Tag Archives: Valley Metro

October 2019 • Newsletter

A big shout out to all the residents in this beautiful city we call home, and Happy Halloween. Before we get started on what I have done and where I have been in September. I just want to let my friends in Bell Point know that you will be getting some new neighbors, as you probably noticed on the east side of Bell Point. It is going to be called Bell Point II South. They cleaned off all the vegetation and turned the dirt over in two days for some new homes.

Wednesday, September 4, we had a Central Arizona Project (CAP) Dinner meeting and were brought up to speed on the CAP. With Surprise having annexed about 200 acres in the northwest part of my district, the CAP now runs through Surprise.

Surpirse City Managers and Councilmembers at the Central Arizona Project Dinner meeting.

We had our Council Meeting on Thursday, September 5 due to the holiday. That morning, I was at Rio Vista Park in Peoria to see the Vietnam Moving Wall that stayed there for three days. That is quite a sight.

On Saturday night, September 7, Council attended the Ottawa University game at their home football stadium on Tierra Buena. If you have not seen the football stadium yet, it is worth the trip over there. Who would have thought that Surprise would have their own football stadium with press box and the whole nine yards?

Monday, September 9 found me at the groundbreaking ceremony for Fire Station 304. This Fire Station is located on 163rd Avenue in the northwest part of District 1. It will be the largest Fire Station in Surprise when finished and will replace the temporary station, which has been in use for 17 years. Our firefighters and our residents in that area deserve a permanent fire house.

Then, I was off to a Chamber of Commerce Luncheon Meeting with Congresswoman Debbie Lesko at WESTMEC; that school is really growing. Congresswoman Lesko announced she is moving her office to Surprise from Glendale so it will be centrally located.

Congresswoman Debbi Lesko speaking at the Chamber of Commerce luncheon meeting.

Legacy School, near Marley Park, had a wonderful ceremony in honor of Patriot Day (September 11). The ceremony included the Surprise Police Department as well as the Color Guard raising the flag. There were many parents, students and elected officials in attendance.

Vice Mayor Winters, Councilmember Hayden and Councilmember Judd at the Patriot Day ceremony near Marley Park.

Friday, September 13, found me at my Friends of the Surprise Libraries meeting, and their latest project is getting a book return deposit built into the side of the new library at Asante Park. This would help residents since they would be able to drive up and return books without getting out of their car. That same night, I held my monthly meeting at the Community Center in Arizona Traditions. I had a discussion with one of my constituents last month, and she told me that since Arizona Traditions is a gated community, she can’t get in. Well, that cannot be further from the truth. When you arrive at the gate, just inform the guard that you are here to attend the District 1 meeting held by Vice Mayor Winters. Everyone is always welcome!

Tuesday, September 17, was Constitution Day. I was at Canyon Ridge Elementary School along with Mayor Hall and Councilman Sanders. Every year, this school puts on a nice program along with the Sons of the Revolution. I ended my night with our bi-monthly Council Work Session and Council Meeting.

I attended the Veteran’s Summit on Wednesday, September 18. This meeting works to get all of the individual veteran organizations to work together. The main project we need to concentrate on is a Veteran’s Hall. This would allow veterans to have a place to meet and gather. That same afternoon, I was on a conference call to discuss our budget.

On Thursday, September 19, I was at my Valley Metro Meeting in Phoenix. Some of the discussion was the fact the residents approved the continuous building of the light rail. That evening, I was at the Post 96 Meeting at the Neighborhood Center in Arizona Traditions. During this meeting, four young men from Willow Canyon High School were recognized for their completion of the NAU Boys State program where they learned about civic engagement. Mayor Hall and Councilmember Hayden were there to support these young men. Thank you to Post 96 for sponsoring this event each year.

City of Surprise Coucilmembers and Willow Canyon High School students outside the Post 96 meeting at Arizona Traditions.

Friday, September 20 (my birthday), found me at Gaines Park in the Original Town Site for a neighborhood picnic. The Mayor and Councilmember Remley were in attendance. It was a beautiful day for this event.

On Saturday, I was at the celebration of placing a Peace Pole at City Hall, across the street from the Police Department. This piece of art was donated to the city by the Surprise Rotary Club in collaboration with the Surprise Arts Commission. Thank you to Jay Likus from the Rotary Club for being the emcee for the event. The beautiful piece of art has a friendly reminder on there to be Peace on Earth in four languages. I was able to thank the Rotary Club and the Arts Commission on behalf of Mayor and Council.

Monday, September 23, found me at Dysart Unified School District’s dedication ceremony for Freedom Traditional School. It was certainly a big celebration with many students, parents, staff and elected officials. This school took the place of the old Parkview Elementary School.

Surprise City Councilmembers at Dysart Unified School District’s dedication ceremony for Freedom Traditional School.

That same evening was my Maricopa County Human Services Commission Meeting in Phoenix, and if you remember, that was the night it was raining like crazy. The discussion that night was about people in low income brackets who may have their electricity turned off. The issue was at what temperature does it need to be for the company to not be allowed to turn off power.

The next morning was beautiful with no more rain, and I was at Fire Station 305 to celebrate the donation of a fire truck to Valley Vista Fire Science Program. It was a great event, and the students were also in attendance.

That evening, I attended the Community Outreach Meeting at Asante Prep in regards to the Austin Ranch Development in the northwest part of my district. This community is going to be very nice.

On Wednesday, September 25, we had a nice tour and ribbon cutting for SeaCa Packaging. This is one of our newest manufacturing plants, which brought in 65 phase one jobs. This company is family owned and operated since 1889. If you have a chance, you can read about the wonderful history of the company and family online at www.seattlebox.com/seaca.html.

Surprise City Council tour the SeaCa Packing facility.

That same night, there was a special showing of the Peanut Butter Falcon at the AMC Theater on Litchfield Road. This whole event was set up by Charles Collins, a resident who lives in my district who has a special needs daughter. I want to also thank the manager of the AMC Theater for the special showing for those special clients of One Step Beyond, located on Reems and Bell roads. This was a very nice event.

Vice Mayor Winters at a special showing of the Peanut Butter Falcon at the AMC Theater on Litchfield Road.

On Thursday, September 26, I was at the Northwest Valley Connect Meeting – mainly to hear what the new Chief Operation Officer for Total Ride had to say. Total Ride is one of the providers for Ride Choice. They are trying very hard to get their act together.

That same day, I had my monthly meeting with our City Manager, then my monthly meeting with Mayor Hall. At 5:00 p.m. I had my last meeting of the day with Kendra Pettis and Joe Bertoletti from Sports and Tourism. This meeting was to kick around some ideas for events in Surprise.

On Friday, September 27, I spend 2 ½ hours at the Dysart Unified School District Main Offices filling out a survey and breaking into groups to learn how to solve problems. That same afternoon was the ribbon cutting for Trimaco, another great manufacturing facility in Surprise. They specialize in paint supplies and will bring lots of jobs to our city. The owner came to this country with very little money but climbed to the top with a very successful company. I got to the ribbon cutting a little early so I was given a private tour of the facility. Trimaco is located at 13600 W. Sweetwater Ave.

Mayor Hall prepares to cut the ribbon at the Trimaco grand opening ceremony alongside City of Surprise Councilmembers.

My first stop on Saturday, September 28, was the grand re-opening of the Westside Total Fitness Gym with Keith and Julie. They have a great place at 16630 W. Greenway Road. We cut the ribbon in the morning, and I was able to welcome them to Surprise on behalf of the Mayor. Councilmembers Hayden and Sanders were present as well. I wish the new owner of Westside Total Fitness lots of luck.

Also on Saturday, I was invited to the HOA Picnic for Surprise Farms II at the Fire Truck Park. Ervin from our city’s Neighborhood Services team was there, and he is the number one disc jockey of the Surprise Block Party Trailer. This community is making the big change-over to First Service Management Company. The hot dogs and hamburgers were great and so were the residents. I even got a few, “you’re doing a great job” comments, which is always nice to hear.

To wrap up the month, I had a meeting Monday afternoon. It was a very busy month.

So be good to yourself and be good to each other.

Your Vice Mayor

September 2019 • Newsletter

A big shout out to all the citizens who live in this great city we call Surprise, and a happy September to you all (it’s getting cooler). August 6 at 4 p.m., you found me in the Council Work Session and then Council Meeting at 6 p.m. Surprise has had so much going on the last couple of years, I wanted to show you the size of the book that Councilmembers have to read, study, and comprehend for the Council Meetings (this fork is for scale).

Councilmembers' information book for Council Meetings.

On August 8 at 6 p.m., I was back at City Hall to sit in on a presentation that Scott Phillips made. Scott is the Vice-President of Care Free Partners, which is the company who is working on our city center development. What a presentation it was.

The next day, August 9, I was in the Friends of the Library meeting back at City Hall, and I am always amazed at the great work they do for our school aged children, especially the younger ones.

I had a good meeting on my regular second Friday meeting of the month, and Scott Phillips was a guest speaker. He did a great job again talking about our soon to be downtown. We had a good crowd with approximately 30 people in attendance, and a big thank you to all you folks who took time out of your busy schedules to be there.

I have been getting many emails and phone calls to come out and look at the beautiful dog park at Dick McComb Park, and what a difference it is now that all the lights have been installed. I went over there Saturday, August 10 to see the lights and also visit with the people who go there with their pups. Everyone was so happy with how it turned out, so thank you to Donna Miller, Paul Frie, and the rest of the city’s Parks & Recreation team for a great job. A special thanks to Jeff Martin (one of our city engineers) for being the project manager on the job. I don’t want to miss Rita for keeping me up to date on the progress over there.

On the evening of Wednesday, August 14, my wife and I went to the Veterans Disability and Human Services Commission meeting, which meets in the City Council Chambers on the second Wednesday of each month. I don’t usually go to the commission meetings, but they had good speakers talking about special needs kids; and they were invited to speak by Chuck Collins, who is the parent of a special needs little girl. He also lives in my district, and I am proud to call him a friend.

On August 14, I was honored to be at an awards luncheon for the people who work for the city of Surprise. This get-together recognizes those employees who have served in an exemplary manner, above and beyond their usual duties. Years of Service pins are also given out. We have some great people who work to keep your city clean, safe, and self-sufficient. Great job folks. It was a wonderful luncheon.

Tuesday, August 20 through Friday, August 23, I was at the League of Cities and Towns Conference with elected officials from the 91 cities and towns across the state. We had many classes to go to, from topics on homelessness to recycling programs and everything in between. So, we didn’t have much free time, but I did get a chance to talk to our Governor, Senator Martha McSally, Senator Kyrsten Sinema, and all the hard working and intelligent elected officials.

Councilmembers Ken Remley, Nancy Hayden, Mayor Skip Hall and Vice Mayor Roland Winters at the League of Cities and Towns Conference.

Monday, August 26, found me in my monthly meeting with Mayor Skip Hall, who makes the time to talk to every Councilmember to find out what is important to them and their individual districts because each district’s residents have their own concerns and problems. My time in that meeting is about an hour.

The next morning, the Surprise Chamber of Commerce sponsored a visit for Congresswoman Debbie Lesko at 7 a.m. at the WestMEC facility on Grand Avenue and Dysart Road. I have known Debbie since she was a State Representative. She is a nice person, and we were all filled in on what is going on in D.C and the different bills she has presented and/or sponsored. Thanks to the Chamber for bringing Congresswoman Lesko to Surprise. Finally, Debbie is moving her office to Surprise!

Congresswoman Debbie Lesko speaking at the Surprise Chamber of Commerce.

The same afternoon, I had a meeting with some staff and the folks in the northwestern part of my district to see how we can help maintain the roads up there. The major problem is there are so many private landowners, and we have a difficult time trying to get right of ways to get up there and work on those roads.

On Wednesday, August 28, I attended Councilmember Remley’s meeting at Rio Salado College, on Smokey Drive in the Original Town Site. Scott Phillips was also the guest speaker there about our downtown development.

On Thursday August 29, I was at my Valley Metro Board Meeting, only that day we needed to get there early because we had a work shop at 10 a.m. to help us become better board members. Our meeting started at noon, and one of the good things we did was to vote for some transit for our folks in the county. So, starting on October 1 of this year, the county will have a Paratransit system much like the City of Surprise system in which people with disabilities can ride to medical appointments or work. This new program will be delivered by Transdev, the same company that Surprise uses. County residents can look for additional details as October 1 draws near. This does not impact the Surprise program.

On Friday, August 30, you found me at Surprise Funeral Care to attend services for a Surprise police officer, Steven Reppert, who was a Detective Sergeant with Surprise for 22 years, and before that in the Air Force for eleven years. It was a sad time for his wife, Terry, his daughter, Victoria, and his son, Brock. Steve also left two grandchildren, Coltin and Dean, and many other relatives and friends. It was also a sad day for the Surprise Police Department and Surprise as a city lost a very good cop. He will be sorely missed. At fifty years old, he was taken much too soon.

Well, until next month, be good to yourself and be good to each other.

Sincerely,

Vice-Mayor
Roland F. Winters

August 2019 • Newsletter

A big hello to everyone in this great city we call Surprise. I hope you are all holding up in this heat. Of course, most of you know, we do not have council meetings in July, but we certainly have other meetings and things to do.

On Tuesday, July 3, I had meetings with Kathy Chandler, CEO of Northwest Valley Connect; Audra, CEO of Chance Shelter; and the owners of an upcoming coffee shop, Spencer’s Place, to discuss the good work they do in Surprise. I also gave each organization a donation to help carry on their missions.

July 8 at 8:00 a.m. found me at the grand opening of Growing Minds Preschool, 17999 Surprise Farms Loop South. It is a beautiful facility, and the folks at the Dysart Unified School District worked very hard to remodel and renovate the building, which has been vacant for several years. At the ribbon cutting, there were words from Assistant Superintendent Jim Dean, Mayor Skip Hall, and others. I wish I could have been there when the children saw the “village”, which is a huge room made up to be a city, including shops, a fire house, police station, city hall, and more.

Mayor Hall with Vice Mayor Winters and Coucilmembers Sanders and Hayden at Growing Minds Preschool.

On Tuesday, July 9, there was a great turn out at Raising Cane’s for a fun night of Lemonade with a Cop (the lemonade was free). Thank you Raising Cane’s, located at 14385 W Bell Road. I was happy to meet Deborah Luder, one of my constituents who lives up in the northwest part of my district. Chief Young could not make it, but Assistant Chief Geoffrey Leggett was there, along with many others of our finest in blue. Another constituent of mine, Charles Collins, from Surprise Farms II was also there.

Thursday July 11, you found me in a meeting with the folks from the Greater Phoenix Economic Council (GPEC) with their CEO, Chris Camacho. Most of the councilmembers were there, including our Mayor. Also our Economic Development Department, including director Jeanine Jerkovic, was in attendance. Our economic development team is the best. GPEC helps us to find sites in our city for commercial and industrial business wanting to locate in Surprise. They are a great help.

Right after that meeting, I had my monthly meeting at 2:30 p.m. with our City Manager to go over what is happening in Surprise, and he usually asks how he can help me. It’s nice to have his support. On Friday, July 12 at 10:30 a.m., I was in the Friends of the Surprise Libraries meeting at the Chamber of Commerce building. I have been drafted into the organization since Mayor Skip Hall was elected. As a councilmember, he sat in on these meetings, but now he has his hands full as our Mayor, and it is very difficult to say no to Alyson Cline. Mrs. Cline and her team do a great job making sure our kids are literate by giving books to our schools, helping our teachers, and working with the nonprofit organization Altrusa to make sure every child can read by the third grade.

I want to wish Lynn Peratt a happy retirement. Lynn was our receptionist at City Hall for many years. She always had a smile and was ready to help anyone, including me many times. I told her she could not leave, but she said no. Have a great retirement Lynn, you deserve it.

I had my meeting on Friday night at the Retreat Community Center in Arizona Traditions and had a large showing. I hope I cleared up some confusion with my friends in the northwest part of my district concerning the Lone Mountain Ranch project. That part of the recent annexation process was to bring the acreage of Marisol Ranch into the city so that property will belong to Surprise when the developer starts building. The Lone Mountain Ranch land is not sold to anyone yet, so any development is years down the road.

While I’m on the topic of my monthly meeting, I want to remind everyone that my August meeting will be on Friday, August 9 at 7:00 p.m. in the Retreat Community Room at Arizona Traditions. A special guest, Scott Phillips, will be in attendance. He works with Surprise Center Development Company, the developers of our City Center project. This is a chance to share ideas about what you would like to see in our future downtown. We will have cookies!

Moving on now, I did my Council Conversations television taping on Monday, July 15, and it was a two-part show. First with Sue Larkin of Altrusa International of the West Valley, then part two is with Donna Miller, Director of Parks and Recreation. The show is now running on Channel 11 if you have Cox, or on the city website, https://d1.surpriseaz.gov/2019/07/25/new-council-conversations-altrusa-international-and-asante-library-update/. The first portion of the show focused on reading programs and how involved our city is with ensuing children are able to read. During the second part of the show, I talked to Donna Miller about the new library being built up in my district at the city park in the Asante neighborhood.

Wednesday, July 17 found me at the Community Room at City Hall for a Valley Metro meeting concerning extending the Paratransit program that Surprise has now to the entire Maricopa County area. There are no proposed service changes for Surprise at this time. I went to a similar community outreach meeting in Mesa last month. Even though it is a county project, I felt as a Valley Metro Board Member, and as a Paratransit user, I needed to be there. Our Mayor was also at the Wednesday meeting, along with other Councilmembers.

Mayor Hall, Vice Mayor Winters and Councilmembers Hayden and Remley at the Valley Metro Public Hearing.

On Friday, July 19, I had a much anticipated tour of the Asante Branch Library construction site. The Mayor, and Councilmembers Hayden and Remley were also on the tour. I would like to thank Adam with Haydon Construction for doing the work and the tour; and thank you to Jeff, one of our city engineers. It is going to be a beautiful building with meeting rooms and glass walls for natural light.

Mayor Hall, Vice Mayor Winters and Councilmember Hayden at the Asante Library construction site.

Monday, July 22, I was in Phoenix at my Maricopa County Human Services Commission Meeting. Maricopa Human Services Department does some good things for people who are not as fortunate as most of us in Surprise. They help people pay their utility bills, rent payments, etc.

Wednesday, July 24, you found me on a tour at the One Step Beyond organization. They do a great job helping developmentally disabled folks get educated, find jobs, find housing, among other things. They are located right here in Surprise on Reems Road. This tour was organized by a constituent who lives in Surprise Farms II, Charles Collins, who has a special needs daughter.

Vice Mayor Winters on tour at the One Step Beyond organization.

A quick update sent from a constituent on the Dick McComb Dog Park. The lights are installed and working properly. Thank you Donna Miller and the Parks and Recreation team as now I know my residents can enjoy the park at night when the weather is a bit more tolerable.

Residents and their dogs at the newly illuminated Dick McComb Dog Park.

Some good news for my northwest district residents. The intersection of 163rd and Jomax will begin construction on Phase 1. This phase will include traffic signals and turn lanes. Fire Station 304, which is south of Happy Valley on 163rd, has also begun construction. I appreciate your patience during the construction times and know that this will benefit our residents greatly.

Well, I’ll close my newsletter for August, and will talk to you next month again. Be good to yourself and be good to each other.

Roland F. Winters Jr

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.