Tag Archives: Valley Metro

September 2017 • Newsletter

A big shout out to all the residents in District 1 and to all the residents in Surprise! I hope you are staying cool during the remaining month of summer. Thankfully, fall is right around the corner and so are cooler temperatures!

The month of August began immediately with a City Council Work Session and City Council Meeting since we host these meetings the first and third Tuesday of the month. We returned from a recess in July and started business!

Monday, August 7 found me in a meeting with staff to try and work through this disaster called paratransit offered by Valley Metro and delivered by TransDev which is headquartered in Mesa. I continue to receive emails and phone calls from residents – some not even in my District, but that’s ok. I will continue to help anyone who contacts me. I have talked to residents who can’t get a ride to a doctor’s appointment, physical therapy or medical procedures because they are told by TransDev that there aren’t any rides left, and that is ridiculous! When someone calls for a ride on August 28 requesting transportation to a doctor’s appointment in September, and is told by the people at TransDev “all of September is booked”, there is something wrong with the system (that’s no surprise). Upon further investigation, we found many riders on TransDev are starting their ride and ending their ride in Surprise, so if that is the case, they should be using Ride Choice with Discount Cab or Yellow Cab. TransDev Paratransit rides are for regional trips (outside of the Surprise area) only for medical and work trips. We are directing TransDev to tell riders who travel within Surprise to use Ride Choice which they should have been doing all along. Paratransit rides were set-up at 34 rides a day for Surprise residents, so the city has added 21 more rides a day for the next two weeks to try to help the overflow for a total of 46 rides a day for the next two weeks. I am asking all of my Surprise residents to use Ride Choice for your rides within Surprise, making these changes should get TransDev back on an acceptable schedule, maybe. The new contract started on July 1, and we were promised it would be a better system and on time, so much for that prophecy. This system is costing the taxpayer $800,000 each Fiscal Year. I want to thank David Kohlbeck and Mike Gent for all of their help trying to resolve this issue.

I had my monthly meeting on Friday, August 11 at 7 pm and I had a good crowd. A few residents expressed their disgust on the paratransit system.

I attended the summer employee appreciation event in the City Council Chamber on Thursday, August 17. This event was started years ago by city management as an opportunity to show appreciation to our employees. Some are recognized for going above and beyond while they have lunch with their fellow peers and friends. It also provides me with an opportunity to get to know our staff. The taxpayers should be proud of the people who work for the city – from the people working in the ditches, to those on the roads, to the folks in City Hall, from the Directors to all the office workers and more.

Of course one of the big surprises in August was the resignation of District 3 Councilman John Williams who served this city tirelessly for almost ten years. I had a meeting with John on Monday, August 14, and he submitted his resignation letter the following morning. He never said a word about it. John will be missed.

On the afternoon of August 17, the Committee on Community Outreach, Partnerships and Grants met. As a member of this Committee, we make the funding recommendations to the full City Council from the presentations of the grant seekers. This particular meeting concerned the Surprise Community Outreach Grant Program which is offered to local 501(c)3 non-profits that serve Surprise residents. There were 32 applicants requesting total funding of more than $261,000. The Committee listened to 32 presentations – one for each non-profit organization – to arrive at our decision as to which non-profits to fund and at what dollar amount. My hat (cowboy) is off to Jodi Tas for all of her hard work preparing the applications and books required for this meeting. We met for over four hours then made the difficult decisions regarding funding.

On Friday, August 18, I took part in the Boards and Commissions Selection Committee which is another committee I sit on. It is the Committee’s duty to appoint residents to various boards and commissions that help the City Council. On this particular day, we had to choose two folks from six to serve on the Arts & Cultural Advisory Commission. It was a difficult decision because everyone was so qualified.

On Tuesday, August 22, most of the City Council arrived in Oro Valley for the Annual League of Arizona Cities and Towns Conference. This conference provides break-out sessions and networking opportunities with our fellow elected colleagues. I also joined a bus tour to see the public art in Oro Valley to determine how they manage that program. Our public arts program is in its infancy but our Arts & Cultural Advisory Commission is doing a great job placing public art around City Hall. I encourage you to visit and view some of the pieces on our campus if you get a chance.

I attended Ottawa University’s (OUAZ) convocation for their first class on Wednesday, August 30 at Christ Church of the Valley (CCV) in Surprise. The ceremony, led by President of Ottawa Dr. Kevin Eichner and Vice President and Provost Dr. Dennis Tyner, was very inspirational with some powerful speeches. Mayor Sharon Wolcott made a good speech and welcomed the students to Surprise. Approximately 450 students attended, and they were all very polite and respectful. Every Wednesday, their curriculum at OUAZ will consist of a personal character building day. It looks like Ottawa has the cream of the crop for their first class. When I left, I felt that the city, State and the nation is in good hands after all for the future of mankind.

On Thursday, August 31, I attended the groundbreaking of Ottawa University Surprise competition fields. The fields will be utilized for football and soccer. There was a good crowd and, of course, more speeches. Just think of that, Surprise will now have college football and soccer teams to cheer on. How cool is that!

City Council and Ottawa Staff breaking ground at school's new Practice Fields

I have been honored with an appointment to the Maricopa Association of Governments (MAG) Economic Development Council. This seat was formerly occupied by Mayor Wolcott and after she resigned, she wrote the Council a letter of recommendation for me. I was chosen from a number of applicants. Surprise needs to have a seat at the table when decisions are made, not only for Surprise, but for the entire West Valley as well.

Just a few things before I close for this month, and maybe most of you are already aware we are getting the #1 requested restaurant from our Economic Development Survey, In-N-Out Burger, on the corner of Bell Road and Civic Center Drive in addition to a Raising Cane and Starbucks. Surprise is also getting a Hilton hotel with a full service restaurant near Surprise Stadium.

image of former Surprise City Manager Dick McCombMark your calendars! Following City Council’s direction to honor the city’s longest-tenured City Manager Dick McComb (1990 – 2000), the city will officially rename Surprise Farms Community Park, to Dick McComb City Park, at a public ceremony, Saturday, September 30, at 9 a.m. The event takes place at the southeast corner of 175th Avenue and Surprise Farms Loop South. Mr. McComb began his city government career in 1976 and became City Manager for the City of Surprise in 1990. During McComb’s tenure, the city’s population grew from 7,122 people to nearly 31,000. This was a period of commercial growth for Surprise with Surprise Towne Center then under development and the Target opened at Surprise Marketplace. In addition, Mr. McComb served in the United States Marine Corps during the Korean War. Following his retirement, McComb remained an engaged Surprise resident and then became the community manager for Sun Village. He passed away in 2016 at the age of 81.

City Council also approved an additional 10 acres of open space park area at the aforementioned park, which is now turfed. Once the green fence is removed, after the turf has been established, we will be having another celebratory event. We anticipate this event will occur in early October. For more information on these events, please call Community and Recreation Services at 623.222.2000.

In other recreation news, 8 Acre Park fencing is under construction. Construction began last month and should conclude by the end of this month. This project includes 2300 feet of 8 foot tall decorative fencing with pillars to match the aesthetics of our Surprise Stadium fencing.

Eight new pickle ball courts with LED lighting are also under construction. Construction began on August 23, and the anticipated completion, pending weather delays, is the end of November. This project also includes the relocation of our volleyball courts.

Well, be good to yourself and be good to each other!

Roland F. Winters Jr.

August 2017 • Newsletter

A big shout out to all the residents in District 1 and the entire beautiful city we call Surprise. July was a very busy month for me despite the fact that there were no city council meetings and many staff members travelled to cooler places for vacation. Some of us are die-hard Arizonians, and we tough it out and stay here!

Valley Metro paratransit changes went into effect on July 1. For many of our residents, they encountered significant problems with the roll out of the new RideChoice program and the paratransit portion delivered by Transdev. Valley Metro RideChoice provides taxi service at a deeply discounted rate to qualified seniors and people with disabilities in participating communities, including Surprise. I discussed the changes in my newsletter last month. There were many problems with both programs, and some of the problems remain a month later, although there has been some progress.

There are some things to remember if you are utilizing either program. First and foremost, these are two separate distinct programs. The RideChoice program, for local rides, and the paratransit part is for regional rides outside of Surprise; however, these rides are restricted for work or medical trips. The phone number to book your ride for paratransit service is (602)716-2200. For the RideChoice program, you can call one of the participating providers directly to schedule your transportation needs. For more information on the program or for the providers, please visit http://www.valleymetro.org/accessibility/other_travel_options.

I have not heard that many complaints regarding the paratransit program in the last week or so compared to the first three weeks in July. I have had only one firsthand experience with Transdev and have had no complaints. The RideChoice part is a different story, as there have been complaints about AAA and Discount Cab arriving late, or not even showing up at all. Now, you folks have received your RideChoice card from MJM (the company in Baltimore, Maryland that is servicing the Ride Choice Program), you also received a brochure with a list of cab companies that are willing to be a part of the program; however, you may want to disregard most of them because I called each company myself and every one of them except AAA (which is also known as Yellow Cab) and Discount Cab said they are not involved in the project any longer, will not travel to Surprise, or it will take them too long to get to Surprise. I do not know where MJM gets the names of these cab companies, but it is obvious that they were not in touch with those providers.

Now, just two final thoughts before I move on, if you need to have your receipts as a record of your medical trips and you choose Discount Cab, you should make a copy of the receipt after you receive it from the driver because the ink will fade and after a couple of days it will be gone. One thing to remember is if you choose AAA or Discount Cab for your ride and the fare exceeds $21, you will be required to pay the difference as costs greater than $21 are paid by the participant. Watch the meter! For example, when you pay your initial $3 for your ride within the City of Surprise, it could end up costing a total of $10 to $12 because there are a number of rides that can be a total of $28 to $29 dollars according to the meter. So your original fare of $3+$7 or $8= $10 or $11, so if you find that for your ride that continuously is over $21, I suggest you call the Paratransit phone number if your trip is for medical or work, because that ride will cost you $4 no matter where you go. Both programs I mentioned are still being looked at for improvements, especially RideChoice. I apologize in advance for any confusion. Remember to call for a ride and confirm the day before your scheduled pick-up.

On July 1, I attended a ribbon cutting for our newest restaurant called “Casa De Papa” (13761 W. Bell Rd.). Angel Rivera and his father Pedro own it. If you like authentic Mexican food, this is the place to go.

Portrait of Community & Recreation Services Director Donna Miller
Community & Recreation Services Director Donna Miller

I hope everyone got to the stadium on the Fourth of July for baseball and the great firework display. Thanks to Community and Recreation Services (CRS) department for a great job. For those who have not heard, Donna Miller has been promoted to Director of CRS. Congratulations, Donna! I am sure you will do a great job for the city, and more importantly the residents of Surprise.

I spent the evening of July 12 at a Citizen Outreach meeting at the Comfort Inn. The project is Rio Ranch Estates, which is located in District 1 in our northwest area of the city along Happy Valley Road, approximately ½ mile west of Grand Avenue. The applicant is requesting approval of a rezone of approximately 188 acres of land.

On Monday July 24, I scheduled a meeting with representatives from Transdev to discuss resolution for some of the problems with their new paratransit transportation system. Attendees included Kate Riley and Katrina Heineking from Transdev, Rob Antoniak with Valley Metro, and David Kohlbeck and Jodi Tas from the city. On the first day of service (July 1), Transdev was not prepared for the transition from Dial-a-Ride to the new program. It was clear they were overwhelmed with the demand. Transdev relayed their apologies and I can appreciate that, but they need to make real progression being on time for their pickups, or we cannot rely on them. My firsthand experience has been a mixed bag; they were on time for a meeting I had in Phoenix both days, but Saturday July 29, I waited an hour and 15 minutes for my return trip to Surprise. I do not believe that is a good way to operate a business.

I attended Northwest Valley Connect Transportation Stakeholders meeting on Thursday, July 27. Kate Riley from Transdev was present to explain what steps need to be taken to improve Transdev and reliability, so let us hope things get better.

I attended the Project Connect event at Salvation Army in Surprise on Wednesday, July 26. They city’s Human Service and Community Vitality Department partnered with the Salvation Army and United Way to provide services for the homeless. Senator Debbie Lesko was there to thank all of the volunteers for their many hours of service. Volunteers were assigned a homeless person or family upon their arrival to guide them through the process to receive housing, food, clothing, or anything else they may need. There were a number of Surprise employees who also volunteered, including some of our summer youth interns. There were more than 350 volunteers and 216 guests. It was a very sobering event to see how fortunate most of us are.

City staff unloading trailer of supplies

After a month off, my monthly meetings will begin again. Please don’t forget the meeting this month will be held on Friday, August 11 at 7pm in the Retreat Community Center at Arizona Traditions (18250 W. Weatherby Dr.). Upon arrival, you will see a gate and you will need to enter “0000” on the key pad and tell the guard you are here for my meeting. I would like to thank Neil and his team for the use of his space. I hope to see you there and hear your input, concerns, complaints, or to talk about your vacation. We also accept compliments. City Planner Joshua Mike will also be at the meeting to talk about the Arts & Cultural Master Plan the city is currently working on.

Enjoy the rest of your summer in our beautiful city. Please remember be good to yourself and be good to each other.

Best,

Roland F. Winters Jr.

July 2017 • Newsletter

I hope the residents in District 1 and all the folks in our beautiful city are managing to tolerate the heat and stay cool and hydrated. Thankfully, we will cool down in a few months! June was a very eventful month.

On Sunday, June 4, I spent three hours at Happy Trails learning how to perform CPR, in particular using the Automatic Electronic Defibrillator (AED). The AED is a great device that can help keep a person alive until the EMTs arrive. If you have a chance to take those classes, I would strongly encourage you to do so.

I hosted my monthly meeting at Arizona Traditions Retreat Community Center on the evening of Friday, June 9 with a good crowd and a lot of conversations about new construction in the western part of Surprise, especially along Bell Pointe and outside the gate to Arizona Traditions on parcel 14. This development is called Bell Pointe II. It will fill the empty areas of the original Bell Pointe.

Goodyear City Council hosted an inaugural ceremony on Monday, June 12. I attended the ceremony along with relatives, friends and residents of Goodyear and watched the wonderful celebration as three incumbents and one new City Council Member took their Oath of Office. Mayor Georgia Lord, Council Members Wally Campbell and Joe Pizzillo were reelected in January and new City Council Member Brannon Hampton won his first term in a May run-off election.

The Community and Recreation Services Department (CRS) completed the last step of the accreditation process through the Commission of Accreditation of Parks and Recreation Agencies (CAPRA). The department had been working towards the accreditation for the past year. Council Members and staff were invited to meet the CAPRA evaluators on Tuesday, June 13 at the Surprise Tennis and Racquet Complex.

CAPRA accreditation is a five-year cycle that includes three phases: development of the agency self-assessment report, the on-site visitation, and the Commission’s review and decision. The on-site visitation follows the agency’s development of its self-assessment report. If accreditation is granted by the Commission at its meeting following the on-site visit, the agency will develop a new self-assessment report and be revisited every five years. Within each of the four years between on-site visits, the agency will submit an annual report that addresses its continued compliance with the accreditation standards.

On Wednesday, June 14, I attended a very large meeting at City Hall about Valley Metro’s new paratransit and Ride Choice programs. Surprise residents that will be using the program for rides to the doctor, friends, and more filled the room. The folks from Valley Metro who made the presentation were 45 minutes late so that’s not a good sign for a new program. I will have more to say about the new program later in the newsletter.

The same night, I attended a Citizen Outreach meeting at Sundown Mountain School regarding a new residential development known as Bonita Ranch in District 1.

It was my pleasure to attend a ribbon cutting at Desert Oasis for KB Homes on Thursday, June 15. KB Homes will soon build four new models. The models will be located at 17198 W Setlock Trail.

I attended the AZ League of Cities Transportation Committee meeting at their Phoenix office on Friday, June 16. I am a member of this committee and the purpose of the meeting was to discuss important topics we plan to discuss at the League of Cities Conference that will be held in August.

I was a guest at the fire academy graduation on Friday, June 16. The large graduating class filled the Orangewood Church on 27th Avenue in Phoenix. This particular graduation class produced eight recruits for Surprise. Fire fighters have a very close brotherhood and that is tangible attending these events.

Surprise Fire-Medical fire academy graduates

I hope our fathers in Surprise had a great Father’s Day on June 18. You all deserve it for your hard work, making a living for your family and caring for your children. I had a relaxing day by taking the day off. My wife and two daughters treated me with dinner at one of our great restaurants right here in Surprise.

Highland Prep hosted a ground breaking event for their new Charter School in Surprise on 15600 W. Hearn Rd. The school is a tuition free public charter preparatory stem high school. Coming in fall 2017, they will open their doors in a temporary facility to a freshman class of 125 students. The school will open its new building in the fall of 2018 that will host freshman and sophomore classes. Each year, they will add another freshman class.

Highland Prep Facility Render

Those of you who utilize the Valley Metro transit system should have received your Ride Choice cards on June 27. I wish the best of luck to all our residents using the program. There are a number of things to keep in mind while you’re trying to navigate that system. First, the system takes you to MJM (the company that is administering this program) which is located in Baltimore, Maryland. Their number is in the brochure that everyone received with their Ride Choice card. However, it’s above the Valley Metro address leading you to believe you are contacting Valley Metro. Personally, I believe this is ludacris to have a company in Baltimore, Maryland overseeing transportation for the residents of Surprise, Arizona. If you called that number in Baltimore on June 28, you would’ve been told that you couldn’t put the funding on your card with a credit card. The alternative is to mail them a check which, by their own admission, takes ten days which means you wouldn’t have funding by the time the program started on July 1. I spoke to six different people between June 27 and Saturday, July 1 and received six different answers. The cab company AAA had no idea about the program until July 1 and had no machine to swipe your Ride Choice card in their cabs. This program allows no specific window of time to pick up a rider once the cab company has been notified of the time for the rider to be picked up at the destination. Be prepared to wait fifteen to forty-five minutes! I’d like to make note that Discount Cab has the card swiper, is well aware of the program and has been providing the service.

The Ride Choice part of the program was not the only part that didn’t go as planned during the transition from Dial-A-Ride. The Trans Dev portion was also deficient. They were supposed to have two vans to pick up our senior citizens and transport them to the Senior Center on Hollyhock. However, on Monday July 3, only one van showed up.

The entire effort was terrible, and the roll out should’ve been delayed at least three to four weeks. I know it’s really easy to be a Monday morning quarterback, but there should’ve been more thought and planning in this process on Valley Metro’s behalf. Let’s just hope the problems are worked out soon. Our seniors are our most vulnerable citizens of Surprise and we should be more responsive to their needs.

Former CRS Director Mark Coronado
Former CRS Director Mark Coronado

In June, we lost a valued friend and employee of Surprise. Community and Recreation Services Director Mark Coronado died at the age of 59. Although his life was cut short, his legacy will live on in Surprise for many generations to come. As the front page of our newspaper said, “He was a visionary,” and his footprints are on our Stadium, Dream Catcher Park, the Northwest Regional Library, many parks in Surprise, the tennis complex, and the list goes on. I worked with Mark on Surprise Farms park my first year on City Council. He was a tireless worker on that project as he was with all of the projects. He had many outreach meetings with the residents who lived in the surrounding area of Surprise Farms Park, and he listened to the input from everyone. We even adjusted our plans for the dog park and moved it further to the west even though the plans were already completed and we were days away from breaking ground. Yet, we chose that area of the park to be left for open play.

While I am on the topic of parks, I’d like to provide you with an update on the area with the green fence. This is an update to my friends at Surprise Farms III and the surrounding area. As you have probably noticed, we are diligently working on that 8 acres and the good news is that the project came in under budget. Needless to say, we have some extra money to utilize for sod instead of grass seeds. Tom McCullough, the Project Manager, and his team are doing a great job on the project and we are looking for completion at the end of August, weather permitting.

On the evening of June 28, I attended the Maricopa Associations of Government (MAG) meeting at the Hyatt Regency Phoenix. The focus of this meeting was discussion regarding wrong way drivers on our interstates and freeways. There is a plan to prevent drivers from entering the exit ramps on the roads. Harris County has been using technology for a couple of years, and it seems to be working, but it’ll cost $4 million which isn’t cheap. However, what’s a human life worth? As Glendale’s Mayor Jerry Weirs said, “We cannot sit by, we must do something.” The project was passed with an overwhelming majority.

After the meeting, we celebrated MAG’s 50th anniversary and passing of the gavel that honored outgoing MAG Regional Chair Mayor Greg Stanton and welcomed new Chair Mayor Jackie Meck from Buckeye. Congratulations to Mayor Meck!

Desert Diamond Casino provided a West Valley update on Thursday, June 29 at the Renaissance Hotel in Glendale. They are finally getting their gambling and liquor license after a long standoff with both the city and state. I was honored to meet Chair Emanuel of Tohono O’odham Nation.

Well I guess I will close for now, and I apologize for the length of this newsletter, but a lot of things happened this month. I will not host my monthly meeting this month, but I will be available if you need me.

My next meeting will be held on Friday, August 11 at 7 pm at the Community Center at Arizona Traditions in the Retreat.

I just want to thank Neal and his team for the use of this meeting space.

So Be Good To Yourself And Be Good To Each Other,

Roland Winters Jr.

June 2017 • Newsletter

Happy June to my friends in District 1 and to all of the residents in the beautiful city of Surprise!

I attended the National Prayer Day Ceremony at City Hall on Thursday, May 4. I would like to extend my gratitude to Ray Grim for all of his efforts organizing this event. Thanks, Ray!

Maricopa Association of Governments (MAG) hosted a public hearing May 9 on the draft 2040 MAG Regional Transportation Plan, draft FY2018-2022 MAG Transportation Improvement Program and Draft FY17 Transit Program. This hearing provided an outlet for the public to provide comments on transit. To my frustration, there appears to be no plans for any kind of public transportation for Surprise, so we will need to advocate and lobby for transit on our own.

To my friends in Desert Oasis, I know you have a new Community Management Company (AAM) and a new Community Manager. I understand you had a meeting on Wednesday, May 10, and I checked to see if my attendance would help, but I was told it would not be necessary. I had wanted to report that I have been talking to the folks at the “Surprise Today” newspaper trying to find some alternatives to deliver the paper there once a week.

Arizona Charter Academy hosted their annual appreciation lunch on May 18. The school hosts this event annually to thank everyone for their support each year. Due to the lack of space, the school made a very difficult decision to eliminate their high school beginning this fall. ACA CEO Melissa Holdaway and staff have done an exceptional job with the students.

I attended the Joint Planning Advisory Council (JPAC) Sun Corridor Edge 2017 meeting at Wild House Pass Hotel on Friday, May 19. This is the most recent committee that I have been appointed to serve on. JPAC has a shared vision to jointly coordinate planning efforts for the greater good of the regions and the State. It is the intent of the Maricopa Association of Governments (MAG), the Pima Association of Governments (PAG), the Central Arizona Governments (CAG) and the Sun Corridor Metropolitan Planning Organization to coordinate planning activities and work cooperatively to foster a successful and economically viable Sun Corridor. This Council also consists of Mayors, Councilmembers and business leaders. This particular meeting focused on the importance of export. It behooves businesses to export their services and products in order to have a more stable income. It is an increasing trend to export to Mexico and Canada.

Group photo of JPAC members

For my friends in Asante, Lennar Homes is planning to release approximately 485 acres for an age-restricted community called Paradise Asante. After reviewing the plans, it certainly appears to be a nice development.

On May 24, I was briefed on the project by Lennar Homes executives. The project will consist of 13 percent of the entire master plan. Lennar Homes anticipates that this project will increase sales. Lennar’s Next Gen product has already surpassed one thousand units sold.

Northwest Valley Connect (NWVC) held their monthly meeting on May 25 with notable attendees that included Senator Debbie Lesko, Former Representative Rich Grey, Glendale Transport Director Matt Dudley, and Valley Metro staff including Ron Brooks, Arlene Schenck, and Steve Henry. We had a good conversation that I hope will someday lead to a transit system for Surprise. TransDev staff Kate Riley and Mike Lee were also present to explain the new paratransit system effective July 1. The new system will have mini buses transporting residents to our Senior Center, a shared ride program and a Paratransit system. I am hopeful that the changes will result in more efficient transportation options for our senior and ADA communities.

Veterans lay wreath WWII Memorial located at the Northwest Regional LibraryThe Surprise Community and Recreation Services, in partnership with the American Legion Post 96 and Marine Corps League White Tank Mountain Detachment #1246, held their annual Memorial Day Wreath Laying Ceremony on Saturday, May 27 at the WWII Memorial located at the Northwest Regional Library. This wonderful event truly honors our veterans.

I also partook in a few Memorial Day events on Monday, May 29. VFW Post 285 hosted a wreath laying at the memorial for former Town Manager and Medal of Honor recipient Nick Bacon. Mr. Bacon served in the Army and was well known as one of our great City Managers. If you have not had the opportunity to visit Nick Bacon’s memorial, please do so. It is located outside of the City Clerk’s office at City Hall.

Every year, the Veterans Memorial Hall Committee hosts a Memorial Day Ceremony at Radiant Church. This year was no exception, and we had a good crowd to thank all of our veterans, those still serving and the military families for all of their sacrifices. I would like to extend a big thanks to the Committee for all they do and to Radiant Church for hosting the event. It was a great tribute.

On Tuesday, May 30, I attended a special business forum hosted by the Glendale Chamber of Commerce. Senator Jeff Flake was provided updates on recent topics that have the potential to affect business owners and residents. He also was on hand to answer questions. The event well attended. The Glendale Civic Center is a very nice venue, and I hope someday Surprise has a venue like it.

Arizona Senator Jeff Flake with Surprise Councilmember Roland F. Winters Jr.

All my friends in District 1 most likely know by now that we are getting a Wendy’s in front of Winco. That is great because I love their chili. In addition, further East on Bell Road at the corner of Civic Center Drive, there will be an In & Out coming soon.

As a reminder, my next meeting is June 9, 7 p.m., at the Retreat Center in Arizona Traditions, 18250 W Weatherby Drive. This will be my last meeting until August.

Until next month, be good to yourself and to each other.

Roland F. Winters Jr.

City, Valley Metro host public meeting to discuss Dial-a-Ride transition, June 14

The city of Surprise, in partnership with Valley Metro, will host a public outreach meeting on Tuesday, June 14 to provide current Northwest Valley Dial-a-Ride passengers an opportunity to learn about the new transportation service models prior to the July 1 transition of Dial-a-Ride to RideChoice and Valley Metro Paratransit.

The outreach meeting will be held in the Surprise City Hall Community Room, 16000 N. Civic Center Plaza, on June 14 from 4:00-5:30 p.m. A brief presentation will begin at 4 p.m.

Information about the shared route Senior Bus will also be presented at the meeting.

Following the presentation, city and Valley Metro representatives will be available to answer questions about the transportation services.

Individuals needing reasonable accommodations should contact the ADA coordinator at 623.222.3531 (Voice); or 623.222.3503 (TTY) at least three (3) business days prior to the meeting so arrangements can be made.

Customers unable to attend the meeting can stay informed about the Dial-a-Ride service changes by visiting surpriseaz.gov/transportation.

April 2016 • Newsletter

Greetings to my fellow District 1 residents and everyone in this beautiful city we call Surprise!

I can’t believe it is already April and our winter visitors are leaving us again for their summer homes. The month of March began with a City Council meeting the very first day, and opening day at our spectacular stadium the following day. Spring Training started with the World Series Champion Kansas City Royals and American League West Division Champion, Texas Rangers, playing each other. March is a great month – the weather is perfect, Spring Training is here and many of our meetings were held at the stadium, mainly to entertain and inform many of our economic leads.

As promised last month, I will give you an update on my trip to Washington D.C. and what we tried to accomplish on that trip. Deputy City Manager Nicole Lance and I attended three meetings with three different generals at the Pentagon. Conversations included topics such as Luke Air Force Base (AFB), the budget for the A-10, and the importance of collaboration between the City of Surprise and Luke AFB for the good of the whole West Valley. The economic impact is $653 million from Luke, not to mention the indirect economic drivers.

Councilmember Winters and Deputy City Manager Nicole Lance

During the trip, we met with the Secretary of the Air Force Deborah Lee James while at the Pentagon. She is relatively new to the job having not yet visited Luke AFB. Additionally, we had a meeting with Senator John McCain and Senator Jeff Flake, and also went to Lockheed Martin where some parts of the F-35 are made. All together we had four full days of productive meetings and constructive learning!

Upon my return to Arizona, I attended Valley Metro’s Northwest Light Rail Extension ADA training tour at the 19th Avenue and Dunlap Park-and-Ride. The $327 million dollar project broke ground on January 12, 2013. Valley Metro did a fantastic job with the rail!

On Monday March 14, I was invited to the Surprise City Academy, and if you have not attended the series of programs, it is well worth your time to learn all about the inner workings of our city and get insight from the Mayor and City Council Members, City Manager, City Attorney, and many of our Department Directors. This program is free to the public. I want to thank everyone involved in that event for all their hard work! Thank you to the city staff who volunteered their time to provide their respective department’s overview.

I held my monthly meeting on March 18. As a reminder, I have my meeting on the third Friday of every month at the Community Center in the Retreat area of Arizona Traditions, 18250 W. Weatherby Drive. Everyone is welcome to come to my meetings. Please note I will not have a meeting in June or July.

Cal Ripken Day at the Surprise Stadium was held on Saturday, March 19. There was an impressive turn out! It is great to see all those boys and girls invested in playing baseball. I was happy to be on the field and greet them all. I want to personally thank all those men and women who give up their time to coach these great kids.

Councilman Winters with players at Cal Ripken Day

I serve on the Advisory Committee for North West Valley Connect Organization, and we had our meeting on Friday March 25th at Benevilla. Northwest Valley Connect helps people find rides when they cannot get a ride through their usual channels. Northwest Valley Connect is led by Kathy Chandler as CEO.

I spent most of the day Saturday March 26th at the Ability 360 Center Transportation Conference in Phoenix with the folks from Valley Metro Transportation discussing the difficulties in transit in the West Valley and the East Valley. Surprise has a unique problem in that we have no transit system and the cost to initiate one is astronomical. We do have a fairly reliable Dial-a-Ride system which the City of Surprise subsidizes. We are always working on improving that service.

We had the grand opening of the City Café Express and John W. Clark art show at City Hall on March 30th and if you have not seen it yet, I think it would be worth your time. Most of the paintings are aircrafts as a way for Mr. Clark, who is a Surprise resident, to celebrate his many years in the United States Air Force.

Before I close my newsletter this month, I would like to have your feedback about a very important decision the City Council must make in the next couple of months. If you have been following the budget conversations at our City Council meetings, you know we are about to raise taxes to pay for more police and firefighters for our city. We are behind most cities with regards to the amount of first responders per resident. The proposed FY2017 budget will fund an additional 13 police officers, 7 firefighters and 1 emergency manager position. These positions must be funded with new tax revenue. No one likes the hikes, but sometimes it is just necessary, and in this case I feel we need this increase in protection. My first and foremost duty as a City Council Member is to protect our citizens. Now, the only question remaining is which tax or taxes do we raise? I have been agonizing over this question and the choices are a raise in property tax, a raise in sales tax, or we institute a food tax, or a possible combination of all three. I need your thoughts on this issue. I can’t support a tax on food, it is a regressive tax; it hits the people who don’t have resources first. I can see an increase in property tax, or even a slight increase in sales tax. If you have some ideas or complaints, email me or call me. Until next month, be good to yourself and be good to each other.

Roland F. Winters Jr.