should have to endure yet another teacher’s bad pedagogical judgement and hear yet another school district’s subsequent feeble justifications.

-Nader Sanai, MD, FAANS, FACS is Francis & Dionne Najafi Professor of Neurosurgical Oncology at the Barrow Neurological Institute in Phoenix.

-Dr. Neal A. Lester is a Foundation Professor of English and founding director of Project Humanities at Arizona State University.

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SANTAN SUN NEWS | MAY 18 - 31, 2019

Tucson case shows nonsensical immigration policy BY DAVID LEIBOWITZ Columnist

It’s been 24 years since I moved to Arizona and nothing much has changed about immigration politics in all that time. The sad, strange case of 18-year-old Thomas Torres-Maytorena proves as much. Thomas, a senior at Desert View High School in Tucson, is said to be virtually everything we look for in a teenager today: A student with graduation robes hanging in his closet for a May 22 diploma ceremony. A cornerback on the Jaguars football team who bussed tables and did yard work to earn cash. A young man with dreams of becoming an electrical engineer, a teen described by his friends to reporters as hard-working, down-to-earth and kind. These are all qualities which typically generate zero news coverage, but for the fact that Torres-Maytorena is in the United States illegally, brought to Arizona as a toddler by his family. With his kin gone back to Mexico, the 18-year-old currently lives in Tucson with the family of his closest buddy. It’s an arrangement that made national headlines last week after Pima County Sheriff’s deputies pulled over Torres-Maytorena and two friends on the night of May 2 for driving in a vehicle with suspended insurance. The deputy asked Torres-Maytorena for

his driver’s license and ID, according to police. The teen could not provide this, and questioning ensued. Torres-Maytorena ultimately “admitted to the deputy that he was in the country illegally,” according to a Pima Sheriff’s press release. “It was at this point Border Patrol was contacted. Border Patrol proceeded to take custody of Torres-Maytorena.” Torres-Maytorena spent the next five days in an Immigration and Customs Enforcement facility in Casa Grande. On May 6, his Desert View classmates staged a walk out on his behalf, trudging four miles from the school to the Sheriff’s

Office in a protest covered across Arizona and in the New York Times. Late on May 7th, ICE released Thomas, but not before putting him into deportation proceedings. “An immigration judge with the Department of Justice Executive Office for Immigration Review will determine if Mr. Torres-Maytorena has legal basis to remain in the United States,” explained an ICE spokeswoman. All of which leaves me grappling with the same question I’ve been asking for nearly a quarter century whenever the subject of illegal immigration arises. Is Thomas Torres-Maytorena really the sort of human being we want to spend

our limited law enforcement and judicial resources deporting? A teenager for whom Mexico has never been much of a home? A hard-working kid whose most serious crime appears to be overstaying his visa to avoid going back to the Third World? It’s the same question I asked myself back in the mid-1990s, when I trekked to the Arizona-Mexico border for the first time, meeting people walking north who looked starved of everything from food to opportunity. It’s the same question I asked in 1999 and 2000, when we spent months debating the fate of a little Cuban 5-year-old named Elian Gonzalez, whom the feds ultimately deported after seizing him at gunpoint from his American relatives. In 2010, Arizona passed Senate Bill 1070 and we debated the same question. Nowadays, the same question comes up whenever President Trump boasts about his “big, beautiful wall.” My answer? It’s simple. The only smart immigration solution is one that draws a bright line between deporting real criminals and real threats versus arresting and deporting 18-year-olds like Thomas Torres-Maytorena. That young man is not the problem. The problem is that we have spent the better part of the past 25 years chattering, bickering and twiddling our thumbs, meanwhile doing next to nothing to protect this country or to grant a teenage boy his chance at the American Dream.

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Helping people is how the Elks Riders roll BY COLLEEN SPARKS Managing Editor

When they roll up to venues around the state with their motorcycles rumbling, wearing their signature black, leather vests, the Chandler Elks Riders have a commanding presence. But the approximately 56 members of the group, part of Chandler Elks Lodge #2429, have a soft spot for anyone in need, including children, veterans and others who could use a boost financially or emotionally. The motorcyclists promote the spirit of Elks Lodges everywhere and demonstrate the Elks’ principles of charity, justice, brotherly love and fidelity. Their main goal is to raise money to support their local lodge and state Elks charities. “We’re asked to do a lot of things,” Bill McAfee, vice president of the Chandler Elks Riders and trustee on the board of Chandler Elks Lodge #2429 said. “We love to ride motorcycles and we love to help our community.” McAfee is a good friend of Michael Freeman, current president of the Chandler Elks Riders and inner guard officer for the Chandler Elks Lodge #2429; as well as Greg Smith, past exalted

Riders include, from left, Bill McAfee, Michael Freeman and Greg Smith. As Chandler Elks Riders and Elks Lodge members, they ride around the state on motorcycles raising money and collecting items to give people in need. (Pablo Robles/Staff Photographer)

ruler for Chandler Elks Lodge #2429 and charter president of the Elks Riders. They stress they are Elks Lodge members first.

The Riders are one of many different sub-groups or committees in the Chandler lodge that spearhead charitable activities to help people in

the community. The lodge has about 600 members. “We’re an organization of motorcycle enthusiasts that want to give back to the community,” Smith said. Chandler Elks Riders, formed in 2014, recently sponsored a Poker Run For Nation of Patriots, raising $5,000 for Nation of Patriots, a national nonprofit organization that supports the physical, emotional and economic needs of wounded veterans and their families. About 70 motorcyclists rode in the Poker Run, some from other organizations. “It was pretty cool,” Freeman said. “Everybody loves it.” The cause hits close to home as many of the Chandler Elks Riders are veterans themselves, including McAfee, who served in the United States Marine Corps from 1980 to 1988. “I feel very good about helping veterans,” McAfee said. Lodge #2429 also has a veterans club and it delivers dinners to veterans in assisted living homes. Besides giving them food, the lodge also provides them with blankets, toothbrushes, sweatpants, Walmart gift cards and other See

ELKS on page 50

2 Chandler authors to attend KJZZ event BY COLLEEN SPARKS Managing Editor

Two Chandler award-winning authors will mingle and share their books at the KJZZ Arizona StoryFest & Authors Showcase on June 1 in Mesa. Kathy Peach, who wrote children’s book, “The Tiniest Tumbleweed,” and Eileen Pieczonka, who wrote children’s books: “Blueberry Bear” and “Blueberry Bear A Furry Friends Tale,” will take part in the authors showcase at Mesa Convention Center, 263 N. Center St. The storyfest and authors showcase will run from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. The public can meet Arizona writers and buy their books at the family-friendly event that will also include interactive stories, games and crafts. Peach and Pieczonka are excited to participate in the gathering of authors and storytelling. “I’m looking forward to being there, to sharing the story and helping touch as many lives as I can,” Peach said. Her book, which Story Monsters LLC published, is about friendship, hope and encouragement with its two main characters being a small tumbleweed and baby sparrow. The little tumbleweed and tiny sparrow have physical limitations and fear they will not be able to do things their larger brothers and sisters do, including making seeds and flying. However, the Mother Tumbleweed character in Peach’s book says, “Perhaps not, but you will be as big and strong as YOU will be, and that is just fine, just fine indeed.”

Left: Kathy Peach, who wrote children’s book, “The Tiniest Tumbleweed,” will participate in the KJZZ Arizona StoryFest & Authors Showcase on June 1 in Mesa. Right: Eileen Pieczonka, who wrote books, “Blueberry Bear” and “Blueberry Bear A Furry Friends Tale,” will also be at the festival in Mesa. (Special to SanTan Sun News)

“I’m an animated reader and I bring puppets and tumbleweeds and we have a good time,” Peach said. She brings a puppet of the tiny sparrow in her book and tumbleweeds when she reads her book to the public. Peach said she has not written other books yet but has “two more in my heart.” She was inspired to write the children’s book after witnessing a tumbleweed exploding as she drove on Val Vista Drive in 2010 and wondered about the life of a young boy in her Sunday school class.

Peach wrote her book as her required honors project while she was attending Barrett, The Honors College at Arizona State University, where she was earning a bachelor’s degree in early childhood education with a dual certification in early childhood special education. “The Tiniest Tumbleweed” is a story written based on proven psychological theories related to developing positive self-efficacy ideas in children, she said. Peach’s own journey into writing could also inspire any adults and children. The

teacher of preschoolers at Heart Cry Church previously worked in the banking industry for more than two decades. Peach had also worked at Ford Motor Credit Company in Nashville, Tennessee, for 11 years. She was born in Nashville, and as an adult said she fell in love with education while teaching data entry clerks how to do their jobs and writing the material she taught them. Peach and her husband moved to Chandler in 2009, after they had frequently visited their daughter, Amanda Mason, who lived in Ahwatukee back then. Then at age 54, Peach enrolled at Chandler-Gilbert Community College to study early childhood education. After she earned her associate’s degree in early childhood education at Chandler-Gilbert Community College, she transferred to ASU. The idea for the plot of “The Tiniest Tumbleweed” came after Peach ran over a tumbleweed on Val Vista Drive in Chandler. It was the first time she had seen a tumbleweed before and it exploded in front of her, which amused her and made her wonder about the purpose of tumbleweeds. Later when she was teaching Sunday school at a Chandler church, she started thinking about one of her students, a boy about 2 years old, who was very small. Peach thought life might be a little hard for him and she pondered what it would be like for a tumbleweed growing up. “The Tiniest Tumbleweed” was chosen by the Book Publicists of Southern California for the 2017 IRWIN Award for See

FESTIVAL on page 48


SANTAN SUN NEWS | MAY 18 - 31, 2019


Retired surgeon, dog bring hospital cheer BY COLLEEN SPARKS Managing Editor

A retired neurosurgeon enjoys making the rounds of Dignity Health Chandler Regional Medical Center with Spencer, a therapy dog, to brighten patients’ and employees’ days. Dr. Michael Freed, 67, of Sun Lakes, brings Spencer, a 70-pound Golden Retriever-Poodle mix, one of 26 dogs in Chandler Regional’s pet therapy program. Freed, who worked for many years at hospitals in New Jersey and Massachusetts, said his 8-year-old dog has completed therapy certification and obedience training and has the perfect disposition. “He goes up to people, sees what the patients want,” he said. “The patients will pet him or talk to him. He likes to be petted. Of course, everyone gets a kick out of seeing him do a high five.” Spencer can also shake people’s hands, something that came naturally when he lived with Freed in the colder weather states, where he would give him his paw to Freed to have the snow cleaned off it. Patients enjoy seeing Spencer and other therapy dogs. “They all just love the dog and the program,” Freed said. “I actually was

“I’ve spent most of my life working in hospitals and I do understand the need for pet therapy for patients, and so it was easy to fall into,” Freed said. “People just love this dog.” He said therapy animals had not been provided in the hospitals in which he had worked, but one allowed visits from patients’ pets. “We see patients,” Freed said. “We see visitors. We see outpatients walking through the hall. There’s a high stress level for the staff, and so we see them too. I kind of feel like we Dr. Michael Freed, a retired neurosurgeon, enjoys making the rounds treat all of them.” of Dignity Health Chandler Regional Medical Center with Spencer, a Spencer is “very therapy dog. (Dignity Health Chandler Regional Medical Center) intuitive” and knows when patients or their family surprised when I first started, the number members and friends need of people who requested a visit. The to snuggle or have him sit near them, he percentage is really higher than I thought added. it would be.” Freed takes Spencer for a bath and Some patients miss their pets at home blow dry every Thursday and then Friday and many people who do not have any mornings he visits the hospital for two pets still like having a therapy dog visit, hours, the hospital’s prescribed time he said. limit for therapy animals. They go into

patients’ rooms if requested but they do not have a fixed routine. A February 2018 issue of the National Institute of Health’s “News in Health” said interacting with animals has demonstrated a decrease in people’s levels of Cortisol, a stress-related hormone, and blood pressure. Other studies have revealed animals may reduce loneliness, increase people’s feelings of social support and improve their mood. “Our PAWS teams calm and comfort those who are nervous and miss their own animals when they are here with us,” said Lori Mercer, Dignity Health Chandler Regional Medical Center volunteer services supervisor said. “Spencer is one of our Goldendoodles; he has a gentle, calming presence and is frequently requested by staff, patients and families for visits.” Freed praised the Chandler hospital. “They care about their employees,” he said. “They are absolutely about the patients, volunteers. It‘s been a great place.” Freed also enjoys volunteering for other organizations in his free time and he is married and has seven grandchildren. Information: arizona/locations/chandlerregional

YMCA engages students in STEM, thanks to APS grant BY COLLEEN SPARKS Managing Editor

Children at the YMCA in Chandler and around the Valley are not only practicing sports and splashing around in pools but also programming cars, conducting scientific experiments and doing other STEM activities with help from a grant. The Valley of the Sun YMCA has been able to expand and strengthen its STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) activities because of a $50,000 APS Foundation grant. Youths at the Chandler/Gilbert Family YMCA and other branches across the state play games and participate in handson projects to explore, analyze and solve problems. “STEM has become a really important part of what we do at Chandler,” Garrett Brolsma, district executive director of the Valley of the Sun YMCA, who oversees the Chandler/Gilbert Family YMCA and

the Tempe Family YMCA said. “Obviously (with) the tech influence in the Chandler community, we see a ton of interest in STEM from the children and parents. We ensure a STEM portion of our curriculum” in the after-school and summer school programs, he added. Children at the Chandler/Gilbert Family YMCA are among 10 YMCA branches in the Valley of the Sun YMCA that get to use hands-on, STEM learning kits that rotate to the different locations. The youths focus on engineering and using 3D printers. At least once a week, STEM curriculum is taking place with the children at those 10 branches, Jenna Cooper, executive director of youth development for the Valley of the Sun YMCA said. “STEM is such an important part of our economy and we’re finding that children are leaving high school without any real interest in STEM,” Cooper said. “We think we can make a dent in this by exposing them to activities in a hands-on, fun way

after school and in the summer.” The students love using the 3D printer and they also get to build miniature cars and program them to move around. They do science experiments including one involving gum drops and toothpicks. The youths have also created their own slime and learned how putting Mentos candy in a bottle of Coca-Cola will cause the bottle to explode. Math is incorporated into the scientific experiments. “The grant provides us the opportunity to purchase some tangibles that really bring that curiosity to life,” Cooper said. In the future, the Chandler/Gilbert Family YMCA would love to partner with an employee of Intel or Microchip Technology that would visit with the YMCA youths to teach them more about STEM, Brolsma said. The Valley of the Sun YMCA aims to engage kindergarten through high school students in experiential and hands-on STEM components and career

development. The APS Foundation grants will go directly to expanding STEM Thursdays, Science Action Clubs, STEM Career Fairs and Y Mobile Tech Learning Centers at the 15 YMCA branches. “The work that the Valley of the Sun YMCA is doing to introduce these important STEM concepts to such young, developing minds is invaluable to our community,” foundation executive director Tina Maria Tentori said. “These important lessons give the up-andcoming generation the foundation needed to thrive in the future workforce.” STEM will be part of summer camps and children can opt to do all STEM activities in the summer camps at the Chandler/Gilbert Family YMCA. Those camps run May 28 through August 2. Sports, swimming and field trips are also part of the summer camps. Information: chandler-gilbert

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SANTAN SUN NEWS | MAY 18 - 31, 2019

from page 46

Best Inspirational Children’s Book. People can buy the book at Sibley’s West: The Chandler and Arizona Gift Shop at 72 S. San Marcos Place, as well as on Amazon. com and at several local museums. It is also being sold at Barnes & Noble stores at the Chandler Fashion Center in Chandler and San Tan Village in Gilbert. Peach works at Sibley’s as an assistant to the owners and enjoys the camaraderie with other Arizona authors. “We’re like a small family,” she said. “We go to the same festivals and we support each other’s work.” Pieczonka, a Chandler resident for 19 years, also got her inspiration for her books close to home and is also eager to spend time with other authors at the June 1 festival. “I know there’s gonna be a lot of high energy in that place with all the authors and they’re having a story stage and also an authors’ showcase,” she said. “I am one of the authors at the authors’ showcase reading my book. I’m really excited about that, also nervous about it.” Pieczonka, who is originally from Chicago, said her late dog, Jamie inspired her to step out of her comfort zone. The dog in her books is modeled after Jamie, who loved blueberries. Pieczonka nicknamed Jamie “Bear” when she adopted her. “I thought, what a great title for a children’s book,” she said. Pieczonka would take Jamie, who was a certified therapy dog, to libraries in


Left: Eileen Pieczonka will participate in the KJZZ Arizona StoryFest & Authors Showcase on June 1 in Mesa. Her books feature Blueberry Bear, a free-spirited dog who likes to roll in blueberries. Right: Eileen Pieczonka poses with Avery Covington, a boy who came to an authors’ book signing at Sibley’s West: The Chandler and Arizona Gift Shop in October. (Special to SanTan Sun News)

Gilbert and Mesa, where children through teenagers and sometimes even adults would hang out and read books near Jamie through the Paws2Read program. “She was just a great dog and I thought it would be perfect for her because she was just so laidback,” Pieczonka said. “I loved doing it. Kids would read to her because animals, they don’t pass judgment and they were very comfortable (with) the therapy dogs. I was more of just the handler. If they needed help with any words, we would help. We’d just let them read at their own pace.” She had worked in document control for a semiconductor company for almost 18 years and previously as a graphic designer for several years in Chicago. Pieczonka had earned an associate’s

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degree in photo offset from a college in Illinois and had never thought of herself as a writer. She said it took her about a year to write her first book and she found a great editor, Naomi C. Rose, in Sedona, to edit her writing. “I did all the research myself and then because of being the therapy team at the library I would hear a lot of children’s book stories,” Pieczonka said. “I was just learning all on my own. I was just all over the place. I was very descriptive, which then my editor’s like, ‘When you have pictures you don’t need all of the descriptive words.’” She said “Blueberry Bear” and “Blueberry Bear A Furry Friends Tale,” which she self-published through her Blueberry Tales publishing company, are

“fun read out loud” books. The main character, Blueberry Bear is rambunctious and rolls in a blueberry field, making her fur turn blue. “She just loves getting into mischief,” Pieczonka said. “In the beginning, she’s sleeping in the barn and there’s a total mess in the barn. The farmer yells at her. She takes off to her secret hiding hole to go into a blueberry field and starts rolling in the blueberry field. She bumps into a beehive, which aggravates the bees, chasing her back to the farm and she’s getting the farm all messed up, turning everything blue.” “Blueberry Bear,” which came out in 2016, has a life lesson in it. “The message I give is more for adults, to where everybody’s in so much of a rush,” Pieczonka said. “You need to enjoy life and have fun. She’s a rambunctious puppy that just wants to have fun, just a free-spirited puppy.” Her work has gotten recognition including “Blueberry Bear” being named a finalist for three awards including the 2018 The Wishing Shelf Book Awards in the preschool picture books category. That book also won third place for the 2016 Arizona Authors Association Literary Contest. Pieczonka now has two dogs: Kong and Suki and she would like to get them both certified as therapy dogs. Suki has been to some of her book signings. To learn more about Pieczonka and the “Blueberry Bear” series, visit and for more information about Peach and her book, visit For details on the KJZZ Arizona Storyfest & Authors Showcase, visit

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SANTAN SUN NEWS | MAY 18 - 31, 2019


EVENTS may 20

City Council Study Session, Council Chambers, 782-2180


City Council Meeting, Council Chambers, 782-2180


Memorial Day holiday, City offices closed

june 1

Summer Reading Challenge begins, 782-2800


One World Many Voices: Sons and Fathers with Joel, Roman and Tahj Orona, Hamilton Library, 782-2800


Science Matters @ CPL: “Exploring the Moon Today,” Downtown Library, 782-2800


Family Night at the TRC - Fairytale Fun Unicorns & Mermaids, Tumbleweed Recreation Center, 782-2900


Chandler-Tullamore Sister Cities Fundraiser, Floridino’s, 782-4358


City Council Study Session, Council Chambers, 782-2180


City Council Meeting, Council Chambers, 782-2180


One World Many Voices: Our People of the South with Xavier Quijas Yxayotl, Sunset Library, 782-2800


Family Night at the TRC – Splash-tastic Summer, Tumbleweed Recreation Center, 782-2900


The biggest back-to-school donation drive for Chandler students is back again this year. The City’s Neighborhood Resources Department is partnering with For Our City-Chandler to host Operation Back to School Chandler on Saturday, July 20. Preparations are now underway to secure sponsors, donations and volunteers.

Donation sites are now open through July 11, at various locations for residents to drop-off supplies. Shoes and underwear (any size or gender, K-12), empty backpacks and school supplies are needed. Please note, only NEW items will be accepted and distributed at this event. Drop-off locations are: Environmental Education Center 4050 E. Chandler Heights Road 480-782-2890 Monday-Thursday: 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Friday: 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday: 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Tumbleweed Recreation Center 745 E. Germann Road 480-782-2900 Monday-Friday: 5 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday: 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Sunday: 10 a.m. to 6:30 p.m.

Sunset Library 4930 W. Ray Road 480-782-2800 Monday-Thursday: 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Friday-Saturday: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday: 1-5 p.m.

Snedigar Recreation Center 4500 S. Basha Road 480-782-2640 Monday-Thursday: 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. Friday: 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday: 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.

West Chandler Police Substation 251 Desert Breeze Blvd. 480-782-4800 Monday-Friday: 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Hilton Chandler Mall 2929 W. Frye Road 480-963-5700 Open 24 hours

Flix Brewhouse 1 W. Chandler Blvd. 480-476-8080 Visit for hours

For more information, to make a donation or become a sponsor, contact Niki Tapia at, or visit

Community Needs Assessment survey

Chandler is partnering with the East Valley cities of Tempe and Mesa to conduct a community survey to better serve our residents and identify what you consider to be the top needs of residents in a variety of topics including transportation, housing, employment, mental health and more. A wide range of interested individuals and organizations have already provided ideas and recommendations through interviews and focus discussion groups. Now it is your turn. Help us rate and prioritize ideas that merit more attention and focus. The survey takes about six minutes to complete online at Comments will be kept confidential. The survey will be available online until Friday, May 31.

Water You Going To Do About It?

May is National Water Safety Awareness Month and the perfect time to remind families that drowning is 100 percent preventable. Did you know that every day, about 10 people die from drowning? For children under age 4, drowning is the leading cause of accidental death, with rates even surpassing those of traffic accident fatalities. Since last summer Chandler Fire has responded to 15-water related incidents. Drowning is a complex public health issue that requires a multifaceted prevention approach.

Earlier this month, Chandler Aquatics and Chandler Fire went door-to-door in a west Chandler neighborhood with their signature ABCs of Water Safety door hangers and reminded residents about available water safety resources.

Chandler Aquatics and Chandler Fire have teamed up to launch the Water You Going To Do About It?, water safety campaign. During the month of May, residents will receive water safety tips and the tools they need to be proactive in preventing drowning. They’ve created a one-stop shop with resources from CPR and swim classes to educational games and more. You also will see a public service announcements to further reinforce the safety message. Remember, always watch kids around water. For more information, resources and water safety tips, visit

City Council Study Session, Council Chambers, 782-2180


Donations now being accepted for Operation Back to School Chandler

City Council Meeting, Council Chambers, 782-2180

Take the Solid Waste Customer Service survey We value your opinion and encourage all Chandler residents receiving City provided trash and recycling service to take this year’s survey. Those who complete the entire survey are eligible to enter a drawing for the chance to win a $25 gift card from Harkins Theatres. Visit recycle to share your feedback. The survey will be available online until Friday, May 31.

For event details, visit or call the Chandler Special Events Hotline at


Chandler-Tullamore Sister Cities Fundraiser Mark your calendar to support the upcoming Chandler-Tullamore Sister Cities fundraiser. The event will be held all day Thursday, June 6, at Floridino’s Pizza & Pasta, 590 N. Alma School Road. Twenty percent will be donated back to the organization. For more information, email, call 782-4358 or visit

Chandler Economic Development team honored with prestigious EDDE Award Chandler’s Economic Development Division was recently honored at the Arizona Association for Economic Development’s awards dinner and earned the Economic Development Distinguished by Excellence (EDDE) Large Organization of the Year award. Congratulations to Director Micah Miranda and his Economic Development team for their significant contributions to the advancement of economic growth within Chandler and the Greater Phoenix region. To learn more about Chandler’s Economic Development Division, visit or connect with them on LinkedIn at

Mayor Kevin Hartke & City Council

Economic Development staff (L to R) Ryan Kaup, Director Micah Miranda, James Smith, Chelsey Faggiano, Odette Moore and Michael Winer.




from page 46

items around February or March every year. Most of the veterans committee members are also Riders. Veterans can visit Lodge #2429 for a free steak dinner on Veterans Day each year and a free lunch on Armed Forces Day. “We’ll sit around and talk to them,” McAfee said. “We get everyone from young veterans to old veterans (on Veterans Day).” The Elks Riders also provide gifts and groceries to active duty military members and their families in need around Christmas. A few years ago they picked up a military member at the airport, who is a dad, on leave from duty in Somalia, and brought him home to his surprised family. “There wasn’t a dry eye in the room,” Freeman said. “The kids just love it when we ride up on motorcycles. This year my goal was to really reach out and help different children in need.” Children are a big focus of the Elks Riders and the Lodge as a whole. They organize many activities to support members of the Boys & Girls Clubs of the East Valley – Chandler Compadres Branch, including taking them on a

t? o G ws Ne

SANTAN SUN NEWS | MAY 18 - 31, 2019

Christmas shopping spree. Each child gets $100 to spend and an Elks member accompanies them as they look for items at JCPenney. The Riders also support the national Elks Hoop Shoot on a local level. Children ages 8 to 13 years old try to make as many baskets at the Boys & Girls Clubs of the

firefighter and police officer of the year, chosen by the fire and police departments, by providing them with plaques and dinners every year. Members also grade essays youths submit to try to earn college scholarships. The local Elks members recommend the winners to the Arizona Elks

There wasn’t a dry eye in the room. The kids just love it “when we ride up on motorcycles. This year my goal was to really reach out and help different children in need.”

– Michael Freeman

East Valley – Chandler Compadres Branch and other venues. The Elks Riders also ride to Apache Junction, Florence, Casa Grande and Mesa to visit basketball courts where youths are participating in the Hoop Shoot. A national winner receives a college scholarship. The Chandler Elks Riders have also organized and donated 1,500 teddy bears to the Chandler police and fire departments to give to children at crime scenes and dealing with other crises. The Chandler lodge recognizes a

Association and some Chandler kids have won scholarships in the past. A Chandler Elks club member provided volunteers from his company to build cabins for the Arizona Elks Youth Camp about 40 miles northeast of Globe. In order to help adults and children going through hard times, the Elks Riders have donated turkeys and delivered them to The Society of St. Vincent de Paul for Thanksgiving. “Some of the people are homeless,” Freeman said. “We just want to put a smile on their face.”

Besides helping people in need around the state, the Chandler Elks Riders and Elks Lodge #2429 as a whole offer chances for men and women to form friendships and have fun. The lodge has a restaurant and bar, along with a pool table, shuffle board and lots of tables and areas to lounge and mingle. A team trivia night is held Saturday nights, steak dinners are sold Friday nights and on Monday nights members gather at the lodge to cook food for a group dinner. Wednesday nights, members and visitors can enjoy grilled burgers and fries while Thursdays are taco nights at the lodge. “We’re our own little family here,” Smith said. “We’re a lodge first. The Riders are just a part of the lodge. We couldn’t live without it and we support them.” In order to join the Chandler Elks Lodge #2429, one must be at least 18 years old and believe in God, as well as be an American citizen. “We’re not religious,” McAfee said. “You do have to believe in God and country.” There is a $25 application fee and then members must pay $99 a year to be in the lodge and to join the Riders costs another $20 a year. Chandler Elks Lodge #2429 is located at 1775 W. Chandler Blvd. Information: cfm?LodgeNumber=2429

Contact Contact Paul Paul Maryniak Maryniak at at 480-898-5647 or or


SANTAN SUN NEWS | MAY 18 - 31, 2019


Hamilton, Seton academic teams win big BY COLLEEN SPARKS Managing Editor

Academic decathlon teams at Hamilton High School and Seton Catholic Preparatory are celebrating their scholastic prowess and ability to thrive under pressure after winning top honors at recent competitions. Hamilton took first place overall and first place in Division I at the Arizona Academic Decathlon and scored fourth place internationally, Division I at the United States Academic Decathlon. Seton’s academic decathlon team took first place in the 3A division at the state competition and sixth place overall for all divisions. The school also finished fourth overall in the medium division at the national tournament. Academic Decathlon is a national program dedicated to academic excellence in high schools. At Hamilton and Seton, it is a club and a class. Every team has a balance of students with different academic levels. Students are tested in several academic areas including art, music, language-and-literature, science, math and economics. Most of the subjects handled through multiple-choice tests given at the competition sites, but interview, essay and speech are performance events. Coaches are proud of their students for working hard and demonstrating their abilities. Carla Turner and Elizabeth Trotti coach Hamilton’s team.

Hamilton High School’s academic decathlon team took first place overall and first place in Division I. (Hamilton High School)

“Honestly, I cried when they announced that we were first in the state,” Turner said. “I’ve been building this program for years, and that moment with this incredible group of kids was overwhelmingly emotional. “I thought of my former students and how each team has stood on the shoulders of the team who came before

them; the success of this program belongs to ALL of them,” Turner added. “At nationals, I realized how much respect schools throughout the country have for us, and we are so proud that Hamilton is recognized as one of the ‘big names’ nationally. Our goal was to finish in the top 5, so finishing fourth was fantastic. We could not be more proud.”

Several Hamilton students also won individual awards at both competitions. Jake Nance, 18, a Hamilton senior, of Chandler, got the bronze overall, a gold medal for science, a silver medal for language and literature, silver medal in music, silver in art and bronze in math for the “honors” level at the national competition. At the state competition, he took first place overall in the “honors” level, was the highest scorer in the state, got first place in art, economics, math (a tie), and science and he earned third place in social science and third place in language and literature in the “honors” level. “I cannot describe how proud I am of my teammates for accomplishing so much in one year,” Jake said. “Winning state has been our bucket list for a few years now, and it was like a dream come true when we heard our names called as state champions. “I will never forget that night’s award ceremony, especially considering how close we were to second place,” Jake continued. “To be honest, the state championship means far more to me than placing four at Nationals because it was a testament to the countless hours upon hours we put into studying.” Other Hamilton medalists were: Jasmine Sun, who got a gold medal in art, a silver in interview, and bronze in science, social science and speech; Zuzia Stechly, who earned a gold in interview, See

HAMILTON on page 52

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silver in art, and bronze in music; Emily Jefferson, who took home a bronze in language and literature and Melina Chabolla, who got a bronze in interview. Jake, Aris Zhu, Jasmine, Zuzia, Navaneeth Unnikrishnan and Emily also got individual state meet awards. Tyler Thornton, 17, a Hamilton junior and Chandler resident, was excited about the team’s success. “It was exhilarating because of the fact that we would make the first CUSD school to win state and have the chance to go to nationals and do very well,” Tyler said. “It pushes people to find ways to study smarter, instead of harder. Not only that but it teaches the students how to do interviews, and give public speeches.” Hamilton academic decathlon team member Emma Keegan, 18, a senior, of Chandler, was also fired up about the team’s performances. “It was exhilarating; Everyone in the room screaming when Canyon del Oro was pronounced as the second-place winner and Hamilton High School was victorious over the five-time consecutive champion,” Emma said. Emily also is happy about the team winning at state and doing well at nationals. “Winning the state competition has been our goal for years now and to be able to see that dream come to fruition and be part of why it did, fills my heart with pure joy,” she said. Zuzia said the best part about academic decathlon is “it brings together students who would never normally

SANTAN SUN NEWS | MAY 18 - 31, 2019

saw each other everyday, we spent countless independent hours reading and taking tests, and we really strived to understand the whole binder of material.” Aris, a sophomore, said winning state was surreal and “the whole team was ecstatic and emotional.” “The learning experience in Academic Decathlon Seton Catholic Preparatory’s academic decathlon team includes, from left: Tyler cannot be Ash, Silas Gadd, Jr., Colin Curran, Mariah McNally, Anique Kaijser, John Buessing, Kyle Mendoza and Cole Stickland. Not pictured is Jarrod Hebert. (Seton Catholic Preparatory) rivaled,” Aris added. “I loved learning about the interact in high school.” “As a member of the competition team vast amount of information surrounding the sixties, but I mostly enjoy learning for 4 years, I have watched Hamilton’s from the charismatic personalities of my AcDec program grow immensely,” Zuzia added. “The exhilaration of winning State teammates.” At Seton, academic decathlon coach was indescribable. For a week after the Todd Decker, also a math teacher, said he competition, I had bruises on my ribcage strives to “make kids passionate about from embracing my team members as we learning.” cried with joy.” “That’s been my focus over the years,” Jasmine said winning at the state Decker said. “Most kids have within tournament and getting fourth place them the ability to learn. I’m like this at nationals “were surreal experiences, motivational cheerleader for the kids.” especially state.” The students on Seton’s academic “For the past three years, I’ve watched decathlon team take it as a class every the Hamilton team grow stronger and day and spend many Saturdays as a team closer to the state championship,” she at school. The students also studied and said. “This year, knowing that the gap prepared—often on their own. was smaller than ever, we pushed: we

Seton’s academic decathlon students took the online national competition, working in the school’s computer lab. All but two of the students competing on Seton’s academic decathlon team were seniors. The 1960s was the theme for the state and national competition so students studied social science, the history of the ’60s, literature from that time period, Civil Rights and other topics. This was the third year in a row Seton won the 3A division for the state tournament. Three Seton students on the team got medals at the state academic decathlon: Silas Gadd, Jr., of Chandler; a senior; Tyler Ash, of Tempe, a senior; and Cole Stickland of Gilbert, also a senior. Silas and Tyler took home the gold and silver respectively in the essay category and Cole got a bronze in science. Mariah McNally, a senior, of Gilbert, headed Seton in scoring the most points of anyone on the team, with 8,018. The other team members on Seton’s academic decathlon team were Anique Kaijser, Colin Curran, John Buessing, Kyle Mendoza and Jarrod Hebert. Kyle, of Gilbert, is a junior, and Jarrod, of Ahwatukee, is a sophomore. The Seton students who earned individual medals at the national, online competition were: Mariah McNally, bronze in music. Social science and art and gold in math; Anique Kaijser, bronze in art; John Buessing, bronze in mathematics; bronze in economics; Cole Stickland, Bronze in Literature;, music and math and gold in science and math; and Tyler Ash, bronze in essay. Information:

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SANTAN SUN NEWS | MAY 18 - 31, 2019


Doctor concerned about drug abuse by elderly BY COLLEEN SPARKS Managing Editor

Older adults in Arizona and around the country are increasingly at risk of abusing their medication, according to a physician who teaches at the Chandler Community Center. Dr. Wisam Shaba, a medical director for OptumCare Network of Arizona, said opioid-related deaths have increased in recent years. Shaba, who used to work in skilled nursing centers in Chandler and Mesa, said opioids are prescribed for patients after surgery and run risks if they do not follow the guidelines of how to use these medications. “It’s a problem,” Shaba said. “We cannot ignore that nationally and specifically in Arizona. The opioids, they are a powerful medication. They are highly addictive.” OptumRx recently received the 2019 Excellence Award for Opioid Management Strategies from the Pharmacy Benefit Management Institute. The award recognizes OptumRx for greatly reducing excessive prescribing, dispensing and consumption of prescription opioids — while delivering quality care — through its Opioid Risk Management program, a comprehensive measure tackling the opioid epidemic. OptumRx is a pharmacy care services

Dr. Wisam Shaba, who teachers at OptumCare’s Chandler Community Center, said elderly people also have to be careful about opioid addiction. (Special to SanTan Sun News)

company helping clients and over 65 million members achieve better health outcomes and lower overall costs through prescription drug benefit services. It is part of Optum, an information and technology-enabled health services

business dedicated to making the health system work better for all. Optum is part of UnitedHealth Group. There were 2,924 suspected opioid deaths in Arizona from June 15, 2017 to April 25 of this year, according to the Arizona Department of Health Services. The number of elderly patients getting opioid prescriptions increased nine times between 1996 and 2010, according to a “Psychiatric Times” article last January. Of the people over the age of 50 surveyed, 35 percent reported they had misused this category of drug in the last 30 days, causing the hospitalization rate for misusing opioids to increase five-fold over the last two decades, the article said. More than 40 percent of older adults have chronic pain that is frequently treated with opioids, and in 2015 painkillers were number one on the list for the most commonly used prescription drugs, according to the AARP. Shaba said the most common opioids he sees older patients use are hydrocodone, often prescribed after surgeries. Percocet and oxycodone are also commonly given to help patients deal with pain after surgeries, he said. Shaba said opioids can cause imbalance, drowsiness and constipation. A dangerous reaction to opioids would be if people have hallucinations and delusions, he said.

Anyone who is prescribed opioids should follow the doctors’ orders for how often and how long to take them, Shaba said. “Never take an extra dose because I have more pain,” he said. Shaba also said people should not mix alcohol with opioids or with sleep medicine including Ambien. “The drug reaction with opioid is really tremendous and dangerous,” he said. Shaba also said people should only take prescribed opioids for pain when they have the pain. If they are not experiencing pain they do not need to take the medicine. “Never, ever share the medication, your own or from a friend,” Shaba said. “You don’t know what the strength of that medication (is), is it good for you?” OptumCare Network has a pharmacy team that educates doctors locally about risk factors of proper drug dosing, he said. “We do that education part to the doctors and providers about risks, make sure every provider in our network follows CDC rules, pharmacy rules,” Shaba said. OptumCare Network of Arizona’s Chandler Community Center at 985 W. Chandler Heights Road offers free preventative wellness activities including blood pressure checks and yoga, pilates and other fitness classes, parties, as well as computer, stress management and foreign language courses open to the public. Information:



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SANTAN SUN NEWS | MAY 18 - 31, 2019

Gilbert mom is state’s Mother of the Year BY CECILIA CHAN Staff

Michelle Lacy is the mother of all Arizona moms. The 47-year-old Gilbert mom of two grown children was named the 2019 Arizona Mother of the Year by American Mother’s, Inc., a nonprofit that recognizes the importance of motherhood through education and community outreach and is the official sponsor of Mother’s Day and the Mother of the Year. “Well, I think my biggest thing as a mom is I have also dealt with postpartum mood disorder and have two children who are medically involved and have used those experiences to help other moms,” Lacy said. “If my story can help other moms reach out for help and not suffer in silence, it’s so worth it.” Lacy also is a certified perinatal mental health clinician and clinical director for Women’s Health Innovations of Arizona. The Gilbert organization serves mothers and families struggling with mental health and substance use disorders around pregnancy, postpartum and parenting regardless of ability to pay. Lacy’s story began with her first pregnancy at age 26. “Motherhood was nothing I expected it to be,” she recalled. “I envisioned it to be full of joy and excitement and instant love and really knowing what to do.” But it was nothing like that, Lacy found out 18 hours after the birth of her son, Jacob. Jacob was born with a heart problem and would go on to have two surgeries.

lie of postpartum illness.” At one point, she found it hard to leave her house. “I felt bad things would happen,” she said. “The reality is, I lost myself.” When her daughter was 4 months old, Lacy’s husband, Jason, insisted she get help. Michelle Lacy of Gilbert has been named the 2019 Arizona Mother of the Year by She found American Mothers, a nonprofit. (Special to STSN) a lifeline from a leading expert in “I was super anxious the first year of his postpartum disorders and “good news with life,” Lacy said. “I felt very much alone.” proper care, you will be well,” Lacy said. Approximately 6 percent of pregnant “It is treatable. I found out how many women and 10 percent of postpartum women women suffer in silence and I found that develop anxiety, according to health experts. unacceptable.” Sometimes anxiety is experienced alone and Lacy, a licensed counselor, switched from sometimes in addition to depression. Symptoms include constant worry, feeling working with teens to mothers and families. She has been a member of Postpartum that something bad is going to happen and Support International and is a Subject racing thoughts. Matter Expert for PSI’s certification. When Lacy became pregnant at 28 with She also served as board president for her daughter Hope, she was again racked the Arizona Chapter in the past and is with anxiety. a founding member and served as vice Hope was born with a chronic medical president of the Arizona Postpartum condition that is being managed. Wellness Coalition. “I was consumed with worry, fear and Lacy also credited the support from anxiety,” Lacy said. “I was just overcome. I saw fear in everything. I really believed I was family and her faith for helping her on her road to recovery. scarring the children for life but that is the

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Besides recognition as No. 1 mom in Arizona, Lacy was able to apply for a $1,500 award, which she has chosen Women’s Health Innovations of Arizona as the recipient. She also recently attended the 84th National Convention of American Mothers, Inc. in Washington, D.C. where she was able to meet with Arizona representatives such U.S. Sen. Kyrsten Sinema to discuss the needs of Arizona mothers. “A lot of women and families are suffering and are in need of improved services,” Lacy said. Today, Lacy’s testimony as a mom is seen through her children. Hope is 19 and attends The University of Arizona and Jacob is almost 21 and is an associate worship director at Plymouth Covenant Church in Minnesota, taking online courses at Grand Canyon University. Lacy’s advice for other moms who are going through postpartum disorder is to seek out support. “They are not alone,” she said. “There is support out there.” Every year American Mothers, Inc. names an inspirational mother from nominees across the 50 states, District of Columbia and the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico. These 51 women were selected for their contributions as mothers in their communities, workplaces and homes. All were nominated by a friend, relative, peer or by the governor of her state. The 2019 national Mother of the Year went to Fargo resident Dr. Renae Reinardy, a psychologist and director of the Lakeside Center for Behavioral Change.


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SANTAN SUN NEWS | MAY 18 - 31, 2019



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Desert vegetation colors new Chandler gallery exhibit BY COLLEEN SPARKS Managing Editor

Two Chandler residents are among the many artists sharing their creative pieces celebrating cacti and other native vegetation in Arizona at a multimedia exhibit. Janet Keller and Steven Velazquez created artwork chosen for the “Fantastical Botanicals” exhibit through Aug. 25 at The Gallery at Chandler Center for the Arts, 250 N. Arizona Ave. The two are among nearly 20 artists selected for the show with artwork reflecting a broad range of styles. An opening reception for the artists will be held from 6 to 8 tonight, May 18, at The Gallery at Chandler Center for the Arts. The exhibit features paintings, ceramics and other multimedia pieces inspired by botanicals in the state and outside of Arizona. “I think that botanicals are relatable and there’s a reason that we give flowers as gifts and especially a lot of people think of the desert as a place that is dead but the palo verde trees right now have been so, so bright and yellow,” said Peter Bugg, visual arts coordinator for the City of Chandler. “There’s a reason we’re attracted to these colors, as are the

Left: Tashina Knight’s piece, “South Chandler Prickly Pears,” an acrylic on canvas, is among the diverse artwork that is part of the “Fantastical Botanicals” exhibit. (City of Chandler) Above: Multimedia artist Janet Keller of Chandler also is displaying her work in the exhibit.

insects that pollinate them.” Keller, who turns 61 May 19; and Velazquez, 66, have diverse backgrounds and have worked in other fields. They are excited to show their work in “Fantastical Botanicals.”

“I’m thrilled that I was accepted into the exhibit and it’s really my first step back into exhibiting my art,” Keller said. “I’m excited to see the other artists’ work. I think with something that has a botanical or floral or something living-

based, they (the public) will relate to it and enjoy it more.” She paints primarily using watercolor but also using acrylic and other formats. Keller also does printmaking and creates mixed media and clay pieces. She taught art for 17 years in the See

FANTASTICAL on page 56

Longtime singer to head Chandler Children’s Choir BY COLLEEN SPARKS Managing Editor

A Wisconsin native and former high school choral director who toured the Baltics as a teenager is eager to help young singers when she takes the reins as the new director of Chandler Children’s Choir’s Encore Choir. Kiernan Steiner, 26, of Ahwatukee was recently selected for the role to guide boys and girls ages 10 to 15 in the Encore Choir. While she heads the choir, she will also continue working on her doctorate of musical arts in choral conducting from Arizona State University. Growing up in Viroqua, Wisconsin, Steiner caught the musical bug at a young age. She performed her first solo singing in church around age 3 as her mother is a Presbyterian pastor. Steiner said she has seen pictures of herself at 3 or 4 singing while her mother played guitar in church. “It’s just such a human experience and I’ve sang my entire life,” she said. “I grew up singing for her sermons.” In high school Steiner started singing at weddings, funerals, baptisms and other events through the church. “I just started to see a much bigger purpose for what music can do,” she said. “It helps people work through their emotions.” Steiner sang in her high school’s choirs and was accepted her junior year to participate in the Wisconsin All-State Treble Choir.

guest conductor for that choir and a professor of music at Millikin University. Holmes greatly inspired Steiner. “She was really the person that changed my perspective on choral music and what that rehearsal process looked like,” Steiner said, recalling: “She helped us interpret text. Her interactive, kinesthetic type of teaching was really attractive to me. It was so meaningful that I reached out to her in an email and asked her, ‘How are you where you’re at?’” Later, Steiner, who also played violin and clarinet in her schools’ orchestras and bands from sixth through 12th grades, went to Millikin University. While earning her bachelor’s of music degree in vocal music education at Millikin, she sang in a choir that Holmes Keirnan Steiner has been chosen to direct the Chandler conducted. Children’s Choir’s Encore Choir. (Pablo Robles/Staff Photographer) Steiner also sang in the In her senior year of high school, she University Choir, the top mixed was chosen to take part in the Wisconsin choral ensemble, directed by Beth All State Mixed Choir. Holmes’ husband, Brad Holmes, her junior The best high school students are and senior years at Millikin. selected for the All State choirs to Steiner and the other members of that participate in a four-day summer camp choir performed at the Grand Canyon and perform at the Wisconsin School and throughout Arizona, New Mexico and Music Association conference held in Texas in 2013. Madison each October. After graduating in May of 2014, During her junior year while taking Steiner and the rest of the University part in Wisconsin All-State Treble Choir, Choir traveled to Lithuania, Latvia and Steiner met Beth Holmes, an Arizona Estonia to perform and collaborate with State University alumna who was the other choirs and conductors.

Steiner then returned and taught private lessons while directing the choral program at Lakeland Union High School in Minocqua. She worked with students performing in musicals, directed an a cappella choir and conducted a jazz choir and another choir. She spearheaded a concert where students sang carols around the winter holidays as culinary students served appetizers for the audience at the high school. Steiner enjoyed teaching in the Northwoods of Wisconsin. Two years after starting her job teaching at the high school, she headed back to a university. This time she earned her master’s of music in choral conducting from University of Missouri – Columbia. While there, she worked as a teaching assistant and directed a vocal jazz ensemble. Steiner has performed and taught all different genres of music including bluegrass/country, jazz, pop, R&B, gospel, classical and musical theater. “I love the variety,” she said. “I would say through school I’ve really started to fall in love with Renaissance and Baroque music. My grandfather introduced me to bluegrass. I love bluegrass, folk music, as well as R and B, Motown.” Steiner said she is excited to work with children in her new position at Chandler Children’s Choir. “It’s been in the last couple years I’ve worked mostly with college students but I’ve always loved working with kids,” she See

CHOIR on page 58



SANTAN SUN NEWS | MAY 18 - 31, 2019

George Takei, an original Trekkie, a Fan Fusion guest LAURA LATZKO Contributor

George Takei is best known for playing Hikaru Sulu in “Star Trek: The Original Series” and subsequent “Star Trek” films and animated series, but he is much more than just one role. The actor’s illustrious career has spanned six decades and included different types of film, video game and TV roles. When he was hired as the show’s Lt. Hikaru Sulu, he realized the importance of “Star Trek.” “Gene Roddenberry created an extraordinary show back in the ’60s. We premiered in 1966. That was a turbulent time in America. The civil rights movement was going on. The Vietnam War was going on in Southeast Asia, and we were at the coldest point in the Cold War,” he said. Roddenberry wanted to make a statement about that condition. In order to do that and get it on TV, he had to be creative. He chose the 23rd century, 300 years in the future, and created a utopian kind of society, Takei said. “The strength of the starship lay in people coming from many different continents, many different cultures, races, faiths, many different histories, all working together,” he explained, noting: “Many young Asian Americans saw me as a hero and an icon for them because they had never seen an Asian American playing a heroic role, a member of the leadership team of that starship. I was

actors and comic book creators; dress up in cosplay and meet other enthusiasts; learn more about local cosplay groups; attend panels and workshops on comic book, fantasy, sci-fi, horror, cosplay and gaming topics; play video, card and table top games against others; shop for one-of-a-kind and vintage items and take part in afterparty events. Longtime “Star Trek” start George Takei will be attending the Phoenix Fan Fusion Now put on convention of pop and comic culture followers. (CBS) by Square Egg Entertainment, the very mindful of the responsibility that event started as Phoenix Cactus Comicon I had. Each one of us carried that same in 2002 and has also been known as kind of responsibility and pride in the Phoenix Comicon and Phoenix Comic Fest. characters that we played.” Square Egg Entertainment’s Kristin Takei is also a long-time social Rowan said that like other fan-focused activist who for most of his life has conventions, Phoenix Fan Fusion has fought for social justice and equality for grown over the years to include new underrepresented people, including the types of fandom. LGBT community. “Most comic conventions have Takei and his costars Nichelle Nichols evolved into events that have much more and Walter Koenig will visit Phoenix for than just comic books,” she said, adding: the Phoenix Fan Fusion comic and pop “There are still very comic-centric culture convention, which runs from conventions, but so many of them have Thursday, May 23, to Sunday, May 26. embraced things like gaming, anime, During the convention, attendees can cosplay and all of these other things. Fan meet with prominent sci-fi and fantasy

Fusion seems to encompass that. Every year, we look ‘what are people really clambering for and what do people love from their childhood?’” For Takei and his husband, the convention will offer a chance to return to Arizona. They have a cabin in the White Mountains and frequently stop in Phoenix on their way up north. During his varied career, Takei played the role of Kaito Nakamura on the TV show “Heroes” from 2007 to 2010; and also appeared in “Hawaii Five-O” and “Will & Grace,” among other shows. For fans, conventions such as Phoenix Fan Fusion offer the chance to meet, take pictures with and get autographs from actors who have touched their lives in some way. The Phoenix convention will also host Nikolaj Coster-Waldau from “Game of Thrones,” Jeff Goldblum from the “Jurassic Park” and “Jurassic World” series and the “Independence Day” saga, Elijah Wood from “The Lord of the Rings” film trilogy, Robin Lord Taylor from “Gotham,” SpongeBob SquarePants voice actor Tom Kenny, Matthew Lewis from “The Harry Potter” film series, Catherine Tate from “Dr. Who,” Jack Skellington voice actor Chris Sarandon and Ray Park from “Star Wars: Episode 1-The Phantom Menace.” The event attracts attendees from across the United States and from Canada, Mexico, Europe and Australia. Rowan said many people turn the event into their annual vacation. “They travel from out of town. They See

FUSION on page 57

SANTAN SUN NEWS | MAY 18 - 31, 2019



from page 56

bring their kids. They stay for a week and just immerse themselves in the event. I think it has become more of an experience,” Rowan noted. Many of the actors attending the convention, including Takei, have established multifaceted careers over several decades. Recently, the actor portrayed former fisherman and community leader Yamatosan in “The Terror: Infamy,” a horror miniseries set in a Japanese-American internment camp during World War II. He

“Of course I loved being able to access… all the European art and also meeting the people, getting to know the people of other countries and cultures,” Keller said. In order to paint cacti flowers, she first took photographs of them. “The idea is that you can literally have this beauty, just step out your door,” Keller said. “If you get to see cacti flowers in a way it’s amazing because you have to have your timing right. The desert is what I know and I enjoy.” She said her background in science has helped her as an artist.

two adult stepchildren, and a grandfather of eight grandchildren, he said Chandler, Mesa and downtown Phoenix have a “really vibrant art community.” Velazquez created paintings and multimedia pieces that were displayed at a gallery in Chandler about 10 years ago. Velazquez has also shown his work at a library in California and he now serves on Chandler’s Arts Commission. He and his wife, Bobbi Fisher, teach Art Masterpiece classes at Basha Elementary School in Chandler. Velazquez said he creates art because he enjoys it and he is thrilled to have his work shown in the “Fantastical Botanicals” exhibit. “I’m excited,” he said. “It’s a great bunch of local artists. I’m never gonna stop doing it. I do it for myself. I love it.” Admission to The Gallery at Chandler Center for the Arts is free and hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mondays through Fridays and noon to 5 p.m. Saturdays. Information:

also served on a consultant on the AMC show, which premieres in August. For this role, he worked with an accent coach on speaking Japanese with a Wakayama accent. He has been working on a graphic memoir entitled “They Called Us Enemy,” about his experiences of being imprisoned in concentration camps in Arkansas as a child. It is set to be released this summer. Activism has been an important part of Takei’s life since he was a teen. He participated in civil rights- and Vietnamera antiwar movements and been part of efforts to get an apology and redress for the internment of Japanese Americans

during World War II. Takei’s internment as a 5-year-old child inspired him to be a social activist and continues to drive him. “I was imprisoned by my own country, the United States of America, behind a barbed-wire prison camp in the United States of America that confined other Americans of Japanese ancestry during the second World War,” Takei said. “Pearl Harbor was bombed, and simply because we happened to look like the people who bombed Pearl Harbor, we were considered a threat to national security. At 5 years old, I was classified as an ‘enemy alien,’ which is crazy. I was

a 5-year-old kid. I didn’t know anything about the politics of the time. That’s the other side of me. I am a political activist because of that background.” Phoenix Fan Fusion, Phoenix Convention Center, 100 N. Third Street, Phoenix,, 9 a.m. to 11:30 p.m. Thursday, May 23, 9 a.m. to 1 a.m., Friday, May 24, and Saturday, May 25, and 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., Sunday, May 26, $20-$45 for day pass, $85 for full event pass, $350 for VIP pass, $10 for sidekick pass for children 3 to 12, free for children 2 and under. Prices go up $5 for single-day passes, $10 for full-event passes and $50 for VIP passes closer to the event.

Steven Velazquez created this multimedia artwork called “Sonora Sojourn,” using paint, paper mâché and wood. (Steven Velazquez)


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“I tend to look at details anyway,” Keller said. “I think that art and science are much more closely linked than people realize. There’s a lot of creativity, imagination and exploration that happens in both fields.” She said in the 1980s her artwork was selected to be exhibited in the Tucson Museum of Art and in the late 1980s her creations were chosen to run in different spaces around the Valley through a Phoenix artists’ organization. Keller got her start as an artist as a child. Her father was a painter and he gave her high-quality pastel drawing pencils. Velazquez began his artistic ventures later in life in 2005. He took art classes at Chapman University in Anaheim, California, where his wife worked at the time. He retired as a UPS driver in 2004 and had earned an associate’s degree in social sciences years ago. “I just decided an art class would be fun,” Velazquez said. A father of four adult children and

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Kyrene School District, first at Kyrene de la Paloma Elementary School and then at Kyrene de la Mirada – Leadership Academy. Keller has a bachelor’s degree in microbiology from Arizona State University and has earned the required number of course hours for a bachelor’s degree in fine arts in arts education from ASU but didn’t petition for that degree. Originally from Chicago, Illinois; Keller moved to Arizona as a young child and as an adult has lived in Scotland and Russia with her husband, Gerry Keller, and their two children, Laura and Andrew, due to Gerry’s work. She is now retired from teaching and her children are adults. Keller had also previously worked for a company that performed quality assurance audits of restaurants. She said she loved living in Scotland and Russia.


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SANTAN SUN NEWS | MAY 18 - 31, 2019

from page 55

said. “Adolescence is a really interesting time for them to navigate all these different avenues as they’re growing up. It will be very cool to work with them.” Steiner will officially start her job as the Encore Choir director July 15, though the choir’s season will start Aug. 15 and the first concert will be in September. She was impressed with the choir’s last concert, where audience members could choose songs. “It’s really creative,” Steiner said. “I love how experimental they seem to be and willing to take chances on new ideas and be a part of something like that is really exciting. Also just the many opportunities that all the choirs have, just to see that students from 7 to 18 years old can be a part of something that’s really in their backyard and something that’s so easy and accessible. “I just wish there was something like that when I was growing up, but it’s so cool to be a part of it on this side of things. They’re so organized and they’re so kind. So many people have reached out to me already welcoming me to the team. I’m so excited to take on this responsibility of leading this group and seeing where this will take all of us.” She will replace Herbert Washington, who is leaving at the end of the season to become artistic director of Phoenix Boys Choir. Aimee Stewart, founder and artistic director of Chandler Children’s Choir, sang Steiner’s praises. She said a professor at ASU recommended Steiner for the position and Steiner has “really worked

The Chandler Children’s Choir impresssed Kiernan Steiner with its recent concert, in which audience members picked the songs to be performed. (File photo)

hard to achieve artistic excellence in her field of conducting.” Stewart said she was especially impressed when she heard Steiner’s answer when she asked her why she wanted the job. “She said that ‘in society, choir can help you find out who you are as a young person, when you find out how valuable your voice is, it affects all other areas of your life,’” Stewart said. “She talked about how choir gives these young people a platform to be who they want to be. She’s very articulate. “She’ll be able to relate with them,” Stewart added. “I think what she will do is she’ll continue to build that community and really bring the choir together as

one choir with one vision, one goal and also helping them to really feel that their individuality is important to contributing to that whole. She will be a fabulous teacher too.” She said she watched Steiner conducting college students in a choir prior to hiring her and liked what she witnessed. “She has a very clear instruction style, which is very positive and open and yet still has an expectation of excellence,” Stewart said. She said the Encore Choir provides a vital artistic outlet for youths at a formative time. “I think it’s absolutely critical because we have a lot of young people who come and they’ve never really sung


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before and then we have some with a lot of experience, a broad range of ages, maturity,” Stewart said. “It really bridges that adolescent gap. I think it’s absolutely a critical age when those young people are deciding what their identity is. Choir is such a great place to build that character and team building.” Encore Choir, in addition to singing at local concerts, also travels out of state and has visited Santa Fe and Los Angeles with plans to visit San Diego in the future. Chandler Children’s Choir has different levels of choirs including Junior for those ages 7 to 19 and Cantus for youths ages 13 to 18. Information:

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SANTAN SUN NEWS | MAY 18 - 31, 2019



Iconic ‘Rent’ marks its 20th anniversary at Gammage LAURA LATZKO Contributor

With the recent televised live version of “Rent,” the rock musical has reached a whole new generation of fans. While the iconic show is set in the late 1980s, its stories of finding love and following dreams speak to people of different ages. The 20th anniversary tour of “Rent” will visit ASU Gammage from Tuesday, May 28, to Sunday, June 2. A retelling of Giacomo Puccini’s opera “La Boheme,” “Rent” follows a group of artists and friends in New York as they try to find their place in the world and are impacted by larger struggles such as the AIDS epidemic. Developed by Jonathan Larson, the award-winning “Rent” features well-known songs such as “Seasons of Love,” “Take Me or Leave Me,” “La Vie Boheme,” “Tango: Maureen,” “Light My Candle,” “Today 4 U” and “I’ll Cover You.” The national tour stars Joshua Bess as aspiring musician Roger Davis; Logan Marks, as filmmaker Mark Cohen; Lyndie Moe, as performance artist and protest leader Maureen Johnson; Javon King, as drag queen Angel Dumott Schunard; Marcus John, as yuppie landlord Benjamin Coffin III; Lencia Kebede, as lawyer Joanne Jefferson; Devinre Adams, as philosophy professor Tom Collins and Deri’Andra Tucker, as charismatic exotic dancer Mimi Marquez. Originally from New Orleans, Tucker was a professional cheerleader for the Saints before debuting as an ensemble member and Michelle Morris understudy on a Korean

“Rent” is marking 20 years since it was first mounted on the Boradway stage with a special run at ASU Gammage Theater. (Special to SanTan Sun News)

tour of “Dreamgirls.” Mimi is Tucker’s first lead role on a national tour. Tucker said the show is different from the live version and the film, but it ultimately tells a similar story. She said two decades later, the show still resonates with audiences. “People not being accepted because they’ve chosen to live a certain lifestyle, taken a certain career path that is unusual to people around them or choosing to love who they choose to love, all of those issues are very relevant,” Tucker said. Tucker hopes the show inspires audiences to accept others for who they are and be more compassionate to those who are struggling. “I think ‘Rent’ shines a light on people who deal with these difficulties on a daily basis and what it’s like to live that life on

the other side. You get to see it from their perspective. I think it opens up people’s minds and hearts,” Tucker said. “Rent” continues to touch audiences of different ages. Tucker said she often sees family members of different generations watching the show. She takes great pride in being in the 20th anniversary cast. “It is such an honor to be part of something that’s so iconic, so legendary,” she said. “Every day, I fall more and more in love with the show.” She finds Mimi to be a physically and emotionally challenging role. To be able to sing and dance while swinging from bars, hanging upside down and kicking, Tucker runs at least 20 minutes a day and does crunches and sit ups. The actress has drawn from her life experiences when delving into

emotional moments in the show. “I thought about the people in my life who may have similar experiences as Mimi,” Tucker said. “I’ve watched people in my neighborhood be addicted to drugs and go through other trials and tribulations, so I was able to think of those issues and correlate the two. I could relate to some of it, as well, being young and in love. We all can relate to that and her relationship with Angel.” Tucker said the role, and theater in general, has been very therapeutic for her. “I’ve been forced to deal with some of the things in my life that I haven’t dealt with. I’m thankful for this role. It’s changed me in a multitude of ways,” Tucker said. As Mimi, Tucker has tried to emphasize her intellectual side. “Mimi is a very intelligent young woman. I feel like she knows what she wants out of life. Maybe she came to New York City with big dreams and got caught up with the wrong crowd,” Tucker said. “She was in school and dropped out. I try to give her a little more stability than people are used to seeing with her,” Tucker added. “They are used to her being played a little rougher around the edges, which she is, but I feel like people don’t get to see that more structured side, the more ambitious side of Mimi.” Tucker didn’t grow up with “Rent.” She watched a recorded version of the Broadway show when she was auditioning for the part of Joanne Jefferson. However, when she was watching it, she was See

RENT on page 60

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SANTAN SUN NEWS | MAY 18 - 31, 2019

‘Titanic’ docks at OdySea in the Desert through July CHRISTINA FUOCO-KARASINSKI Staff

With repeats on television of the 1997 film “Titanic,” the doomed ship is still a curiosity. “Titanic: The Artifact Exhibition” at OdySea plays on those feelings by showcasing items found on the world’s largest ship at that time that sank after colliding with an iceberg. “It was a traumatic event in 1912 that no one ever expected to happen,” says Alexandra Klingelhofer, the exhibition’s vice president of collections. “So many people from around the world were affected. It was one of the first recorded global accidents. It was telegraphed, so it was like they were hearing about it as it happened. There was a huge loss of life. It was also a story everyone could relate to throughout the 20th century, with the movies still coming out.” The exhibit was designed with a focus on the legendary RMS Titanic’s


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captivated by Mimi. “I remember bawling my eyes out all three times because the show was so amazing. I remember coming across Mimi’s performance, and I’m like, ‘Oh my God, that is what I want to do,’” Tucker said.

compelling personal stories, told through room re-creations and 137 artifacts, 120 of which have never been seen in Arizona. Visitors to the Arizona Science Museum’s previous exhibit will see many differences. “There are different artifacts,” Klingelhofer says. “Like we have a wool vest that belonged to William Henry Allen, who lived in the Midlands in England. We have a paisley scarf. He was a dashing British machinist.” Another item is a gold mesh coin purse with a clasp with two little mummy heads. She says she and the other organizers choose what’s going to be shown based on the area in which they are setting up. One of the most interesting parts of the exhibit happens when guests come through the door. They are handed a card with information about a person on the Titanic. Visitors find out their fate at the end. “It brings them closer to the story,” she says. “It gives you information about who

the person was, what class they were in, where they were going,” she says. “After you go through the exhibition, teaching about how the ship was built, life on board and the trauma of the accident, there’s a memorial gallery and you find out what happened to that person.” Perhaps the most intriguing part is the “iceberg.” “We also have a touchable ‘iceberg,’” Klingelhofer says. “Visitors are invited to come and touch it. The water was 32 degrees, which isn’t freezing for salt water. That’s why most of the passengers perished.” Ran Knishinsky, partner and chief marketing officer, with OdySea in the Dessert, he understands the thrill of the Titanic. “Generations have been mesmerized by the story of the Titanic; from its grand send-off in England to its unfortunate collision with an iceberg in the North Atlantic Ocean that forever altered the

lives of those aboard. “Even after more than 100 years, the curiosity is still there. ‘Titanic: The Artifact Exhibition’ puts visitors in the shoes of passengers, showcasing authentic objects that offer a poignant, emotional connection to those traveling on the iconic ship. OdySea in the Desert is proud to offer this must-see experience in the Scottsdale/Phoenix area.”

She landed the role of Mimi. “I’m a dancer by nature. That’s my first love, as well as music,” Tucker said. Growing up in a single-parent household, her mother didn’t have money for dance lessons, but Tucker took part in school choirs, drama clubs and dance teams. The actress became interested in theater when she accompanied a friend on an audition for

a high school production of “Dreamgirls.” She auditioned herself and landed the role of Deena Jones. The production was filmed for the BET special “One Night Only,” which explored how students were juggling academics and the production while moving forward after Hurricane Katrina. Tucker said being part of the show

prompted a greater interest in theater. “I was just bit by the acting bug, and that whole experience changed my life,” Tucker said.

If you go What: “Titanic: The Artifact Exhibition” When: Now through July 3 Where: OdySea in the Desert, 9500 E. Via de Ventura, Scottsdale Cost: Tickets are $19.95 for adults; $14.95 for children; $17.95 for seniors Info: 480-951-2100, odyseainthedesert. com or

“Rent” ASU Gammage, 1200 S. Forest Ave., Tempe, 480-965-3434,, various times May 28-June2. tickets start at $20.


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SANTAN SUN NEWS | MAR 16 - APR 5, 2019



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Slow down, wait patiently for God and have hope BY LYNNE HARTKE Guest Columnist

A saguaro ladened with three-inch creamy blossoms beckons me closer, but the fifteenfoot main portion of the giant makes taking photos of the flowers on the crown difficult. For me, the blooming of the saguaro signals the beginning of the end of spring and the arrival of desert summer. I am not sure botanists would agree, but my unscientific surmising after years of hiking desert trails is that the saguaro waits to bloom last, after all the wildflowers and other cacti—after the golden poppies, the purple scorpionweed and the yellow prickly pear. I see another saguaro off the main trail

and bend low under the yellow-flowered branches of a palo verde tree that guards the entrance of a desert wash. The paws of my rust-colored mutt, Mollie, barely sink into the loose sand, but my neon pink runners leave definitive imprints behind me. I can imagine we are the first to discover this side adventure on South Mountain until I almost step in a pile of horse manure. Unsettled by our arrival, the warning cry of a Gambel’s quail breaks the silence of the early morning. With a whirr of wings, the rest of the covey abandons a low mesquite bush for a higher outcropping of boulders. The plaintive call of a lone quail — a fledgling abandoned in the mesquite — rings out again and again, until Mollie’s curious nose encourages the young flyer

to try out his wings and join the rest of the group. I lean down for a whiff of a nearby bush covered in two-inch, cylindrical, yellow spikes. When I snap off a scented cluster, I feel the jab of a curved thorn and remember the plant’s name— catsclaw acacia (senegalia greggii). The Southwest Desert Flora website reports the flowers to be one of the most important nectar sources for honey bees in the desert, and the incessant buzzing of those pollinators supports the statement. The dense thorns make the bush almost impossible to penetrate, giving the bush another name—the wait-aminute bush. I can imagine cowhands driving cattle through the wash and having many complaints to make about the wait-aminute bush that lacerates clothing and

skin and forces them to slow down. Which is a good thing to consider in the changing of seasons, especially the arrival of desert summer. By a good thing, I mean, the slowing down, the pausing to wait. Romans 8:25 (ESV) says, “But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.” Under a giant saguaro that waits to bloom last and beside a scraggly bush that beckons for a minute, I pull out a granola bar and consider areas in my life where I need to wait for what I do not yet see and to have hope. I toss a cookie to Mollie and pray that others will find rest in the shade of my life as they join me in the waiting. Lynne Hartke is the author of Under a Desert Sky and the wife of pastor and Chandler Mayor Kevin Hartke. She blogs at

Memorial Day a chance to reflect, come together BY RABBI IRWIN WIENER Guest Columnist

In an instant we are here and in another instant we are not. Some call it the journey of life — it is the most common expression. However, life, as we know it, can be more than a journey. Life can be an exciting adventure. Life can be a trip to places never before imagined. Life can be all these things and more—even as we gain years. Some look into a mirror and see nothing but age, which seemed to have appeared without notice. Others look into the mirror and see maturity as a sign of longevity and survival. There are others who will look into a mirror and see the past — no regard for the present or the future.

How do we reconcile reality with fantasy? How do we determine that the time we have allotted deserves our complete attention? How do we make our wishes come true? Finally, how do we mix all this together to bring fulfillment to our lives? All of these questions, as we gaze into the mirror of truth, are not entirely answerable. I would imagine that these thoughts ran through the minds of our service men and women who were thrust into harm’s way because of turmoil within the framework of human existence. Perhaps, these brave men and women thought of what was and what could be in the same instance. We pause as a nation; to pay tribute to all of them in an instant called Memorial Day. The thrill of the ride is over for these men and women who proudly wear the uniform of this great country and have offered the ultimate sacrifice.

Now we gather to harmonize the drama that became history. There are no more tomorrows or dreams that give us purpose and hope. There is no more of so much that we take for granted. Our nation recognizes the frailties of life and sacrifices made in our behalf. We pause to remember. More than that, however, we express our gratitude in our sorrow because we understand that without their devotion we would not be here to remember. Some of us will cry. Some of us will bow our heads in pain. Some of us will visit cemeteries. Some of us will picnic and join together for family gatherings. There is no wrong way to commemorate the moment of remembrance. Each display of allegiance should remind us about the goodness of today and the blessings of tomorrow. I am reminded of a cartoon I saw in

which a child is kneeling in prayer and says,…”and just so you know, I had a very good day today, so I’d like more of the same tomorrow.” This is how we can pay our respects to the many who no longer walk among us. We can always find reasons to complain, but a simple gesture of gratitude can also wipe away the feelings of regret. On this solemn occasion we should express our thankfulness for bringing us all together. Our words and gestures should teach us how fortunate we are to live in a country that cherishes the sacredness of life. May our memories give us hope. More than that, may our memories be a reminder of how much we owe to those we stop to consider at this time of dedication. Rabbi Irwin Wiener is spiritual leader of the Sun Lakes Jewish Congregation.

Paul’s conversion has relevance to all our lives BY REV. SUSAN WILMOT Guest Columnist

Libraries are awesome! There I said it, and stand by this humble truth, probably because I’ve had a lifelong love of books and reading. It’s been many years now, but I distinctly remember going with my mom to the library to pick out books. At first my mom would read them to me, and my first favorites were from Beatrix Potter of “Peter Rabbit” fame. As they were read to me, I learned the stories by heart, before I learned to read them for myself. Those first library

experiences always brought me back for more! Of course, these days our libraries offer much more than books, but certainly nothing less than that awesome opportunity to lose ourselves in a story. As J. R. R. Tolkien once noted, there’s something about our humanity, created in the image of God, that makes us natural storytellers. Our lives are also part of a much greater narrative, essentially part of the ongoing history of salvation. In other words, we don’t just have stories to tell, our lives are enfolded into the bigger ongoing story that is resurrection living even now. As we continue our Easter season celebrations through the 50 glorious days of the Easter season, (yes 50 days, not just

one day!) we’re immersed in everything that happens after the greatest story ever told, which is the story of Christ’s resurrection. One of the post-resurrection Easter stories is actually told no less than three times in the Acts of the Apostles (see Acts 9:1-9, 22:4-11 and 26:9-18). It is Saul’s dramatic encounter with the risen Christ. Saul might be more familiar to us as the Apostle Paul, but that name change came later. When Saul first meets the risen Lord, he is still Saul, the one “breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord.” But through the amazing story of Saul’s profound meeting we know that he is transformed into an avid evangelist and

apostle, proclaiming Jesus as “the Son of God.” Just to be clear, God is love and abundant life. Whether it’s Saul or anyone else, we cannot live our lives breathing threats and murder against anyone and still be in right relationship with the Living Lord. Violence in thought and deed is antithetical to being in right relationship with God or being a follower of Jesus. Having said that, just like Saul, it is possible to have faith in God, and still be willfully heading in the wrong direction. Even with all the visual and auditory effects found in this exciting story, the biggest clue to divine action is Saul’s See

WILMOT on page 62



from page 61

transformed life. The biggest clue that we’re living in faith, guided by the Holy Spirit is a noticeably different way of life: one that visibly reflects a new way of seeing, and being, especially in our relationships. Most noticeably, that’s a life centered in God’s love and peace, rather than in fear, anger or violence. From that center, we’re empowered to look beyond self, to seek God’s way and purpose for our lives and to serve

others, instead of being self-serving and self-centered. When we first meet Saul he’s on his way. In matters of faith, Saul really thought he had all the right answers. He also thought he saw everything clearly, including what God wanted of him. He was wrong! In light of Saul’s experience, if we think we have all the answers, it’s time to prayerfully reconsider. As his new life takes shape and Paul is empowered for his new ministry, we get to journey with Paul. We’re blessed to read, hear and study together how Paul’s transformed life

takes him along many new paths as a servant leader sharing the good news of Jesus Christ. Those paths frequently included suffering for the sake of the gospel. As Saul would attest, God loves each of us in our unique humanity, but refuses to leave us that way. The Lord is always inviting us to go deeper into the story, to explore each chapter and write new chapters in the story as we live in the integrity of our faith. Wherever God finds us along the way, we all need to remember two things that Saul had to learn the hard way. The first is to say often, “I can be

Spiritual Connections Call ahead to confirm as details occasionally change after print. If you have a recurring monthly support group or meeting to list in Spiritual Connections, email complete details to

SUNDAYS Celebration Service 10:30 a.m. Sundays All with peaceful beliefs are welcome to this inclusive, loving, thriving UNITY Community. Join the group at 10 a.m., preceding the service, for fellowship. Youth and toddlers meet during service. Interfaith CommUNITY Spiritual Center, 952 E. Baseline Road, Suite 102, Mesa, 480-593-8798, Kids’ Sunday School 10 to 11 a.m. Sundays Unity of Tempe, formerly Unity of Chandler 1222 E. Baseline Road, Suite 103, Tempe 480-792-1800 Lift Your Spirit 10 a.m. Sundays Hear inspirational messages and music. Unity of Tempe, formerly Unity of Chandler 1222 E. Baseline Road, Suite 103, Tempe 480-792-1800

Traditional and Contemporary Services 7:30 a.m. daybreak contemplative worship, 9 a.m. traditional worship and choral music, 11 a.m. contemporary worship with live Christian rock band. There is also a service at 12 p.m. Wednesdays St. Matthew’s Episcopal Church, 901 W. Erie Street, Chandler 480-899-7386, MONDAYS The Art of Parenting 7:30 p.m. Mondays Six-session course from the Rohr Jewish Learning Institute and presented by Rabbi Mendy Deitsch of Chabad of the East Valley, designed to help parents at all levels of Jewish knowledge develop their own parenting philosophies and techniques. Cost is $99. Pollack Chabad Center for Jewish Life 875 N. McClintock Drive, Chandler 480-855-4333, TUESDAYS Silva Class and Meditation

6:30 to 8 p.m. Tuesdays Learn the Silva method with Lois Britland. Unity of Tempe, formerly Unity of Chandler 1222 E. Baseline Road, Suite 103, Tempe 480-792-1800 Career Connectors 8:30 a.m. to noon, fourth Tuesday of month Nonprofit organization connecting professionals in career transition to highquality resources and hiring companies; each event includes professional career speakers with presentations on relevant job search topics, three to four hiring companies, networking, resume help, career coaches, LinkedIn coaches and business portraits. Central Christian Church, Gilbert Campus/ Student Center, 965 E. Germann Road, Gilbert 480-442-5806, Christian Business Networking Tri-City Chapter – Chandler, Tempe, Mesa 7:15 a.m. Tuesdays Offers members the opportunity to share ideas, contacts and business referrals.

SANTAN SUN NEWS | MAR 16 - APR 5, 2019

wrong” and the second is to humbly remind ourselves that we really don’t have all the answers, but we do have the opportunity to constantly learn from one another. Paul’s story also invites us to ask God to reveal the places in our own lives where we’re willfully self-directed rather than yielding to God’s way. With God’s help, we continue to change, learn and grow together. The Rev. Susan E. Wilmot is vicar at St. James the Apostle Episcopal Church & Preschool, 975 E. Warner Rd., Tempe. Reacher her at rector@stjamestempe. org or at 480-345-2686.

Crackers and Co. Café, 535 W. Iron Ave., Mesa Maia, 480-425-0624, Christian Business Networking, Chandler Bi-Monthly Chapter 7:45 a.m. second and fourth Tuesdays each month Offers members the opportunity to share ideas, contacts and business referrals. Chandler Christian Church, Building B, Room 202 1825 S. Alma School Road, Chandler Maia, 480-425-0624, HOPE—Help Overcoming Painful Experiences 7 p.m. Tuesdays Free weekly small-group sessions helping people overcome emotional pain caused by divorce, grief, addictions and more; free child care for children ages 10 and younger. Desert Springs Church 19620 S. McQueen Road, Room 106, Chandler, Shalom Chapter of Hadassah 11:30 a.m. second Tuesday of each month Iron Oaks (Oakwood) Clubhouse 24218 S. Oakwood Boulevard, Sun Lakes Cyril, 480-802-0243; Kathy, 480-895-5194; Shirley, 480-883-9159; or Joyce, 480-802-4902. Monthly Women’s Fellowship 6:15 p.m. fourth Tuesday of each month The monthly fellowship Bible study with the East Valley Chapter of Christian Women’s Devotional Alliance “ministers to women’s spiritual, emotional and physical needs.” Best Western-Mezona, 250 W. Main Street, Mesa. 480-232-3773 Narcotics Anonymous (Nar-Anon), Chandler Chapter 7 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays Twelve-step program for families and friends of addicts. Faith Community Church 1125 N. Dobson Road, Chandler,


CONNECTIONS on page 63

SANTAN SUN NEWS | MAR 16 - APR 5, 2019

WEDNESDAYS Panic Healing 7 to 9 p.m. every Wednesday Receive a 15-minute energetic tuneup. Unity of Tempe, formerly Unity of Chandler 1222 E. Baseline Road, Suite 103, Tempe 480-792-1800 Gong Meditation and Yoga Nidra 7 to 8:30 p.m. third Wednesday Presented by Will Zecco, gong master. Bring yoga mat, blanket and pillow as desired. Love offerings will be accepted. Interfaith CommUNITY Spiritual Center, 952 E. Baseline Road, Suite 102, Mesa 480-593-8798, “A Course in Miracles” with the Rev. Julianne Lewis 1 to 2:15 p.m. Wednesdays The weekly group is an interactive time of learning and sharing, appropriate for course beginners, as well as longtime students of ACIM. Interfaith CommUNITY Spiritual Center 952 E. Baseline Road, Suite 102, Mesa 480-593-8798, The Art of Parenting 9:30 a.m. Wednesdays Six-session course from the Rohr Jewish Learning Institute and presented by Rabbi Mendy Deitsch of Chabad of the East Valley, designed to help parents at all levels of Jewish knowledge develop their own parenting philosophies and techniques. Cost is $99. Chandler Jewish Community Center 908 N. Alma School Road, Chandler 480-855-4333 or Grief Care 6:45 p.m. Wednesdays A place to come share your feelings or just listen to others as we try to navigate through our grief. You don’t have to do it alone. Epiphany Lutheran Church, South Campus, old church building, 800 W. Ray Road, Room 325, Chandler, Healing Prayer and Meditation Circle 7 to 8:15 p.m. Wednesdays Guided prayer, affirmations and visualization for those facing physical, emotional, mental or spiritual issues in their lives. Love offering requested. Unity of Tempe, formerly Unity of Chandler 1222 E. Baseline Road, Suite 103, Tempe 480-792-1800 Meditation Moments 7 to 8:30 p.m. third Wednesday of the month An interactive time of learning and sharing,

appropriate for beginners or longtime students of ACIM. Interfaith CommUNITY Spiritual Center 952 E. Baseline Road, Suite 102, Mesa 480-593-8798, St. Mathew’s Episcopal Church 12 p.m. Healing and Eucharist service St. Mathew’s Episcopal Church 901 W. Erie Street, Chandler 480-899-7386, THURSDAYS Women’s Empowerment & Awakening 7 to 8:30 p.m. third Thursday Release negative beliefs. Unity of Tempe, formerly Unity of Chandler 1222 E. Baseline Road, Suite 103, Tempe 480-792-1800 A Course in Miracles 7 p.m. first, second and fourth Thursday Unity of Tempe, formerly Unity of Chandler 1222 E. Baseline Road, Suite 103, Tempe 480-792-1800 Empower Model for Men 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Thursdays The three-class series is taught by author Scott E. Clark and designed to offer practical wisdom and tools to help men shift into their higher consciousness, based on the sevenstep empower model detailed in Clark’s book, “Empower Model for Men.” Cost is $85. Unity of Tempe, formerly Unity of Chandler 1222 E. Baseline Road,, Suite 103, Tempe 480-792-1800 Real Love Support Group 6:30 p.m. Thursdays For those who have a desire to acquire more “real love” and in the process find great personal happiness and more fulfilling relationships. Love offering requested. Unity of Tempe, 1222 E. Baseline Road, Suite 103, Tempe 480-792-1800 SATURDAYS Spirit Night – Psychic Fair 4 to 8 p.m. third Saturday of each month The “Lightworkers” offer a wide range of services, including Reiki, facials, mediums, drumming, tarot, angel messages and more. Services range from $20 to $30. Cash only. Interfaith CommUNITY Spiritual Center 952 E. Baseline Road, Suite 102, Mesa Spirit Night – A Holistic Healing Festival 1 to 6 p.m. third Saturday of the month

Chandler United Methodist Church Making and Deploying Disciples for over 100 Years.

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Lightworkers offer a wide range of services including Reiki, facials, mediums, drumming, tarot, angel messages and more. Services range from $20 to $30. Interfaith CommUNITY Spiritual Center 952 E. Baseline Road, Suite 102, Mesa, Unity Drumming and Healing Circle 6:30 to 8 p.m. fourth Saturday of each month Beginner, expert drummers and observers welcome. Bring snack, appetizer or dessert to share. Love donation accepted. Interfaith CommUNITY Spiritual Center 952 E. Baseline Road, Suite 102, Mesa 480-593-8798, OTHER Forever Marriage Ministries Marriage Restoration Support Group for Wives Offers hope to the hurting Valleywide through one-on-one Biblical marriage teaching, God-honoring wife discipleship and marriage restoration mentoring to wives seeking God’s will in the restoration of marriage. Lisa, 602-377-8847,,, Jewish Women International Avodah Chapter 1581 Monthly luncheon. Social Box Eateries, 1371 N. Alma School Road, Chandler RSVP: 480-802-9304, 480-655-8812 Moms in Prayer International A group of mothers who meet one hour each week to intercede for their children and schools through prayer. Liane Wright, 480-699-7887, Bible Study Meets twice a month Members of the Women’s Life Group study the Bible and discuss how the lessons can relate to their lives. Sun Lakes United Church of Christ, Chandler. Jan Olson: 480-802-7457, Joy King 480-588-1882


East Valley Jewish Couples Club Offers once-a-month social activities such as dining, movies and plays for Jewish couples in the 45- to 65-year-old age range. Melissa, 480-785-0744, Chandler Presbyterian Goings On: Sundays: 9:15 a.m. Kid’s Sunday School 9:15 a.m. Adult Bible Study Room 3 10:00 a.m. Walking the Walk (Youth) 10:30 a.m. Sunday Service Noon: Lenten Jesus Bible Study and Food! 3:00 p.m. Kenyan Fellowship/Language Worship Service 7:00 p.m. Alcoholics Anonymous Mondays: 7 p.m. Alcoholics Anonymous Tuesdays: 10 a.m. Prayer Group (Pastor’s Office)(except 3rd Tuesday of month) 1 p.m. Chandler I Am Project Room 3 Wednesdays: 10 AM Peter and Paul Bible Study 6 p.m. Men’s Spiritual Stag 6:15 Bell Choir Rehearsal 7 p.m. Church Chorale Rehearsal 6 p.m. Alcoholics Anonymous (Women only) 7:30 p.m. Alcoholics Anonymous (Men) Thursdays: 6:30 p.m. Women’s Bible Study 7 p.m. Alcoholics Anonymous (Men) Every 1st and 3rd Friday...I-HELP @ 6:00PM Dinner/Showers and a place to sleep for the homeless Regular monthly activities: Lois (Women) Circle: Every 3rd Tuesday 10 a.m. Spirits Willing Lunches Out (over 55) 11:30 a.m. , 4th Fridays All events are at Chandler Presbyterian Church at 1900 S. Arrowhead Drive except for Spirits Willing and lunches. Let us help you publicize your church or temple’s events in the Spirituality section by emailing details to Include a brief description of the event, times, days, dates, cost or free, if registration is required, venue, address, publishable phone number, website if applicable and contact information for verification purposes. We welcome photos, which must be 300 dpi JPEGs or taken on a digital camera on the “best” or “highest quality” setting. Information is due 10 days prior to publication date. Submission does not guarantee placement.

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Where To Eat

SANTAN SUN NEWS | MAY 18 - 31, 2019

For more community news visit

St. Amand adds unique touch to Ocotillo dining scene BY COLLEEN SPARKS Managing Editor

St. Amand Kitchen & Cocktails, a revamped restaurant in Ocotillo is attracting a crowd eager to sample its eclectic menu and luxuriate in its upgraded, cathedral-like ambiance. The restaurant on South Alma School Road, south of Queen Creek Road in Ocotillo opened to an enthusiastic public on April 30 after its gathering to show off the new look to friends and family members on April 27. Once called D-Vine Bistro & Wine Bar, owner Robert Coulson closed the establishment for a few months to redesign the interior and create a new menu. The five-month renovation created a restaurant that pays homage to St. Amand, the patron saint of beer brewing, winemaking and bartending memorialized in a large mural and a smaller painting near the front door. The modern cathedral-style interior features a larger, relocated bar and allows more light into the inside. An expanded patio offers more shaded area and seating. A closed-off, private dining area is also now open for parties. Intricate, large chandeliers brighten up the dining area and add sophisticated charm. Wallpaper resembling columns cover some areas of the open-floor restaurant that has wrought iron accents inside and outside. A wrought-iron guard rail surrounds the patio and wrought-iron wine racks on walls hold multiple bottles of wine. Hefty wrought-iron door handles add to the theme. Large windows at the outdoor bar near the barstools can be opened, merging the interior and exterior. About 150 people can be seated on the patio and about 75 customers inside. Guests pick from a streamlined menu with more shareable plates and fun,

Above: Owner Robert Coulson, left, and Executive Chef Ramon Rice are the driving forces behind St. Amand Kitchen & Cocktails in Ocotillo. (Kimberly Carrillo/Staff Photographer) Right: Dr. Funk, on the right, is a tiki drink with dark Jamaican rum, absinthe, lemon juice, lime juice and grenadine served in a tiki mug with crushed ice at St. Amand Kitchen & Cocktails at 3990 S. Alma School Road in Chandler. (Ramon Rice)

shui” and “more flow,” he added. Besides Coulson and Rice, the rest of the team behind the upgrades were contractor Ken Morrow, president and managing partner of One Way General Contractors, and Beth Katz, principal of KatzDesignGroup. Coulson bought D-Vine Bistro & Wine Bar in Chandler 12 years ago and also owns D-Vine Bistro & Wine Bar Mesa. The Mesa restaurant remains the same and is not slated for a redesign. The pared-down menu emphasizes shared plates more and focuses less on large entrees. “The day of the large menu” has passed, Coulson said. Rice added: ”There’s a definite European influence. I put a little New World flair into things.” Most of the food is made from scratch and diners can expect frequent surprises. Market fish is served as fresh and while supplies last, Rice said. St. Amand has prepared swordfish, halibut Sea scallops with lemon, red chili, parsley, olive oil, champagne vinegar, citrus and micro greens, are a popular choice on the “small plates” section of the menu and Ahi tuna in recent weeks. at St. Amand Kitchen & Cocktails. (Ramon Rice) Octopus is a popular constant item innovative creations from Executive Chef on the “small plates” menu and it features Ramon Rice, whose menu also includes a olive oil, tomato, capers, crushed red laundry list of cocktails, wines and beers. pepper, red onion, celery, fennel, parsley, “We’re trying to be ‘accessible lemon zest and grilled bread for $17. upscale,’” Coulson said. “It’s a complete The octopus is slow-cooked until it is redo and it’s so much better.” tender and has “citrusy flavors,” perfect The reconfigured restaurant better for summer and great to pair with rosé, utilizes space and has improved “feng Rice said.

Another wellliked small plate is the sea scallop, which is three scallops with lemon, red chili, parsley, olive oil, champagne, vinegar, citrus and micro greens for $17. “It’s got citrus with a bite of heat,” Rice said. Customers are already craving Tuscan pork, another dish on the small plates section of the menu, a crispy, rosemaryroasted meat with pickled onion, roasted peppers, salsa verde, whole grain mustard and grilled bread for $16. The pork can be sliced into several pieces so diners can share it. Another fan favorite is crispy chicken. The fried chicken has a lemon coleslaw, grilled bread, lemon ricotta, walnut and honey for $15. Beet tartare gives vegetarians or anyone who loves vegetables another small plate to savor. It has roasted beets, red onion, capers, avocado, goat cheese mousse, olive oil, micro greens, bread and balsamic reduction for $13. Diners can indulge in a “crispy mix of fried goodness” with the fritto misto on the “small plates” list, Rice said. Lightly fried calamari, shrimp, scallops, white fish and vegetables tossed with parsley, roasted garlic, arugula, homemade tartar sauce, salsa verde and fresh lemon make up this dish available for $20. Risotto is also a small plate offering and it changes frequently. Recently Rice made a lobster risotto with a clam and rosé broth and fennel in it. Another time he created what he called a “play on a German beer dish,” a risotto with beer, Gouda cheese and ham.

The risotto “of the moment” took on a Nicoise salad feel with potatoes, olives, tomato, onion, sliced tuna and green beans another day at the restaurant. The menu aims to encourage customers to take their time and savor the food and atmosphere at St. Amand Kitchen & Cocktails. “The whole idea is to get you to hang out and stay, have an experience,” Rice said. Those who are in the mood for entrees often like the 20-ounce pan-roasted ribeye accompanied by butter-fried potatoes, charred shallots, roasted garlic and rosemary for $42. The chicken and gnocchi Basque style is an entrée with chicken breast, chorizo, marinated peppers, tomatoes, shallot, sherry, basil, potato and gnocchi for $24. A grass-fed burger on a brioche roll with arugula, bacon, blue cheese, tomato, sautéed mushrooms and an onion and truffle sauce, accompanied by matchstick fries is also very popular at the restaurant. Several salads are on the menu including one with marinated artichoke, orange, red onion, almond, arugula, olives, cherry tomato, celery hearts, Parmesan, citrus juice and olive oil. To top off hearty and flavorful shareable dishes and entrees, St. Amand Kitchen & Cocktails serves a raisin bread See

ARMAND on page 69

SANTAN SUN NEWS | MAY 18 - 31, 2019



posted. “Great atmosphere and wonderful staff!” St. Amand Kitchen & Cocktails also hopes to entice customers with its live music. Coulson’s wife, Sharon Aebi, a jazz pianist, performs with bass player Selwyn Reams Wednesday nights. The two jazz musicians also perform earlier in the night Saturdays and then a DJ plays music after that from 9 p.m. to midnight. On Thursday nights Paris James, a singer, songwriter and guitarist plays his mix of acoustic blues, soulful overtones and rock. Moon Dog sings and plays new country, classic rock and all-time favorite

from page 68

pudding with goat cheese caramel, accented with ice cream. Rice said he plans to add a chocolate brownie pot de crème, which he said is like a chocolate crème brulee. Coulson praised Rice’s culinary creativity, expertise, experience and style. “He has the cooking chops to be a real high-end chef,” he said. “He’s always been preparing food for the neighborhood. He’s always changing and thinking. We always try to be innovative.” St. Amand also crafted a full cocktail list. “We are a cocktail-themed restaurant,” Rice said. He worked with local liquor distributors and their mixologists to develop cocktails for the new menu. St. Amand’s bartender, Ruben Gaeta, will keep the drinks customers enjoy and update the cocktails list over time. Some of the “interesting, classic drinks” include the popular 1934 Cosmopolitan, which has gin, lemon juice, raspberry syrup and an orange peel, Rice said. He said the Old Fashioned, which has whiskey, Angostura bitters, as well as orange and lemon peel and Luxardo cherry garnish also “sells like crazy.” Dr. Funk, named after a real doctor, blends dark Jamaican rum, absinthe, lemon juice, lime juice and grenadine poured into a Tiki mug with crushed ice. Penicillin M&H has Scotch, honey syrup, ginger syrup, lemon juice and Laphroaig float to create a “tangy, lemon, ginger flavor” that is also smoky, Rice said. Green Thumb is another fruity drink


Above: St. Amand Kitchen & Cocktails’ renovation allows more for more light into the restaurant. (Kimberly Carrillo/Staff Photographer) Right: Beet tartare, with features roasted beets, red onion, capers, avocado, goat cheese mousse, olive oil, micro greens, bread and balsamic reduction, is on the menu at St. Amand Kitchen & Cocktails. (Ramon Rice)

with The Botanist gin, Dolin Genepy, lime, kiwi Re’al and fresh basil. Boulevardier 1927 is a red concoction with whiskey, Campari, sweet vermouth and an orange peel. A variety of red and white wines, along with drought and bottled beers, mead and cider are also available at St. Amand. David Kitchin of Sun Lakes walked into St. Amand recently to check it out and he liked what he saw. “I love the color,” Kitchin said. “The colors in here really go with the lighting. We’re eager to see the new menu. We’ve been watching it. I like the octopus. I’m a

seafood guy.” Angie Hamel recently tried St. Amand after having dined at the restaurant in its past life as D-Vine Bistro & Wine Bar. “Great food great vibe!” Hamel posted on St. Amand’s Facebook page. “Can’t lie, miss some old things on the menu but everything we tried tonight was delish!! Mary McCormick Morrow also recommended St. Amand on the restaurant’s Facebook page. “Awesome!” McCormick Morrow

Thou Shalt Dine In Comfort!

songs on Friday nights and every Tuesday is New Talent Night. St. Amand Kitchen & Cocktails is open from 4 p.m. until whenever customers want it to close Tuesdays through Saturdays. The restaurant is located at 3990 S. Alma School Road. Information:

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SANTAN SUN NEWS | MAY 18 - 31, 2019

Flix beertender whets moviegoers’ whistles welcoming. I, being a person who didn’t really know that much about brewing in general, was able to ask anyone. I could pick up the phone, call a brewer, introduce myself and ask them a question and they would answer it. As a community, we want to get better. We are only as good as the weakest brewery. So, if we can each raise each other up, then why not? My favorite thing is getting to know the people. The palate in New Mexico is way different than the palate here. What people drink in New Mexico, they want those big hop-heavy beers. Here, it’s a little less hoppy. It’s interesting to see those different dynamics.


Flix Brewhouse has been expanding across the nation since 2011, bringing its brewhouse movie theater concept to seven locations, including Chandler. Growing right along with Flix is Marisa Bernal, Flix Chandler’s lead brewer who helps create its diverse beer menu. Bernal moved to Arizona from New Mexico to manage the brewing side of Flix, which showcases light and dark ales, along with creative tastes like the Umbra chocostout, a smooth brew made with an abundance of chocolate malt. For those who enjoy lighter tastes, the Luna Rosa is spiced with coriander and includes puree of blood oranges. Bernal is eager to learn about Arizona’s culture and the tastes resdients enjoy. With her background in wine making, she wants to eventually create the perfect recipe for beer. How did you get your start in craft beer? I was in college and I was studying food science and technology. They allowed me to do an emphasis in fermentation science, so I did wine making. From there, it turned into an internship in California in Epoch Estate Wines in Paso Robles. I was part of the winemaking team. I was a winemaker first and then I turned into a brewer. I decided it was time to find another avenue. There were a lot of upand-coming breweries in Albuquerque, so I figured why not take my love of beer and see if I can turn into a career.

What about Flix’s beer program? Every Flix Brewhouse location has its own brewery on site; we brew everything in house. It’s a two-man operation, myself and my assistant, and we run everything from the keg washing, to the tank cleaning, to the brewing, to the transferring. We are a seven-barrel system. I have my seven fermenters and Flix Chandler chief beertender Marisa Bernal will make sure movie fans are properly lubricated with quality suds.(File photo) I actually have transfer hoses that go across my entire lobby own personality and it really goes into that go into my serving tank. It’s the environment of who drinks it. We’re a What makes craft beer special? directly connected to the draft system, family culture. We’re entertainment driven so I don’t have to deal with any kegs. It’s The culture. I think every beer has its because of the movies, but we also tend actually very fun, all of our beers come to see families like to come. It’s a one-stop out with movies. shop for dates, too. You come in and you have drinks, food and movies right here. What are your favorite beers? We just put on a passion fruit Belgium What regional breweries are doing it right? blonde, it’s called Excelsior. We put it out Everything must be so clean. Everyone for the Captain Marvel movie that just and anyone who brews beer, whether it’s came out. Before that, I had a beer called home brewing or in a professional setting, Galaxy Raptor Cowboy IPA which was for knows how to keep the area 100-percent “The Lego Movie 2.” clean. The parts should be properly We will also have Scarlet Wit, which sanitized. I was just a Pedal Haus last night is for “The Avengers.” It’s going to be a in Tempe and I love the beer there. It is raspberry berry. We just put a seasonal always very clean and very crisp. I also called Crambola Ale. It is a cream ale and like SanTan Brewing Company a lot. The it tastes fantastic. I don’t really have a people there are just amazing, and I can direct specialty. I like to keep all over the call them for anything. place. If you saw my entire calendar, you would see a lot of different styles. What do you like best about the beer Flix Brewhouse, 1 W. Chandler culture in Arizona? Boulevard, Chandler, 480-476-8080, I found it and everyone in it very

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A premier Christian camp experience for high schoolers Students will spend three days, two nights on GCU’s campus learning from professors and participating in social events. Multiple program tracks are available to choose from, focusing on different academic interest.

June 17 – 19, 19 – 21, 24 – 26 or 26 – 28 Camps are $75 per session for housing, meals and more! Available for fall 2019 high school sophomores, juniors and seniors. Get the details at


SANTAN SUN NEWS | MAY 18 - 31, 2019

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SanTan Sun May 18, 2019  

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