A big shout out to all my friends in District One and the entire city of Surprise! I sincerely hope everyone is enjoying this adventure we call life.
January has proved to be a busy beginning to what is going to be a great year for Surprise. I started the month with a couple of meetings with a few residents near Saguaro Acres who were concerned about their roads and trash pick-up. I am confident we can help them; in fact, our Public Works Department is already working on an action plan based on the residents’ feedback.
I hosted my monthly meeting on Friday, January 13. If you have not attended any of my meetings, please feel free to attend for some conversation and refreshments. My meetings are held at the Retreat at Arizona Traditions, 18250 W. Weatherby on the second Friday of every month. Everyone is invited.
On Saturday morning, January 14, the city hosted its first Martin Luther King Day of Celebration in the courtyard of City Hall. What a great day for the city and the residents! Emmy award-winning journalist and anchor of ABC 15 News, Steve Irvin, emceed the event and retired USAF Colonel Richard Toliver provided the uplifting keynote address. Mr. Toliver told us about his service in Vietnam and the important work Dr. King did in his short life. After the celebration, folks divided into groups and went out into the community to serve through projects at schools, parks, nursing homes and more. Approximately 350 people attended the celebration, and an additional 300 volunteered, for a total of 600 unduplicated participants in the day’s events. I want to thank the Human Service and Community Vitality Department, led by Director Seth Dyson, for supporting this great event that should have been celebrated in our city way before this! Great job!
WESTMARC hosted a State of the State Luncheon on Tuesday, January 17. Governor Ducey provided an overview of his intentions this year. I was honored to attend the event, and I am encouraged that this year he promised to raise our teachers’ salaries. I was able to speak to him for a few minutes prior to his speech!
I was privileged to attend our neighboring city’s grand opening of their new city hall. El Mirage hosted the event on Thursday, January 19. Mayor Lana Mook, the El Mirage City Council Members and City Manager Spencer Isom were overjoyed. In addition to the new city hall, the Tohono O’odham Nation donated funds to build a beautiful veterans memorial in front of the new building.
Valley Partnership hosted their Friday morning breakfast meeting on January 20 at Phoenix Country Club. The meeting focused on Arizona’s real estate development and our infrastructure, specifically transportation. Discussion was led by Former US Secretary of Transportation Mary Peters.
On Sunday, January 22, the Surprise Pops Band performed the first concert of their season at the Performing Arts Center at Valley Vista High School. If you have never seen our great Pops Band, it is well worth a couple of hours of your time, and it is free with the donation of a canned food item. They are truly a talented group of people.
I attended a black tie fundraiser, Campaign ASU 2020, for Arizona State University at Chase Field on January 26. It was a very impressive sight with the tables on the field. Dr. Crow was the key note speaker with many donors and educators in the audience. ASU does a great job ensuring our youth are prepared for a good job.
I went for the Tohono O’odham Nation’s 79th Annual O’odham Wapkail Ha-Tas Rodeo and Parade on Saturday, January 28. I was met with a great reception despite the cold weather. The community and people are quite proud and very generous, and I was honored to attend.
Now a special note to my friends in Surprise Farms, as some of you know, I have been talking to residents about the chain link green fence, and we all agree it needs to come down. It has been there long enough! I am doing my best to get that issue on the agenda for the February 21 Council meeting. I can’t make any promises, but I will let you know if I am successful. We will see what happens, and it will take the majority of Council to agree.
One more thing, I am working on getting the Vietnam Moving Wall to our city with the tremendous help of Jodi Tas, and much support from our City Manager Bob Wingenroth that it may happen. I will let you know when we have a date confirmed.
Lastly, another friendly reminder that I host my meetings on the second Friday of the month at 7 p.m. in the Retreat Club House in Arizona Traditions, 18250 W. Weatherby. I’d be remiss if I did not thank AZ Traditions for allowing me to host my meetings. Thank you!
Until next month, remember to be good to yourself and be good to each other.
A big shout-out to all my neighbors and friends in District 1 and throughout this beautiful city that we are blessed to call home. Happy New Year to you! If you are like me, I can’t believe that 2016 was here and gone in the blink of an eye and now we begin 2017.
While December was slightly slower than most months, I was able to attend a few events and meetings as well as meet with some of my constituents. I began the month at the Northwest Valley Connect Advisory Commission meeting on December 2 followed by the Christmas tree lighting at the Annual Surprise Party. City Council Members and their families were joined on stage to welcome residents and light the tree. Despite the cold, there was a great crowd of residents that attended the two-day event.
Councilman Skip Hall and I, as Committee Members, attended the Audit Committee meeting on Wednesday, December 7. In addition, this Committee is comprised of residents, employees, and the City’s auditor. Meetings are open to the public and posted on our website. The next meeting is scheduled for March 22 at 3:30 pm in the Council Overflow Room at City Hall.
I attended the “Tech the Halls” Holiday Open House at the AZ TechCelerator on December 8. This event was an opportunity to look at the latest advancements from Surprise’s technology start-ups, including electric vehicle conversions, water desalination and electric skateboards. Since 2009, the TechCelerator has fostered local start-ups resulting in 16 businesses, over 200 jobs graduated and a local Google corporate office. This year, the TechCelerator reached worldwide with its Global Concierge Services program which helps international businesses establish local operations in Surprise and has thus far generated more than 300 additional community jobs.
On December 9, most of City Council and members of the Planning and Zoning Commission visited the new Mattamy Homes Rhythm development in Tempe to look at their new models. The purpose of the trip was to learn more about the project to see if it would be a possible future “good-fit” development in Surprise.
The Human Service and Community Vitality Department hosted their Annual Holiday Party for senior services at the Arizona Traditions Ballroom, December 14. Councilmembers Jim Hayden, Skip Hall and Todd Tande also attended with staff.
The Arizona State Transportation Board, which is responsible for establishing a complete system of state highway routes in Arizona, hosted their December meeting at City Hall on Friday, December 16. I attended the meeting which included discussion on future transportation projects and a summarization of projects that were recently completed including the Bell Road bridge project which was mentioned several times. While Bell Road opened for commuters in November, the entire project, including the ramps connecting Bell to Grande Avenue, is scheduled for completion in February.
On December 28, I attended an outreach meeting at Desert Oasis where we discussed future development north of Jomax Road. Additionally, this year, there will be some new home building along Bell Pointe and immediately outside the AZ Traditions gate along the dam.
New businesses and restaurants have recently opened or will soon open in Surprise including a new car wash near Winco, a new Wendy’s restaurant, Panda Express, Red Line Grill, a new self-storage facility located near the Sam’s Club shopping center, a new Verizon Wireless store, Denny’s restaurant and a new Popeye’s. At a Council meeting late last month, it was announced that Raising Cane’s has plans to build a restaurant near the corner of Bell Road and Civic Center Plaza.
Until next time, please be good to yourselves and be good to each other.
Greetings to all of my District 1 neighbors and all the residents of Surprise! I hope everyone enjoyed the Thanksgiving holiday and paused to give thanks for all of our blessings. It doesn’t seem possible that we are in the last month of 2016.
My first meeting of November brought exciting news! Popeye’s will soon be built near Sam’s Club on Bell Road in District 1. I am very appreciative of the investment many restaurants are making by coming to Surprise!
On Thursday, November 3, I was invited to speak at the Asante HOA Annual Meeting. Since the community is not built-out yet, the community only meets once a year. I’d like to thank Brad Shaeffer and his team for the invitation and the conversation.
I visited Gateway Park in El Mirage on November 4 to see the Vietnam traveling memorial wall and it was a moving experience for me. Approximately two years ago, the wall was in Goodyear. I am hoping to work with the city to bring the wall to Surprise!
My family and I attended the Fire Station 302 Open House. This marked the last open house of the year. For a few months, each station hosted an open house for the public. I hope you took advantage of the opportunity to visit the station and our fire personnel. It was a great opportunity for me, as well, to let our fire staff know how much I appreciate all they do for our residents!
Canyon Ridge Elementary School held their Annual Veterans Day Celebration on November 10. It was a fantastic event and a wonderful opportunity to see all of the students participating. These students are so fortunate to have the dedicated teachers, personnel and volunteers that they do, and the leadership of their principal, Dr. Shelly Isai. I wasn’t allowed to leave empty handed, as a student in Ms. Taylor’s class gave me a painting that now hangs in my office.
That same evening, I attended WESTMARC’s Best of the West Awards at the University of Phoenix Stadium. The Best of the West Awards has been a signature event for over 20 years that is designed to celebrate the best of the best in the West Valley. This annual event recognizes outstanding contributions to the quality of life, economic development and innovation in the West Valley. The Surprise Resource Center, a center focused on social services, took first place in the Quality of Life Award category and the AZ TechCelerator, the city’s business incubator, was runner-up in the West Valley Economic Engine Award category.
The Surprise Resource Center opened in December 2015 as a means to strengthen the community by supporting and serving its people. The center began with one program- the Community Action Program (CAP). Through a partnership with Maricopa County and El Mirage, CAP assists with utility and mortgage/rent payments. To date, CAP has served more than 600 families, totaling $370,455 in assistance. Today, the center houses 13 partnerships that offer a range of services from employment assistance to food resources. The center also offers veteran services. About 12% of the city’s population is comprised of veterans; now, employment assistance from Veterans Affairs, Department of Economic Security and the city’s new Veteran Job Club can be accessed from one location.
The AZ TechCelerator continues to offer affordable rent and a collaborative environment that helps young companies build up their business plans, creating new products, services and jobs in Surprise. The TechCelerator has 16 client start-ups, two onsite service providers, a track record of over 200 jobs graduated, and the only Google corporate office presence in the State of Arizona, following Google’s purchase of AZ TechCelerator-grown Athena Wireless. The program has also been able to offer temporary corporate office space for new international company locations to Surprise, such as IRIS USA, Cobalt Medical, RioGlass Solar and Gestamp Solar Steel, which combined have generated more than 300 additional community jobs.
Congratulations to all of our staff involved with both outlets. The recognitions could not have happened without your hard work and dedication to the programs. This was a team effort led by the continued leadership of City Manager Bob Wingenroth. Thank you!
Surprise hosted the 2nd Annual Veterans Day Parade on Friday, November 11. The number of entries increased significantly over last year, requiring our parade route to also increase. We had 102 entries this year. Thank you to Mark Coronado, Director of Community and Recreation Services, and his team for putting this event together and to the residents who came to the parade to honor our veterans.
On the evening of November 11, I hosted my monthly meeting at the Community Center in the Retreat of Arizona Traditions. I continue to host my meetings the second Friday of each month at 7 pm at the Community Center located at 18250 W. Weatherby.
I attended a Public Hearing on the Draft Annual Report on the Status of the Implementation of Proposition 400 at MAG (Maricopa Association of Governments) and that same evening, I attended the Art of Craft Beer & Cuisine event at State 48 Brewery hosted by the Arts & Cultural Advisory Commission. The event included a tour of the brewery and an explanation of the brewing process from their Brew Master. The head chef also discussed some of his dishes and how the restaurant believes in using fresh local ingredients. Thank you to owner, Mario Rana, for his hospitality and the delicious pizza!
My family and I visited the Surprise Swap Meet at the Surprise Aquatic Center on November 19. It was a beautiful morning to visit with residents and see the items for sale.
On Sunday, November 20, Councilman Jim Hayden and I were invited to Arizona Traditions 20th Anniversary celebration at their ballroom. We had the pleasure of visiting with residents of the community, listening to the stories of those that have lived there from the beginning of Arizona Traditions and enjoying the wonderful food and entertainment.
The city hosted a fantastic pre-celebration of the re-opening of Bell Road on Monday, November 21 to thank our residents, businesses, partners, etc. for their patience during the closure. I know all of our residents and businesses were excited for the actual opening of Bell Road the following day. The intersection certainly looks different now. The entire project, including the ramps connecting Grand Avenue to Bell Road, is scheduled for completion prior to Spring Training 2017 at the Surprise Recreation Campus. In the meantime, your Bell to Grand Avenue access remains on Dysart Road, east of the intersection and Bell to Reems to Grand, west of the intersection.
November 28 was an exceptionally sad day as I found myself at the National Memorial Cemetery in Phoenix to attend the memorial service for a Surprise resident and active community veteran, Bill Lipscomb. Mr. Lipscomb served in the US Air Force and served in Vietnam. He will be sorely missed!
As this year quickly comes to a close, please remember to be good to yourself and be good to each other. I wish you a blessed Christmas and a healthy New Year!
Greetings to all of my District 1 friends, neighbors and to all of the residents who have the privilege of living in this beautiful city we call Surprise. On November 8, you will have the opportunity to participate in the democratic process of voting for your favorite candidates. You’ll also have the chance to vote on a $63 million General Obligation Bond measure for our city that, if approved by voters, will fund nine capital improvement projects.
I began the month of October with the ribbon cutting of Caliber Collision, an auto body repair company located on Bell Road just east of Grand Avenue. The facility is state-of-the-art, clean and exceptionally organized. We were provided with a tour that included their new paint process that eliminates fumes. Welcome to Surprise, Caliber!
The city hosted a Surprise Forward outreach meeting at Arizona Traditions on October 12. The meeting was led by City Manager Bob Wingenroth and included a thorough presentation on the bond initiative on the General Election ballot.
The Committee on Community Outreach, Partnerships and Grants met on Thursday, October 13 to review grant applications for the Neighborhood Grant Program. The program provides eligible neighborhoods with small grants to fund neighborhood events, functions and even community improvements that would encourage community engagement and further build strong relationships within the communities in Surprise. The Committee is compromised of Councilwoman and Chair Rachel Villanueva, Councilman John Williams and myself. The two applicants were awarded $3,000 each for their respective projects. With that being said, the program application deadline was extended to November 30, 2016. For more information, please visit Neighborhood Grant Program or contact Jodi Tas at 623.222.1330.
I hosted my regular monthly meeting at the Retreat Community Center in Arizona Traditions on Friday, October 14. I provided a city update to the attendees.
Surprise Honda hosted their official grand opening and ribbon cutting on Monday, October 17. Councilman Skip Hall and I attended the event and toured the large operation and beautiful facility that includes virtual golf for those waiting for service. Surprise Honda has been a welcome addition to the Prasada Auto Mall since their soft opening in mid-August.
I was invited to attend the Northwest Ranch HOA meeting on Thursday, October 20 to discuss the bond as well as other issues the residents of the fine community requested. Several city staff members accompanied me. I wanted to personally thank Community Manager Melanie Veach, Kelly Hall and the remainder of the Northwest Ranch HOA Board for the invitation as well as the city staff which included Deputy City Manager Nicole Lance, Assistant City Manager Mike Frazier, Police Chief Terry Young, Public Works Director Mike Gent, Assistant Fire Chief Brenden Espie, Police Sergeant Tim Klarkowski, Police Officer Jennifer Booth, Assistant Director of CRS Donna Miller, and Assistant Finance Director Jared Askelson.
My family and I attended the open house at Fire Station #304 the morning of October 22. I enjoyed speaking to many of my constituents from District 1 including residents from Asante, Desert Oasis and many more. Thank you to the firefighters for hosting such a great community event!
Later that day, I attended the Surprise Farms V block party with HOA Board President Les Phillips and residents of this fairly new community. We were greeted with warm hospitality and good food!
Additionally, we attended the Tip-A-Cop event held at Red Robin on October 20. This event is a great opportunity to raise money for Special Olympics. Representatives from Surprise Police Department waited on customers and collected tips for the fundraiser.
I closed the evening of October 20 with a block party at Arizona Traditions at the Retreat where I continued to mingle with residents and share productive conversations with my neighbors.
Desert Oasis HOA hosted their annual meeting on October 24. We were asked to provide an overview of the bond initiative. I’d like to thank the staff that accompanied me that evening – Deputy City Manager Nicole Lance, Fire Chief Tom Abbott, Police Chief Terry Young, Finance Director Lindsey Duncan, Public Works Director Mike Gent and CRS Manager Paul Frie.
City leaders and GateWay Community College administrators gathered at the Surprise-GateWay Training Center on October 26 to officially cut the ribbon on the new 13,100 square foot facility. The observation-centric training facility provides individuals interested in pursuing careers in the water and wastewater professions new opportunities for hands-on learning in the West Valley. In addition to training space, the center provides mission critical labs and assembly facilities for city water professionals. The center is located on the grounds of the South Plant (SPA1) Water Reclamation Facility; a facility that currently processes over 8 million gallons of water per day making it a logical location for practical learning.
As a reminder, please don’t forget that Bell Road will be opening on Tuesday, November 22. The city is currently planning an appreciation event tentatively scheduled for Monday, November 21 to thank the businesses, residents and partners for their patience during the closure. I hope to see you there! More information will soon follow.
Until next month, please be good to yourself and be good to others.
Greetings to all of my fellow District 1 residents and to all the wonderful people living in this beautiful city of Surprise. Let’s begin this newsletter with some exciting news – Arizona Department of Transportation has announced the reopening of Bell Road is targeted for November 22!
My monthly chat was held on Friday, September 9 at Community Center at Arizona Traditions. Several residents attended, and productive conversations took place.
I attended a wonderful 9/11 memorial at Beth Emeth Congregation of the West Valley in Sun City West on Sunday, September 11. A large crowd gathered for the touching ceremony and listened to someone recall the events that took place while they were in New York City that fateful day.
The Helping Partners Program, run by local nonprofit Benevilla, moved into a space at City Hall last month. To welcome the program, a grand opening ceremony took place on Monday, September 12, followed by a tour of the office space. Councilmembers Rachel Villanueva, Skip Hall, Todd Tande and I joined city staff and Benevilla representatives, including CEO Michelle Dionisio and program participants. The Helping Partners Life Enrichment Program was designed for adults with intellectual or development challenges. The program provides volunteer and employment opportunities that enable members to contribute in their respective communities.
The City and ADOT hosted a monthly Business Stakeholders Outreach meeting on Tuesday, September 13. Councilmembers Rachel Villanueva, Skip Hall, Todd Tande and I attended along with staff and business representatives. Economic Development provided an update on outreach and education initiatives and ADOT provided a project update.
ADOT’s Assistant Communication Director Brock Barnhart introduced Phase 3C (see map below) of the project where Bell Rd reopens; a specific target date of November 22, 2016 was later presented at the September 20 City Council meeting. The goal is to open all six lanes of Bell Rd in late November.
Due to continued work on tie-ins, there may be occasional curb lane restrictions and overnight work on Bell Rd after the reopening. The project team will work hard to ensure that at least two lanes in each direction remain open on Bell Rd during daytime work.
When Bell Rd reopens, Grand Ave will be inaccessible from the Bell Rd bridge and vice versa. The signal at the Bell Rd and Grand Ave intersection will be inactive until the ramps open in early 2017. A signal at the intersection of 134th Ave and Bell Rd will be up and operational.
Reconfiguration of the designated detour route to reflect the opening of Bell Road is under review. East-west through movements will resume on Bell Road, however drivers will need to use Bell-Reems/ Bell-Dysart to access Grand Ave. Signage along the designated detour route will be changed so drivers are aware they no longer need to use Greenway Road. Lane striping and signals will be modified at the Bell-Litchfield and Bell-Dysart intersections.
Work continues on eastbound Grand Ave lanes through early 2017.
Later the morning of September 13, I met with representatives from Lennar Homes. Lennar Homes is building homes in Asante. Great news was shared – the home product(s) are selling well and a new product is forthcoming!
On Wednesday, September 14, the Water Resource Management Department held its Annual New Fiscal Year (FY) Kick-off All Hands Lunch for staff. The intent of the lunch is to give staff an opportunity to reflect on FY16 accomplishments through presentations made by division managers that recognize outstanding performers and provide staff with a look at what the department will be doing in FY17. Director Terry Lowe thanked everyone for coming and reminded his staff about the keys to a successful business: People… Processes… Product. This philosophy has led to the completion of the new Gateway Training Center and the successful coordination and teamwork in the commencement and completion of nearly a dozen other major projects. The training center, which will have its ribbon cutting on October 26, is the place where staff will broaden its knowledge and understanding of their careers and assist the department in better serving the community. The department’s division managers: Lee Lambert, Water; Warren Dancer, Wastewater; Christine Nunez, Environmental Compliance; Paul Mohr, Business Process; and Fred Stevens, Resource Portfolio, each gave those in attendance a little deeper look into the work they do, their teams, and their initiatives for next year.
I was honored to attend the American Legion Post 96 meeting. The men and woman of this Post sponsor deserving youth to attend Boys State every year to learn about civic responsibility. This year, Rodney Ross, a senior at Willow Canyon High School was the recipient. I also had the honor of speaking to him about his experience, and I was quite impressed by how polite and articulate this young man is.
Councilmembers Skip Hall, Rachel Villanueva and I attended Benevilla’s Ninth Annual Professional Friends Luncheon at Rio Salado College on Friday, September 16. This event is held annually to thank everyone who supports Benevilla. Benevilla announced the appointment of Joanne Thomson as their new President and CEO. She will assume responsibilities for that role on October 29, 2016 after current President and CEO Michelle Dionisio retires after more than 25 years with the organization. I wish much luck and happiness to Michelle on her next journey and extend my congratulations to Joanne!
I have heard from many of you loud and clear about the increased cost for a ride from Surprise to Sun City and Sun City West and how it negatively impacts your budget. A new contract with Valley Metro went into effect July 2016 which included a fare increase from $1.25 to $4 per ride to these cities from Surprise. I asked staff to bring forth this issue for further discussion at a City Council meeting last month. At the meeting, I proposed a fare reduction for the aforementioned rides to $2.25 each way and the proposal was unanimously supported by my colleagues on the Council. I am very grateful! Effective October 1, the fare reduction to $2.50 will be in place but please note that rides within in the city of Surprise will remain $2 as originally presented in July. Visit www.surpriseaz.gov/dialaride for more information.
KB Homes hosted a ribbon cutting on September 22 at their new development in Sycamore Farms which is located in District 3. There are multiple home plans to choose from with convenient access to Loop 303. Welcome to Surprise, KB Homes!
Later that evening, I attended a public meeting at Desert Oasis Elementary School to observe comments of my constituents and the plans of a developer that is planning to build homes near Desert Oasis. Residents who attended the meeting that live near the proposed development appeared to approve.
Northwest Valley Connect hosted their monthly meeting on September 23. Maricopa Association of Governments (MAG) presented on rail in the Valley.
The Surprise Fire Medical Department is hosting several open houses at fire stations throughout the city in the following weeks. I hope you find time to attend. I too attended an open house held on Saturday, September 24 at Fire Station 306 in in Sun City Grand. See upcoming open houses here: http://bit.ly/2cofigc.
I attended the Surprise Regional Chamber of Commerce monthly breakfast meeting at the Colonnade on Tuesday, September 27 with Councilman Skip Hall. Five candidates running for three seats on the Arizona Corporation Commission participated in a forum. You will see these candidates’ names on the November 8 General Election ballot.
On Thursday, September 29, Councilmembers Skip Hall and Rachel Villanueva and I interviewed seven candidates for two openings on the Planning and Zoning Commission. Our recommendations will be presented to the full City Council for discussion and approval at a City Council meeting this month.
Our seasonal residents are returning, so please join me by welcoming them back to Surprise! Until next time, please be good to yourself and be good to each other!
Greetings to all of my fellow District 1 residents and to all the residents that live in the beautiful city of Surprise. So much has happened since my last newsletter – the local elections took place; new businesses have opened or will soon be opening; and my new Council Conversation taping was completed.
August was a full month following the City Council recess in July. I started the month with the grand opening and ribbon cutting of Sun West Credit Union at 14865 W. Bell Road, which is located in Councilman Skip Hall’s District 5. He and I were joined by Councilman Todd Tande as we welcomed this new business to Surprise!
I recorded a new Council Conversations show on August 9 that features an interview with Friends of the Surprise Library. Alyson and Gary Cline have done a fantastic job supporting literacy and programs in Surprise at the Northwest Regional and Hollyhock Branch libraries. Friends of the Library is a local non-profit organization that accepts gently-used books and magazines, so if you have any that you would like to donate, please do so. You can bring them to the Northwest Regional Library at 16089 N. Bullard Avenue. For more information on this wonderful organization, you can visit www.friendsofthesurpriselibraries.org.
The Maricopa Association of Governments hosted an “On the Move Early Phase Open House” on August 11. The Early Phase Input Opportunity was an opportunity to speak to regional planners about projects that are important to us. I wanted to ensure they knew Surprise is still here and that we NEED reliable and established transit!
I hosted my regularly scheduled monthly meeting on Friday, August 12. A few items were brought to my attention, including trees on the north side of Bell Road near Happy Trails. Public Works Director Mike Gent, Assistant Director of Community Development Chris Boyd and I worked together to get the issue expeditiously resolved. A big thank you also needs to go to the staff that did the dirty work of cutting and grinding the trees. This is just a little example of teamwork and the high caliber of folks working for our residents!
The Audit Committee met on August 17 at City Hall. Councilman Skip Hall and I sit on the Committee. I want to remind everyone that the Audit Committee meetings are open to the public, and you are welcome to attend! The next meeting is scheduled for November 16 at 2:30 p.m. in the City Council Chamber Overflow Room at City Hall.
The Committee on Community Outreach, Partnerships and Grants met on August 18 to review grant applications for this year’s Surprise Community Outreach Program(SCOP). Councilwoman and Chair Rachel Villanueva, Councilman John Williams and I have seats on the Committee. Staff received 22 applications this year with grant requests slightly exceeding $188,000. Applicants were asked to present their requests to us. The background to their requests were heartwarming and, in some cases, heartbreaking. After listening to the requests, the Committee discussed the funding recommendations which were brought forth to the full City Council. The decision was difficult as the budget for SCOP was $65,000, but we managed to make funding recommendations for almost every applicant. Several factors were considered in our decision process, including how many residents would be impacted by the funds if the grant was approved for each organization. The city is so fortunate to have so many non-profit organizations that help our citizens who are in need, and I consider myself fortunate to be part of this Committee. This is the part of my job I really enjoy, the ability to help so many people and truly make a difference!
The Annual Arizona League of Cities and Towns Conference was held from August 23 – August 26 in Scottsdale. The Conference is a great opportunity to network with fellow elected officials at the local and State level. I attended several break-out sessions and meetings held during my time there. Overall, this was a very successful conference.
On August 29, I attended the Boards & Commissions Selection Committee meeting. The Committee interviewed impressive candidates for several openings on our Boards & Commissions. We really have some enthusiastic residents who want to serve their time and talent to Surprise! As Chair of the Committee, I want to thank Council Members Skip Hall and Rachel Villanueva for all their time and assistance during the interview process.
I joined Councilman Skip Hall at the grand opening and ribbon cutting celebration of Desert Premier Home Realty on Tuesday, August 30. Desert Home Premier is a real estate agency that focuses on homes for sale in the West and Northwest Valley.
Please remember that I will continue to host my monthly meetings on the second Friday of each month at 7 p.m. at the Retreat Community Center in Arizona Traditions, 18250 W. Weatherby Drive. This is your opportunity to voice your concerns, compliments or just to chat. I hope to see you then.
Until next time, please be good to yourself and be good to each other.
Greetings to all of my fellow District 1 residents and everyone residing in the beautiful city of Surprise. I’d like to begin this edition with a reminder – the Primary Election is this month! With less than three candidates running for each of our open Council seats, the Primary will decide your representation. Independent voters will not automatically be mailed a ballot since the ballot is consolidated to include state and county issues as well. It is YOUR right to vote for whomever you think would best represent you at all levels – local, state and federal, so choose wisely!
As most of you are aware, City Council was on recess in July, but there were many things happening in our great city that continued to keep us busy! The city hosted the 33rd Annual 4th of July celebration at the beautiful Surprise Recreation Campus. The annual celebration is always free with a canned food donation for our needy families. The event would not be possible with the hard work and dedication of Community and Recreation Services Director Mark Coronado and his amazing team. Thank you all for everything you do!
Nick’s Diner II hosted a ribbon cutting to celebrate their new location on July 7. The restaurant recently moved from the northwest corner of Litchfield and Waddell roads to 13765 N. Litchfield Road (southeast area of Litchfield and Waddell Road), near the movie theater.
I attended the Bell Road/Grand Avenue Business Stakeholders meeting on Tuesday, July 12 at City Hall. These meetings are held monthly to keep the businesses informed of the progress of the bridge construction and to address any of their concerns. The construction has most definitely affected the businesses so I strongly encourage you to ShopSurprise and patronize them. We are half-way done!
Speaking of ShopSurprise, important changes have been made to enhance the ShopSurprise digital marketing campaign. With more than 2,000 subscribers and nearly 123,000 messages and deals announced, you are doing your part to support our Bell-Grand area businesses during the Bell Road bridge construction!
The Surprise Regional Chamber of Commerce text message service provider, Dex media, has scheduled a service upgrade to keep this successful campaign running. A new feature, coupons sent directly to your email, is now part of the upgrade so you no longer have to click a link. This change will require a new text opt-in number, which will be 85100.
For those already enrolled, you will receive a text from Dex media, over the next couple of weeks, inviting you to re-enroll in the program by texting ShopSurprise to 85100.
Here are all the ways you can check out the daily deals:
Text ‘ShopSurprise’ (one word) to 85100 to have daily deals sent to your phone;
A Construction Business Access Map is also available online to help you find the best ways to enter the shopping, dining and service centers to claim your deals. This updated map reflects the traffic switch on Grand Avenue, which occurred on Friday, July 29.
The Bell & Grand ShopSurprise daily deals are only available during the Bell Road full closure. The Chamber will consider a more comprehensive, citywide campaign in the future. For more information about the campaign, please contact the Surprise Regional Chamber of Commerce at 623.583.0692.
The biggest event for me last month as District 1 Councilman was the groundbreaking of Fellowship Square on Wednesday, July 13. Councilman Skip Hall and Council Assistant Jodi Tas were also in attendance. Fellowship Square will be located near the southwest corner of Bell Road and Sarival. They will have 313 apartment homes on 14+ acres in a fully gated community. They will also offer independent and assisted living options. The independent living will consist of 255 apartment homes with 1 and 2 bedroom floorplans. The assisted living section will consist of 42 apartment homes plus 16 suites for memory care. Fellowship Square will employ 80 full-time and 20 part-time employees. They are expected to open in October 2017.
The parent company of Fellowship Square is Christian Care, and John Norris is the Chief Executive Officer. Christian Care has grown to five campuses throughout Arizona making it the largest not-for-profit provider of senior housing and services in the state. I was honored to present Mr. Norris with a Surprise historical book as part of welcoming them home!
I had the privilege of attending a key ceremony for a newly constructed 1,300 square foot home in the Original Town Site on Thursday, July 14. Councilmembers Skip Hall and Rachel Villanueva, Habitat For Humanity CEO Jason Barlow and city staff were also present when the keys were given to Mary Ann Ramirez and her family. This home was built as part of the HOME Investment Partnerships Program, an income-based grant that assists families with rehabilitation activities.
On a personal note, I took my wife to Birt’s Bistro on July 16. We enjoyed some delicious food while listening to some great music from True Memories. If you haven’t been to Birt’s yet, you should consider it. Chef Jeff Amperse is an amazing chef. In addition, every purchase at Birt’s helps to fund Benevilla’s programs and services, providing care for older adults, disabled adults, children and the families that care for them.
The Surprise Police Department hosted a retirement celebration for Sergeant Mike Ferrara on Thursday, July 21. Sgt. Ferrara served our city and protected our residents for 36 years! That dates back to when our city was mostly cotton fields! I enjoyed listening to stories of his career. Thank you, Mike, for all that you have done for Surprise!
Northwest Valley Connect held their Board of Directors meeting at Benevilla. Mobility Services Program Supervisor with Valley Metro RPTA, Arleen Schenck, outlined some of the changes in service contracts for Surprise and the surrounding municipalities. One of the positive changes is customers of Dial A Ride (DAR) no longer need to transfer vehicles when traveling outside the area. If you are ADA certified, the cost is $2.00 for trips within Surprise and $4.00 for trips outside of Surprise. The cost to travel outside of Surprise has increased nearly 220%. I have asked the City Manager for a DAR update at an upcoming City Council Meeting scheduled for September.
Northwest Valley Connect is moving to Sun City in the next few months as it requires larger space but it will continue to serve residents in Surprise.
I attended an HOA meeting at the request of Councilman John Williams on Thursday, July 28. City staff was available to address questions pertaining to traffic – mostly traffic flow concerns on both Greenway and Waddell roads west of Loop 303. Questions also transpired regarding Surprise Farms Park. Two Board Members from Surprise Farms II were present. The city was thanked for the installation of cameras at the park but the credit needs to be extended to City Manager Bob Wingenroth, Community and Recreations Services Director Mark Coronado and Finance Director Lindsey Duncan. These cameras now have a direct feed to the Surprise Police Department.
The month ended with a retirement celebration for Fire Engineer Roman Morales and Firefighter Jim Smaltz on July 29. Both served the city with distinction as proven by the abundance of attendees in the packed City Council Chamber. Thank you for your service, and I wish you both the best of luck and health on your retirement.
I have some fantastic news to share with my District 1 friends, especially my constituents who reside in the northeast portion of my district. Jomax Road has finally been paved! There is finally another way out of that particular area for these residents in Desert Oasis, Asante, Saguaro View, etc. Many thanks to Public Works Director Mike Gent and his team who worked so diligently to make this happen!
One last thing before I close… Surprise Farms Community Park has been named a 2016 Public Works Project of the Year by the AWPA Reporter, the official magazine of the American Public Works Association. What an honor to receive this recognition! Anyone familiar with the park knows what a long road it was to finally realize the dream.
The park, located on the southeast corner of 175th Avenue and Surprise Farms Loop South, won in the category of Structures that cost less than $5 Million and was featured in the July 2016 issue of the magazine.
The recognition is for Phase II of the park, which transformed the existing park to include city’s first skate park; a splash pad; playgrounds with benches (2-5 year and 5-12 years); basketball court; shade structures with tables and BBQ grills; multi-purpose lawn areas; restrooms; parking; landscape; and security lighting. It was completed in November 2015.
The magazine article states, “The park’s inward and outward design is one that instills community pride, encourages environmental stewardship, and exhibits a commitment to valuing each visitor.” I am so proud of the men and women who made this park possible and I’m grateful for the small role I played in it.
As a reminder, I am resuming my Friday Night Chats this month but moving forward, I will be hosting them on the second Friday of each month rather than the third Friday of each month at the Retreat at Arizona Traditions (18250 W. Weatherby Drive). Meetings will begin at 7 pm and conclude at 8:30 pm. I hope to see you there.
I will close for now. Please remember to be good to yourself and be good to each other!
Greetings to my fellow District 1 residents! I hope that you have managed to stay cool thus far this summer! Thankfully, the city has options to help with that like the two Surprise pools and splash pads at a few parks. As a friendly reminder, City Council is on recess in July so there are no City Council meetings or Workshops scheduled this month. With that being said though, I will still be attending other meetings, and I will have more time dedicated to my constituents.
The Surprise Farms Picnic that was scheduled for Saturday, June 4 was cancelled so I missed seeing and speaking to my friends there! I look forward to seeing you when it gets rescheduled.
I attended the Audit Committee meeting on June 14. The Audit Committee meetings are open to the public. I would like to extend an invitation for you to attend our next meeting which will be held on August 17 at 2:30 PM in the Council Overflow Room which is located on the 1st floor at City Hall. As most of you are likely aware, a former employee is accused of stealing city funds over a seven year period. Following a two-year long criminal investigation by the Surprise Police Department, a Maricopa County Grand Jury has handed down a 15 count indictment against her. The new Audit Committee was formed to ensure you that this will not happen again.
Our last council meeting was held on Tuesday, June 21. With a 3-3 vote, the motion to increase property taxes for fiscal year 2017 failed. It was my position that additional funding to hire public safety should be found within the current city resources and not funded by a property tax increase. City Manager Bob Wingenroth assured us that he would find financial sources and the public safety positions would be funded.
At the same meeting, City Council approved sending a $63 million General Obligation Bond initiative to the voters in November 2016. Following public input and weighing community needs, Council approved the following nine projects, which if voter-approved, would be included in the bond:
Two fire stations
Police evidence storage facility
Land purchase for a future southwest Surprise Fire Station/Police Substation/Park
Public Works maintenance facility (frees up existing city locations to meet Police and Fire-Medical storage needs)
Road improvements to portions of Greenway and Litchfield Roads
Aquatic Center Expansion
Land purchase for regional rec complex (sport fields, playgrounds, future rec center)
General Obligation Bonds are sold to investors who are repaid with interest. The repayment comes from a secondary property tax, which Surprise does not currently have. If approved, the secondary property tax could be up to $0.50 per $100 of limited property value, which on a home with an assessed value of $200,000 would be a yearly maximum increase of $100, or $8.33 per month.
If the bond is approved, the constituents of my district will receive a permanent fire station at 163rd Avenue and Happy Valley Rd. The great firefighters at Station 304 will get the long-overdue permanent home that they deserve and also the fire station the residents deserve. We are in dire need of a permanent fire station because of the increasing construction occurring in this area.
Additional educational public meetings will be scheduled ahead of the November 8 General Election. I encourage you to attend. Meeting dates and locations will be posted at www.surpriseaz.gov/surpriseforward. You may also visit the website for a complete list of projects, renderings, financial impact information and public survey results.
We are proud to announce that a new emergency room recently opened in our city! The Dignity Health facility, located at 14267 W. Bell Road, hosted their ribbon cutting ceremony on Thursday, June 23. This free standing emergency room is fully staffed with necessary technology.
On Friday June 24, I attended the Northwest Valley Connect Advisory Board Meeting, of which I am a member. I saw a fantastic presentation by Jeffrey Tourdot, from Maricopa County Senior and Adult Services, demonstrating how they help the seniors and the disabled by providing meals, health care and transportation.
The Surprise Police Department hosted a retirement ceremony for Police Commander John Poorte on Thursday, June 30. Commander Poorte is retiring after almost 24 years of service to our city. Best wishes for a happy and healthy retirement, John!
ADOT reports that work to install girders for the Bell Road overpass at Grand Avenue resumed Tuesday, July 5.
The installation had been on hold since June 9, when a large, steel-reinforced concrete girder fell moments after it had been lifted into place by cranes. An employee of a contractor working on the project was seriously injured but is recovering.
While the Arizona Department of Transportation and the project contractor have investigated, a precise reason for the accident has not been determined.
The 29 girders in place as of June 9, as well as the remaining girders to be installed, have been found to be structurally sound. A replacement girder was manufactured. ADOT has found no evidence that materials used to manufacture the girder that fell contributed to the accident.
In all, the overpass will have 89 steel-reinforced concrete girders ranging from 67 to 158 feet in length and weighing up to 90,000 pounds each.
The project team plans to complete this stage of girder installation by Sunday, July 10. Grand Avenue will be narrowed to one lane in each direction between Dysart and Litchfield roads from 8 p.m. Thursday, July 7, to 5 a.m. Friday, July 8, and again from 8 p.m. Friday, July 8, to noon Sunday, July 10, when girder placement is taking place on the bridge span closest to the roadway.
The Bell Road overpass, traveling over both Grand Avenue and the nearby BNSF Railway tracks, is scheduled to open to traffic by November. For project information, visit www.azdot.gov/BellAndGrand.
Lastly, the night of my monthly meeting has been changed to the second Friday night of the month. My meetings will be held from 7 pm until 8:30 pm at the Retreat at Arizona Traditions, 18250 W. Weatherby Drive. At the gate, dial 0000 to speak with the guard. Please come and voice your concerns or ask questions about what is going on in our city.
Until next time, be good to yourself and be good to each other.
A big shout out to my friends, fellow District 1 residents and all the residents in this growing city! The warm weather months are upon us. Surprise City Council will be on recess in July, therefore, we will not be holding any public meetings. With that being said, we are still working behind the scenes getting ready to embark on fiscal year 2017 that begins July 1.
May was another very busy month – not just for City Council but also for our staff. We have so many great employees working for our city. Many of our employees live in Surprise! Sometimes elected officials are inundated with so many meetings, ribbon cuttings, conferences, events, etc. in addition to preparing for and attending Council meetings that we take our support staff for granted. Since June marks the end of our fiscal year, I want to mention one person in particular of the many. Jodi Tas has been such a wonderful person to work with over the last three years and I often say “she makes me look good.” With juggling my schedule, making appointments for me and my fellow Council Members, even helping with my newsletters, I need to say thank you, Jodi!
My highlight of May was the grand opening and ribbon cutting of IRIS USA’s new 420,000 square foot North American Corporate Headquarters located on 30 acres within our Southwest Railplex Industrial District and the celebration that followed. The event was so important to the city and our future economic development that the regularly scheduled City Council meeting was rescheduled from Tuesday, May 3 to Wednesday, May 4, as many corporate executives flew in from the company’s home base in Japan to mark the great occasion. The new facility represents a $33-$40 million investment, 100 new jobs and $800,000 of new city revenues within the first year of operation. IRIS USA is led by President Chet Keizer. Parent company IRIS Ohyama, Inc. is a Japanese-based company and consumer products manufacturer with facilities in Wisconsin and Texas.
In a Special City Council meeting held on Thursday, May 5, City Council unanimously approved a settlement to end litigation between the city and Surprise Center Development Company, which owns most of the land around the Civic Center Campus at Litchfield and Bell Roads. Both parties are pleased to have finally come to terms on a settlement which achieves a full and final release of claims and believe this solidifies a partnership that will result in the development of a vibrant and engaging downtown in Surprise!
By now, everyone should have knowledge that the city is exploring options for funding capital improvements and considering a proposed $60 million 2016 General Obligation (GO) Bond. The money would fund capital improvement projects around Surprise over the next five years – from new fire stations to serve our growing city; to recreational amenities that promote community wellness; to road improvements that will create a more connected city. Several public meetings were held throughout the city in May to provide additional information and provide opportunities for questions and answers for our residents. City Council will consider and discuss what possible projects that would be included in a possible GO bond on June 7 and then vote whether or not to send the proposal to the November 2016 Election Ballot for voters to decide at our June 21 meeting.
I met with some of our Community and Recreation Services (CRS) staff on the morning of May 14 to determine how we can improve the beautiful parks we have in the Asante community located in the northern portion of District 1.
The City’s Audit Committee met on Thursday, May 19. I briefly discussed the City Manager’s new committee in my newsletter last month. These meetings are open to the public and held in the Council Overflow Room located on the first level of City Hall. The next Committee meeting will be held on Wednesday, June 15 at 2:30 pm. The dates and agendas for these meetings can be found on the city calendar events page at surpriseaz.gov.
WESTMARC’s Economic Development Summit was held on May 19 at the Glendale Civic Center. Governor Doug Ducey was the keynote speaker. I had a chance to chat with him prior to the start of the program. The Governor is very supportive of small business and he inspires them to be successful. After our conversation, the former CEO of Cold Stone Creamery stated “I used to sell ice cream!”
I hosted my last Friday Night Chat on Friday, May 20 until August. Due to scheduling conflicts, I have changed my regularly scheduled chats from the third Friday of each month to the second Friday of each month. Please take note of the change. The next chat will be held on Friday, August 12 at the Retreat Community Center at Arizona Traditions, 18250 W. Weatherly Drive. I will not be hosting meetings in June or July.
To recognize one of our previous city managers and the instrumental role he played in our city, we celebrated Dick McComb Wednesday, May 25. It was a nostalgic evening event filled with laughter and tears for our employees and residents. Mr. McComb was our City Manager during Surprise’s infancy and due to his leadership and vision we have grown to what we are today. As a newcomer to Surprise, I was envious that I didn’t have the opportunity to make those memories with him. The evening was filled with residents who had put down roots in Surprise, former council members and even a former Mayor. Thank you, Mr. McComb!
On May 26, I was honored to attend the promotion ceremony for some of our local heroes at the Surprise Police Department. Newly promoted are Enemecio Felix (Sergeant), Steve Turchin (Public Safety Communications Supervisor), and David Wood (Public Safety Communications Supervisor). For a moment, I’d like to congratulate Police Chief Terry Young for the great job that he is doing. I have been to a number of HOA meetings with residents with Chief Young and I was very impressed not only with his police work but the way he interacts with people. He is hired to PROTECT and LEAD his team. He is always very articulate, honest and straight forward, whether he is addressing our residents or the people that work for him.
Well, I’ll close for now and I hope to see some familiar faces along with the new ones at my next Friday night chat, August 12th. Until next month! As always be good to yourself, and be good to each other.
Greetings to all of my District 1 residents and all the residents in this great city we all have the privilege of living in. I hope this newsletter finds you well.
I can’t believe it is already May and this year is almost half way over! Before I go into the ongoings of our city from last month, let me first thank all of you who responded to my request regarding your opinion about the possibility of a tax increase for fiscal year 2017 to fund 23 Public Safety positions. The City Council has been discussing various tax increases for a couple of months; however, a final decision has not been made as of yet. I have a firm position – I am not in support of instituting a food tax. It is regressive. For example, it would make a family of 4 spend a disproportional part of their income on food. Not one of my constituents who responded to my request supported the food tax either which also reinforces my position. No one wants a tax increase of any kind, I understand that. I don’t like to see my taxes increase either but we need to find $2.4 million to fund the positions and continue to keep our city safe. For a city of our size, approximately 125,000, we are understaffed in these areas and we must make sure our first responders can help the citizens of the city when needed.
Bell Road at Grand Avenue closed on April 1. Overall, the detour route has been smooth, and as time progresses, the route continues to run smoothly. The city, in partnership with the Surprise Regional Chamber of Commerce, kicked off the ShopSurprise campaign earlier this month to help the businesses affected by the construction. I encourage you to please patronize those businesses surrounding the construction corridor. Despite the construction, access to the businesses has been open and will continue to be open throughout the project. There is a sacrifice to prepare for the future and this bridge is needed for the future of our city. We are no longer a small town so we need to be ready as our population grows.
On Saturday, April 2, I attended the 2016 Luke Air Force Base Air Show – 75 Years of Airpower – and what a show it was! Those intelligent men and women, the pilots and the support team, put their lives on the line every day. The show was very well attended, and I know many of you were present as well and also enjoyed the air acrobatics. I would like to thank Brigadier General Scott Pleus for his hospitality.
Another fantastic concert was put on by the Surprise POPS band at Valley Vista Performing Arts Center on Sunday, April 3. If you have not seen a performance by the band, I recommend you do so at the first chance you can. The concerts are free with the donation of a canned food item for the Valley View Community Food Bank.
The Human Service and Community Vitality Department hosted an HOA Summit on Wednesday, April 6. Council Members Skip Hall, Todd Tande and I attended. The summit has been held every year for the last few years for the benefit of residents and homeowner associations in Surprise. We strongly encourage the Community Managers and Board Members to attend so they can absorb all the information we relay pertaining to the operation of our city government. At this particular summit, we had several of our Directors speak about their respective departments, what they are responsible for and what they do on a daily basis. These summits are for anyone who would like to learn more about the city. I was on the Board of my HOA for three years before I ran for City Council, and I learned so much when I attended these meetings!
To my friends at Surprise Farms III, I was delighted to spend time with you on Saturday, April 9 at your fantastic picnic. It was a beautiful day! Thank you so much for your hospitality. My wife and I had a great time, and it gave me a chance to speak to many residents and meet many new families.
I was invited to attend the Surprise Farms II HOA meeting on Wednesday, April 13. I was able to answer questions and introduce key staff – Surprise Police Chief Terry Young, Officer Grayling Jordan, Sergeant Tim Klarkowski, Assistant Public Works Director Karl Zook, Assistant Director of Community Recreation Services Donna Miller, Campus and Parks Maintenance Division Manager Joey Brazil and ADOT Assistant Communications Director Brock Barnhart – who were also there to present on topics such as transportation and the Bell Road closure. I want to take a moment to thank those dedicated employees of Surprise and Mr. Barnhart for attending. We also discussed Surprise Farms Park. I am well aware of the alleged problems at the park, especially the skate park, so I am advocating for cameras to help bring vandalism and other problems to a halt! I am really disappointed that we face some of these issues, and I recognize that we cannot tolerate them!
Earlier this year, City Manager Bob Wingenroth formed an Audit Committee whose goal is to provide advice to the City Council with respect to fulfilling its oversight responsibilities regarding the integrity of the financial statements of the city. The Committee will also assist and advise the Internal Auditor and City Council on matters relating to the city’s compliance with legal and regulatory requirements, systems of internal controls, management of city-wide risk environment and the performance of internal and external auditors. The Committee consists of 7 members appointed by the City Manager. In addition to the City Manager, the Committee members are Councilman Skip Hall and me, Finance Director Lindsey Duncan, IT Director Tammie Hollowell and Surprise citizens Sharon Ward, Melissa Holdaway and Arden Edgmark. I was honored to be selected! The Committee met on April 14, and we will hold our first official meeting on Thursday, May 19 at 2 pm in the Overflow Room of City Hall. The public is welcome to attend!
The Surprise Police Appreciation Bonanza was held on Friday, April 15 at the Surprise Stadium. This event is an opportunity for us to recognize the great men and women who keep our city safe. It was so good to see the department and their families enjoy themselves. After the event, I hosted my monthly chat at the Community Center in the Retreat of Arizona Traditions. I was pleased with the attendance.
As a reminder, I do hold my meetings the third Friday of each month at this location at 7 pm. I will not have a meeting in June or July.
We visited the folks at the Surprise Swap Meet that was held at the Aquatic Center on Saturday, April 16. There were many vendors present. The money earned from selling these spaces is utilized by the city to sponsor a Christmas party for the senior citizens each year.
Several Council Members and I attended the Surprise Fire-Medical Department’s 11th Annual Awards Ceremony on Thursday, April 21 at the Surprise Stadium. The ceremony recognizes members and their achievements over the last year. This year, the award recipients included: Firefighter Mike Meadors (Firefighter of the Year); Firefighter Steven James (EMT of the Year); Captain Forrest Koontz, Engineer Nathan Perkins, Firefighter James Ruff and Firefighter Jeff Thomas (Company of the Year); Firefighter Louis D’Angelo (Paramedic of the Year); Battalion Chief Scott Smith and Senior Financial Analyst Kim Drabik (Chief’s Award); Battalion Chief Autry Cheatham (Perry Award – for epitomizing the department’s values). Several individual citations were also given to deserving staff, and several volunteers were recognized for the valuable time.
For the third time over the last year, several members of City Council congregated to network and discuss the West Valley at the third West Valley Council to Council Mixer in Avondale on April 21. This event began last year and was initiated by our very own Councilwoman Rachel Villanueva. Attending from Surprise were Council Members Rachel Villanueva, Skip Hall, Todd Tande and me. Overall, six cities were represented. The City of Buckeye is scheduled to host the next event.
The next day, I attended the Northwest Valley Connect Advisory Board meeting. As a member of this Board, we try to make sure everyone who needs transportation has a ride since we don’t have an adequate transit system in Surprise. The lack of transit is a problem for many residents which directly relates to my attendance at the Maricopa Association of Government (MAG) hearing on transit in the Valley on Wednesday, April 27. I testified before the Committee in Phoenix as to the disappointing fact that the West Valley has virtually no transit system, and we are long overdue. The taxpayers in the Valley voted on Proposition 400 for transportation; however, the funds from Prop 400 were never invested in transit for the West Valley. It is very frustrating for me that a city of our size has no transit system!
April was a very busy month, as is May. I look forward to speaking to you next month. In the meantime, be good to yourself and be good to each other!