A big shout out to the residents of this great city we live in. Not much really new, except for a few things this month. As you know, we are still shut down at City Hall for public access. Beginning with our December 1 Work Session and Council meeting, no members of the public will be allowed in the Council Chambers, however, the meeting can be seen live on Channel 11 if you have Cox, or on your computer at www.surpriseaz.gov/surprisetv or the city’s Facebook page. This will hold true until further notice.
It looks like we may have a vaccine for this terrible virus by this month. We are all very happy to see this, I am sure. We all need to keep doing what we have been doing, and hang in there with the face masks, washing our hands often, and the social distancing, so we can all be here to get vaccinated.
As has been happening for the last nine months, I have been attending most of my meetings via Zoom and telephone, and like most of you, I am getting COVID-19 fatigue.
We had our meeting of the Board and Commission Nominations Committee, of which I am the Chair, on Monday, November 9th. We do have some vacancies on the Arts Commission, Veterans, Disability, and Human Services Commission, and the Audit Committee to name a few, so if you have some extra time and would like to help the city, you can apply to volunteer for one of the commissions by calling the City Clerk’s Office at 623.222.1200 or visiting surpriseaz.gov/boards.
We changed the date of our first Council meeting in November to the 2nd because of Election Day. In spite of these challenging times, we in the Surprise City Government, are pushing forward with many permits for development, including commercial.
I am so proud of our Economic Development Department, headed up by Jeanine Jerkovic. Jeanine and her team do a great job getting all kinds of commercial construction in Surprise.
To all my friends in the northwest part of my District (District 1) I want you to keep an eye on the corner of 163rd and Grand Avenue. I can’t say too much about it because it is still under development review. I am doing all I can to get more commercial development in your neck of the woods.
A note to the folks in Northwest Ranch. We are finally getting to improving Greenway Road, so there will be construction in the area, and yes, some dust; but when the widening of Greenway Road is finished, you will have a fully functioning traffic light at Greenway Road and North West Ranch Parkway as well as straightening of Greenway Road near the 303. So, hang in there, and I ask for your patience during the construction.
The best news this month is that a grocery store is finally coming to my friends in the northwest part of my district. It’s official, the new Fry’s Asante Site Plan has been submitted for review at the Northwest corner of 163rd Avenue and Pat Tillman Boulevard. Plans for this new shopping center show a large Fry’s store with a pharmacy, gas station and some retail stores so our hard work and prayers paid off.
I want to take a minute here and thank all the citizens of Surprise for voting for the G.O. Bond in 2017. We are reaping the benefits with all of these beautiful new roads and repairs for some.
On Thursday, November 19th, I was in attendance at my monthly Valley Metro Meeting. I have been representing Surprise on the Board for two years now. When the Maricopa Association of Governments (MAG) and Valley Metro decide to start moving toward Surprise with some transit, someone must be at the table.
On Monday, November 30th, the Council was at the Christmas Tree in front of the stadium to light our tree as part of this year’s virtual Surprise Party. Our Communications Department is making a video to be shown, starting December 4th at 7 p.m., and replayed throughout the holidays. You can view it at surpriseaz.gov/surprisetv and see all of the Surprise Party details at surpriseaz.gov/surpriseparty. Because of COVID-19, this Christmas Season will be a little bit different.
Well, I want to wish everyone a very Merry Christmas and happy holidays, and remember, be good to yourself and be good to each other.
Happy April to all of my fellow District 1 residents and to all the folks that call this beautiful city home. March got off to a quick start with the Surprise Police Appreciation Dinner at Christ Church of the Valley (CCV) on the evening of Friday, March 2. Many awards were given to show gratitude to the men and women that get on those streets every day and night to keep us all safe. I would like to take this opportunity to thank CCV for their partnership and all they do for our city. We simply ask, and they are there!
On Monday, March 5, I attended a meeting to discuss how we can help the homeless. It is growing into a more significant problem for our residents and visitors in Surprise. It is a very complex issue, and we have to be sensitive to their needs as well. One of the concerns is that we have no place to host them or feed them in Surprise. Most places that can assist or accommodate them are in Phoenix. Our homeless population does not want to leave our city and feel it is their city too.
I had a phone call from the Maricopa County Community Services Commission regarding my interest to serve on their Commission. I was, of course, honored to be considered. There is a process, so I will wait to see if I am chosen.
Friday, March 9 found me at the Economic Development Spring Training Event at Surprise Stadium. Our Economic Development Department is the greatest! They continue to bring a number of opportunities to Surprise!
Tuesday, March 13, I attended Benevilla’s Annual Donor Appreciation Brunch at Briarwood Country Club. The event honored dedicated community members and supporters of their mission. Benevilla President Joanne Thomson presented two awards. The 2018 Bill Wolfrey Community Service Award was given to Larry Vering and the Business Leadership Award was given to Pat Babcock from the West Valley Lutheran Thrift Shop. Benevilla could not provide all their services without the generous contributions of all their donors.
On Friday, March 16, I was at the groundbreaking for our newest company, Trimaco, in the Southwest Railplex area of Surprise. With the growing success of their business nationwide, they have outgrown their current west valley location and will be building a NEW 275,000 SF facility and employing over 110 people in Surprise! Trimaco manufactures paint accessories and professional floor protection products for paint retail, auto body and construction industries worldwide. This project represents more than just the current ground-up development, as the President of Trimaco is a long-term investor in Surprise. Mr. Vito Ancona developed Ancona Professional Plaza off Grand Avenue – and now we are happy to welcome him into our industrial park as well!
Following the groundbreaking, we attended the Economic Development Tent Appreciation Event at Surprise Stadium. This annual event is held to show our appreciation to all of our businesses in surprise. It was very successful. We had over 160 people in attendance! Many thanks to Economic Development Director Jeanine Jerkovic for her exceptional leadership and to the entire Economic Development team for working together to show their gratitude as well as attract new business opportunities to Surprise!
I was so very pleased to be in attendance at the ceremony to honor the late CRS Director Mark Coronado. The event took place on Saturday, March 17 prior to the spring training game at Surprise Stadium. His entire family was in attendance. When the Committee to honor Mark made their recommendations at a City Council meeting earlier this year, we approved all three recommendations. You will now see a Mark Coronado legacy seat in the Stadium, in addition to renaming 8-Acre Park to “Mark Coronado Park” with a memorial plaque at the park’s entry gate. Honorary street signs along Bullard Avenue now read “Mark Coronado Way.” I hope, when someone asks 10 or 15 years from now “Who was Mark Coronado?”, there will be someone there to describe all the fantastic things Mark did for the City of Surprise. I would venture to say if it were not for Mark, there would not be a Major League Baseball team in Surprise let alone two teams. My first year on the Council, I worked closely with Mark to develop Surprise Farms Park, now known as Dick McComb City Park. Oddly enough, it was Dick McComb who hired Mark! Mark was fiercely dedicated to make that park a great place to play for generations to come with a splash pad, and the first skate park in Surprise. He also made sure he added these amenities within his budget. I thank Mark for all he did for Surprise in his 17 years of service to this city. Rest in peace now, Mark!
Of course on Tuesday, March 20, we held our second monthly City Council Work Session at 4 pm and our City Council Regular Meeting at 6 pm when we actually vote on the different agenda items. In addition after these two meeting, we sometimes go into Executive Session.
Thursday, March 22 found me at my Northwest Valley Connect (NWC) meeting at Benevilla, and for those of you who do not know what that organization is all about, it is all about transportation and getting people where they need to go. NWC will take you to your medical appointments, even the grocery store if you cannot get a ride. They are a non-profit 501(c)3 and there is no charge for their service but they do take donations in any amount. Their drivers are volunteers and they do have accessible vehicles, so if you are a wheelchair user, it isn’t a problem.
We had a ribbon cutting at the Shops at Elm Street on Friday, March 23. For those of you who don’t know where these new stores are, they are located on the corner of Bell Road and Civic Center Drive, right next to the soon to open In-N-Out Burger which is now hiring and paying $12 an hour! Not all of the shops are open yet, but the majority are open for business.
In March, we had another grand opening. Ono Hawaiian BBQ, located at 13864 W. Bell Road, is a fast-casual dining restaurant with 70 store locations throughout California and Arizona. The owners are very nice and the food is excellent. Welcome to Surprise!
Tuesday, March 27 found me at Willow Canyon High School for a mock crash scenario to demonstrate what can happen when someone makes the decision to drive under the influence. The demonstration costs about $7,000 to put on, so I hope everyone (students and non-students alike) learned something from it. We were fortunate to get a grant from the Governor’s Office of Highway Safety. I want to thank our Surprise Fire-Medical Department, Surprise Police Department, Native Air, Dysart Unified School District, Willow Canyon administrators and staff for going above and beyond to help all of us to make the right decisions when it comes to driving under the influence, and not to text while driving. It’s simply not worth it! On a personal note, I think Willow Canyon High School is the best high school in Surprise (because it’s in my District), and I love all the kids there. I don’t want to read in the newspapers that someone was killed or injured in a traffic accident for these reasons. Please be careful out there!
On Thursday, March 29, I attended Arizona Charter Academy’s Community Volunteer Appreciation Luncheon at their school at 16025 N. Dysart Road in Surprise. What a great job Melissa Holdaway and her team do to educate those kids, but that’s not all, the young folks are very polite and respectful. We were also entertained by two different choirs. The lunch was catered by Birt’s Bistro. Great job!
That same afternoon, I attended the retirement ceremony for Surprise Police Officer Terry Vernon Reppert who served the city for 25 years. The retirements of our public safety personnel are always bitter sweet. On one hand you are happy they are going to have a great retirement, but they will be greatly missed for all their good work they’ve done for us over the years.
Still later in the afternoon on the 29th, I attended the ribbon cutting at the opening of Pinnacle Vein and Vascular Center, 12361 W. Bola Drive near the Original Town Site. Dr. Bajeet Uppal is a vascular surgeon with years of experience, and we welcome him to Surprise.
The last event I went to was the Spring Eggstravaganza on Saturday, March 31 on the Kansas City Royals practice field. What a crowd turned out, like a county fair! Community and Recreation Services Director Donna Miller, Assistant Director Paul Frie and their team did a great job! Everything was well organized and ran smoothly considering all the little people vying for all the eggs scattered all over that field. What a bunch of cuties! I hope all of you had a good Easter!
I wanted to wish retiring IRIS USA CEO Chet Keizer a great retirement! He announced last month that he was retiring, but I am happy to hear he will be staying in Surprise!
As you can see, March was a very busy month!
Don’t forget my Friday Night Chat at the Traditions Community Center, 18250 Weatherby Drive on Friday, April 13 at 7 pm. Don’t let the date scare you away. We have great cookies. My meetings are the second Friday of each month at 7 pm.
Take care! Be good to yourself and be good to each other!
Happy April to the residents of District 1 and all of Surprise! March was a very busy month for everyone at City Hall. April began with a great start for me. I was invited to attend the Asante community picnic at Southwind Park. It was a great gathering of a lot of our homeowners there. We had a visit from our firefighters from Fire Station 304 with one of their fire trucks. The kids really enjoyed it! Thank you to our firefighters for stopping by.
On March 7, I attended a meeting with Mayor Sharon Wolcott, Councilman Skip Hall and staff from Valley Metro to discuss upcoming changes to the Dial-A-Ride system. As I mentioned in last month’s newsletter, the current Dial-a-Ride name and program will discontinue and the new service models will begin July 1, 2017 with three different transportation options depending on the user. For all my friends that utilize the current system, we know there have been some problems with Discount Cab service, but I will reserve my judgment until after a few months of operation. Some of you may have read about the new service in the last issue of our Progress Magazine. City and Valley Metro staff will present the new model (s) at our City Council Work Session on April 18.
I hosted a meeting for residents located in the northern area of District 1, near 163rd Avenue, on March 9. The residents expressed their concerns regarding the conditions of the roads in their area. We have a few obstacles to overcome. First and foremost, we need to acquire some right-of-way from private land owners and have made progress on that since our meeting. We’ve created a network to communicate information to the residents on the progress. I am optimistic we can make some improvements for these residents.
Northwest Valley Connect (NWVC) held a fundraiser, Motors on Wheels, in Sun City West on Saturday, March 11. For those of you who are not familiar with NWVC, they are a non-profit 501(c)3 organization that provides transportation services for seniors and people with disabilities to overcome existing service gaps. This marked their first fundraiser that included a car show, food trucks, a live DJ and much more. Northwest Valley Connect recently completed their second full year of operation, responding to more than 3,500 calls for service.
On Sunday, March 12, I left for Washington D.C. to attend the National League of Cities Conference and meet with our Congressional representatives to discuss our city’s needs. US Senators John McCain and Jeff Flake hosted a joint meeting for the Arizona delegation at the US Capitol. The trip was very productive, and I am optimistic after having receptive meetings with our representatives.
The City’s Economic Development team hosted an appreciation tent event at Surprise Stadium on Friday, March 17 for our businesses, prospective development opportunities and local partners. I look forward to this event each year as it provides us with an opportunity to network and build on the relationships with our economic drivers to continue to be a self-sustaining city.
On March 22, I attended one of several Citizen Review Hearings on the city’s Sign Code update. Updating the Ordinance is a difficult task as it includes changes regarding A-frame signs many of our businesses utilize. We are not anti-business, but we also want the city to look clean and beautiful for our residents.
Christopher Todd Communities broke ground at the future Christopher Todd Communities on Greenway project. The area is located on the southwest corner of Greenway and Litchfield roads. This unique project will offer 136 one and two-bedroom private rental residences with a gated entry, charming detached homes with front and backyards, optional detached garages, community park with a pet washing station and a community pool.
Representative Tony Rivero invited me to attend a reception at Phoenix Country Club to meet with ten leaders from the Sonoran Legislature. District 21 Representative Rivero is building relationships in Sonora, Mexico as he realizes it is imperative to have strong relationships amongst elected officials and our trade partners. The reception was successful with several elected officials on both side of the border present.
City Council will soon discuss another general bond initiative that may be on the next ballot in November. You should expect changes to the initiative compared to last year. I believe residents will feel better about the changes. More information and discussions are expected at upcoming City Council meetings.
Please don’t forget my next monthly meeting on Friday, April 14 at the Retreat Community Center, 18250 W. Weatherby Drive. Upon arrival at the gate, please let the guard know you are there for my meeting. I’d like to talk to you, hear your concerns and comments.
Until next time, please be good to yourself and be good to each other!