Ahwatukee Foothills News

  • Centennial student detained by police in connection with threatening pictures

    An eighth-grader at Kyrene Centennial Middle School was pulled from school Tuesday afternoon on suspicion of drawing threatening pictures, according to a letter sent to parents from Principal Jocelyn Sims.Sgt. Trent Crump, Phoenix Police Department spokesperson, said the student was removed from school and detained by the school resource officer.“The student was removed from the school grounds and officers did not find anything to indicate he could carry out the threat,” Crump said in a statement. “He was detained for one count of disruption of an educational institution.”Sims sent letters out to Centennial families informing them about the incident.In the letter, she said, “The safety of your children is our first priority. With that in mind, we felt that it is important to share that an eighth-grade student was removed from campus today and detained by the Phoenix Police Department for drawing threatening pictures.”Centennial staff are working with police officials as they investigate the incident.

  • Surviving an Ahwatukee Zombocalypse

    Zombies are so hot right now.Zombie Walk 6 just took place last Saturday at Heritage & Science Park in downtown Phoenix. “The Walking Dead” on AMC has your friends inundating your Sunday night/Monday morning Facebook news feed with spoilers. The Zombie Run Extreme — a mud-filled, 5K obstacle course through a zombie-infested wasteland — is coming to Phoenix Nov. 8. And of course, Mountain Pointe Theatre Company presents “Night of the Living Dead” today and Thursday. Zombies are everywhere lately.But what if zombies were, in fact, everywhere?Would you, the average Ahwatukee Foothills resident, know what to do or where to go in order to stay safe? To stay alive?Odds are, the average person under the age of 40 has put some thought into what he or she would do should a zombie outbreak occur. Those plans possibly involve a stockpile of seemingly unlimited ammunition and would play out like a first-person shooter video game.But the person who survives a zombocalypse is not going to be the one mowing down the undead with an Uzi. Firearms make noise and will therefore attract more unearthly assailants.

  • Having a safe and spooky Halloween

    As Ahwatukee residents put the final touches on decorations and costumes for Halloween, the Phoenix police and fire departments offer some tips to make the day safe and enjoyable.This year’s Halloween has already been one of the busiest in terms of calls made to the fire department, said Capt. Benjamin Santillan, a Phoenix Fire Department spokesman. He says “the biggest thing is for children to stay with an adult and communicate while you’re out trick-or-treating.”Officer James Holmes, police spokesman, said in an email that “we always concentrate our patrol efforts in our neighborhoods during Halloween.” Both Holmes and Santillan mentioned traffic safety as their biggest concern on Halloween. Holmes warned that both children and parents need to pay attention to the road whether or not they are in a vehicle.Santillan also said to “make sure everyone has a flashlight,” as it is one of the most forgotten things on Halloween. He said it’s a useful tool for when it’s dark and there’s a lot of foot and road traffic.Another concern for the police and firefighters is trick-or-treaters who go outside their neighborhood. Trick-or-treaters should not go to homes that do not have a porch light on, and should never enter a home or an automobile, according to a document on trick-or-treating safety from the Fire Department. Santillan also says “to accept but not eat” any homemade treats given out on Halloween unless they are from a trusted source.A report from the National Fire Protection Association lists Halloween as the fifth-highest day of the year for candle fires, behind Christmas Eve, Christmas, New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day, according to a document on decoration safety from the Fire Department. City fire officials recommend using alternatives to candles for decorations and to keep highly flammable materials such as crepe paper away from light bulbs and other heat sources.

  • Ahwatukee octogenarian earns 8 swim medals at World Senior Games

    Ahwatukee resident Gloria Tolaro recently competed where she earned eight medals in eight swimming competitions.Tolaro, 84, competed in the 50-meter backstroke, 100-meter individual medley, 50 breaststroke, 100 freestyle, 400 freestyle, 200 freestyle, 800 freestyle and 50 freestyle, all in the women’s 80-84 age group.After it was all said and done, Tolaro walked away from games with three gold medals, two silvers and three bronzes.“People come from all over the world to compete, and I’ve always wanted to go,” she said.Tolaro has always had a passion when it came to swimming; she swam in college in Washington and was a United States Master Swimming member.She began competing in state and national competitions for seniors in 1999, and has competed in a total of six national competitions.

  • Bringing light to a dark holiday: Local house is all lit up for Halloween

    Each year around Halloween, Ahwatukee Foothills resident Doug Maldonado says his goal is to make his home light up as brightly as the kids that visit.Maldonado has been decorating his home at 16806 S. 24th Place for the past four years or so. His house has thousands of Halloween lights and dozens of inflatables on display. All of the decor is family-friendly.“I’m from the East Coast and back in the East Coast, everyone does Christmas and decorates their houses huge,” Maldonado said. “Here, Halloween seems to be a big deal. Everyone hangs out and parties, so that’s why I do it. I do it because we’ve got 20-something kids down this block. The kids love it.”The decorations take about a month to set up. Between other activities, Maldonado said he spends about two hours a day in September testing lights and putting them up around the house. He even puts a few strands up for neighbors to help get them into the spirit.Each year the display changes a little. Maldonado tries to add a few more inflatables and get rid of ones that are starting to fade. He said he’s learned to move quickly when he finds some new decorations in stores.“When they start putting out the decorations in August, you have to act fast,” he said.

  • LD 18 candidates visit Family Resource Center

    The Children’s Action Alliance is asking candidates for the state Legislature to focus on the children.Candidates from districts 12, 17, 18, 26 and 27 were invited to take a tour of the Family Resource Center in Mesa on Monday to learn about the programs offered at the center and interact with the families there.“I didn’t realize the breadth of services they had and the number of volunteers, which was very encouraging,” said Jill Norgaard, who is running for the House of Representatives in LD 18. She and Mitzi Epstein represented their district on the tour. “If we fail our children, we fail as a society. Child education, preschools and getting kids ready for kindergarten is really a non-partisan issue … It’s something that the parties working together can do a lot. Instead of making it a divisive issue, it can really bring everyone together.”Bringing everyone together was the purpose of the tour, said Dana Wolfe Naimark, president and CEO of Children’s Action Alliance. Their goal is to keep early childhood development on the minds of those in the Legislature.“We hear a lot during election season that people are looking for solutions,” Naimark said. “They’re looking for things that work to improve children’s health and education. We think it’s important for candidates to see effective strategies in action. We have great models in our community. We don’t have enough of them. … We want candidates, when they are elected, to be thinking about how they can expand what works and also be thinking about education as broader than what happens in the classroom. The experiences kids have before they ever start kindergarten are really vital to their educational success.”Epstein said she enjoyed seeing how the Family Resource Center focuses on teaching children in their everyday lives. The Child Crisis Center offers a program to families in the East Valley, including Ahwatukee Foothills, where a mentor makes in-home visits with parents and their children and gives ideas of activities to do to prepare the child for kindergarten. The candidates had a chance to hear from a parent going through that MyChild’sReady program. She told them her instinct would be to give her child a tablet or computer for some education learning but she was grateful for ideas of face-to-face learning opportunities.

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  • Ahwatukee authors offer empowerment classes to the public

    Two Ahwatukee Foothills authors are sharing their message of self empowerment through two new classes at Unity of Chandler.The classes, both $85 and both running three weeks, are open to anyone looking to better themselves.Mary DeYon wrote “What Does Love Have to do With it?” a personal memoir of overcoming her life of co-dependency and finding her own purpose. DeYon takes a positive approach to the problem and encourages her audience to look on the bright side of life. Her class is meant for women in the same place she was in who are looking for strength in or getting out of relationships with addicts and alcoholics.“I want to put some fun into our dysfunction,” she said. “It’s a light-hearted approach and something they don’t get from counseling. It’s a different way to look at things. There are some great things about co-dependency. We’re the most giving people in the world. We’re great at being leaders. We figure out problems about how to take care of our alcoholics and keep all the balls in the air for our families.”DeYon’s class will begin Nov. 4. For more information on DeYon and to view her podcasts, visit www.marydeyon.com.Scott Clark’s book, “The Empower Model for Men,” is about helping men to find their own purpose. The book goes through a seven-step model designed to offer practical wisdom and tools to help men reach their greatest potential. The book came from Clark’s own experience as he left the corporate world and set out on his own journey to self enlightenment.

  • Summer was full of great book reading

    Although I do not write book reviews in the summer months, I do continue reading, perhaps more than ever. Lucky enough to spend summers in the cool pines of northern Arizona, I walk a lot and an audio book is my constant companion. I was having a difficult time trying to choose which book to review as I start a new season, so I elected to do mini reviews instead of one long one. I’ll try to capture their essence briefly.• “The Paying Guests,” by Sarah Waters. The setting is London, 1922. The Great War has left Frances Ray and her mother alone in their stately home on Champion Hill without a father and a son and also without an income to support themselves and their former lifestyle. To keep their home, they take in lodgers, “The Paying Guests,” Len and Lily Barber. The Barbers are a notch below the Rays on the social scale but in Frances’ boring world, they are “like sunrise in a gloomy room.” What follows is an illicit romance, a murder, a trial and a moral dilemma for Frances.One reviewer says Waters is a master of the slow build, of the gradual assemblage of tiny random moments that result in a life-altering love. I agree that her descriptions romantic liaisons are sensual in a subtle manner. When Frances falls madly in love, it is described as, “It was as if all her senses had been wiped clean of a layer of dust. Every color seemed sharper. Straight edges were like blades.”Although this is Waters sixth book, it is the first one I have read and, evidently, skillful plots with twists and turns are her trade mark. I would read another.• I read “Big Little Lies,” by Liane Moriarty because I enjoyed her best-seller, “The Husband’s Secret” so much. “Big Little Lies” has more humor and wit but still deals with murder, in this case in the opening scene. What follows are all the events leading up to the unfortunate occurrence at, of all places, a parents’ night at the Pirriwee Elementary school fundraiser. Strong cocktails they are downing without appetizers that don’t arrive due to a traffic jam complicate the evening further or perhaps contribute to the tragedy. Like “The Husband’s Secret,” the setting is her native Australia and again told from different viewpoints: Madeline, Celeste and Jane, all mothers who have children at the same elementary school. When one of the children is accused of bullying another child on the playground, the mothers start acting more like children, as they exclude one mother from their “clique” without verifying the accusation. Moriarty’s story illustrates how often little lies can have big consequences. Although it’s been many years since I belonged to the mom’s playground set, I could relate to all these characters that Moriarty has a knack for developing so vividly.One reviewer says she has sharp insight into human nature. She is “spot on, Mate.”

  • Keaton given leading role he was destined to play in ‘Birdman’

    Michael Keaton established early on in his film career that he’s an actor of great range. For whatever reason, though, he faded into obscurity during the late ’90s and early 2000s. Some might say that’s because he walked away from the “Batman” franchise to do movies like “Jack Frost,” “White Noise,” “First Daughter,” and “Herbie Fully Loaded.” Then again, it’s not like starring in “Batman Forever” and “Batman & Robin” would have done Keaton any favors either. It’s great that Keaton has been slowly resurfacing in recent years with memorable supporting work in “Toy Story 3” and “The Other Guys.” In “Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance),” Keaton is given a leading role he was destined to play.Paralleling his own rise and fall from success, Keaton is an actor named Riggan Thomson who’s best known for playing a superhero called Birdman. Riggan’s “Birdman” trilogy was around long before Hollywood started dishing out five superhero movies every year. Being one of the original cinematic superheroes, Riggan is especially irritated and envious when he sees Robert Downey, Jr. walking on the red carpet while he’s stuck in a crappy New York theater. Unable to find work ever since turning down “Birdman 4,” Riggan hopes to breathe new life into his career by starring, directing, and adapting Raymond Carver’s “What We Talk About When We Talk About Love” for the stage. Everything has gone wrong, however, causing Riggan to gradually lose his mind.Riggan is taunted by the gravely voice of Birdman in his head, constantly being reminded that his career peaked with that one role and he’ll never be viewed as anything else. Keaton isn’t the only actor who can identify with this dilemma. Numerous performers like George Reeves and Adam West struggled for years to prove that they could play other characters with mostly unsuccessful results. Keaton brings raw honesty and humor to Riggan, who is driven by his own ego to take control of his universe and go out on a high note.Antonio Sanchez piles onto Riggan’s insanity through his musical score, which is basically one man tinkering with a lone drum set. The cinematography by Emmanuel Lubezki’s further supplies “Birdman” with an energized rush, making the film feel like one extended shot along the lines of Alfred Hitchcock’s “Rope.” It’s as if an unseen presence is flying about a playhouse, observing the actors both on the stage and behind the scenes.“Birdman” offers perspectives from various others in the showbiz game. Edward Norton is dead-on as Mike Shiner, a method actor who boasts as if he’s God’s gift to the world with performing skills that are only outmatched by his skills as a lover. We also get some fine work from Naomi Watts as a middle-aged actress still looking for her big break, Andrea Riseborough as Riggan’s girlfriend/co-star who might be pregnant, and Emma Stone as Riggan’s angry daughter/assistant. By comparison, all of these dysfunctional people actually make Zach Galifianakis look normal as Riggan’s neurotic agent. Of course the only levelheaded person in “Birdman” is Amy Ryan as Riggan’s ex-wife, who’s also likely the only person who understands him.Riggan realizes the sad truth about his industry while talking to a drama critic, who tells him up front that she’s going to give his play a negative review without even seeing it. Prejudice like this represents everything that’s wrong with artistic criticism and show business. If Michael Keaton has shown us anything, though, it’s that any performer can take you by surprise in unexpected ways. Like Batman, Iron Man, and others, there’s a lot more to Birdman under his mask than meets the eye.

  • ‘Whiplash’ is an all around great film

    Band is hell. Oh sure, the “American Pie” movies might have you believe it’s nothing but fun and games. Anyone who majored in music or even took band class in high school, however, knows that it’s like prepping for war. The hours are brutal, your teachers push you to be the best, and it’s literally the end of your world if you fail. You might think I’m exaggerating and to some extent maybe I am. After all, not every band instructor on the planet can be a ruthless slave driver. The instructor in “Whiplash” on the other hand most certainly is.Miles Teller plays Andrew, a talented drummer determined to prove himself at his music conservatory. He lands a spot as an alternative in the school’s jazz band, which is conducted by Terence Fletcher (J.K. Simmons). Of all the stern, authoritative teachers/mentors/coaches that have graced the big screen, Fletcher undoubtedly takes first chair. This guy goes beyond being a drill sergeant. He’ll abuse his students physically and emotionally until he’s satisfied. Even when they’ve clearly been driven to their limits, Terence will keep yelling, slapping, and teaching with no restraint. Then when they finally get it right, don’t expect anything resembling a complement to come out of Terence’s mouth.Not too long ago, it looked like Teller was never going to be anything more than the best friend in R-rated comedies. In “The Spectacular Now,” he showed us just how compelling he could be as a leading man in a well-written role. Teller is given that chance once again in “Whiplash.” Andrew starts off as a fairly modest young man eager to learn, but the more Terence throws at him, the harder Andrew exerts himself and the more conceited he becomes. He’s something of an unstoppable force that doesn’t know what it means to be defeated or broken down. It’s both his greatest strength and tragic flaw.J.K. Simmons has been one of our best character actors for a long time, able to be appropriately over-the-top as J. Jonah Jameson one minute and comforting as Juno’s dad the next. As far as I’m concerned, the Academy can put his name on this year’s Best Supporting Actor Oscar now. In a role that easily could have been a cartoon, Simmons creates a believable human that’s sadistic and manipulative, but also somehow sympathetic. “Whiplash” isn’t so much about a teacher inspiring his students as much as it’s about the consequences of pressuring students. Terence’s actions show that there will always be positive and negative repercussions, although it’s unclear where he should draw a line.As exceptional as Teller and Simmons are, the real star in director Damien Chazelle’s film is the music. It’s interesting that “Whiplash” would come out around the same time as “Birdman,” which also made effective use of a drum set in its musical score. Where drumming added another level of atmosphere to “Birdman,” though, drumming is the atmosphere in “Whiplash.” The pitch-perfect music, editing, and performances all work up to a sensational climax, which acts as the ultimate mic drop to a rousing film.• Ahwatukee native and Arizona State University graduate Nick Spake has been working as a film critic for nine years, reviewing movies on his website, NICKPICKSFLICKS.com.

  • ‘Addams Family’ comes to ACT

    This weekend, the community is invited to visit an old familiar family and get into the Halloween spirit with the Ahwatukee Children’s Theatre’s production of “The Addams Family.”The musical, which will run Friday, Oct. 24, through Sunday, Oct. 26, was on Broadway several years ago. Now it has been given new life by the kids at Ahwatukee Children’s Theatre.“It’s the Addams Family characters that everybody knows, but in this one Wednesday is grown up, she’s 18, and she has fallen in love with someone from a very normal family,” said Michele Rubino, founder of ACT. “The plot of the show is basically her fiance, whose name is Lucas, coming over to the Addams Family house for dinner. Chaos ensues.”The cast consists of sixth-graders and up, so many of the actors were never introduced to the original characters.“Bringing TV characters to life is a lot of fun and also a little bit of a challenge,” Rubino said. “Everyone comes in knowing what these characters are supposed to look like, what they’re supposed to act like — everyone but the kids who don’t know the Addams Family that well. That was fun to teach them about the family.”Rubino said the cast watched the old shows and did their research to get into character.

  • What happened to customer service?

    Dear Mikey,Over the weekend my friends and I went to a nearby restaurant to grab some food before we wanted to see a movie. The hostess sat us down and we began to look through our menus. The place was not too busy but not too slow and there were waiters and waitresses passing our table left and right.About 20 minutes later after small chit chat between my friends and I, we realized that no one had even asked us what we wanted to drink, yet let alone what we wanted to eat. Waiters and waitresses just kept passing us on both sides like we were invisible. After 30 minutes we decided to leave. We made our way to the exit and no one even tried to say “have a nice day” or anything.The next day we went to a local retailer and I asked the worker a question about the location of a product in their store. Instead of helping me find it the employee told me “I am not familiar with that product sorry, perhaps you can Google it.” The product was actually on an end cap in the back of the store, I later discovered.What happened to customer service? What happened to employees doing internal research to find our product? What happened to employees actually walking us back to the location of the product we are searching for?— Missing the Good Ole’ Days of Customer Service

  • Specht elected to ABA board

    The Arizona Builders’ Alliance (ABA), a statewide construction trade association, formed as an alliance of the Associated Builders & Contractors (ABC) and the Associated General Contractors (AGC) welcomed Mike Specht as a newly elected board member in September.Specht joined Minard-Ames Insurance Services LLC in 1999. He is a vice president in charge of the Fidelity & Surety Bond Department. He earned his undergraduate degree in business administration and then obtained his MBA. He has been active in the surety industry since 1984. Specht’s focus is on bid, performance and payment bonds for contractors.He has been long-time ABA member. He is a 2002 graduate of the ABA’s Leadership Development Forum (LDF), has participated on the Education Committee for years and has served on the judging panel for the LDF program’s final case study presentation for 10 years.

  • Troop 16 Court of Honor

    Boy Scout Troop 16 held a Court of Honor on Sept. 28 at the Club West clubhouse in Ahwatukee. Scoutmaster Joe Debbins and Senior Patrol Leader Mason Flowers presided over the evening’s ceremony. Over 100 combined Merit Badges, Ranks and special awards were presented to the Scouts. It was a special time of celebration. Some of the troop’s Scouts attended Camp Geronimo, earning the Big G Silver Award as well as many Merit Badges. The troop also had a group of Boy Scouts who went to Philmont Scout Ranch, backpacking over 80 miles in 12 days in the rugged northern New Mexico wilderness. Philmont Scout Ranch is the Boy Scouts of America’s largest national High Adventure Base.For more information about Troop 16, visit www.aztroop16.com.

  • Kempson earns Eagle award

    DJ Kempson, of Boy Scout Troop 17, earned his Eagle award on Aug. 26. His project was to improve parts of the Arizona CAP Trail. The CAP trail runs along the CAP canal throughout the state. This trail has multiple recreational uses, which benefit joggers, walkers and bicyclists. The trail was in desperate need of repair, which DJ discovered while hiking the trail with his troop back in March. In July, he lead volunteers to create new trails and install 18 sign posts over a two-day period. DJ and his family recently moved to Brisbane, Australia, but they plan to move back to Ahwatukee in three to five years. DJ is only 14 years old, and recently joined a Venture Crew in Brisbane to continue his scouting career. He is looking forward to earning the National Medal for Outdoor Achievement, which is awarded to scouts who have exemplary knowledge and experience in performing high-level outdoor activities. He has earned two of the three segments required already and looks forward to earning the last and most difficult one in Australia.

Attorney General Forum - Question 2

Attorney General candidates Republican Mark Brnovich and Democrat Felecia Rotellini debate at ...

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