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November 2018

J.D. Glover, 2, tries to drive the roller at Celebrate Mesa.

Students riveted by mom’s account of her son’s suicide

Valley Partnership revisiting massive Sunshine Acres project

By Jim Walsh

By Christina Fuoco-Karasinski

LeeAnn Hull gives presentations to students about her 16-year-old son’s 2012 suicide to reduce the incidents involving teens who take their lives. (Photo courtesy LeeAnn Hull)

Northeast Mesa charter students were riveted as LeAnn Hull spoke about the worst day of her life – the day her son, Andy, 16, came home from school and took his life After she spoke of what happened December 11, 2012, and her Andy Hull’s Sunshine Foundation, the Arizona Agribusiness and Equine Center’s Red Mountain students responded to the gut-wrenching presentation with gut-wrenching admissions of their own. One boy told Hull how he attempted suicide twice. A girl confessed how she feared her own actions may have contributed to another person considering suicide. A third

Dena Jones remembers visiting Sunshine Acres Children’s Home as a sixth grader. Her parents encouraged her to clean out her closet and give clothing to children who needed it, like those at the Northeast Mesa charity. “At the time, Sunshine Acres asked us to bring a little donation or ice cream for kids,” Jones said. “Ice cream was a luxury item they couldn’t spend money on.” As a member of Valley Partnership, Jones is still helping Suicide...continued on page 6 Sunshine Acres. The advocacy

The Arizona Cardinals’ mascot, Big Red, lends his wing to Valley Partnership, who worked on projects at Sunshine Acres Children’s Home in 2016. The organization is returning November 3. (Photo courtesy Valley Partnership)

Project...continued on page 10

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Sean and Beth Anders Director/former Mesa resident Sean Anders directs Tig were hesitant about having Notaro and Octavia Spencer children. It would be a finanon the set of Instant Family. cial burden and they were too old. One day, Sean came up with a half-baked idea. “Why don’t we just adopt a 5-year-old and it will be like we started five years ago,” he recalls with a laugh. Well, three children later, the Anders family is complete and so is Sean’s Mark Wahlberg-starring film Instant Family, which opens nationwide Friday, November 16. it all down to one movie. That was tricky. Instant Family tells the story of how There’s so much more I wanted to tell. Pete (Wahlberg) and Ellie (Rose By- It’s also important to me that we make a rne) stumble into the world of foster captivating, entertaining story that holds care adoption. They hope to take in one their attention.” small child, but things change when they Anders began the project three years meet three siblings, including a rebel- ago with his writing partner, John Morlious 15-year-old girl (Isabela Moner). ris, whom he met in Phoenix. Now, Pete and Ellie must try to learn the “He and I wrote our first draft about ropes of instant parenthood in the hopes three years ago, but we were working on of becoming a family. Instant Family also other films,” he says. “Ultimately, once stars Academy Award-winner Octavia we really went after it, it happened inSpencer, Tig Notaro and Margo Mar- credibly quick. Mark Wahlberg jumped tindale. in almost immediately. Kids in foster Anders and his wife’s children were care was something he cared about. As 18 months old, 3 years old and 6 years soon as Mark was in, everything fell into old when they adopted them. They were place.” removed from their mother, who had a Anders and Wahlberg worked on three drug problem. movies before Instant Family, including “We adopted three kids almost seven Daddy’s Home and Daddy’s Home 2. years ago and that’s what inspired the “He’s the ultimate professional,” he movie,” says Anders, who lived with Beth says. “He always shows up with his pencil in Mesa and Tempe in their 20s and 30s. sharpened. He knows what he’s going to “It’s my experience. Along the way, do. Give him an idea and he runs with it we met many other families and we in- and turns it into something wonderful.” corporated their stories about kids and The other cast members were a joy, too. adults who had been affected by foster “We went through the standard procare and adoption.” cess of casting,” Anders says. “I wanted The subject is a rarity for film, Anders kids who had really interesting personacknowledges. alities. Julianna Gamiz, who plays Lita, “Oftentimes, it’s negative and there’s was rambunctious and funny. She had a another side to it,” Anders adds. “There big personality for a little kid. The charis a lot of laughter and that’s not repre- acter of Juan was written a little differsented in movies and TV. ently at first. When we met the actor, “I think the hardest part about this is Gustavo Quiroz, he was so sweet and there’s so much that goes into foster care had such kind eyes and a good heart. You or adoption. It was really difficult to boil Director...continues on page 10

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Suicide...continued from page 1 described how an online friend had written about the possibility of completing suicide several times. Hull spoke to all these students privately after her presentation, hoping to refer them to mental health professionals. She readily admits she is not a psychologist or a social worker, just a grieving mother on a mission to save lives – a mission she finds therapeutic and satisfying at times, frustrating at others. Hull’s presentation came as a rash of teen suicides continues to plague the East Valley. At least 19 East Valley teens have taken their lives since July 2017. While some schools have been open to her presentations, others have not been so welcoming, Hull said. Hull said presentations like hers are only one part of a long-term strategy needed to discourage teens from completing suicide. Educators also need to be trained on how to recognize early warning signs. She views herself as a catalyst who can connect students with the professional services they need. “I can’t bring my son back. The most I can do is honor his life by saving another life,” Hull said. “I hear things and I see

LeeAnn Hull described how her 16-year-old son, Andy, who took his life in 2012, was a talented baseball player who seemingly had everything going for him. (Photo courtesy LeeAnn Hull)

things that everyone else doesn’t. I have a hyper-sensitivity to it.” Her message to students is their lives matter – to their parents, their friends and society. “Let’s listen a little better, look a little deeper and connect,’’ she said. The students seemed focused on Hull’s presentation.

Ray Gless, the school’s administrator, said he asked for presentations to learn more about bullying and teen suicide, two social issues that concern officials. Dustin Smith, 17, said she experienced suicide within her family when she was younger. “I would love to be engaged to deal with it,’’ Smith said. “I think I learned most of all that everyone is vulnerable,’’ that it’s vital to recognize warning signs and to intervene when necessary. “It’s better to be safe than sorry. You get so focused, you get tunnel vision in life, it’s mostly about school. I think it can degrade you. Sometimes, you forget to ask for help.” Hull described how her son, a talented left-handed pitcher for the Sandra Day O’Connor High School baseball team, seemed to have everything going for him. She said Andy was scouted by the Los Angeles Dodgers, the Kansas City Royals, and prestigious college baseball teams. She said he got mostly A’s and B’s in his classes in school. “He was just a joy, he really was an awesome kid,’’ she said. “He just oozed a love of life. He loved sports in general.’’ But there also were warning signs that were missed. Andy told two of his friends that he was contemplating suicide a week before he took his own life. His friends told no one. “You have to put the friend before the friendship,’’ Hull said. “I have called 9-1-1 on adults. I would rather lose a friend than lose a life.’’ She said Andy broke up with a serious girlfriend, and received a bad grade from a language arts teacher, which made him worry that he might not be able to play baseball. Hull said Andy made a troubling, cryptic statement to her, saying if she knew what he was thinking, it would scare her. It was a warning sign, Hull said, and she missed it.

“It wasn’t one thing that caused Andy to take his life. It was a multitude of things. There were a multitude of things that could have been done,” Hull said. She urged the teens to develop coping skills, so they can find peace during difficult times, whether it’s music, or reading or exercise. She said teens and even adults sometimes lose prospective on life, not realizing that everyone has setbacks, and learning how to deal with them is part of growing up. Coping skills can help someone make the right decision even when they have dark thoughts, the decision not to act on such thoughts, Hull said. “I am here to tell you about failures and loses, and how important they are to establish your emotional resiliency,” Hull said. “Learning some coping skills will help you through your entire life.’’ “You aren’t the first kids to go through a breakup,’’ she said, or apply to a college and not get accepted, or to get passed over for a job. “Without the clouds, we don’t appreciate the sun.’’ Hull, a mother of four who operated a construction company and ran unsuccessfully for Congress, said her son’s suicide was overwhelming. At one point, she put a gun to her own head. Another time, she sat in her a car at an intersection, trying to work up the nerve to pull out in front of a large truck in an attempt to take her own life. But Hull said she eventually recognized she needed psychologist help to deal with her own loss and needed to ask for it. In her quest to save others, Hull has found a sense of purpose. She estimates she has made about 400 suicide prevention presentations in the five and a half years since Andy’s death. “I feel strong and good about what I’m doing,’’ she said. “I want to be one of the voices, one of the messengers.”

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By Christina Fuoco-Karasinski Royce C. Johnson has been promoted to the rank of lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Air Force Reserve. Johnson is serving as squad commander with the 302nd Logistics Readiness Squadron, Peterson Air Force Base, Colorado. He has served in the military

Nearby News • For News Around Our Neighborhood

for 17 years. Johnson is the brother of Jennifer Stoltz of Mesa. He is a 1995 Red Mountain High School graduate who earned a bachelor’s degree in 2000 from Western State College of Colorado, Gunnison, Colorado. November 2018

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Mesa receives multiple awards for health and wellness efforts By Nearby News staff

The city of Mesa has received special recognition for its Beat the Boss Challenge at the 14th annual Health at Work Awards, sponsored by ComPsych. Winners were selected based on their wellness program’s comprehensiveness, delivery, promotion, participation rates and results achieved. Mesa received ComPsych’s Fitness Challenge Award for the Beat the Boss Challenge introduced in 2018 for city employees to engage in physical activity. The three-week challenge featured City Manager The three-week Beat the Boss Challenge featured City Chris Brady as the person Manager Chris Brady as the person to “beat” in daily steps. to “beat” in daily steps. Em- (Photo courtesy city of Mesa) ployees tracked their steps this engaging challenge and 73 employon fitness devices synced to the city’s ees beat Brady. The Fitness Challenge Mesa Wellness 360 Portal. Approxi- Award recognizes Mesa as the employer mately 500 employees participated in with the most innovative program for

getting and staying in shape. “The ‘Beat the Boss Challenge’ was fun for city employees and me and gave everyone an incentive to improve their well-being. This year’s event has everyone looking forward to next year’s ‘Beat the Boss’ opportunity,” Brady said. The city of Mesa established its wellness initiative in 2014 with the opening of a Health and Wellness Center that has provided services to more than 10,500 city employees and dependents on the city’s medical plan. The city’s Health and Wellness Program, called Mesa Wellness 360, launched in 2017 and provides health education, disease management programs, health coaching and wellness and fitness contests. In addition to ComPsych’s Fitness Challenge Award, the city received the American Heart Association’s Silver Award for Mesa Wellness 360. The Wellness Council of Arizona is also recognizing the city’s Wellness Program with its Process and Leadership Award and Mesa’s Employee Health and Well-

ness manager Nicole Stec with its Senior Leadership Award for implementing and expanding the city’s Wellness Program and Wellness Center services. “The recent awards should be shared by Mesa City Council and city management, who recognize the importance of health awareness and have taken action to make it a priority for our employees. The increased participation by employees in our health education programs and activities proves it is important to them as well,” Stec sasid. During the 2017/2018 fiscal year, 120 health and wellness classes were offered to city employees with more than 1,900 employees participating. In addition, more than 1,700 health screenings were completed by city employees and the wellness program had 11,651 employees participate in its activities, which is an over 30 percent increase from the previous fiscal year’s participation in the wellness program.

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group is bringing 300 community leaders and volunteers to the home for a day of service. From 8 a.m. to noon Saturday, November 3, they will build a park, garden, football field and playground for the Sunshine Acres youth. Volunteers are still needed; sign up at, under “calendar” and “annual community project event.” “Valley Partnership has been a wonderful partner to us,” said Shara Maxwell, Sunshine Acres Children’s Home’s corporate program manager. Her parents started Sunshine Acres. “This year’s event is awesome. They’re going to finish the park they started two years ago. Then they’re going to plant plants in God’s Garden. They’ll also refurbish the football field. “We don’t take any state or federal funding, nor do we solicit for funding. In 64 years, organizations have taken us under their wing, so we can take care of these kids.” It’s rare for Valley Partnership to revisit a project, but the organization thought this was best. “This is Valley Partnership’s 31st community project and our second out there,” Jones said. “It’s a really interesting situation. We’ve never gone back and done a project at the same charity. But we’ve built more of a partnership with Sunshine Acres, so it made sense with everything we’re doing this year. I’ve been coming out here since I was a kid. It’s so fun to see how it’s evolved. The one mission, though, stays the same: kids first.” Sunshine Acres, 3405 N. Higley Road, Mesa, takes in children Valleywide who have been separated from their families due to abusive situations or lack of care, and provides them with emotional, social, physical, educational and spiritual support. They don’t take guardianship, just powers of attorney. Located on 125 acres, Sunshine Acres hosts a church, large family homes, a barn,

Director...continued from page 4 could see it right away. We rewrote the character to suit him. What I love about him is the character we came up with is a lot like my real son.” In Instant Family, Lita has nuclear meltdowns. Juan is nervous and anxious and Moner’s Lizzy is a rebellious teen. So how did Anders’ children react? Page 10

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garden, baseball field and community resource center. The home has 70 children who are younger than 18, and four who are in college. Sunshine Acres doesn’t age out residents, according to Maxwell. “When they come here, they just have no hope in their eyes, really,” Maxwell said. “They’ve been homeless. Their parents have been incarcerated. Their parents have passed away. They’re all coming from different walks of life. They’re hurting. “When they come to our safe, loving environment, they start to flourish. It’s beautiful. They can live here for as long as they like. There’s a minimum of one year.” Maxwell said one boy arrived when he was 9 and recently he graduated from the University of Chicago, to which he received a full-ride scholarship. He graduated third in his class and now works for the Chicago Shakespeare Theater. “He’s an amazing young adult,” she said, grinning. In Sunshine Acres’ future is a possible additional new home and a recreation center. Each home houses 10 children. An additional home would allow Sunshine Acres to renovate the older houses. The city of Mesa is reviewing Sunshine Acres’ master plan. “We really need to have a place large enough for kids to run around and play,” Maxwell said. “As for the houses, some are 50 years old. It’s definitely important for us to have kids be in a newer home so we can turn it around and update it.” Maxwell thanks organizations who have made their mark on Sunshine Acres like Valley Partnership and the Arizona Diamondbacks. “We couldn’t do it without our community,” Maxwell said. “We’re truly changing the children’s stories. A lot of the problems are generational. They don’t know how to get out of it. They’re struggling. “We give them hope and a way to get out of it. That’s what’s really neat. I love our families. When parents come in, I tell them they’re here because they love their children.” “They loved it,” he says. “It’s been interesting and I would say therapeutic,” Anders says. “I’ve been very lucky to have this experience because we talk about our family a lot with each other and other people. To be able to see your family up on the screen, I think it’s helped all of us to get a better understanding of our family.” November 2018


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events calendar

Celebrate Mesa Families celebrated Mesa with a free event featuring games, carnival rides and entertainment at Red Mountain Soccer Complex on Saturday, October 20. Donning their most festive Halloween attire, parents and children of all ages participated in a variety of fun activities ranging from trick-or-treating to haunted house exploration, music and more. hearsay

meet your neighbor

1. Kids and their parents could ride the mini train through the event. 2. Zachary Pluma, 12, sits in the city garbage truck to see what it’s like in the driver’s seat. 3. Evelyn Houser, 5, climbs the rock wall. 4. Riley Pennington, 9, tries the flight simulator with help from Captain Jack Bryant. 5. Reese Hatch wins the tricycle race. 6. Addyson Roberts, 3, colors some coloring sheets provided at one of the vendor booths. 7. Olivia Dawell digs for fossils in the Arizona Museum of Natural Science’s booth. looking back

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around the neighborhood



Merry Main Street takes over Downtown Mesa By Kimberly Hosey

The holidays are taking over Main Street. If you’re in the mood to get your Christmas on – and who doesn’t love stretching out the festivities for more than a month? – you’ll want to hit downtown Mesa from Friday, November 23 through Friday, January 4. Thousands of revelers will hit Main Street in Mesa to take in the sounds, sights, lights, tastes and activities that only the holiday season can bring. The celebration of the holiday season kicks off November 23 with an evening of music, food and fun. Of course, no Christmas bash would be complete without an over-the-top Christmas tree bristling with lights and ornaments, and Merry Main Street doesn’t disappoint. The celebration includes a lighting ceremony at 5:45 p.m. on Macdonald just north of Main Street, and at nearly four stories tall, you and your kids will want to check this out. If you have memories of Christmases in colder climates and pine for outdoor ice skating, you’re in luck: Once again, Merry Main Street will feature the Winter Wonderland Ice Rink, provid-

Merry Main Street offers several “sELFie stations” by the Christmas tree and along the street, where guests can make a special holiday-card themed photo. (Photos courtesy city of Mesa)

ing more than 5,000 square feet of ice at 20 E. Main Street, just outside City Plaza for more than 40 days. I’m almost a lifelong Arizonan, but my family is originally from Buffalo, New York. If you have memories of that postcard-perfect ice-skating experience that you thought was lost to you in the desert, hit the ice during this event. Admission to the ice rink is $10 per person or $8 if purchased in groups of 20 or more in one transaction. The price includes one hour of skate time and ice skates. Skate sizes range from children’s size 8 to men’s size 14, and there is no discount for bringing your own skates. Hours for the ice rink are 6 to 10 p.m. opening night (November 23), then regular hours are 5 to 10 p.m. Monday through Friday and noon to 10 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. For Get ready to meet the big man himself: Santa Claus will stop by the holidays, the Merry Main Street on Fridays and Saturdays, so wear your holiday best and bring your camera or phone for free pictures.

Page 12

The city even has its own Light Rail “Polar Express,” which will zoom along Merry Main Street; as guests sing songs, enjoy cookies and, best of all, have a chance to meet Santa Claus. Wear your pajamas and enjoy the season in the childlike and festive tradition of the Polar Express. Visit for more information and to purchase tickets. The event will also feature memories you can bring home. In addition to the priceless keepsakes of your kids’ glowing faces as they meet Santa – or their literally glowing faces as they’re bathed in multicolored lights from the tree – on Fridays and Saturdays arts and crafts will be offered and the Mesa Christmas Market will offer local vendors in popup shops featuring traditional and nontraditional foods, handcrafted items, beautiful lights and live performances. If you have kids, young or old, or just anyone who wants to get out and enjoy an Arizona winter – with a bit of ice added in – now is the time. Check out the lights, sights and Christmas Joy on Main Street. Activities run throughout downtown Mesa, along Main Street, from Country Club to just east of Mesa Drive. Free parking is available in all open lots and on-street parking areas in downtown

rink is open noon to 4 p.m. December 24, is closed on Christmas, and is open noon to 4 p.m. December 31 and noon to 10 p.m. January 1. Of course holidays need snacks, and Mesa provides there, too. Start (or end) your journey down Merr y Ma i n Street on Friday or Saturday at Jack Frost’s Food Truck Forest at Pioneer Park. While you are there, enjoy a classic holi- The Winter Wonderland Ice Rink lets guests enjoy the amazing winter day movie or take weather while skating under the stars. a free ride on the Main Street Express Mesa. Visiting Merry Main Street is free, but activities such as the Light Rail Train. Create memories with special selfie – Polar Express and Winter Wonderland sorry, sELFie – stations that allow visi- Ice Rink require tickets to be purchased. tors to create special holiday cards pho- Visit the website for more details. tos. Look for stations near the Christmas Tree and along Main Street. IF YOU GO You may want to take a photo with the What: Merry Main Street head elf himself, and you’re in luck. On Where: Main Street and Fridays and Saturdays, Santa will stop by Macdonald, Mesa for free visits, so bring your cellphone or Info: camera for pictures with the man in red.

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November 2018

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Poston Junior High staging ‘Beauty and the Beast Junior’ By Sara Anderson

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Poston Junior High School students will tell a “tale as old as time” on Thursday, November 15, and Friday, November 16, as they perform the Disney musical Beauty and the Beast Junior. Fans of the original Beauty and the Beast will recognize the songs and scenes in this version, which is adapted for young performers. Planning for the show started in the spring, with input from teachers and community members and support from Poston principal Michael Rapier. The group decided on this show because of its well-loved songs, entertaining dance numbers, and “a large cast that would allow Mae Soelberg plays Belle in Poston Junior High School’s rendition of Beauty and the Beast Junior. us to include as many students (Photo courtesy Poston Junior High School) as the stage would fit,” said codirector and Poston choir teacher Lori other kids to be able to let go and feel Bottomley. “It was the right formula for silly and do the things that help bring our school and our students.” the story forward.” This fall, around 50 students came to Both directors are enthusiastic about auditions. “Beauty and the Beast is a the way their students are telling this show that everyone wants to be a part story. They predict that audiences will of because it’s a classic story,” according enjoy popular production numbers, to co-director Sammi Merkley. “There including “Be Our Guest,” “Gaston,” were a lot of hard decisions involved in “Beauty and the Beast” and “Human the entire casting process.” Again.” She and Bottomley cast 38 students “These are huge numbers with lots of in the show, taking into account not singing and dancing and fun costumes just their acting and singing ability, but and bright colors,” Merkley said. “Every their scheduling conflicts and on-stage song is a thrill to watch for the audichemistry. Mae Soelberg plays Belle, ence.” while Faith Millett stars as Babette. Besides working on lines and blocking IF YOU GO scenes, the directors helped the student What: Beauty and the Beast Junior actors learn to trust each other and feel When: 7 p.m. Thursday, November 15, and Friday, November 16 comfortable enough with each other Where: Poston Junior High School to act “full out,” Merkley explained. “If Auditorium, 2433 E. Adobe Street, you’re doing a really intense dramatic Mesa scene and you’re supposed to be crying, Info: it’s feeling comfortable enough with the

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November 2018


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All information (including, but not limited to current and future views from any property, prices, availability, school assignments and ratings, incentives, floor plans, site plans, features, standards and options, assessments and fees, planned amenities, programs, conceptual artists’ renderings and community development plans) is not guaranteed and remains subject to change or delay without notice. Floor plans and elevations are an artist’s conception and are not intended to show specific detailing. As-Built Condition will control. Prices may not include lot premiums, options, and upgrades, depending on the stage of construction. Maps and plans are not to scale and all dimensions are approximate. Photos and descriptions of any planned improvements, features or amenities may not be an actual representation and are for illustration purposes only that remain subject to change and under no obligation to be completed. All homes subject to prior sale. Offer void where prohibited or otherwise restricted by law. No binding offer to sell or lease may be made or accepted prior to the issuance of the final AZ Subdivision Public Report for the Community. A public report is available at the AZ Real Estate Department’s website. Please see a Community Sales Manager for details or visit for additional disclaimers. Taylor Morrison/Arizona, Inc., ROC # 179178B and JCH Construction, LLC, ROC# 256789 © October 2018, TM Homes of Arizona, Inc., AZ DRE # CO535669000 and AV Homes of Arizona, LLC, AZ DRE# LC632206000. All rights reserved.

November 2018

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Page 15


Six district seniors named National Merit Scholarship semifinalists By Laurie Struna

Seniors from Mesa, Mountain View and Westwood high schools have been named to the elite list of students recognized by the National Merit Scholarship Program. The National Merit Scholarship Corp. announced six Mesa Public Schools seniors were named semifinalists in the 64th annual National Merit Scholarship Program. Less than 1 percent of high school seniors nationwide are eligible. The district semifinalists are: Wyatt Appel and Anne Hatch from Mesa High School; Cody Daniels, Jordan Gardiner and Dalin Stuart from Mountain View High School; and Alex Vuong

from Westwood High School. According to the sponsoring organization, these academically talented students have an opportunity to continue in the competition for 7,500 National Merit Scholarships worth more than $31 million that will be offered next spring. To be considered for a Merit Scholarship award, semifinalists must fulfill several requirements to advance to the finalist level of the competition. About 90 percent of semifinalists are expected to attain finalist standing, and half of the finalists will win a National Merit Scholarship, earning the Merit Scholar title.

Top left: Wyatt Appel of Mesa High School, Jordan Gardiner of Mountain View High School and Cody Daniels of Mountain View High School. Top right: Alex Vuong of Westwood High School, Anne Hatch of Mesa High School and Dalin Stuart of Mountain View High School. (Photos by Tim Hacker/Mesa Public Schools)

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November 2018


mom events cal.

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Ride-in-Movies at the Park: The Polar Express This UConnectMesa Pop-Up! event features The Polar Express. As a part of Mesa’s Bike & Pedestrian Program, families are encouraged to ride their bikes or walk to the park. Popcorn will be provided; just bring the blankets. When: 6 p.m. Saturday, November 10 Where: Pioneer Park, 526 E. Main Street, Mesa Cost: Free Info: 480-644-4271, financially speaking


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Get into the holiday spirit with this winter wonderland extravaganza. There will be an ice rink at City Plaza, Food Truck Forest at Pioneer Park and Santa’s marketplace on Macdonald with a tall, holiday tree. Admission includes one hour of skate time and skate rental. When: Various times, Saturday, November 23, to Saturday, January 5 Where: Downtown Mesa, North Center Street and West Main Street, Mesa Cost: $10 Info:

Get Twisty! In celebration of International Tongue Twister Day, the Red Mountain Library is encouraging everyone to come and perform their favorite tongue twister. Various versions of the game Twister will also be at the event as well as supplies for a tonguetwister themed craft to take home. All ages welcome. When: 4 to 6 p.m. Wednesday, November 7 Where: Red Mountain Library, 635 N. Power Road, Mesa Cost: free Info: 480-644-3100, mesalibrary. org

Giving Day: Make a Blanket Do not fear, sewing skills not required. Stop by the library to make a cozy fleece comfort blanket for a patient at Phoenix Children’s Hospital. Kids of all ages are welcome to attend. When: 10 a.m. to noon Saturday, November 10 Where: Red Mountain Library, 635 N. Power Road, Mesa November 2018

Cost: Free Info: 480-644-3100, mesalibrary. org

Vertuccio Farms Corn Maze and Fall Festival With an endless amount of activities from corn hole to a mini zipline and pumpkin patch, Vertuccio Farms is a place the whole family can enjoy. So, grab a hot cocoa and dive into the holiday festivities. When: Various times, through November 4 Where: Vertuccio Farms, 4011 S. Power Road, Mesa Cost: $10 Info: 480-882-1482,

Family Game Night Join in on a night of family fun with game night at Mesa’s main library. Attendees can choose from a variety of board and card games ranging from new to ageold classics. When: 6 to 7:30 p.m. Thursday, November 15 Where: Mesa Public Library, 64 E. First Street, Mesa Cost: Free Info: 480-644-3100, mesalibrary. org

The Best Christmas Pageant Ever This holiday classic is one show you and the family won’t want to miss. Based on the bestselling book, The Best Christmas Pageant Ever tells the story of a couple struggling to put on a church Christmas pageant. They are faced with casting the awful Herdman kids. This comedic masterpiece is the perfect event for good, holiday fun. When: Various times, Thursday, November 29, to Sunday, December 9 Where: Mesa Arts Center’s Nesbitt/Elliott Playhouse, 1 E. Main Street, Mesa Cost: $15 Info: 480-644-6500,

Dinosaur Party Enjoy an afternoon with the kids learning about these prehistoric giants. Stories will be told, and fossil prints and custom dinosaur feet will be made. While the event is targeted toward children ages 2 through 5, all ages are welcome. When: 1:30 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. Saturday, November 3 Where: Red Mountain Library, 635 N. Power Road, Mesa Cost: Free Info: 480-644-3100, mesalibrary. org

15th Anniversary

Got Sushi? & Korean BBQ

Downtown Mesa Festival of the Arts The DT Mesa Fest features art, music and activities suitable for the whole family. Grab food and enjoy the vivacious atmosphere that celebrates a wide range of art in Downtown Mesa. When: Various times, Saturdays November 3 and November 17 Where: Downtown Mesa, 1 N. Macdonald, Mesa Cost: Free Info:

i.d.e.a. Museum Family Day The museum presents spacethemed activities, entertainment and expert appearances that revolve around Far Out: Our Solar System. Guests can learn about the wonders of the moon, planets and space exploration. When: 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, November 3 Where: i.d.e.a. Museum, 150 W. Pepper Place, Mesa Cost: $9; free for members Info:

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top 10 family events


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By Christina Fuoco-Karasinski diy

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Red Mountain Bar and Grill changing food culture comm. spotlight

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Jon and Elena Rowe want to change the Northeast Mesa food culture through their new restaurant, Red Mountain Bar and Grill. “We’re going to take this place from a bar that serves food, to a destination restaurant that has a great bar,” he said. “Everybody’s buying into it. The (staff ) is challenged to make better food. A lot of them come from steakhouse backgrounds or somewhere they worked a fryer for four or five years. We’re totally changing their foodscape.” The extensive menu proves his point. It starts with dips and bar items, including typical snacks like potato skins and jalapeno poppers ($7.95). But it steps beyond traditional fare. Stuffed mushroom caps have items like chorizo ($8.95) and tater tots are filled with a variety of flavors ($8.50). It continues with smothered fries/sliders/marinated skewers with options like poutine with brie cheese curds (starts at $9.95), trip-tip sliders ($9.95) and marinated filet steak cubes skewers ($12.95). The wraps go beyond the usual. Sesame lime steak wrap features a half pound of ribeye loin, thinly sliced, and cooked with a touch of lime juice, classifieds

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honey, toasted sesame seeds, ginger and a sweet chile sauce ($12.95). Bacon and hatch chile, California and Buffalo chicken wraps are also available. Comfort foods are sure to accomplish their goals. Build-your-own mac and cheese and grilled cheese are available (starts at $6.95), as well chicken tenders and Maryland-style Mahi fried filet fingers and chips ($13.95), the latter of which is a house special, are on the menu. Philly and hoagie sandwiches include ingredients like ribeye steak, shrimp and Andouille sausage ($12.95). Housecrafted sandwiches like the barbecue and Santa Fe pulls pile meat between a ciabatta bun ($9.95). The holiday burger – brioche bun filled with sweet cranberry relish, half-pound stuffed turkey patty, white cheddar cheese, garlic mashed potatoes, brown gravy, lettuce and tomato – is a favorite at $14.95, as is the chili cheese dog ($9.95). The pasta menu features spaghetti, pesto chicken with fettuccini alfredo, Nawleens penne pasta (with Andouille sausage and chicken) and lemon fettuccini chicken ($14.95). On Thursdays, the staff celebrates the life of Anthony Bourdain, with dishes like Asian lettuce wraps with house-stuffed crab wontons, and a filet with Santa Fe shrimp cocktail. Rowe said his menu reflects his family’s traditions. “Most of my recipes come from my family get togeth-

Jon and Elena Rowe are proud of their extensive menu and friendly atmosphere at Red Mountain Bar and Grill. (Photos by Kimberly Carrillo)

ers,” he said. “We’re very big on food, “I added a few touches. The pony wall beer, wine and fun. Everything that is crucial to the restaurant culture. comes off the grill – all the barbecue When it wasn’t there, guests would and Mahi – is what we’ve been doing wonder if it’s a restaurant or bar. Now, for years.” Rowe has a restaurant background. His father owned five Italian eateries in Colorado, which is reflected at Red Mountain Bar and Grill with John Elway and Peyton Manning jerseys. Rowe worked at Bennigan’s and high-end restaurants in California, and Also offered with Mahi, the filet mignon strawberry salad is topped with housemade strawberry vinaigrette, and fresh strawberries and apples. was classically trained in Newport Beach, California. when they walk in, it’s a split-second He recently sold a janitorial company thing. It’s a restaurant with a bar. This that cleaned 1,200 restaurants from is a happy place.” Flagstaff to Tucson. “I’ve never been far from the restauRed Mountain Bar and Grill rant businesses even when I was doing 2015 N. Power Road that,” he said. “I was able to scratch the (at McKellips Road), Mesa 480-924-4877 itch with Red Mountain Bar and Grill. Search for Red Mountain Bar & This location is fantastic. It’s a neat little Grill Mesa, Arizona on Facebook place.

The Maryland-style Mahi fried filet fingers and chips is a house favorite.

Page 18

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November 2018




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Sonson’s Pasty Co. is worth the wait for Julie Mercer By Christina Fuoco-Karasinski Julie Mercer believes everything in life comes down to timing. A native of Cornwall, England, Mercer dreamt of having her own shop that sold Cornish pasties, a pastry shell filled with beef, sliced or diced potato, rutabaga and onion and then baked. On September 22, she achieved her longtime dream. Sonson’s Pasty Company, at Brown and Recker roads in Mesa, features a small menu of pasties, cakes and sausage rolls. Mercer said many Americans need to be schooled on pasties. “The history of the pasty is very interesting,” said Mercer, who moved to the United States in 2002. “They were made by miners’ wives to take to the tin mines for their husbands hundreds of years ago. “The men would eat the pasties with their hands, but they had to throw away the crimp because their hands were filled with arsenic. They are a delicious meal in one.”

Mercer learned to make pasties by working in a bakery, one of five in her town of 3,000 people. She worked for them from age 22 to 30. “The owner offered to sell me her other one, but I was too young,” Mercer said. “Instead, I moved here, worked for a company for 18 years, good company, good pay. I stayed with that until I was laid off in January. If I did this in my 20s, for sure I would have failed.” Mercer took her severance pay and invested it in her pasty shop. She learned about finances and business during her 18 years as a retail manager. Her shop is named Julie Mercer is the owner of Sonson’s Pasty Co. (Photos after her mother, Sonia, who by Kimberly Carrillo) moved to Mesa in 2007. Mercer and her mother worked in the same pasty shop in Cornwall. It took Mercer a year to get to the point where she felt comfortable selling her pasties. Still, she doesn’t believe she’s at her best. “I think I’ve improved since I started making them in February,” Mercer said. “I took me a while because I was trying to find out what meat to use, what shortening to use, flour and all that good stuff. It was different in England. I have to like what I’m making. If I don’t like it, I’m not going to sell it.” Her menu is simple. Small beef pasties are $6.50; large ground beef pasty, $8.50; steak and cheese, $8 and $10, for small and large, respectively; small sausage roll, $3; large sausage pasty, $8; steak pasty, $7.50 and $9.50; and chicken


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Sonson’s Pasty Co. 6060 E. Brown Road, Mesa 480-845-8485

pasty, $8. Vegan offerings include lentil and walnut base, layered with sweet potato fries, garlic and herb red sauce, peas and green beans ($8.50). The chick-less alfredo pasty features pasta twists, onions, garlic and alfredo sauce for $8. “The steak and ground beef pasties are the more popular ones, especially the ground beef,” she said. “Ground beef is ground beef. You know what you’re getting. “For steak, it could be flavored differently. I started with a salad bar and sandwiches, too. People weren’t coming for that. They are coming for pasties.” So far, Sonson’s is everything she’s wanted. “I’m putting in these long hours every day, but it doesn’t matter,” Mercer said. “This is what I was supposed to do and here it is, I’m doing it.” Owner Julie Mercer makes pasties with Sherrie Ellsworth and Aurelia Ellsworth in her Northeast Mesa shop.

November 2018

Cameo Foundation’s 30th Annual

By Jan D’Atri


Salmon ‘Wellies’ with Creamy Dill Sauce

Wellington was always the elegant “signature dish” reserved for special occasions like weddings or a New Year’s Eve celebration. Beef or salmon Wellington with its beautiful puff pastry encasement was truly the finedining darling of the 1960s. But take away the fête factor, and you have a fabulous weeknight or Sunday supper that turns a fresh piece of salmon into something really wonderful – especially if you give it a quick grill before enrobing it with dough. This recipe also included the ingredients for a classic duxelles – that magical blend of

Salmon Wellies

Ingredients: - 4 pcs. fresh salmon (about 4-5 oz.) - 4 tablespoons olive oil - 1 package puff pastry sheets (thawed in refrigerator overnight) - 2 cups fresh baby spinach - 1 recipe for duxelles - Salt and pepper to taste - Egg wash (2 egg yolks plus 2 tablespoons milk) - Creamy dill sauce

Fox Duxelles

Ingredients: - 2 tablespoons unsalted butter - 1/4 cup finely chopped shallot (about 2-3 large) - 1 large garlic clove, minced fine - 1 pound white or cremini mushrooms, chopped very fine - 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh parsley - 1/2 teaspoon salt - 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground pepper Directions: Drizzle each piece of salmon with 1 tablespoon olive oil and season with salt and pepper to taste. Heat grill pan and grill salmon on both sides for about 2 minutes. Remove skin and set aside. Make duxelles. Melt butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add shallot and garlic; cook, stirring, until softened, about 3 minutes. Add mushrooms, cooking until mushrooms have softened and released their liquid, about 4-5 minutes. Cook until liquid has

November 2018

(Photo courtesy Jan D’Atri)

butter, garlic, shallot and finely chopped mushrooms. That’s the second layer of deliciousness. The third is a layer of fresh, tender baby spinach. Slice through the layers of delicate puff pastry and enjoy the show!

evaporated, about 2 minutes more. Stir in parsley, salt and pepper. Let cool. To Assemble: Cut puff pastry into 5-inch squares, or large enough to cover the piece of salmon. Roll out a bit to thin out dough. Lay a piece of salmon on dough. Spoon duxelles over the top of the salmon piece, covering the salmon entirely. (Duxelles recipe should be divided between four pieces of salmon.) Top with several layers of fresh baby spinach. Cover the salmon with puff pastry. Tuck in the sides and turn seam side down on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Brush egg wash over the dough. (For added touch, use a strip of dough to make decorative leave cut outs for the top.) Bake at 400 degrees for about 15 minutes or until dough is golden brown. Serve with dollop of creamy dill sauce on the side. Serves four. Watch my how-to video at recipe/salmon-wellies.

Creamy Dill Sauce

Ingredients: - 3/4 cup sour cream - 1 tablespoon Dijon-style mustard - 1-2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice - 1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill or 1 teaspoon dried dill, crushed Directions: Mix sour cream, mustard, lemon juice and dill together. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

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Mesa resident Rob Stenberg will exhibit and sell his original mixed-media paintings during Arizona’s largest and longest-running artist studio tour, Hidden in the Hills. A signature event of the nonprofit Sonoran Arts League, the free, self-guided tour takes place from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday, November 16, to Sunday, November 18, and Friday, November 23, to Sunday, November 25. Now in its 22nd year, Hidden in the Hills features 174 artists in 44 private studio locations throughout Cave Creek, Carefree and North Scottsdale. This is Stenberg’s third year participating in the tour, and he is excited to be one of several guest artists at Studio No. 12 “High Desert Creations” in Scottsdale, hosted by jeweler Kathi Turner. A Michigan native, Stenberg grew up loving art and athletics. He credits his uncle, a talented oil painter, with fueling his passion for art. But it would take nearly two decades before he decided to pursue a career as a full-time artist. “I worked for a big health care company and traveled to many developing companies in the Pacific Rim to help set up hospitals,” Stenberg said. “I experienced so many different cultures, and I believe that experience is evident in some of the designs I create today.” photo page


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He moved to Arizona in 1994, and while he was successful in his job, he felt he was missing something. He started painting rocks and creating gourd art, and then in 2000, he took a leap of faith, quit his job, and began working full-time as an artist. “I didn’t make the decision until I saw a quote on the back of a business card that said, ‘Never let the odds keep you from doing what Mesa artist Rob Stenberg will exhibit and sell his mixedpaintings during the 22nd annual Hidden in the you know in your heart you media Hills Artist Studio Tour during the last two weekends of were meant to do,’” he said, November. (Photos courtesy of Rob Stenberg) adding that he still carries the business card with him today. when you’re shooting a free throw in A self-taught artist, Stenberg will basketball. You can’t overthink it. You exhibit and sell new work from his in- just have to let it flow.” dustrial, abstract and Southwest series Maps can be downloaded from hidof mixed-media paintings during the, or by visiting the Soart tour. noran Arts League, 7100 E. Cave Creek “I like to experiment and push my- Road, Suite 144, at Stagecoach Village self to improve my techniques,” he said. in Cave Creek. For details, call 480-575“Lately, I’ve been using porcupine quills 6624. and perforated metal. I’ve also been Below, left to right: Free Spirit is a mixedmixing sand into paint to give it a dif- media painting that is made with vintage tin ceiling tiles on a wood panel; Midnight Madferent look and texture.” is a mixed-media painting that is made It’s labor-intensive work, but he ness with vintage tin ceiling tiles on a wood panel; Spiritual Leader is a mixed-media painting wouldn’t have it any other way. is made with vintage tin ceiling tiles on “Probably the biggest challenge for that a wood panel. me is to be patient,” he said. “It’s like

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Nearby News • For News Around Our Neighborhood

November 2018

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events calendar November 2018

events calendar

Whose Live Anyway? The Whose Line Is It Anyway? cast is roadbound to showcase its talents. The performance is based on audience suggestions and will include 90 minutes of comedy and song hilarity. When: 8 p.m. Friday, November 2 Where: Mesa Arts Center’s Ikeda Theater, 1 E. Main Street, Mesa Cost: $34-$54 Info: 480-644-6500,

Cost: Free Info: 480-649-6476,

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Paula Goldsmith Signing Meet the author who will be signing her four books, which will be available for purchase. Guests will receive a free gift with each book purchased. When: 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, November 3 Where: Half Price Books, 6339 E. Southern Avenue, Mesa Cost: Free admission Info:

East Valley Friends and Neighbors For anyone looking to get acquainted with new faces, East Valley Friends and Neighbors offers an opportunity to join social groups for activities such as golf, luncheons, book reviews and more. Coffee, light refreshments and a special program is offered at each general meeting at the beginning of the month When: 9:30 to 11 a.m. the first Wednesday of each month, including November 7 Where: Grace Methodist Church, 2024 E. University (at Gilbert Road), Mesa Cost: Free Info: 480-848-5146,

Wine Down Wednesday at ll Vinaio If you’re looking for a middle-ofthe-week booster, head to Wine Down Wednesday. The restaurant features happy-hour specials, live entertainment, wine tastings and everything you need to relax and get ready to face the rest of the week. When: 5 to 9 p.m. Wednesdays Where: Il Vinaio Restaurant & Wine Bar, 270 W. Main Street, Mesa Page 24

Wordplay Cafe Grab an espresso and sign up for this open mic held every second Thursday of each month. Community performers are invited to craft, mold and present their work whether it be with poetry or music. In addition, a workshop will be led by professional poets and storytellers who go into depth about the respective medium. When: 6 to 8 p.m. the second Thursday of each month, including November 8 Where: The Nile Shop, 105 W. Main Street, Mesa Cost: Free Info: 480-352-9882,

Mesa Music Festival With over 300 artists from around the world, the Mesa Music Festival celebrates well-known and emerging musicians during its three days. This year’s keynote speaker is Henry Rollins. Local restaurants and bars within the festival grounds will be open for attendees to visit and grab some grub during the festivities. When: various times Thursday, November 8, to Saturday, November 10 Where: Downtown Mesa Cost: Free Info: 732-203-7787,

Take a Hike Join dermatologists, skin cancer survivors and their family and friends in telling skin cancer to take a hike. A hike at Usery Mountain Regional Park’s Blevins Trail in Mesa will raise funds for SPOT Skin Cancer, a campaign of the American Academy of Dermatology. When: 8:30 a.m. Saturday, November 10 Where: Usery Mountain Regional Park’s Blevins Trail, 3939 N. Usery Pass Road, Mesa Cost: Call for info Info: 847-240-1748, AZHike

East Valley Veterans Parade Join the community in watching this parade that supports and honors

veterans, active military and their families. The parade will include school bands, historical military vehicles and local entries. Afterward, attendees can head to Main Street for live music, food and shopping. When: 11 a.m. to noon Monday, November 12 Where: Downtown Mesa, begins at the intersection of Center Street and University Avenue Cost: Free Info: 480-684-2324,

National Geographic Live: The Search for Longevity Sit in on an informative show with best-selling author Dan Buettner and award-winning National Geographic photographer David McLain. The two lead a presentation based on their worldwide travels. When: 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, November 14 Where: Mesa Arts Center’s Ikeda Theater, 1 E. Main Street, Mesa Cost: $27-$41 Info: 480-644-6500,

Politicon Live! In its first traveling road tour, this nonpartisan “Unconventional Political Convention” is making a stop at the Mesa Arts Center. Politicon brings people of all political stripes together to converse over topical issues in a fun, entertaining way that pokes fun at every side. When: 7:30 p.m. Sunday, November 18 Where: Mesa Arts Center’s Ikeda Theater, 1 E. Main Street, Mesa Cost: $34.50-$349.50 Info: 480-644-6500,

Nathan Carter: Celtic Country With four No. 1 albums and two No. 1 singles, Irish country singer Nathan Carter has made a name for himself worldwide. The concert will feature songs like “Jealous of the Angels,” “Caledonia” and “Wagon Wheel.” Joining the Irish star will be Chloë Agnew, a former original member of Celtic Woman. When: 7:30 p.m. Saturday, November 24 Where: Mesa Arts Center’s Piper Repertory Theater, 1 E. Main Street,

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Mesa Cost: $38-$58 Info: 480-644-6500,

LockSync At HeatSync Labs Ever wondered how to pick a lock? In this monthly meet, Austin Appel and Blaine Bublitz lead a presentation on a predetermined topic followed with practice afterward. Various difficulties of locks are available for practice as well as people with various skill level to offer tips and give demos. When: 7 to 10 p.m. Saturday, November 24 Where: HeatSync Labs, 108 W. Main Street, Mesa Cost: Free Info: 602-492-5227, heatsynclabs. org

A Magical Cirque Christmas This holiday entertainment show has it all-comedy, live music and dazzling circus acts. Live musicians will sing your favorite Christmas carols and jaw-dropping magic will leave the audience awestruck during this magical night of performances. When: 7:30 p.m. Sunday, November 25 Where: Mesa Arts Center’s Ikeda Theater, 1 E. Main Street, Mesa Cost: $30-$55 Info: 480-644-6500,

Zen Nights Block Party This nonprofit is on a mission to spread awareness of the vegan lifestyle though education. An event that takes place the final Friday of each month, the Zen Nights Block Party is a downtown affair that features plant-based food and cruelty-free vendors. Live music will also be featured along with a to-be-announced guest speaker. When: 6 to 10 p.m. Friday, November 30 Where: Downtown Mesa, 1 S. Macdonald, Mesa Cost: Free Info: 480-236-4425, facebook. com/zennightsaz

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Brandon Wilcox balances a tire at Discount Tire near McKellips and Power roads. (Photos by Kimberly Carrillo)

Discount Tire is encouraging high school students to start their working careers at its stores. The Scottsdale-based company’s training manager Tom Stanage said after kids attend its academies, they can take advantage of flexible schedules and college reimbursement. Discount Tire sent announcements to area high schools like Red Mountain High School. “High school students can learn on the job,” said Stanage, who has worked for Discount Tire nearly 30 years. “You make a lot of good friends. It’s hard work, but once you figure everything out, it’s a lot of fun. They’ll have career opportunities as soon as they get out

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of school. “We have the flexibility to work around school. Plus, if they work down here during high school and they go to Flagstaff for college, they can transfer up there.” In August, 166 people were hired for Arizona’s 76 stores. About 13 Red Mountain High School students applied for jobs at Discount Tire. To apply, visit “All you need is a great work ethic,” Stanage said. “As far as how to change a tire, how to balance tires and fix tires, we do that all in-house. You don’t need prior knowledge. If you have a can-do attitude, we’ll take it from there.” The Valley’s academies are located at 19th Avenue and Alameda Road in Phoenix; and Country Club Drive and Baseline Road in Mesa. Classes are two weeks. “Kids from Red Mountain who are hired are referring their friends,” Stanage said. “We have a great referral program. There’s no better person who can tell you about a job than a friend.” Students can learn on the job at Discount Tire.

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November 2018

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By Christina Fuoco-Karasinski Thanksgiving is a time for family, harvesting and gathering. Folks should have their minds on family, instead of cooking turkeys, baking pies and assembling side dishes. Flancer’s at 1902 N. Higley Road, Mesa, wants to do the work for its guests. Its takeout Thanksgiving dinner includes butternut squash soup; slow-roasted Diestel turkey breast; gravy; seasonal vegetables; potatoes; potato latkes; and pumpkin bread pudding. The cost is $31 per person. For more information, call 480-396-0077. The restaurant, which also has a Gilbert location, is looking for a needy family of four to receive a free Thanksgiving meal. They are asking for the community to tell them stories of families in need so they can choose one deserving household. “We have been making delicious Thanksgiving dinners since 2000 and

ThursDec Dec13th 13th5-9pm 5-9pm Thurs

we’re darn good at it,” said Jeff Flancer, owner. “One cool thing is you’re not confined to one size order for a set price. You can order for one person or your whole party. Parties of six get a meal added for free.” He said the meals are made from scratch using high-quality ingredients. The Thanksgiving dinner is sold cold, but guests are ensured an easy reheat with the simple directions. The meals need to be picked up on Wednesday, November 21, because Flancer’s is closed on Thanksgiving. Flancer is a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park. Flancer’s is a family-friendly restaurant that provides unique food on freshly baked bread. For more information, visit flancers. com.

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Flancer’s offering Thanksgiving to go this holiday season


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One of my previous articles outlined some of the smartest upgrades that will increase your home’s value and appeal. Some of you may have been convinced it is time to make some upgrades, but you are now wondering how to pay for them. If you don’t have the cash on hand, you have options. If you have equity in your home, there are a few ways to draw upon it for use for renovations. Equity is essentially the difference between what your home is worth versus what you owe. During the recession many were underwater, meaning they owed more than their home was worth. However, with the economic upturn home values have increased. According to a recent article in CNBC, the majority of people tapping into their equity is for “large expense like home remodeling.” One way many have been accessing this equity is by refinancing their homes. This allows a homeowner not only to pull equity out but also take advantage of lower interest rates and reduce monthly mortgage payments. However, interest rates have been increasing. If you bought your home in the last few years, you might have been able to take advantage of extremely low rates. Traditional 30-year mortgage interest rates are now up to around 5 percent, which is still very low, historically. But if your current rate is already low, it might not make sense to refinance. Joe Mellman, senior vice president and mortgage business leader at TransUnion, told CNBC, “Now, with (mortgage) interest rates up, a lot of people might not want to touch their original mortgage” For these individuals, it may be better to look into a home equity loan or a home equity line of credit. The difference between the two is that a loan

Alejandro Rojas. (Special to Nearby News)

will provide a lump sum to be paid off during a set amount of time, as where a line of credit is similar to a credit card in which the funds can be pulled out anytime at any amount during a set period. Home equity loan interest rates average 6 percent. Other options include FHA renovation loans for those with less than still stellar credit, VA loans for military veterans, or special loans for energy efficiency upgrades. These options do come with stipulations your loan officer can review with you. To find out which option is best, you should talk to a lending agent or two. Be sure to speak to a lender that has an ample amount of options at their disposal. Some lenders do not work with all of these programs. A lender with many options at their disposal may be able to put together a package that includes a couple of these options to be sure you pay the lowest fees and are not spending more than you can afford. - Alejandro Rojas is a journalist and real estate agent in the East Valley. He can be reached at Visit his website at

Have a Happy Thanksgiving!

Nearby News • For News Around Our Neighborhood

November 2018

By Nearby News staff

Mesa’s Office of Economic Development recently launched selectmesa. com, an economic development website targeting business owners, industry executives, commercial real estate professionals, commercial developers and site consultants working on expanding, locating, merging or consolidating companies. From the first page, focuses on factors critical to location decision makers including: a skilled and abundant workforce, available sites and buildings, clusters of like companies and supply chain and news of Mesa’s robust economy. Moreover, visitors can dive more deeply into demographics, incentives and programs, education, market access and major employers. “A key focus for our economic development website is to reassure companies and site selectors Mesa is the right place for their business,” said Bill Jabjiniak, Mesa’s economic development

director. “ does just that by bringing to the forefront the information and unique selling propositions that are most important to our audiences.” In addition, the website promotes Mesa’s unique product offerings. includes micro sites such as,,, pecosadvancedmanufacturingzone. com and others that can serve as indepth, stand-alone sites promoting Mesa’s premier industry sectors and development areas. also includes innovative tools that help companies conduct local market analysis (; search for available buildings and sites ( and conduct virtual, online aerial tours of Mesa’s key business districts (

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Award-winning Arizona builder for 39 years. Blandford Homes specializes in building master planned environments with a variety of amenities and charm. Many offer resort-style amenities such as pools, spa, fitness, tennis, event lawns, and lifestyle activities, you’ll find the perfect community to fit your lifestyle. A Mountain Bridge 6 BRAND NEW REVOLUTIONARY MODEL HOMES!

Acclaimed Resort-Style Master Planned Community in Northeast Mesa Vintage Collection • From the high $300’s • 480-988-2400 Craftsman Collection • From the mid $400’s • 480-641-1800 Artisan Collection • From the mid $500’s • 480-641-1800 Master Collection • From the mid $700’s • 480-641-1800 B Mulberry – “New Old-Home Neighborhood” SOME COMMUNITIES NEAR CLOSEOUT! Resort-Style in Southeast Mesa Americana Collection • From the low $300’s • 480-895-2800 Centennial Collection • From the $340’s • 480-733-9000 Heritage Collection • From the $380’s • 480-733-9000 C The Estates at Thirty-Second Street NEW HOMESITES JUST RELEASED Luxury single-level estate homes with 3- to 6-car garages and optional RV garages and carriage houses • From the low $800’s • 480-750-3000

D Estates on McDowell 35,000 SQUARE FOOT HOMESITES — NOW SELLING! Luxury single-level estate homes with 3- to 6-car garages and optional RV garages and carriage houses • From the low $800’s • 480-750-3000

E The Estates at Las Sendas CLOSEOUT LAST 3 HOMES

Northeast Mesa Resort-Style Master Planned Community

Luxury single-level estate homes on 30,000 sq. ft. lots with 3- to 6- car garages and optional RV garages and carriage houses • From the high $800’s • 480-641-1800

F Sienna Hills Scottsdale – 124th St & Shea GRAND OPENING!

Luxury single-level estate homes • From the mid $900’s • 480-661-3811

G The Grove at Valencia – Gated Lushly Landscaped Neighborhood NOW SELLING! Luxury single-level estate homes with eclectic architecture in the charming Groves area of Northeast Mesa • From the mid $400’s • 480-750-3000

Page 32 Not all photos shown are representative of all communities. Terms and conditions subject to change without notice.

Nearby News • For News Around Our Neighborhood

November 2018

The Groves Report - November 2018  
The Groves Report - November 2018