Ahwatukee Foothills News

  • Land owner seeks to build homes in path of proposed freeway

    There are 49 new homes proposed for a subdivision at the western end of Ahwatukee Foothills, but if the South Mountain Freeway is built as currently proposed, all of those lots will need to be purchased by the Arizona Department of Transportation.Dennis Newcombe with law firm Beus Gilbert, representing the owner of the land, told the city’s Planning and Development Department on Tuesday, Sept. 9, his clients could no longer sit by and do nothing.“We couldn’t wait,” he said. “Our client decided to move forward. This is the frustration.”Newcombe said his client purchased the land after Woodside Homes filed for bankruptcy. The current owner sold a portion of the land to Taylor Morrison Homes, which is being developed into 110 homes in a gated community behind a ridge of the mountain. Construction is expected to begin on that project in the next month.The remaining 37.7 acres of land is going through the development process with the city. At a site plan review meeting Tuesday, attorneys for the owner of the land said they have not decided if they will sell the lots to a homebuilder or build on them themselves. It could be a year before any potential construction begins.The entire project could be in danger if the proposed South Mountain Freeway is built. If the freeway is constructed, it would wipe out nearly all of the homes planned for the land. The take line for the freeway goes directly through the land. Developers plan to extend Shaughnessey Road to connect to their subdivision.

  • DuVal, Ducey face off in first debate

    Democrat Fred DuVal and Republican Doug Ducey sparred on several issues during their first gubernatorial debate Wednesday in Chandler.The forum, hosted by the Chandler Center for the Arts, featured Ducey and DuVal facing off on a variety of issues, including the economy, education and gay marriage. The first two topics were tied together by a ruling regarding education funding.This year, the state will have to pay public school districts roughly $300 million dollars after a Maricopa County Superior Court judge determined that was the amount the state shorted schools during the recession by not covering the increase in inflation as dictated by an initiative approved in 2000.DuVal said he plans to use the state’s rainy-day fund, “without any hesitation,” to immediately pay the sum while Ducey said he would appeal the ruling and use that time to reform the education funding system.“I want to make sure that the resources in K-12 education get to our classrooms so that they can support our teachers teaching and our students learning,” Ducey said.Staying on the topic of education, the conversation shifted to Common Core, where the candidates were once again divided. DuVal was in favor of the standards.

  • Owner of closed Lakes course may have to repay $1.6M in tax benefits

    Wilson Gee may be forced to pay up to $1.6 million in tax benefits to the county for closing the Ahwatukee Lakes Golf Course according to an Arizona statute that has never been used before, the Maricopa County Assessor’s Office said.The statute, 42-13154 was created in 1985 to help golf courses be more profitable. It gives golf course owners a tax benefit, $500 per acre, as long as they operate as a golf course. If owners decide to close a course, the statute says they must pay back 10 years of that tax benefit plus interest and a penalty.David Boisvert, chief appraiser for Maricopa County, says his office has calculated that to be about $1.6 million.The law has never come up in the past because golf courses don’t typically close and become vacant land, Boisvert said.“Most of them foreclose and it gets picked up by another golfing entity that takes over the property,” he said.In this case, the course closed operations, and because it is a high-profile case, the county assessor got word of the closing, confirmed it was closed, and was forced to reclassify the land as vacant land. When the assessor’s office reclassified the land, the statute takes effect.

  • Hundreds of volunteers help Mountain Park Community Church after flooding

    Once a picture of the auditorium at Mountain Park Community Church in Ahwatukee Foothills underwater hit social media Monday, it didn’t take long to get a response from people all over the Valley ready and willing to help.On Monday, more than 75 volunteers showed up at the church with pumps, fans and willing hands. Together, they cleared the auditorium of water. At one point, the water was about 4 feet deep, reaching the edge of the stage. Church staff quickly set up a way for volunteers to sign up for shifts on the church’s website and 100 more people signed up through Wednesday. Others just showed up. Some Valley residents and businesses came with water, snacks and even full meals and cash to help those that were helping the cleanup efforts.“As soon as I dropped my kids off at the bus stop, I came here to do whatever I could,” said Kristie Moreland, who has been attending the church for about two years. “When I saw the picture, I couldn’t believe it. Immediately you’re saddened by it, but you know we’re all going to get through it because we’re all going to come together.”The greatest damage from Monday’s storm was in the auditorium, where water rushed off the mountain, filled the wash and flooded into the building through some outside doors. Rows of seats were completely underwater in the auditorium that seats approximately 900 people. Some of the lights and amps were still functioning, said Jon Cain, worships arts manager for the church. The soundboard in the auditorium was up on a table out of reach of the water but may still have some damage from the humidity in the air. Church staff are still trying to decide what in the auditorium can be saved but for now, they’re disinfecting seats, stripping carpet and planning on replacing dry wall.In other areas of the church, roof leaks led to falling ceiling tiles. The nursery had to be completely emptied, toys washed and dry wall and carpet replaced. Overall, it’s estimated the church sustained about $2 million in damage.“It’s such a huge tragedy, however, the good thing coming out of it is everyone is coming together,” said Jo Frison-Scibilia. “People that don’t even come to this church are coming together. People are flooding into our church.”

  • Ahwatukee residents displaced for a week due to natural gas leak

    Five Ahwatukee Foothills families were kicked out of their homes on Friday, Sept. 5 and forced to live elsewhere while Southwest Gas repaired a natural gas leak in the 3400 block of East Nighthawk Way.It remains unclear when those families might be able to return to their homes. Monday’s storms slowed down the process.Crews began knocking on doors around 7:30 a.m. Friday to warn residents of a possible gas leak. Southwest Gas shut down the street and began working around the clock. The gas leak was fixed quickly but it took days to aerate gas from the underground area.“Southwest Gas is dedicated to maintaining the highest level of safety at all times, which means regular surveys of all infrastructure that is part of our service territories,” said Amy Washburn, spokesperson for Southwest Gas. “As of late August the street involved in the current evacuation was surveyed and had no signs of any natural gas in the area.”Washburn said crews would continue working in the area until there is a zero read of natural gas in the area. Only then would residents be allowed to return to their homes.Those who were evacuated say they feel like they were the lucky ones. The process of aerating the underground area has been loud and disruptive to those remaining in the neighborhood.

  • Phoenix remembers America’s heroes of 9/11

    The city of Phoenix 9/11 Memorial Ceremony was a reminder that even though 13 years have passed since the attacks, many still relive the event on this day.“Although 13 years have passed since that horrible day, the outrage, the disbelief, and the sorrow that we as Americans had experienced on Sept. 11, 2001 has not diminished,” said Phoenix Police Chief Daniel Garcia in his speech.Garcia went on to say: “I am still inspired by the tremendous courage and sacrifice made by first responders on 9/11, and upholding the role to ‘protect and serve’ … no matter what the cost.”For this year’s annual ceremony on Thursday morning, members of the New York City Firefighters Retired Division and the Arizona 10-13 Association for retirees of the New York Police Department were both invited to represent the firefighters and policemen in New York. For many of them it was their first time attending the ceremony.When asked about the most important part of 9/11, Joseph Lauria, who served on the New York Fire Department for 36 years, said it’s the famous “Never Forget.”New York Fire Department heavy rescue retiree Joe “Chico” Tufano elaborated by saying: “That seems to be the problem I think … a lot of the younger generation doesn’t know anything about it.”

Ask Mikey Book Reviews Movie Reviews Recipes

  • Japanese rice updates the tired old stuffed pepper

    Here’s the thing about baked stuffed peppers... Plenty of people hate them. And when you consider the classic approach to this dish, it’s hard to argue. Tasteless ground beef mixed with white rice and some sort of tomato product? Not particularly exciting.So we decided to create a version with plenty more appeal. We started by ditching the ground beef in favor of chicken, then replaced the flavorless white rice with the more robust japonica, a colorful Japanese variety. Now add shiitake mushrooms, fresh herbs and goat cheese, and you’ve got a stuffed pepper worth getting excited about.Japonica, Shiitake And Chicken Stuffed PeppersStart to finish: 1 hourServings: 66 large red bell peppers

  • New local business providing princesses for parties

    Giving children the experience of meeting their favorite fairy-tale characters no longer has to be a vacation. Spoonful of Sugar Events makes it possible to have princesses right at your doorstep.Spoonful of Sugar Events was created by 21-year-old Danielle Jake, a lifelong Ahwatukee resident, and 19-year-old Ryann Franklin. The two young entrepreneurs decided to start the business this year after meeting at another princess party.“It’s something that’s really easy to be passionate about” says Jake. The idea for princess parties came from this year’s Comicon in Phoenix, which Jake attended as Elsa. As for Franklin, she says costuming is something she fell in love with after working with costumes in the theater department at Mesa Community College.Jake says they try their best to offer an array of different activities, including pictures, story time, singalongs, games and face painting.“They did such a great job navigating through all of the children,” says Allison Anderson, a Chandler resident and teacher at Centennial Middle School, who hired Spoonful of Sugar Events for her daughter’s “Frozen”-themed birthday party. “It was nice because I could have been as little or as much involved as I wanted to be.”However, Jake explains that “there are all kinds of reasons that people do the parties; it’s not always just birthdays.”

  • Don’t settle for workplace harassment

    Dear Mikey,I have been working for a company for the last year and a half. I love my job and I am good at what I do. I clock in on time, hardly take any PTO days or sick days and I have never called in, not even once. I would say that I am an ideal employee for a company.My company is mostly run by males and they have the luxury to hire their “buddies” they grew up with instead of hiring people off the streets. That is convenient for them but not convenient for the rest of the employees in the office as the workload goes on our laps and not on theirs. On a typical day, the “buddies” will be on Facebook, Twitter, ESPN, etc., and they do not get hardly any work done. We worker bees on the other hand are constantly getting pressured to turn in our daily expected workload and then some to compensate what the “buddies” are not turning in.A co-worker of mine who happens to also be a worker bee complained to the CEO of the company and she got written up for “being out of line.” She took her write up to the Human Resources Department to file a complaint and the they ended up telling the CEO since their company is a private company he gave the employee a final warning. I finally put in a PTO request and it got denied because they needed the floor coverage. Two of the “buddies” put in a request for the same days I did after I put in my request and their requests were granted. I was also told that I would have to do additional work to make up for their absent days of work on top of that.What are we supposed to do if we send our complaints to HR and HR just keeps reporting our complaints back to the CEO only to get us in trouble even more? — Tired of Double StandardsDear Tired of Double Standards,

  • Banishing the blues with healthy blueberry muffins

    Ripe, plentiful blueberries are such a highlight of summer that some of us are prone to getting the blueberry blues during the rest of the year.Hearty Blueberry-Banana MuffinsStart to finish: 50 minutes (25 minutes active)Makes 12 muffins1 cup oat flour (made by pulverizing 1 cup plus 3 tablespoons old fashioned oatmeal in a blender or processor until smooth)3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour, divided

  • Reflecting on the past can change your future

    Dear Mikey,Lately I have been reflecting on my life to this point so far and wondering what might have been if I chose a different route to take. I just retired so it is probably because I am now finding I have a lot more free time to think about all of this.I am very thankful for my life but I know I made some mistakes along the way that veered off into other mistakes as well. I have three wonderful children and I cherish the marriage I had with my ex-wife for 27 years. Although it’s hard to admit, I think I am reflecting on what might have been as I made a mistake that ended my marriage.Can any good come from all of this looking back activity? Friends have told me that I need to move on because the world around me has, but I feel like something is telling me to reflect for some reason.— Looking Forward to Looking BackDear Looking Forward to Looking Back,

  • ‘The November Man’ is actually kind of fun despite its clichéd nature

    Gather around, everyone. It’s time to go over another checklist movie. So exactly how many action clichés does “The November Man” cram into 98 minutes? The ex-CIA agent who comes out of retirement to take on a personal mission, check. A beautiful love interest in over her head, check. A former pupil turned rival, check. Several chases both in cars and on foot, double check. Walking away from an explosion without looking back, check. Gratuitous female nudity, none of which is provided by any of the leading actresses, check. Tragic back stories, check. An assassin who isn’t very good at killing our main characters, check. Interrogation scenes, check. A fat, slimy scoundrel who hangs out in a strip club, check. Exotic backdrops, check. Russian bad guys, check. A daughter who only exists to get kidnapped at the last minute, check. Expendable characters that disappear with no explanation, check. A plot that doesn’t make a ton of sense, check.Sixteen! That’s 16 clichés, almost twice as many clichés that “Ride Along” scored on its checklist last January. There are probably plenty of others I overlooked too, as most of these clichés zoom by so fast that you can’t catch them all in one viewing. Some clichés never die or grow old. In the case of “The November Man,” Roger Donaldson’s thriller is actually kind of fun despite its clichéd nature. The film still isn’t quite worthy of a recommendation because the story is just too familiar and all over the place. On a mindless entertainment level, however, it is worth checking out once it comes to Redbox in a few months.Pierce Brosnan, who’s always fun as long as he’s not singing, does a fine job as Peter Devereaux. As mentioned in the checklist above, Peter is a former CIA operative who comes back to protect a witness that might bring down the Russian president-elect. The witness is Alice Fournier, played by none other than Olga Kurylenko of “Quantum of Solace.” Wait a minute; Kurylenko has gone from acting opposite Daniel Craig to acting opposite Brosnan? All she needs now is to star with Sean Connery, Roger Moore and Timothy Dalton and she’ll have won Bond Bingo.The problem with her character is that “The November Man” can never decide what she’s supposed to be to Peter. A love scene is alluded to, but never made clear. The two never have an actual conversation that doesn’t revolve around the plot or the fact that they’re in danger. So is she a lover, a friend, or just part of the job to Peter? Whatever they’re supposed to be, the chemistry just isn’t there.Matters only get more complicated when Peter is targeted by David Mason (Luke Bracey), a former friend and apprentice who has little reservations about killing people. Among all the characters in the film, he’s the one who gets the most development. With that said, there are a lot of characters here that have no development whatsoever. Eliza Taylor plays Bracey’s neighbor and sort-of girlfriend, but her character amounts to nothing. Amila Terzimehic plays a hit woman pursuing Peter and Alice, but is defeated like a complete armature. Most of the time you’ll have difficulty remembering who these characters are, who they’re working for, and what they want. By the time the film’s over, you’re not even sure if anything was accomplished at all.The reason “The November Man” works better than it might have is mainly because of the talent involved. Roger Donaldson of “The Bank Job” knows how to make an action picture and of course Brosnan is great at selling this kind of material. If you’re really forgiving, you might find yourself getting into “The November Man.” If this all sounds too cliché and sloppy for your taste, though, it’s a definite skip. For me, the film was a decent enough excuse to turn off my brain for just under two hours.

  • Bornean Orangutan Born at Phoenix Zoo

    The Phoenix Zoo announced the birth of a baby boy Bornean orangutan on Sept. 2 to mother, Bess, and father, Michael. The newborn is the second baby born to Bess and Michael, joining 8-year-old sister, Kasih.Mom and baby appear to be doing well and are spending time bonding in their night house. The pair will stay in this area while keepers and veterinary staff closely monitor them to determine Bess is recovering from the delivery and that the baby is healthy. Daniel, an 8-year-old male orangutan who came to the Phoenix Zoo from Cleveland also inhabits the orangutan exhibit.

  • Dutch Bros. Coffee raises $23K for Ryan House

    Over the course of 10 days in August, all 16 Arizona Dutch Bros. Coffee locations banded together with the community to raise $23,907 for Ryan House. The funds will support their mission of providing respite and palliative care to children with life-threatening conditions and, as needed, end-of-life care.To raise funds Dutch Bros. donated $1 from the sale of every Dutch Frost sold between Aug. 21-31. In addition, the Dutch Bros. locations also accepted donations for Ryan House.Ryan House provides a welcoming environment where some of Arizona’s most special children can truly be themselves. Parents get a much-needed short break, while the kids receive care from an experienced professional nursing staff.

  • Vernard ‘Vern’ Cottingham passes away

    Vernard “Vern” Cottingham, 62, of Ahwatukee passed away on Aug. 21. A memorial will be held at South Mountain Community Center, 212 E. Alta Vista Road in Phoenix, this Saturday, Sept. 13 from 2 to 4 p.m.Born Dec. 30, 1951, in Greensboro, N.C., Vernard Cottingham was the younger son of the late Dr. and Mrs. Charles Cottingham. He is a graduate of the University of South Carolina School of Pharmacy.Vernard was a faithful, committed family man who firmly believed in family first and family always. He had a boisterous laugh and a love for gardening and travel. He was a founding member of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Zeta Epsilon Chapter, and a member of the Phoenix Alumni Chapter. A registered pharmacist for 40 years, the past 20 years spent in Arizona, most recently for Fry’s Food and Drug.Left to cherish his memory are his wife of 42 years, Alvenia Wilson Cottingham; two sons: Delshawn Cottingham, and Alva (Annette) Cottingham; one daughter: Dr. Kyndra Cottingham (Nicholas) Stovall (Desert Vista High School Class of 2000); six grandchildren: Kiana, Alva Khai, Akhu, Xavier, Shelby, and Shaniah; and one brother: Winthrop (Delois) Cottingham.In lieu of flowers, the family is requesting donations be made to St. Dominic Savio Academy, 1835 E. Guadalupe Road, Suite 103, Tempe, AZ 85283.

Desert Vista Thunder Football Preview 2014

The Thunder look to return to their winning ways behind a talented junior class and a group of...


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