A big shout out to all the residents in District 1 and to everyone who lives in this great city we call Surprise! Please note that I will not be hosting my Friday Night meeting on May 12. My next meeting will be held on Friday, June 9 at 7 p.m. in the Community Center at the Retreat at Arizona Traditions.
April began with a relaxing few hours listening to the Surprise POPS Band at the Valley Vista Performing Arts Center on Sunday, April 2. If you’ve never been to one of their performances, it is most definitely worth your time. Admission is free with the donation of a canned food item which the band donates to the Valley View Food Bank. Not only do you get free admission, but you also pay it forward by helping to feed some of our less fortunate neighbors.
District 1 and the remainder of the city celebrated the groundbreaking of Rancho Mercado on Tuesday, April 4. The William Lyon Homes development is located in a six square-mile area along Happy Valley Road (in the area of 147th Avenue & Jomax). The development plans to provide a variety of affordable housing options including single-family and multi-family residential, as well as retail and commercial services and much more. Rancho Mercado’s projected population is more than 12,000 residents at build out. The roads are scheduled to be built first followed by the completion of Happy Valley Road to the east. It will take approximately 1.5 years to complete the infrastructure prior to the building of the homes.
The city continues to work on acquiring the right-of-ways from private property owners (north of Jomax) so we can start repairing the roads in the northwestern portion of District 1. I wish we could expedite the acquisitions but the process takes time.
I attended the Citizen Patrol Banquet on Friday, April 7 at the Sun City Grand Cimarron Center. The Citizen Patrol volunteers contribute many hours to our city by directing traffic to help keep us safe, performing vacation checks on our homes and helping with Spring Training. Our Surprise Police Department greatly appreciates their efforts and the many hours they volunteer assisting our first responders.
As you know, City staff has been busy working on the budget for the last few months. The FY18 budget will be very tight due to unforeseen increases to the state Public Safety Personnel Retirement System (PSPRS), but we are still able to maintain our services to our residents. I regret to report that city staff will not receive increases this year but at least we have avoided layoffs.
The Surprise Capital Improvement Funding Exploratory Committee was briefed by city staff last month on proposed capital improvement projects that may be included in three separate bond questions this fall. Discussion of the bond questions will occur at our City Council Work Session scheduled for May 16 at 4 p.m. If Council approves the bond questions for voter consideration, I anticipate the city will host several community meetings to further elaborate on the bond projects before a November election.
The City of Surprise Fire-Medical Department (SFMD) was awarded a $8,351 Arizona Governor’s Office of Highway Safety grant to “enhance DUI Alcohol Education and Awareness throughout the City of Surprise.” SFMD worked in conjunction with the Surprise Police Department, Helicopter Air-Medical and Logistics Operations, the Dysart Unified School District, and Valley Vista High School to coordinate a Drunk/Distracted Driving Mock Crash for over 2,600 students at Valley Vista High School on Wednesday, April 19. The demonstration was very emotional and truly captured what could happen when someone chooses to drive under the influence of alcohol or drugs. The devastating outcome of these accidents not only impacts the people associated in the accidents but their friends and family as well. Surprise TV taped the drill and will share it with other high schools to further the outreach.
On April 21, my wife and I attended the Surprise Police Appreciation Dinner at Christ Church of the Valley (CCV). CCV was a fantastic venue, and I thank them for all they did to make this event successful for our law enforcement officials. The theme for this year’s event was “The Thin Blue Line – the line between order and chaos.” Police Department employees and family members, along with City Directors and their families and Councilman Skip Hall and I joined together to show appreciation for and to recognize employees and volunteers of the Surprise Police Department who, through their commitment to excellence, have helped make the Department what it is today. Dr. Dennis J. Tyner, Vice President and Provost of Ottawa University AZ, was the Master of Ceremonies. The 2016 award winners were as follows:
Civilian of the Year – Yolanda Zamora; Supervisor of the Year – Jennifer Guthrie; Officer of the Year – Tyler Johnson; Rookie of the Year – Michelle Cain; Detective of the Year – Kristy Coats; Citizens Patrol Volunteer of the Year – James Gearns; Volunteer of the Year – Tina Jennings; Medal of Merit – Russell Jurn; Police Shield – Adam Layton; Lifesaving Award – Joanna Massimillo – Vallet.
The Arts & Cultural Advisory Commission sponsored a free public art bus tour to the Desert Caballeros Museum in Wickenburg to see the Cowgirl Up exhibit. If you have not been to that museum yet, it is well worth the trip! A special thank you to Commission Chair Susan DeJong and Commission Vice Chair Margaret Liu for organizing this trip. The resident turn-out was good, and the museum was fantastic!
On April 26, I attended the Northwest Valley Connect Advisory Committee meeting at City Hall and toured the Valley Metro Mobility Center in Phoenix. Both events covered upcoming changes to the Dial-a-Ride program, which will become RideChoice on July 1, 2017. At the tour, we were educated on how one becomes ADA-certified to utilize the RideChoice system. If you have not yet been certified, it is very easy to do so. You just need to call 602.716.2100, and someone will help you through the process. The new system, RideChoice, will operate 24/7 and will provide numerous ride options. If you have already registered with Valley Metro for services, you will soon receive a letter from them explaining the new service. We have approximately 700 residents utilizing the system right now and, thankfully, the new system will be able to accept more riders. If you have any questions regarding the new service, please feel free to contact me. If I don’t have the answer for you, I will find the answer and call you back.
On April 29, I participated in a tour of our city parks with City staff and members of the CRS Commission. We assessed the condition of the parks to identify how we may improve them in the future.
One last reminder that I will not be hosting my Friday Night meeting in May. My next meeting will be held on Friday, June 9 at 7 p.m. in the Community Center at the Retreat at Arizona Traditions.
I will close for now… so be good to yourself, and be good to each other.
Roland F. Winters Jr.