CG News

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COMMUNITY

A page for various announcements and news about the community


(Earlier stories are in COMMUNITY ARCHIVE)


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First West Nile Virus mosquito found in county
   Tips listed to help prevent spread of insects

(Posted July 27, 2017)


Pinal County issued this press release today:


This week, during routine mosquito surveillance, the Pinal County Public Health Services District detected the first West Nile Virus positive mosquitoes in the county this season, more specifically in the San Tan Valley area.  

Mosquito surveillance data is used to help determine the risk of mosquito borne disease to Pinal County residents and visitors and it guides PCPHSD's disease prevention efforts.

West Nile Virus, which is spread through the bite of certain mosquitoes, is now common in Arizona. Other mosquito borne diseases, including Zika virus, are emerging into North America, but have not yet been spread locally in Arizona. Pinal County's mosquito surveillance program specifically looks for mosquitoes associated with human disease.

Not everyone who gets mosquito borne diseases has symptoms, but for those who do, some may experience lasting or permanent effects and in the worst cases, the diseases can be fatal.  The PCPHSD would like to remind everyone that there is quite a bit that can be done to help prevent mosquito borne disease.

Chris Reimus, who manages the county's vector control program said, "The key to preventing mosquito borne disease is for residents to prevent mosquito breeding on their property. This is especially important since our summer monsoons have started and mosquito activity is ramping up. Residents, especially pregnant women, should be especially vigilant in taking steps to protect themselves to avoid mosquito bites." 

To help prevent mosquitoes and mosquito bites: 

• Eliminate standing water where mosquitoes can lay their eggs.  Check for items outside the home that collect water, such as cans, bottles, jars, buckets, old tires, drums and other containers and get rid of them.

• Change water in flower vases, birdbaths, planters, troughs, and animal watering pans at least twice a week. Be sure to scrub them out when changing water.

• Repair leaky pipes and outside faucets, and move air conditioner drain hoses frequently to prevent standing water.

• If you have a swimming pool, keep it operational. If you must keep it out of use, make sure you remove the standing water, keep it chlorinated, or run the filter daily.

• Even a short time being outdoors can be long enough to get a mosquito bite. Take extra care to use insect repellent and protective clothing. When outdoors, use an EPA-registered and CDC approved insect repellent.

• Keep mosquitoes outside by having well-fitting screens on both windows and doors. 

Pinal County also investigates complaints related to disease causing mosquitoes, such as permanent standing water, green pools, or other reports of mosquito activity. 

If you would like information on mosquito prevention and control, or to file a complaint, visit the Pinal County Environmental Health Services webpage at http://pinalcountyaz.gov/ehs, or call 866-287-0209. 


New app will cut wait times at Banner Urgent Care

(Posted July 26, 2017)


Banner Health issued this press release today:



Banner Health is adding an online feature that will increase comfort and convenience for patients receiving care at Banner Urgent Care facilities across the Valley, including in Casa Grande. The new online reservation system allows patients to virtually “save their spot in line,” thus avoiding the need to sit in waiting rooms when they aren’t feeling well.

Banner Urgent Care in Casa Grande will begin using this feature on Aug. 1 at its location at 1676 E. McMurray Blvd., Suite 1.

Patients using the online check-in system can reduce their wait to as little as zero time up to an average of 15 minutes, depending on the location. Traditionally, urgent care clinics have operated on a walk-in basis, with no way to make an appointment or reserve a time to see a healthcare provider.

The process is quick and easy. By visiting www.bannerhealth.com/urgentcare from a desktop computer, smartphone or tablet, patients can book an online reservation at one of the participating Banner Urgent Care clinics. Patients simply type their name and why they are visiting the clinic.

Patients can schedule a visit daily from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m., search by locations by ZIP code, by a range of distances up to 30 miles from their location and by clinics with a lab and diagnostic imaging on site. After selecting a reservation time and opting to receive text message updates, patients will receive alerts as the reservation time approaches. When patients arrive at the clinic, they check in electronically and can monitor where they stand in the queue or “line” on a screen in the lobby.

“We greatly value our patients’ time and busy schedules, and aim to do all we can to make their lives easier,” said Banner Urgent Care CEO Rob Rohatsch, MD. “Minimizing their wait in our facility can mean a great deal to someone who’s juggling many demands, facing a hectic day or simply not feeling well enough to sit in a waiting room.”

To view wait times or make a reservation for any of the 43 participating urgent care locations in Arizona, visit www.bannerhealth.com/urgentcare.

Banner Urgent Care provides a close, convenient and affordable treatment option for patients with non-life threatening illnesses and injuries such as cold and flu; ear, eye and throat infections; fevers; skin rashes; and sprains, strains and lacerations. Banner Urgent Care is open every day of the year, and accepts most insurance plans. 


Nominations sought for annual Bravo Award

(Posted July 24, 2017)


The city issued this announcement today:


The Casa Grande Arts and Humanities Commission is accepting nominations for the 2016 Bravo Award, which  recognizes “individuals in the Casa Grande area who have made arts and culture a vital part of the community.”

Individuals selected to receive the award must have made a substantial contribution to the arts in Casa Grande, in addition to having served in leadership role in arts organization, created art, art programs/projects, or an organization that has had a positive impact on the art and culture of the city or having spurred additional creative endeavors within the city.

Eligible nominees can be artists, patrons, supporters, teachers, authors, and appreciators of the arts, and must be 18 years of age or older. The recipient cannot have already received the Bravo Award or be a current member of Arts and Humanities Commission.

The nomination form is available on the City's website at http://www.casagrandeaz.gov/files/2017/07/AHC-BravoAwardNominationForm-Oct.-2017.1.pdf. 

The deadline for submitting nominations is Sept. 22.

For additional information or questions about the award, contact  City Clerk Gloria Leija at 421-8600, ext. 1110. 








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Requests for Indian gambling grants listed
 

(Posted June 19, 2017)


Submission of gambling money grant requests by local groups to the Tohono O’Odham and Ak-Chin Indian communities was approved Monday night by the City Council.

To view the complete request from each group, click on these links and then on the names in blue at the bottom of the document:


TOHONO


AK-CHIN


The groups applying and the amounts requested are:


TOHONO

• Against Abuse, Inc.­

$84,250 for domestic violence services.

• Boys and Girls Clubs of the Casa Grande Valley­

$25,000 for scholarships.

• Casa Grande Lion’s Club

­$11,472.69 for vision programs.

• Casa Grande Main Street

­$16,500 for mural design and commemoration event.

• Central Arizona College­

$10,000 for Young Advanced Academy.

• Honoring, Hiring, Helping Our Heroes­

$166,400 for Eagles Landing Veteran Center.

• Pinal Hispanic Council­

$10,000 for Cesar Chavez scholarships.

• Seeds of Hope­

$6,314 for hot lunch program.

• The Museum of Casa Grande­

$50,000 for Heritage Hall repairs.

City of Casa Grande projects:

• Animal Care and Adoption Center­

$35,000 for intake and receiving shade structure. 

• Arts and Humanities Commission­

$10,000 for art mini grants.

• Rodeo grounds canopy­

$150,000.

• Dorothy Powell Senior Center

­$8,728 for equipment improvements.

• Fire Department

­$34,000 for active shooter and rescue task force.

• Community Development

­$40,000 for emergency housing and repair assistance.


AK-CHIN

• Boys and Girls Clubs of the Casa Grande Valley

­$25,000 for scholarships.

• Casa Grande Lion’s Club­

$5,998 for vision programs.

• Casa Grande Main Street­

$10,000 for Highway 84 mural and Sunset Court neon sign.

• Honoring, Hiring, Helping Our Heroes

$83,200 for Eagles Landing Veteran Center.

• Pinal Hispanic Council­

$7,000 for Cesar Chavez scholarships.

• Seeds of Hope

$34,493 for hot lunch program.

• The Museum of Casa Grande­

$50,000 for Heritage Hall repairs.

City of Casa Grande Projects:

• Arts and Humanities Commission­

$10,000 for Dieciseis de Septiembre Fiesta.

• Dorothy Powell Senior Center­

• $8,728 for equipment improvements.

• Community Development­

$40,000 for emergency housing and repair assistance.

• Rodeo grounds canopy­

$150,000.


The staff reports point out that under Prop. 202, Arizona tribes agreed to share a portion of their revenues with the state of Arizona. 

“Of the revenues shared,” they say, “12 percent is made available to cities, towns, or counties for the purpose of benefiting the general public through either direct distribution to the local governments or in the form of a deposit to the state of Arizona’s Commerce and Economic Development Commission’s Local Community Fund.

“As all applications to the tribes require a resolution of the city of Casa Grande if awarded, the city created a procedure to collect all Prop. 202 requests at the same time, review them to be sure they address tribal target areas and dollars are spent or benefit Casa Grande residents. This process is intended to consolidate the requests, review them together, and take to the City Council once a year.

“The city of Casa Grande would be responsible for the pass through of these funds. We anticipate this would take approximately 10 hours of staff resources with an approximate cost of less than $500.”


Water stations opened; heat illness signs listed

(Posted June 16, 2017)


The Casa Grande Fire Department issued this announcement today:



Extreme high temperatures over the next few days means risks for heat related illness and dehydration. Please stay hydrated. 

There are places throughout the city that will be providing water for those in need of hydration. Those locations and the hours are on this map.

 

Signs and symptoms of heat exhaustion include:

• Faintness or dizziness.

• Nausea or vomiting.

• Heavy sweating often accompanied by cold, clammy skin.

• Weak, rapid pulse.

• Pale or flushed face.

• Muscle cramps.

• Headache.

• Weakness or fatigue


Heat exhaustion can quickly turn to heat stroke, which can be deadly.

 

Warning signs of heatstroke are:

• Red, hot and moist or dry skin.

• No sweating.

• A strong rapid pulse or a slow weak pulse.

• Nausea.

• Confusion.

• Headache.

• Strange behavior.



Community development block grant updates

These proposed amendments were outlined to the City Council during Monday night's (June 5) meeting. A two-week comment period opens June 12, with the proposed changes going back before the City Council during the first meeting in July


It's the time of year that we begin hearing about needless drownings of children in unsafe or unattended pools.


The Casa Grande Fire Department has a page for pool safety tips -- with video -- at

http://casagrandeaz.gov/dept/fire/pool-safety-tips/









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(The complete social hosting, unruly gathering ordinance

is HERE)

Casa Grande making another attempt to regain
authority to provide ambulance services in city

(Posted May 3, 2017)



The full staff report is HERE


The scope of work is HERE





Although the Casa Grande Dispatch story said the city “has taken the first step toward operating the city’s own ambulance service,” it’s really a situation that has been going on for years, basically just another “first step.”

What happened during Monday night’s City Council was approval of a resolution approving hiring a consultant to do a complete analysis of ambulance services in Casa Grande as a prelude to applying to the state for a certificate of necessity for the city to take over providing service.

The city had given up that certificate in the mid 1970s in favor of a private provider.

A brief history of city actions about ambulance service:

In 2003 it was announced that details were being worked out with the then provider, Southwest Ambulance, to have an ambulance in town that would serve only Casa Grande, eliminating situations where Southwest was busy elsewhere and would have to call in an ambulance from Coolidge or Maricopa or sometimes as far away as Maricopa County.

Under that proposal, the city would obtain a new ambulance which Southwest would buy. The attendant would be a Southwest employee and a Casa Grande Fire Department person would also ride in it for calls.

Fast forward to 2007 and another presentation to the City Council about taking over the service because of poor response times and other problems with Southwest.

The 2003 proposed agreement?

"What was transpiring at that time was we were looking at their service levels," then City Manager Jim Thompson said. "We had concerns because of issues like that: never available or en route or other issues. Southwest at that time to make amends or to, I guess, minimize some of the issues that we were faced with provided a designated unit. They painted it, they did everything, and it was designated unit for Casa Grande. They did it. Was it in written form that this was never to leave the city? No. Southwest  stated that that was their intent, but we did not enter into any agreement with Southwest. 

"At the time, we were looking at potentially entering into an agreement, but we backed out of it," because of several difficulties, Thompson continued. 

"In that draft agreement, there was some other contingencies that they were going to support us in acquiring our own transport unit and some other things. We never actually signed that agreement. The city on their own went out and acquired our own transport unit, which we have."

Fast forward — again — to 2015.

The city was again trying to decide what to do about continued substandard Southwest service.

There was a series of meeting between Southwest and city officials, leading to a proposed solution.

Fire Chief Scott Miller told the council that a memorandum of understanding "commences a series of steps that will allow the city of Casa Grande Fire Department to have local control over continuity of care and provide a level of coverage to our customers in our community."

Under the proposed agreement, Southwest and the city would both provide basic and advanced life support ambulance service but Southwest would be basically limited to inter facility calls.

"Inter facility calls is running from hospital to hospital and maybe from a nursing home to the hospital or from a doctor's office," Miller said. "They will continue to do that."

     The CG News archived story from that meeting, with statistics, follows this story

Fast forward — yet again — to 2016.

During a council study session Chief Miller said the new owners of Southwest would not support such a memorandum of understanding, sending the city back to the drawing board.

   The Casa Grande Dispatch story about that meeting, with statistics, is HERE

That leads to Monday night, where Miller outlined the proposal to hire the James Vincent Group for an ambulance feasibility analysis at a cost of $34,750.

The staff report, read, in part, by Chief Miller, says that by working with the James Vincent Group, the city will be provided objective information regarding the feasibility of three scenarios: 

• City-provided advanced life support (ALS) and basic life support (BLS) 9­1­1 calls and transports.

• City-provided ALS and contracted BLS 9­1­1 transports.

• Continued contracting of all transport services by a private provider. 

“Their approach is designed to provide us with a comprehensive review of the options for cost ­effective solutions that increase levels of service, financial stability, workforce efficiency and reliability in the system,” the report continues. “The study will enable the City of Casa Grande and its leadership to examine the different options and alternatives and make decisions on the future path of this project based on reliable and independent information.

“JVG has an expert understanding specific to the Arizona fire, ambulance and EMS environment. They have recently worked on similar fire ambulance service analysis and certificate of necessity projects for Chandler, Goodyear, Tempe, Gilbert, Peoria, Green Valley Fire District, Mesa, Northwest Fire District, Sun City West Fire Department and Timber Mesa Fire District.

“After all the information has been collected the JVG team will spend time preparing a draft report. Through a process of review, assessment and feedback, they will complete a detailed analysis and recommendations on the feasibility and sustainability of Casa Grande owning and operating an ambulance transport service.”

Miller told the council Monday night that the “analysis timetable starts this month. with completion by the end of August.

“At that time they will provide us with a final report and then we’ll schedule a study session at that time to bring to the council on those three scenarios and what the recommendation is,” Miller said.

Mayor Craig McFarland asked if the study would help the city acquire a certificate to provide service.

“Yes, sir,” Miller replied. “This is the feasibility, doing all the financial review. They’ll give a five-year forecast on where they think the revenues will be and do the complete analysis from that team.

“And that piece that they’re providing to us, if we choose to continue on the CON process, will be utilized for that process.”

Councilwoman Mary Kortsen said, “I’m so glad to see this. I mean, I really feel like now we’re moving forward. Over the last two or three years there’s been some real concern about our ability to provide good quality, on-time ambulance service to our residents.

“Just the uncertainty of the different providers we’ve had, it doesn’t seem like they can stay financially solvent or solid.

“I also like the idea, if possible, that we have a little more control over what happens in our city.

“This is going to be the big, giant step, I believe, towards getting that.

“The cities that I see that have used these folks gives me a real sense of confidence that we’re going to get some good data and some good decision making.”

Councilman Ralph Varela wanted to know if the analysis will deal with potential legal ramifications.

“This is just strictly feasibility study,” Miller replied, “and once we go into the CON process, that’s where we would discuss the potential of what the costs would be for that legal process.”

Councilwoman Lisa Fitzgibbons, noting that the agreement calls for input from the city, asked if that means actually meeting with residents.

“Does this mean are you going to actually get with the community to see if it’s the current environment?” she asked. “Are you going to check with the community to see how they feel the service is, or is it just strictly internal numbers and that kind of thing?”

Chief Miller replied, “It’s strictly internal, taking our data and our information over a period of time and they’ll be doing the analysis from that, not only from the Fire Department standpoint but from our call load and then from our financials from the Finance Department.”

Fitzgibbons asked if the Fire Department has any records of complaints from the public about ambulance service.

“No,” Miller replied. “We currently do not have any cards or anything that comes back to us regarding that service. That’s something we’ll be implementing this upcoming year, so we can have some feedback as far as how the service was.”

Passage of the resolution was unanimous, with Councilman Dick Powell on an excused absence.

Archived story about 2015 ambulance presentation

(Posted Sept. 22, 2015)


Emergency service by Southwest Ambulance in Casa Grande has degenerated to the point where the city will apply to the state for a certificate of necessity to operate its own service through the Fire Department.

The situation and what it means was outlined to the City Council during a study session Monday night.

"About 10 months ago, we started noticing that we didn't have the coverage in the city that we needed for response to medical calls," Fire Chief Scott Miller told the council. 

"We started keeping track of times we were at Level One, which meant we only had one ambulance in the city, or Level Zero, where we had no ambulances; in other words, there was none that could response to an emergency call if it was to occur."

It is not uncommon to hear emergency dispatchers for the city advise that Southwest is at certain levels or that it is a Level Zero, bringing in an ambulance from Coolidge or Maricopa, or sometimes as far away as Maricopa County.

"Deputy City Manager Rains and myself have had meetings over the last eight to 10 months with Southwest Ambulance vice president and their operations person," Miller continued, "and we have been discussing and looking at this kind of agreement and we've finally gotten to this point where we're both good with moving forward on it.

"It was basically to look at the coverage within our community that just wasn't there."

The memorandum of understanding, Miller said, "commences a series of steps that will allow the city of Casa Grande Fire Department to have local control over continuity of care and provide a level of coverage to our customers in our community."

Under the proposed agreement, Southwest and the city would both provide basic and advanced life support ambulance service but Southwest would be basically limited to inter facility calls.

"Inter facility calls is running from hospital to hospital and maybe from a nursing home to the hospital or from a doctor's office," Miller said. "They will continue to do that."

Reaching a new emergency ambulance transport agreement with Southwest and getting a certificate from the state for the city's ambulance service will be a lengthy process, the council was told.

Answering a question from Councilwoman Lisa Fitzgibbons, Miller said, the memorandum of understanding with Southwest (approved by the council during the regular meeting Tuesday night) will go to RuralMetro/Southwest Ambulance for its signature.

"After that," Miller continued, "then we would start working on our certificate of necessity application.

"The CON application is probably two inches thick, where it's a document that we have to put together and there's a chapter of items that we would have to submit.

"We're estimating that putting that application together will take four to six months in order to get that application.

"Included in that application would be the letter of support from Southwest Ambulance for us to receive a CON. 

"It goes to the state Department of Health Services. DHS currently has six to 12 months in order to hear it and have it out. Right now, the director has indicated that if nobody intervenes in it, we have the letter of support from Southwest, they can go ahead and waive any CON hearings and they will have that done within a six-month period.

"So you're looking first at four to six months and then six months at DHS, so you're talking almost 12 months out, right there.

"And then from there we have to make a determination on when are we going to launch and go operational."

As part of the memorandum of understanding, Southwest promises a letter of support for Casa Grande getting a certificate of necessity and promises that neither it nor any subsidiary will intervene against the CON request.

Other parts of the memorandum, to be refined during a final ambulance emergency transport agreement, include:

• The city may contract out claims processing and billing.

• The city will continue to be compensated for when a Fire Department person rides along to the hospital during a Southwest advanced life support call.

• The city will still provide dispatch services.

• Southwest will adhere to response times as set forth in its CON.

• The city will rent space at fire stations for Southwest ambulances, to be determined in the final agreement.

• The final agreement with Southwest will be for six years.


What the city now has

Answering a question from Councilman Dick Powell, Miller said the Fire Department now has one ambulance transport unit "and we have another one in our budget this year for purchasing. Conceptually, we're looking at three 24-hour cars that would be out there eventually for coverage dedicated in the city."

In addition, Miller said, "Part of the bigger picture of when we do apply for a CON is that we have had discussions with the Eloy Fire District and we're going to enter into an intergovernmental agreement that we will back each other up and help each other in ambulance transportation. So that's another piece."


Why would Southwest agree?

Councilwoman Mary Kortsen asked what benefit would Southwest get from agreeing to the changes. "Why would Southwest do this?" she asked.

Miller responded that, "Well, one of their business models that they're looking at, it allows it to show to their investors within their company that they have a six-year commitment, six-year guaranteed contract with agencies out there."

RuralMetro, the parent company of Southwest, has only recently emerged from bankruptcy.


Service area

Southwest's certificate of necessity covers Casa Grande, Florence, Coolidge and the city of Maricopa.

"What we're going after for our CON," Miller said, "is our jurisdictional boundaries of the city, and as the city grows that CON grows with the city."


Banner Casa Grande gets 'B' patient safety rating

(Posted April 24, 2017


The full Banner Casa Grande rating is HERE


Banner hospitals made this announcement today:


The Leapfrog Group, a national patient safety watchdog organization, has released its spring 2017 safety grade list. Eleven Banner Health hospitals have received high grades for patient safety ratings. Three hospitals received an ‘A’ grade (the highest patient safety rating), while eight others received a ‘B’ grade (an above average score). The Banner hospitals that received high marks include:

• Banner Boswell Medical Center – Sun City, Ariz.

• Banner Estrella Medical Center – Phoenix, Ariz.

• Sterling Regional MedCenter – Sterling, Colo.

• Banner Baywood Medical Center – Mesa, Ariz.

• Banner Casa Grande Medical Center – Casa Grande, Ariz.

         (Banner Casa Grande received a B rating)

• Banner Del E. Webb Medical Center – Sun City West, Ariz.

• Banner Payson Medical Center – Payson, Ariz.

• Banner Desert Medical Center – Mesa, Ariz.

• Banner Gateway Medical Center – Gilbert, Ariz.

• North Colorado Medical Center – Greeley, Colo.

• McKee Medical Center – Loveland, Colo.

The Leapfrog Safety Grade uses 30 measures of publicly available hospital safety data to assign grades to more than 2,600 U.S. hospitals twice per year. It is calculated by top patient safety experts, peer-reviewed, fully transparent and free to the public. 

A full description of the data and methodology used in determining grades is available online at http://www.hospitalsafetygrade.org/.

“Hospitals that earn top marks nationally in the Leapfrog Hospital Safety Grade, have achieved the highest safety standards in the country,” said Leah Binder, president and CEO of The Leapfrog Group. “That takes commitment from every member of the hospital staff, who all deserve thanks and congratulations when their hospitals achieve an ‘A’ Safety Grade.”


It's not always simple to request land use changes,
but this case was happily resolved for Home of Hope

(Posted April 22, 2017)


The P&Z staff report is HERE


The City Council staff report is HERE



It’s sometimes not so simple to apply for a zone change or other land use regulation. Sometimes it’s a thicket of previous decisions, changes along the way.

That was the case with Teen Challenge Home of Home requesting permission to expand its operation at 1955 N. Casa Grande Ave., just south of Kortsen Road, to allow a group home of up to 40 women plus children and to expand day care to allow for up to 100 kids.

The difficulties, happily resolved in favor of Home of Hope, go back to 1983 when the land was zoned as a planned area development to allow a 120-bed nursing facility.

Changing that PAD wasn’t possible because today’s city zoning regulations say a PAD must be on at least five acres. Home of Hope’s 40,465 square feet building is on only 2.38 acres.

Planning and Development Director Paul Tice told the City Council during Monday night’s meeting that the best way was to rezone the property as R-3 residential.

City zoning codes describe R-3 as allowing “high density housing in multiple family structures and directly related complementary uses. The R-3 zone is designed to allow highly economical use of land while creating an attractive, functional and safe residential environment.”

The staff report gives this description of Home of Hope:


The Teen Challenge Home of Hope (HOH) is located at 1955 N. Casa Grande Ave. between Cottonwood Lane and Kortsen Road. 

The Home of Hope is a 12-to-15 month residential program for women and their young children. 

They opened July 2003 with 10 women and children. Today the Home of Hope has the capacity to serve 40 families. 

Women, not only from Arizona but from all over the United States, have come with their children to receive help. 

The result has been mothers and children living new lives free from drug abuse, domestic violence and homelessness. 

Home of Hope provides a safe environment for women to become mentally sound, emotionally balanced, socially adjusted, physically and spiritually healthy and to move out and become productive members of our communities. 

To date, the Home of Hope has helped over 800 women and children.

Tice told the council he would give some history on the property that’s important to understand why a zone change really was necessary, even though the use really isn’t changing.

“This property was originally zoned actually PND back in 1983,” he said, adding that “PND was the precursor to our PAD zone. The property was a single-family zone, R-1, zoned to PND for the express purpose of building a 120-bed nursing facility. That was the zoning decision in 1983.

“In 2005, the use had changed from a nursing facility to the Home of Hope facility that consists of a shelter for women and a day care. The Planning Commission in 2005 approved a conditional use for that use, limiting it to a 34-person daycare and then the women’s shelter.

“This was prior to my time here, but it looks like there was a decision made that the women’s shelter and the day care use was similar enough to the nursing facility use to allow it to be approved in its PAD zone. Then in 2012, the Planning Commission

considered a new conditional use permit to increase the child care population from 34 up to 59.”

There was lengthy consideration of the Home of Hope request, Tice said.

“In evaluating this with my staff, I raised a question of whether or not, really, the PAD zoning was really appropriately allowing for the day care and the women’s shelter, given the fact that it was approved as a nursing home,” he continued.

“In looking at what zoning would be the most appropriate, staff felt that the PAD zoning was no longer appropriate. The thought process had been let’s just amend the PAD and recommend council adopt a new PAD.

But the PAD zone requires a minimum site size of five acres, which they don’t meet. They have 2.3 acres of ground.

“But we did identify the fact that the R-3 zoning allowed both the day care and the women’s shelter as conditional uses and the R-3 zone actually fits within the General Plan requirements, as well.

“We made the call that we could recommend approval of this conditional permit to the Planning Commission, but we asked the Planning Commission to impose a condition that said that any future expansion of the day care or the women’s shelter would require a zone change to clean up, if you will, some of the zoning compliance issues.

“Staff did recommend that the applicant apply for the R-3 zone, along with a modified conditional use for the increased day care. The zone change was recommended for approval by the Planning Commission and the day care was approved subject to the R-3 zoning being approved by City Council.”

That is what was approved Monday night by the council.

Although part of the process Monday night was a public hearing, no one from Home of Hope or the public spoke.

Prior to the council’s unanimous approval, Councilman Dick Powell said, “I really appreciate what the Planning Department did to facilitate them being able to do what they’re trying to do. It’s a wonderful organization, really serves an important need, so I compliment you for making it able to be done legally.”

Councilwoman Lisa Fitzgibbons said, “That’s exactly what I was thinking, to recommend to them so they don’t have to go through so much.

“I know some of the Home of Hope people are here. We talk so much about healthy communities and the services, and you guys have done so much for this community and served a need that’s been there. 

“I know you guys do a great job and have been there for many, many years and so I’m happy to see the success and glad you were able to work with the city on this, so thank you.”

Councilwoman Mary Kortsen added, “And I particularly like the comment at the end of that, of making those changes, that it meets a need for our community and advances the interests of our community.

“I’m very familiar with that, because I actually sat on the hospital board when Casa Grande Regional had a nursing home facility, and I’ve seen it since it evolved and just an amazing job.”

Mayor Craig McFarland said, “Now we can have more kids, hopefully keep parents together. Thank you for what you guys do.”



A typical festival night.



(Middletown Motors photo from Facebook)

Downtown food truck court, festival to continue

(Posted April 12, 2017)



The complete staff report is HERE


The La Cocina Facebook page is HERE



Approval of a temporary use permit Tuesday night for continued operation of food truck court and festival in downtown Casa Grande sets the stage for expansion of activities in the old city.

With only minor changes, the Board of Adjustment approved the request by George and Esmeralda Orono for the operation at 280 E. Third Street, just south of Reed Mashore Park.

It’s been a process of more than a year for the Oronos.

According to the staff report accompanying the agenda item, the couple purchased the property in June 2015.

“In December of 2015,” the report continues, “the owners applied for a temporary use permit to operate Feli’s Y Sol Food Truck at the site. Sometime after the food truck was in operation, the owners started a food truck court and festival at this location to determine the viability of operating the La Cocina Food Truck Festival. 

“The festival offers a place for people to congregate in an outdoor setting, providing tables and chairs, a variety of food vendors and an entertainment stage for live music.

“Upon discovering that construction was commencing on the site, Code Enforcement issued a stop work order and informed the owners to visit with staff to determine the requirements for operating a food truck court and festival.”

After the visits, the report says, “based on the fact that the site is being proposed as an interim land use for the food truck court and festival, staff finds that the Food Truck Court/Festival would be an appropriate land use that falls under the other uses of the temporary use category.

“The food truck court would be open Monday through Sunday from 8 a.m.-9:30 p.m. and the Festival Nights would be held on the first and third Friday of the month September-April from 5:30-9:30 p.m.

“The site is situated on the corner of two streets (Picacho and Third) with the Reed Mashore Park to the north and the site is surrounded by businesses. The majority of the businesses in the immediate area close down early evening and there shouldn’t be any conflict with surrounding properties or parking, as on-street parking is available.”

City Planner Laura Blakeman said notice of the request was published in the Casa Grande Dispatch, drawing only one comment, a favorable one from Rina Rien, director of Casa Grande Main Street.

Rien noted, in part, that, “The La Cocina Food Truck Festival has served as a designation for local families who may not otherwise be engaged downtown. The festival is a great example of an event that has grown organically. They offer great food on local trucks. I have never heard any complaints, only positive feedback.

“Now that Main Street no longer holds a street scene event, there is no conflict. We endorse their continued activities and provide promotional support through social media. Our annual Oktoberfest will be scheduled to complement and not compete with this event.”

A question from the board was who would check vendors to see if they had required permits and insurance.

Esmeralda Orono replied that, “We did make our own applications for all the vendors that we invited to our site, so before we have an event they have to sign that application, with their insurance information and all of the approvals that we need to have from Pinal County.

“A lot of those vendors we work with we already know that they do have the proper permits, so we are making sure that all of the food trucks that are on our site have all of their paperwork.

“In regard to the insurance for the property, we have insurance on our food trucks and the property and we require every food vendor to have insurance, as well.”

Board member Gordon Beck said he had concerns about “questionable people” who hang around the area, especially on days there is distribution at the food bank to the north.

George Orono replied, “As far as the questionable people that are around there, we’re well aware of that. We’ve owned the property for about a year now, we’ve actually made frequent contact with them.

“This area, we want to change it, that whole downtown adjacent to the park. Hopefully, everybody can have fun on a Friday night.”

Esmeralda added, “There used to be a lot of trash where people would just walk through and throw their garbage, there would be a lot of them on the park tweaking. And now we’ve noticed a big change. We’re constantly doing maintenance of that property, we’re always there. We have met the surrounding neighbors, they walk their dogs and we’ve noticing that they notice the difference since we’ve been there. It’s not an empty lot, it’s now an actual place where they can see and attend or a family gathering having fun on those nights.”

George said their business is picking up.

“When we first started,” he continued, “our whole goal was to have one customer (a day). As the days have progressed, now we’ve got an average of about 40 a day. 

“And the food festival itself has really allowed us to go ahead and showcase the property, actually aware that we’re there now.

“People want this. This is local people, an event that’s local for local people.”

Esmeralda added that, “Sometimes they have concerts at Peart Park and we’re really just walking distance, so they’ll come after and have food with us. or they’ll be eating and we don’t provide any alcohol so they’ll walk around to the local bars and they’ll see the local shops around. 

“We’re making a lot of people walk around and actually get to know what’s in downtown or have forgotten what downtown has a lot of offer.

“We do see that a lot of them are coming back, a lot of people from Arizona Water Co. (to the south) are having lunch or the Arizona Workforce they will come and have lunch.”

One of the original conditions for approval was that the permit would be for one year, with administrative approval after that.

Board member Beck said he felt that further approvals should be by the board, not city staff.

George Orono saw no problem with that.

“I’d love to come back in a year,” he said. “Who knows what would change?”


Conditions for approval are:

• The temporary use permit shall be good for 12 months and may be renewed annually. Said renewal may be administratively granted. (At the request of Beck, the second sentence was deleted, replaced by appearing before the board for renewal.)

• The food court shall be limited to no more than six mobile food truck vendors.

• Food vendor trucks shall be spaced a minimum of 20 feet apart or other spacing

requirements as required by the Fire Department.

• All food vendors shall obtain a mobile food vendor license from the Pinal County

Health Department.

• All mobile food trucks and tents/canopies shall comply with applicable fire codes.

• All mobile food truck vendors must have self-contained utilities; the temporary

connection to water, wastewater, gas or electric utilities from adjacent buildings/properties is prohibited.

• Adequate refuse containers shall be provided in the food court which shall be kept in a clean and debris free condition.

• Applicant shall contact city Sanitation Division to determine the type of solid waste service that is required for this use. (An added stipulation requested by board member Charlene Southern is that the applicants must provide what the Sanitation Division requires.)

• The food truck court hours shall be limited to 8 a.m.-9:30 p.m.

• The festival nights shall be limited to the first and third Fridays of each month and

from hours of 5:30-9:30 p.m.

• Adequate portable bathroom facilities shall be provided that meet building and

ADA code requirements.

• Any future structures will require approval of a minor site plan and building

permit.

• Any new lighting will require approval of an electrical permit.

• Prior to operation of the food court a specific site plan shall be provided for planning staff approval that illustrates compliance with all conditions of approval.

Arts & Humanities mini grants available to teachers

(Posted March 22, 2017)


The Casa Grande Arts & Humanities Commission is partnering with Casa Grande schools to distribute available funds “that will enrich students' concepts of the arts and humanities,” the city announced today. 

“The commission has set aside funds to award mini grants to K-12 teachers for art related projects incorporating art into science, technology, engineering and math curriculums during the 2017-2018 school year.  “Grants vary from $250 to $1,500 each and are funded by the Ak-Chin Indian Community.

“It is the Commission's goal to award as many grants as possible.”  

Grant awards vary from $250 to $1,500 each, and are funded by the Ak-Chin Indian Community.

The mini grant application is HERE.

For more information or questions, contact City Clerk Gloria Leija at 421-8639, or by email at [email protected]. You may also contact Deputy City Clerk Anna M. Guerra at 421-8600, ext. 1100, or by email at [email protected].


Another step toward the electric car company

(Posted Feb. 6, 2017)


Another step toward bringing an electric car company to Casa Grande was taken Monday night with final approval by the City Council of annexing about 80 acres at Selma Highway and Thornton Road and rezoning the area to general industrial.

The land is at the eastern side of acreage the car company says it will use as its manufacturing location. Pinal County is negotiating with land owners to purchase that western property, which would then be sold to Lucid.

The council has already approved an agreement with Pinal County for improving Thornton Road from Gila Bend Highway to Interstate 8.

As Planning and Development Director Paul Tice told the council before the annexation was given initial approval on Jan. 17, the city 

filed an annexation petition on Dec. 19, eventually signed by two of the three property owners involved.

“One … is approximately 40 acres except for a little strip along Thornton Road, which is being left out because we can’t annex the entire right of way of Thornton Road at this time, so we have to leave a little intervening strip,” Tice said. “The same thing with the other 40-acre site. 

“At the very south boundary of the annexation is 33-foot wide strip of land needed to be in the city so we can make the Selma Highway improvements. That would be the southern terminus of the Selma Highway rights of way at this time and the north part of the right of way would come from the property to the north.”

The city was required to file a development and infrastructure services plan for the area.

“Obviously, because this property is so close to other existing development, services and infrastructure are going to be immediately available,” Tice said.

“Selma Highway, the south boundary of the site, and Thornton Road, which is the eastern boundary of the site, will both be improved into arterial standards. There would be some additional right of dedication required as the Lucid projects moves forward and then there would be a development agreement with Lucid that will specify the roadway improvements that would be made to Selma and Thornton.”

At an earlier discussion, John McGuire, speaking from the audience, asked what would happen if county negotiations to purchase the western property fail. That part of the meeting was omitted from the Casa Grande Dispatch story.

“Is there any risk to the city involved with us annexing this if that falls through in the future?” McGuire asked.

City Attorney Brett Wallace replied, “We are moving forward with this annexation and our conversations with the property owners, our conversations with staff, is that it is an area that we do want annexed into the city of Casa Grande, irrespective of what ends up happening. 

“If we do forward with the annexation and the project doesn’t come, there will be an extra area that we’ll service but it’ll be an extra area in our industrial area.

“And obviously, we certainly hope and anticipate the project will come.”

Councilman Dick Powell also replied that, “The comment I would make is, this belongs in Casa Grande. 

“If we’re trying to create this general industrial area, which we’re getting off to a very successful start in doing, that piece is key. It’s on Thornton Road, and Selma Highway once it goes through instead of ending on a ditch bank you have to cross over and then double cross, that’s going to create more development out on the west side of that.

“I think that piece is essential and probably the most important piece of ground in Casa Grande right now.”

During the Jan. 17 meeting when the annexation and rezoning received initial approval, Nick Wood, an attorney with the Snell & Wilmer law firm representing Lucid, said, “I’ve been in zoning land use for what seems like about a hundred years and during that time every once in awhile a project comes forward that is truly transformative for a city. 

“What that means is, it becomes an economic engine that not only creates significant new jobs for the city but it also becomes a catalyst to attract other businesses that brings quality jobs. And that results in quality growth and that’s what cities are always trying to achieve.

“The Lucid project is one of those transformative projects.”

Lucid has said the facility, projected to cost $700 million, will break ground in the first half of 2017, with initial hiring of about 400 people, and starting a training process involving Central Arizona College and technical and community colleges in Maricopa and Pinal counties. 

Lucid said that by 2022 it hopes to have more than 2,000 full-time employees.

Wood said city officials were essential in working out the details.

“It’s been a team effort, as far as being a very complicated effort,” he said. “We’re not quite to the finish line yet, but this is a very major step. So again, I want to thank you all for your leadership and your assistance.”

Mayor Craig McFarland told Wood, “If I could ask you to do something, go back to your client, Lucid, and please explain to them that we are on board with this project and want to see it to fruition. So any help they can give, also, in making this come full circle would be much appreciated.”

Wood replied, “Will do, mayor, thank you.”

Monday night’s final approval was under the consent agenda, with no discussion.








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What
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Do?

Hard times for Teen Center, zero attendance some days

(Posted Jan. 8, 2017)


Video of the study session is HERE


The Casa Grande Teen Center, opened about 10 years ago in Camino Mercado, has fallen on hard times, with zero attendance on some days.

The question is, what to do?

During Tuesday night’s City Council study session some background was presented and suggestions offered.

The bottom line is that the present center, leased from Central Arizona College for $1 a year, will eventually be phased out.

Recreation Superintendent Matt Jankowski told the council that the center has been open for after-school activities Monday through Friday, with some hours on Saturdays.

“Over the last year, we have seen a pretty steep in decline in both daily visits, as well as special events that are offered at the facility,” Jankowski said.

“As it sits right now, there are many days where we don’t get any participants. Good day we get sometimes three kids. Our daily average for the month is actually under two people per day, so we are not seeing very many people attend out there on a daily basis. 

“We do a number of special events out there. We used to do one a month, now we’re trying to do about one a quarter, but even those are having very few people attend them, in general.”

When the center was opened, a complaint was that its location was so far away that many teens, especially those with parents working during the day, would be unable to get there. At that time, there was no building in the center of the city that would accommodate a center and the Boys & Girls Clubs was geared only for younger children at its location next to City Hall.

“What we find out there is the location of the Teen Center has been the biggest challenge with it,” Jankowski said. “It’s kind of out of the way, it’s by the Florence Boulevard and I-10 interchange, so having a way out there after school has seemed to be the biggest issue.”

For almost three years beginning in 2010 for almost three years grant funding was used to provide transportation.

“We transported students from Casa Grande, Cactus and Villago middle schools via a 15-passenger van that was driven by a staff member,” Jankowski said. “They would stop at each one of these schools, pick up students and take them out to the teen center.

“In 2013, that service ceased because we were no longer getting any riders there. We were getting between zero and two a day, typically closer to zero.

“So, we’ve been seeing a very steady decline over the last couple of years, but we have taken a little bit more of a focused look at it over the last year.”

Jankowski said the center has ping pong and air hockey tables and other such games, plus televisions.

“There’s definitely things for people to do out there, but for whatever reason we’re not getting much participation from the local teenagers.”

It has been pointed out that over the past 10 years, many homes now have gaming stations for use over television sets, streaming videos and other offerings.

“We’ve done rides, we have tried to do special events, so we are just in a position right now where it’s getting a little bit more difficult to justify providing the programming that’s out there without anybody attending,” Jankowski said.

Alternative programs

The proposed community recreation center has become a focus for additional teen recreation programming.

City Manager Larry Rains told the council, “You may recall that during our discussions at our budget retreat, really we were looking at two different components. Number one, the component of adding the community recreation center and the amount of dialogue that we were having regarding teen services, coupled with the fact that the Boys & Girls Clubs had successfully implemented a program (The Lounge) at our Vista Grande Library that is certainly receiving a fair amount of participation and success.

“The promise that we made to the mayor and council from a staff’s perspective was to bring back this data, along with what we would consider to be an alternate plan to continue to provide some level of services for at least what I would consider to be the period of time from today until the time that we, in fact, have a rec center fully operable. 

“As plans and programming continue to come forward on that, you’re going to find that we have, we fully put a focus on the teens. It’s really an emphasis on what will be our new facility.

“But I think given the data that we’ve studied over the course of the last several years watching a bit of a decline, it just makes some sense to begin to shift the resources that we have out of this particular facility, but potentially continue to use the facility for some level of programming.”

Rains said discussions have included keeping the present Teen Center for some programming (negotiations for renewing the lease are underway), "but ultimately beginning to engage a little bit more directly with the Boys & Girls Clubs to see if we can use some of this equipment and potentially even shift, what I would consider reallocate, some of the resources into programming that is, in fact, taking the activities to the teens.

“And so I’m going to begin to have some discussions with the staff and certainly will keep the mayor and council apprised of how the dialogue goes, but likely will begin that shift ASAP rather than waiting for our new community center to open.”

Councilman Ralph Varela asked, “Is there a way, maybe, to look at a phase-out plan if we see that it’s just not going to make sense how to put a time limit on things, just can’t spend any more money on this and divert the funds to another model?”

Rains responded, “Our plan is start a phase-out plan immediately. Obviously, we’re going to want to do some level of announcement, we’re going to want to notify the individuals that have been participating. As I mentioned, there is some level of discussion we’ve had with the Boys & Girls Clubs about the programming that they’ve been providing and whether or not we could put that model at all into what they’re doing there and what those costs might look like.

“Our goals from a staff perspective has been to best utilize the resources we have in meeting the expectations of the teens.”


Discussion of closing

As Councilwoman Mary Kortsen put it, “This isn’t news to all of us.”

Her question was, “financially and that, what’s the possibility that we would just close it down for regular daily programs within the next, say, two weeks. What would it take to do that that, what kind of savings would there be and what kind of impact would there be if we just took that center over there and said instead of spending this on personnel and these costs, let’s just shut this down and put the notices out and go from there?”

Jankowski responded, “When it comes to staffing out there, there are two staff people because it is a facility that operates primarily in the evenings and on weekends. It’s limited hours compared to something like our recreation office.

“We spend somewhere in the neighborhood of $20,000 to $24,000 in personnel out there. When it comes to actual costs to manage the building and some of the programs we’re looking at somewhere in the neighborhood of around $30,000,” including utilities, supplies and other costs.

Councilman Dick Powell suggested that perhaps the center could be open just for special occasions, saving costs.

“And that’s what I’d like to do,” Kortsen said. “If we’ve got some savings, let’s use some of those savings and so maybe we can ramp up a little bit what the Boys & Girls Clubs is doing as far as the teen program, take those funds and apply it towards that there.

“And another thing is, while you’re negotiating with CAC, initially they’ve given the largesse of a dollar a year rent for the reason that it was for teens, and they may have a different attitude, you just don’t know, and they may want that space for some new things coming up, so we’ve got to kind of assume that might not be available to us.”

Jankowski responded, “And they definitely may. The idea is some of the programming that we move out there, the majority of it would still be use-based. So while it may be used specific just to teens, the programming that’s housed over at the Parks and Rec building or expanding our special interest class offerings, the majority of those items and program would be geared towards youth and teens.”

Councilwoman Donna McBride said, “I think that 10 years is a long time and things have changed within the city. And having been involved with the Teen Center from the very beginning and helped open it, it’s sad that it’s not being used, but at the same time we have a Boys & Girls Clubs that is doing phenomenal things. And just the fact of what they’ve been able to do at Vista Grande is really important to recognize.

“By doing that and changing the focus of what we’re going to use that building for, will it hurt the agreement that we have with Central Arizona College?”

Rains responded, “It will definitely require some level of amending. Mr. Jankowski mentioned the fact that we are looking at a potential extension to that and we’ve had some discussions with CAC up to this point. That would likely be one of the items that would be coming back before council for your consideration once we finalize some level of negotiations.

“The thought, as we had promised, was we wanted to give you the update on the data regarding the Teen Center tonight and consider what’s happening with this facility concurrently with the potential option of renegotiating the lease there. I don’t have an answer tonight, but will as part of the plan that we roll out on the Teen Center.”


Alternatives

Jankowski elaborated on moving some present offerings from the Parks and Rec building to the Teen Center building.

“We’re still interested in use of this space out there,” he said. “We would like to be able to program it a little bit more efficiently and have it as a site to do special interest classes where we’re not necessarily paying staff to be there for a set amount of time whether or not people show up, but actually hosting programs out of there where we know that there are going to be participants and people interacting at that site.

“Ideally, we’d be able to move some of our more popular classes like gymnastics and things that have got a lot of equipment, a lot of setup could go out to a site like that where that equipment could be set up and could almost stay up. That saves some of the wear and tear, too, because for a program like that we have purchased — that’s all city property — those supplies, so the constant setting up and taking down and moving around when there are different events or activities going on, that does put some wear and tear on that equipment itself. So a site that’s a little bit more specific to something like that would be very beneficial and desirable.”


Rec Center

When the community recreation center is opened (projected for 2018) there will be space for youth activities and the Boys & Girls Clubs.

Powell asked, “When will we know exactly what we can do as far as square footage and costs and all the different things, how much room do we have a for a teen center and Boys & Girls Clubs and things like that?

Jankowski responded, “For teen-specific area, it’s closer to about 3,500 square feet just for them. The gymnasium, everybody will have access to. The Boys & Girls Clubs is going to have their own area, which in and of itself is probably going to be somewhere in the neighborhood of, I believe, about 5,000 to 6,000 square feet as well as use of half the gym, as well. Half the gym would be another 5,000 square feet.

“Those are all just the conceptual numbers that have been discussed. Nothing, certainly, in concrete yet.”


Another suggestion

Varela said, “It may be that the model that we tried over there (Teen Center) is just not going to work. I’m just thinking that the distance, I think we’ve seen over the years that participation drop. I’m thinking maybe there’s a way to think of something that’s closer to the center of town and utilize those resources that we’ve committed to there to make it more effective.

“And that’s not to take the money away from the teens and so forth, just maybe there’s a way to make it more centralized so that it becomes more effective.

“I just think the center has always struggled in terms of getting teens up in that area because of a myriad of things. From a distance wise it’s not that far, but it is perception wise. And then the second thing is transportation wise, as well.

“If we’re going to invest the money, which I have no problem with that, I think it’s trying to find a more effective and efficient model to do that with.”


Another consideration

Powell said, “I look back in history and the only teen center that ever worked that I knew of was when Michael Jackson ran one when he was in high school at the old rock armory. Because he was a young person he knew what they wanted and it went really good.

“As we sit up here as “young” council people it’s hard for us to relate sometimes to the needs of the younger ones, kids.”



2016 chamber honor awards
      Presented Friday, Jan. 6, at Property Conference Center








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Fourth Annual Unity March route approved

(Posted Jan. 4, 2017)


The march route map is HERE


The staff report is HERE



The route for Jan. 13th’s Fourth Annual Unity March by students has been approved by the City Council.

The event will take place between 12:30-3 p.m., causing the closing of some streets.

According to the staff report, staging will be around Len Colla Recreation Center on Amarillo Street between Second and Third streets, Third Street between Galloway Avenue and Amarillo and Galloway between Third and Fourth streets.

The closures will begin at noon, with streets reopening about 1 p.m.

The walk will go west on Fourth Street from Galloway to Cameron Avenue and then north on Cameron to City Hall.

About 500 students from Villago Middle School will participate, the staff report says.

When they arrive on the lawn in front of City Hall, it continues, “they will listen to various speakers discuss the importance of this year’s theme. Winning photos and essays from the Villago Middle School Unity contest will be on display in front of City Hall for this event.”

Councilman Dick Powell requested that the request be discussed by the council rather than having it automatically approved on Tuesday night's consent agenda.

“The junior highs have primarily been involved in the march and I think that we have speakers that speak to the process of unity in our community,” he said, “so I thought it was important just to mention it.”

Councilwoman Mary Kortsen said she tries to attend the march each year.

“There’s just something about we close Cameron Avenue and the kids come from Len Colla, so we’re all standing here by the fountain (in front of City Hall) and then all of a sudden you just see these kids all along on the street and coming up,” she continued. 

“I don’t think there’s anybody there that can stand there and not get influenced watching that and seeing that and letting our children participate in this. I know it has an impact on them.”

Councilman Ralph Varela said, “And also, it’s just the whole issue of respecting and honoring the cultural diversity of the city and the diversity of all the students that come. It’s just an amazing event. And they have so much energy and they’re so well behaved and the messaging is all about students and diversity.”

Powell said the events at City Hall are open to the public.

“Absolutely,” Kortsen added. “We encourage anybody and everybody.”


  Preliminary information: http://casagrandeaz.gov/CowboyDays/

McNatt Park update calls for longer and wider
track, two tennis courts, added parking area


Updated master plan concept is at left. Original concept is above.

(Posted Dec. 30, 2016)



As the Community Services Department continues to refine the master plan for improvements at Carr McNatt Park, changes have been made for a wider walking track, additional parking and two tennis courts rather than a pickleball area.

Interim Director James Burke told the City Council during a study session Dec. 19 that the changes came after the council saw the original master plan and then directed that there be more community outreach.

The master plan is for improvements over time as funds allow, not immediate changes.

Recreation Superintendent Matt Jankowski gave a brief summation of the proposed changes.

“The walking track was one of the big items that was discussed,” he said. “The original master plan had a 10-foot-wide walking path, this one is now 14 feet wide, so it’s able to accommodate more people.

“In the southwest portion of the park there are two tennis courts there. Originally, we had four pickleball courts. Based on feedback from both pickleball players and tennis players, a new tennis court area was more desirable at this site, so we took that into consideration.

“Another item that has kind of changed the location, essentially, in the northern part of the park next to the pool there is a playground area there that was originally shifted a little bit more toward Desert Winds High School. That’s now right next to the pool area and that’s also where the splash pad will sit. So it’s a little bit closer to that water feature that we have there at the pool, we’ve got the restroom building as well as the locker room there for future development if we’d like to do anything with that.”

The walking track would be decomposed granite, the council was told, similar to the one at Grande Sports World but not as wide.

“On each side of it there is some area lighting,” Jankowski said. “To the left side of it away from the fields is security lighting, so that would be pedestal lighting.

“One of the big items discussed was safety, making sure that when people are walking during all hours of the day or evening while the park’s open that they could do so safely and lighting is essentially the best way to do that.

“Essentially, with the southern fields there will be a number of light standards. They do have the capability to have area lighting set off of them so there will be lighting on both sides of the walking path.”

In addition, Jankowski said, there will be an additional playground structure and the addition of 166 parking spaces.

“Anybody who has ever been to Carr McNatt Park on a week night in the fall or for a special event knows parking is absolutely a premium,” he said. “So by adding these parking spaces there we hope to alleviate some of the stress on that neighborhood area, as well, which we feel would be very beneficial.”

Inside of the track area would be space for three sports fields. “You could fit full sized soccer games or football games on these fields,” Jankowski said.

Burke said the three old signs on the property will be kept and eventually restored. Low-level bleachers are planned for various areas of the park, he added.

When the walking track is extended to a third of a mile from the present quarter mile, the maintenance facility at the southeast corner of the park will be demolished and a smaller building built near the southwest corner.

“It will be the maintenance for this park itself,” Burke said, “and then the larger operation we’re evaluating and working with Public Works on looking at the South Operations Center (south of Main Street). We believe that’s adequate to size the entire parks facility, it’s not that far away so the drive time won’t be really difficult.”

Burke also outlined the reasons for two tennis courts rather than a pickleball area.

“Bringing tennis here actually has a twofold benefit for us,” he said. “It helps separate some of the activity that’s going on at Dave White Park between tennis and pickleball. It will free up the facility out there so we can dedicate that to pickleball, where we can go in and make renovations, completely restripe and put in permanent posts so they don’t have to have the temporary and I think that’s a better facility.”


Track renovation

The walking track took up a major part of the presentation by Burke and Jankowski.

“We had folks talk about wanting to keep the track, people wanted the walking experience, people who like the plan as we presented it,” Burke said.

“I also worked with the Public Works Department and had their materials experts come out and look at that track. And the fact is, there’s two layers of track there, one that was originally built and a replacement that was put on top of that, and that’s creating some issues.

“We also looked at it with the parks staff and the recreation staff and we really think it’s beyond its useful life, it needs immediate attention.”

The proposal is for the Public Works Department to use a pavement machine to do a test area for use of decomposed granite.

“Where 100-yard dash begins,” Burke said, “we’d like to start there and come in with a machine and demolish that and chew it up in place and grind it down and then compact those millings and see if that would be a sufficient walking surface that you could continue to have the walking activity but in a better situation. If that demonstration works, we propose to do it for the entire track and then keep that in place for a couple of years.”

Don’t put on your running or walking shoes just yet.

“The reason I say a couple of years,” Burke continued, “is we have to do the phasing plan, we have some other things we’re going to do first and second before we get to the southern zone of the park.

“We’re building a new recreation center and as part of the recreation center is a commitment to have the indoor walking track. So our proposal would be not to remove this McNatt track until after that other (rec center) space is built and operational for the community, so we’d have a direct tradeoff.”

Jankowski told the council that the next step for the master plan is to detail a phasing plan, cost estimate for the entire project and a schedule for moving forward.

“What we’d like to do is go ahead this fiscal year and get the design going and try to get that implemented as soon as possible in the new year,” Burke said.







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You can join community health needs survey

(Posted Oct. 22, 2016)


The Pinal County Public Health Department is joining with Sun Life Family Health Center for a community health needs assessment.

The county announcement said Sun Life is conducting the survey “to identify gaps and areas that need improvement in health care delivery systems in Pinal County.”

The county said the survey takes five to 10 minutes to complete and is available online at the below links until Oct. 31.


English Version: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/YZ8BFR3english 

Spanish Version: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/GDGVNNSspanish

 

Paper surveys, accepted until Oct. 31, will also be available at Sun Life offices throughout the county and can be completed and turned in at that office's front desk or mailed directly to 865 N. Arizola Road, Casa Grande, 85122, ATTN: Renee Louzon-Benn. 

Sun Life has offices in Apache Junction, Casa Grande, Coolidge, Florence, Eloy, Maricopa, Oracle, and San Manuel. 


Casa Grande joining regional program providing
mass notifications in emergency situations here

(Posted Oct. 17, 2016)


How the program works is HERE


The agreement is HERE


The criteria sheet is HERE


You can register by clicking on the PENS logo HERE




Casa Grande is joining Pinal County’s regional mass notification system to reach residents during emergencies.

Approval was given during Monday night’s City Council meeting. The request was part of the consent agenda, items that are approved without discussion,

According to the staff report, the Everbridge system:

• Includes reverse 911.

• Can call out staff and key officials.

• Allows real-time monitoring of social media and weather. 

• Can reach citizens through existing 911 databases or through voluntary sign up.

•  Notifications can be wide or targeted by means such as ZIP code or GIS mapping. 

• Two-way notifications allow staff to respond, providing operational feedback. 

• Monitors weather and social media feeds for established alerts or keywords to be used then notify officials. “This feature will allow real time situational awareness from field personnel or the public through the upload of picture or video back to your PC or EOC,” the report says. 

“There is an ease with the application, since the system can be activated by computer, smartphone or tablet.”

Overall, the report says, “The goal of this project was to greatly enhance the community preparedness, continuity of governmental operations, response and recovery capability and common operating picture for each jurisdiction in the region. 

“The objective of this project was to deploy a web­-based, efficient and effective system that can make critical, life­saving notifications to the public through various means, as well as communicating to personnel and groups about an incident and instructs them on proper next steps to take, along with providing situational awareness.”

The system is now operating in the county.

“Our communications manager has met with the various city department heads to set up our internal user groups for interacting with the system,” the report says. 

“Once this agreement is approved, the switch will be turned on for Casa Grande to utilize this important mass notification system.”

There will be no cost to the city, the report says, noting that a $146,250 grant from the Arizona Department of Homeland Security paid for Pinal, Gila, Greenlee and Graham counties to purchase the system. The counties are responsible for renewal fees.


Fifth Street extension fine-tuned to tie in park,
opening up entire area to link to old downtown

(Posted Oct. 6, 2016)


The presentation is HERE


When pushing Fifth Street through from Marshall to Drylake streets as it was years ago was first proposed, the thought was that it would be a straight road, providing better access to Peart Park.

That has changed.

As City Traffic Engineer Duane Eitel told the City Council during Monday night’s study session, “After looking at this and looking more at the project, we thought maybe we can do more than just have a road go through with a parking lot. We’re looking for a real sense of place between the library, Peart Park, downtown.”

A technical advisory committee of members from the community, along with city departments, hashed out three concepts, choosing the one presented Monday night.

The briefing was not the final word. It was pointed out that the project team is going to take this concept and put in some more design work.

A public outreach session, with no date yet given, will be held. 

The construction start could be sometime next year and it could be a phased work, depending upon final costs versus the project budget.


(NOTE: The concept plans presented to the council are subject to change as further design work is done. Illustrations of amenities in the park are to show how things might look, not a guarantee that they will be added exactly as shown.)

Alan Ferreira, project manager for Wilson & Company that was chosen to do the plan, gave the council a briefing on the overall view and elaborated about sections of it.

“As you can see, the street does go through, but it does have some curvature to it,” he said. “Part of the idea behind that is that you’re trying to develop a place and to try to integrate the park, the library and the street, so  as a potential traffic calming measure we put some curvature into the street that helps slow things down.

“There are sidewalk connections that cross the street, are a number of them. Again, these are primarily used for traffic calming indicators for those driving the street, but we expect people coming back and forth across the street from events in the park and the library so we would need a number of them.

“The basics of the street are that we have parking on both sides. There are angled parking in both directions on the west half. On the east half, there’s some parallel parking but there’s also some parking on the north side for vendor trucks and carts and things like that, so that in case there’s an activity going on in this location those kinds of vendors could be available.”


Ferreira also broke down three sections of the plan.

“Where Fifth Street intersects on to Marshall there would be some improvements along Marshall,” Ferreira  said. “Essentially a two-way street on Fifth and there would be some adjustments there to integrate Fifth Street and Marshall. There’s some bulb-outs, trying again to control traffic.”

“This view (B) really gets into the primary of the street,” Ferreira continued. “You can see that we have the angled parking in both directions, we have sidewalks on both sides of the street that are easily connected by the cross connectors across the street. 

“You can see the curve of the alignment of the street. You can also see that we have optimized the secured parking for the police dispatch and the library employees there, so that becomes one large secured location.”

Ferreira pointed out that there are no bicycle lanes in the plan.

“It is somewhat European in nature where there are people and cars that are operating in the same location,” he said. “Here, because we have people and we have cars, we have no stripes for bicycles. All those modes of transportation will be operating in the same location.

“That’s what generally would be considered a traffic calming measure and much more a unique approach to streetscapes here in the city.”

The rendering above (C), Ferreira said, “is actually the heart of this concept that we have for you here.

“The thing that I’d like to point out first is that the area in tan is what is a traffic calming measure, which is a raised platform. Essentially, the street comes up to curb height there and it becomes a big flat area. It can be considered a traffic calming area but it is also creating a sense of place because you’re slowing down traffic.

“That whole area, the street, the courtyard in front of the library and the landscape space in the park all become one space. It makes it a very useful space for events, festivals, any kinds. 

“It was really intended for the library to have outdoor space so they could have outdoor classrooms and learning activities, so this space has all been configured to operate as a single space.

“Again here, the primary point that I want you to be aware of is that the plaza, the raised plaza or the raised platform, does slow down the traffic and create that space for those activities.”

There would be a covered plaza space nearby, Ferreira said. It has been suggested that a sail-like fabric material be used, but that is not final, he added.

“That event space, again, would be used primarily by folks who come to the park,” Ferreira continued. “There’s a multiple number of uses there. You could have library users go out into the park, read, come back. You could have a second event in the park, because you already have an amphitheater, so you could have two things happening at one time there. “And you could have parents who could be watching their children at the playground just east of there.”


Stormwater retention included

Pointing to the numbers 6 in the upper left of the rendering, Ferreira said that would be a landscaped area incorporating displays and acting as a stormwater retention basin.

“These are areas that we intend to develop as outdoor learning environments where they could learn the plants, they could learn conserving water in the desert, environment education,” he said. 

“And it would also will serve a functional use because it will have drainage off the street that we need to collect. We really don’t want to send it anywhere else, we want to try to keep it in relationship with the park and with the development. Those areas would have somewhat of a retention capability that would be enhanced.”

That concept is known as low-impact development, Ferreira said

“This low impact development concept is a stormwater collection and management tool,” he continued, “so these landscape areas would be functional as well as esthetic, serve a number of different purposes there.”


In summation, Ferreira said, the project “involves a number of different planning approaches, low impact development, traffic calming, event space, developing a space that is recognized and used for multiple purposes. That is the concept, so far.”


Questions from the council

(answers from Eitel or Ferreira)



Bicycles, street closing

Councilwoman Mary Kortsen said she had concerns about no bicycle lanes, plus wanted to know how the new street could be shut down for special events.

Answer: The idea is that the speeds will be so low that you would want the bikes and the cars to be moving together and sharing the road.

Closing down the street for special events is possible, much like streets are closed for other events in the old downtown.


Lighting

Councilwoman Lisa Fitzgibbons had questions about lighting, asking if it would be brightly lighted, given that that part of the park is dark.

Answer: We had planned on putting lighting in. There were some concerns about that part of town, so we did have lighting. You see a lot of trees there, we’re trying to make sure it’s still open so you don’t feel closed in there or anything.

A lot of the trees that show up on the plan are already there, we tried to save as many trees as we could.

It’s primarily planned as a pedestrian space for the most part. You have to accommodate all of the lighting. There would be a combination of up lighting, street lighting, pedestrian scale lighting brought in, all of the new lighting techniques that you can do these days to accomplish all of that.

The idea is it would be more pedestrian friendly than just a standard street.


Sense of place 

“I really like the sense of place concept,”Councilman Ralph Varela said, adding that parks he has seen in Santa Fe are places that families can gather.

“This really allows that,” he continued, “and the flowing of the traffic I think is really good, because it makes it designed for folks that are going to go there and enjoy the park.

“What kind of other amenities are you planning that will kind of bring families into it, have families kind of take ownership of the park, like either a Saturday or a Sunday type of gathering, just families to be there and enjoy it?

Answer: One of the objectives that we’re trying to accomplish here is not just to develop this for the street, but by activating that whole area we now will get more use of the park. Certainly we realized that the more you can interject elements that people come to comfortably, they will come.

The park itself right now is pretty basic. It really doesn’t offer much for people coming, except with present the amphitheater. And that’s going to be critical, because from a design standpoint the opportunity here for this development would also be the park, because by the time you add benches and other things you will have more places for people to come and feel more comfortable.


Varela also wanted to know if artwork could be added to the park.

Answer: There are plenty of opportunities in this plan to incorporate art. Artists work in different media, some work on patterns and on ground, others to vertical art, some integrate their art into benches and lights and all kinds of other stuff, so the opportunity to include that into the project is pretty significant.


Opening up area

Councilman Dick Powell pointed out that the street change is primarily a transportation issue, so there

is not a lot of money at this time for some of the park extras.

“I’m really happy to see Fifth Street go all the way through to the other end,” he continued. “You’ve seen people drive drive by the park and wonder how I ever get into it. You know, you come around, you come around, you turn, there’s no turn to go into it. Unless they know to go clear back and come up on Drylake, people miss a lot of things, I think. 

“I think that’s really important and I think we’ve got a lot of bang for the buck by being able to include some of these amenities in the street itself. My compliments, I think you guys did a great job on it.”

Powell added that pushing the street through means that it would “open up that area to the downtown instead of making them have to go clear back around.”

Mayor Bob Jackson agreed.

“I think that one of the reasons the park has been underutilized for years is that the south end of the park is so isolated nobody knows that’s there,” he said. “It’s kind of dark with all the trees. So kudos to you guys for coming up with a plan.”


Splash pad

Earlier this year, the Parks and Recreation Advisory Board heard a presentation about a splash pad for the southeast corner of the park. Later, it was announced that the idea was on hold until details for pushing Fifth Street through were known.

“Is that still a possibility if we do this the right way for safety reasons, maybe a four-foot fence?” Councilman Matt Herman asked. “I know that was one of the issues. We’ve been trying to build these splash pads for as much as eight years that I can remember and I think that would be something at this park that would bring people there, especially in the summer. Go to the library, go to the splash pad and that do that. I know we’ve talked about it a lot but I don’t know how far it go.”

Answer: A splash pad is not in the present concept plan, but could be added in the future.

Councilwoman Kortsen added that, “I didn’t realize this, there’s so many requirements for a splash pad. It’s not like you just put in the plumbing and the pad. The big challenge is water quality. Arizona has this requirement that it has to be drinking quality, if I understand this correctly, because kids tend to drink it. So to be able to do that, that’s why we have those challenges with a splash pad.”


Eucalyptus trees

“The concern I have,” Mayor Jackson said, “is I know that there’s some really old eucalyptus trees in there. I’m assuming that you’ve done all you can to avoid getting into those. But I also know that you’ve got to be really careful of the ground cover you put around them. And so I just put that out there as a caution as you look at your final design guide. I don’t know if any of those large, old eucalyptus trees are in the primary design area there, but we need to make sure that we don’t kill those trees in the process.”

Answer: We’ve looked at several ways of trying to save as many of those trees as possible. Unfortunately, there’s kind of a row in part there where we end up getting a couple of those, but the attempt has been made to minimize damage to the park and all the sidewalks there, the larger sidewalks of the park have all been left alone. We have made those attempts. The kind of planting that would go underneath them and the old issue of how we’re going to irrigate those trees and irrigate the plants that might go under, those things have been studied.



Police Department joining state anti-gang,
anti-drug task force to operate in the city

(Posted Sept. 25, 2016)



The agreement is HERE


The staff report is HERE


The GIITEM website is HERE, with links to various topics


Neighborhood Gang Prevention & Awareness Brochure




The Casa Grande Police Department is teaming with the Arizona Department of Public Safety to be part of the Gang Immigration and Intelligence Team Enforcement Mission, or GIITEM.

The Pinal County part of GIITEM will be headquartered in Casa Grande, Police Chief Mark McCrory told the City Council during its last meeting, making it easier for coordination and sharing of resources.

He added that the department detective who had been assigned to the U.S. Marshals Task Force will be transferred to GIITEM.

McCrory saidthe Marshals Service had begun redeploying more and more of it people to the federal courts system “and it really wasn’t the needs that we thought we needed for our city. We mutually agreed to remove our detective from the task force.

“They have pledged to work with us regarding fugitive apprehensions, as well as technical assistance on cases that we need, so we’re really not losing anything with that.”

The Police Department has worked with GITTEM in the past with gang problems, but it was pointed out that there was some concern that lately the group was focusing more on border problems than on gang problems in cities. 

McCrory said GIITEM has just gone through a major overhaul, including new commanders, adding that he and department personnel, including Criminal Investigations Division commander Capt. Angel Leos, met with GIITEM about becoming part of the revamped operation.

“We had some concerns by looking at some of the work they’ve been doing when we weren’t a member of GIITEM that they really weren’t helping our community the way we felt they could,” McCrory continued.

“We addressed these very bluntly with them and discussed these at length and we decided on mutual goals, some ideas for some mutual strategies that would help our community, and we got a commitment from them to bring people in, initially 60 days, to focus on some of our problems that are starting to just creep to the top and cause calls for service, shots fired calls, things like that.”

Although the local GIITEM division includes all of Pinal County, McCrory said, “We did receive a commitment from every one of their command, all the way down to their sergeant who will be running that, that Casa Grande will definitely be the major focus of this task force.”

McCrory told the council that “the last three shootings and shots fired calls that we have here, they have been gang related and it’s our belief that this partnership will enhance our ability to deal with gang and narcotics issues better within the city and sharing intelligence and the force multipliers.”


Advantages

McCrory pointed out what he said are advantages to the partnership.

• “The whole concept of this task force is really accomplishing a very common objective that’s important to all law enforcement within our county to do it as a task force concept.”

• “The DPS will reimburse our agency on a monthly basis 75 percent of the detective’s payroll expenses. This includes salary, benefits, workers’ comp, Social Security, vacation and sick leave. They will also provide a vehicle and all related equipment for this detective to be a member of the task force and reimburse any travel expenses associated with the task force.”

• “They will also allow us to access their intelligence analyst. They can work with the intel analyst that we currently have in our department on better tracking crime syndicates, cartels and gang activity within our county.”

• “There will be a force multiplier when it comes to helping our narcotics officers, anything with a gang nexus or a cartel nexus that would bring people into our community, to help work with us, which is a great help for us since we have a smaller narcotics unit.”

• “They can also provide us with air resources, and they have the technical assistance that we don’t have available.”

• “Their office is actually located within our city and their commander and supervisor are housed out of this office. That’ll make meetings, plantings, briefings and things like that a lot easier for our people to attend. Our command staff can get involved in some of these intel briefings and strategy sessions.”

There are a couple of disadvantages, McCrory said.

• “It is a two-year commitment with one-year extension.”

• “Realistically there will be times that our detective will be pulled away from our city to assist in other locations within our county if they have gang issues. Our detective would not be housed in-house, it would be housed outside our agency.”

The major part of the partnership, McCrory said, is that, “We plan to to add this detective to the GIITEM Task Force. He’s experienced with task force work, having come from the Marshals Service, he’s very good at relaying information to our field troops and to our detectives, so it’s not going to be just somebody carrying around a bunch of knowledge, it’s going to be shared knowledge. We plan on running joint gang and narcotics investigations with them, to be centered out of our city.

“And as a followup, we worked out with them where our command staff will meet with the GIITEM command staff a minimum of two times a month to review the strategies, to review the pros and cons of activities that we’ve taken on, look at results and plan future operations.”

Answering a question from Councilman Ralph Varela on goals, McCrory said, “What we’d like to be able to do is use them as a force multiplier when they’re in our city and they can work with our people so that if we have a lot of activity, when we have calls for service like shots fired that will draw a lot of our resources, well, that leaves a lot of our area uncovered. What we’re hoping to use mainly on this is a force multiplier so that we can use their networks and their people to come into our community and help us out with some hot spots.”


Always gangs

Capt. Leos told the council that, “Our gang problem is always continuing. If you’re not dealing with it and showing them that we’re out there and we’re going to have zero tolerance toward gang activity it will increase. “You’ve saw that with the drive-shootings, starting to have narcotics issues. We kind of let that go by the side, for lack of manpower, leadership change, so now we need to get on that. 

“In ’07, ’08, we were having shootings every weekend just about. The DPS, having them come in and help out.”

As Councilman Karl Montoya sees it, “It’s good to see GIITEM get back into town, get refocused to where they are going. I think they kind of got lost with the border portion of that. 

“It’s good to see that they’re already back in town. They’re doing good work and putting a soldier with them is going to only enhance them. We know back from the past where they’ve helped us with manpower and other accessories that go along with the job. 

“I’m glad to see you guys take the initiative in doing that, because I think that’s what’s kind of missing the last time was having those monthly meetings and getting more involved at the top to give that direction.”

As a result of past anti-gang, anti-drug operations, several people were sent to prison, Montoya said, but “a lot of those people are starting to come out of jail and we’re starting to see a lot of difference. It’s a new policing out there and if we don’t stay on top of it, it’s our own fault. So I’m glad to see this coming back and you guys being proactive with it.”

Councilman Matt Herman said he had previously seen a presentation by a Police Department officer where “he put together the whole family tree of gangs in Casa Grande. I hope you guys go to him for some resources, because he took a lot of his own time, I know, and put together this entire report, pretty impressive.”

McCrory answered, “He is involved in every strategic plan that we have. Very few people know this city on the crime side and the networks like he does. He is actively involved in every strategic plan that we have.”











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You'll be able to help emergency responders
better help you when you have to call 911 

(Posted Aug. 16, 2016)



The full proposal is HERE



A new emergency communications program approved Monday night by the City Council will allow Casa Grande residents to enter medical and other information into a computer bank that will automatically pop up when 911 is dialed, saving time for emergency responders.

It’s called Smart911, offered by Rave Mobile Safety.

As the staff report accompanying the agenda item describes it, “Smart911 allows members of the community to register and provide information about themselves, their family members, their homes and workplaces, medical conditions and other pertinent information.

“Citizens provide profile data into the Smart911 database prior to an emergency. When a registered user dials 911 from a registered device to a dispatch center, the caller’s profile will open on the call taker’s screen. This information can then be sent to the mobile units in the field. By providing this information to the first responders, it can help them make more informed decisions, helping better protect themselves and residents.”

(See above chart)


Questions

The program, at a cost of $32,000 under a three-year contract, brought some questions from the council.

Councilwoman Mary Kortsen asked how the word will be spread through the city about about registering and whether there would be confidentiality issues with personal information.

“The typical person would be anybody,” Mike Brashier, commander of the Public Safety Communications Division, said. “You could register your children, you could add photos, medical conditions. All of this stuff is stored on their database.

On the confidentiality issue, Brashier said, “The information is on the Rave server. We do not have access to the information unless the person makes a 911 call, so we cannot just go in and look it up. Once you make a 911 call, that information will stay active for about 45 minutes, at that time the window will close and we don’t see that information any longer.

“How we’re going to reach out, is we’re going to use our PIO from the city and work with the Police Department, the Facebook pages. They (Rave) supply monthly information that we can publish and put out tips about it.”

Michele Nelson, Rave regional sales director for public information, told the council that, “The public launch would be when Mike actually says that everybody is trained in the agency and ready to go, then our marketing department’s ready to be in contact with him. The mayor will actually be involved in the public launch, the police chief, so we try to pull everybody together. We’ll have news media involved, as well, in the public launch and every single month from then on out, whether it’s back to school, whether it’s monsoon season, if it’s safety about pool drownings, whatever it happens to be, every month we’ll be working with you sending information out. We provide all that information so it doesn’t have to be created. And when there’s something specific that you want, then you just have to let our marketing know so they can produce that type of marketing information.”


Participation

Councilman Matt Herman asked what the threshold for registered users would be.

“I know it can help,” he said, “but if we have 200 people registered it’s probably not worth our time.”

Brashier answered, “With the confidentiality, we’re not going to know how many citizens here register. We will be able to tell how many times we’ve used it.”

Herman responded, “You can’t tell how many people are in it?”

Nelson said the number of registered users in Casa Grande’s ZIP codes will be available. 

“Don’t need to know who it is,” Herman said, “just need to know how many so that way we’re not spending all this money for three people’s information to pop up, which I don’t think will happen.”

Herman also wanted to know if the new system will allow information to be sent to residents.

“If there’s an incident specifically here in Casa Grande like the other night a road got closed, Peart Road, due to the flooding, could we send stuff out to the registered users?” he asked. “I know we have another system that does, but I haven’t seen it activated in a long time.”

This program does not, Brashier answered. He said the city has the Nixle alert system to send messages and “there’s also another product hopefully in the near future that we’ll be bringing before council for an agreement to be signed, and that is a county product and that will allow community notification.”


Updating

Councilman Karl Montoya wanted to know how the information in Smart911 will be kept updated.

“I sign up today or you get a school and the school remodels five years down the road and so the rooms are different and so you’re responding to whatever,” he said. “How do you keep them updated into the system?”

There are two sides to that, Nelson responded.

“One of them that you’re referring to we call facility data, the facility is on that spool of that business. Right now, there’s not an actual reminder. They are working on an enhancement to actually remind those businesses every year to update. Before Mike will actually accept those floor plans of a school, a business or a government facility, he will actually have complete control on the approval of that data, that those floor plans are accurate.

“On the (personal) safety profile, if you haven’t touched it in six months you will continue to get reminders. After so many reminders, that information becomes stored in the data base for seven years and will be available until you actually go to update it. We want that information.”

Montoya pointed out that if a person registers using a mobile device, “the mobile device goes with me but if I move my house is different now. That’ll remind me to update, hey, are there any changes in your life?”

Correct, Nelson said. “Please do that, give us your new home address.

“Any medical information that you’ve provided, any allergies, if there’s anybody in your family that has any kind of mental health, any autistic children in there, all that information will be attached to the number, but you’re right, the home address we’ll remind you to update it. The same thing with photos. I have three kids, so if I ever had to call I keep my kids’ photos up to date all the time.”


Spanish-speaking

Councilman Ralph Varela asked if the system could handle input and calls from Spanish speakers.

“You can actually create your information in, I believe, over 80 different languages,” Nelson answered. “When they call in to 911 if they know that they are Spanish-speaking that information will actually pop right up and so the dispatcher can actually go look to see if there’s anybody that can translate for them. Now, if that person doesn’t speak English but happens to hang up, then our texting system would allow them to actually text.”

Brashier said, “In the NextGen 911, or the next generation, there is a texting feature. This product (Rave 911) that we’re asking to purchase tonight has a communicator, so it’s not a true text to 911, but it does allow their program to text to that user and back and forth. So yes, we can. If they call, hang up, don’t answer, we can text to them and get a response that way.”


Statistics

There has to be a way to keep track of what the system is producing, how many people are actually using it,  Mayor Bob Jackson said.

“I think it’s a great product,” he continued, “and I know some people that have used it and it’s really saved those few minutes that might make the different between serious problems and fixable problems.

“But I think that as a council we need to have some degree of knowing how many people have signed up, how many times have we used it.

“If we only used it five times in the course of a year and we’ve got a three-year agreement, either we need to get more people signed up or it’s not doing what we wanted it to do. So I guess my suggestion to staff is to keep us apprised, maybe annually, of how many people have signed up, how many times you’re used it in the course of dispatching public safety people.”







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McNatt Park renovation plan comments sought

(Posted Aug. 1, 2016)


The city issued this announcement today:


Casa Grande's Community Services Department is seeking resident input regarding the proposed features of the master plan for Carr McNatt Park.  

Members of the public are encouraged to participate in this process by viewing a draft of the proposed plans and submitting their feedback online. 

The period to provide feedback will begin on Aug. 1 and close on Aug. 31. 

Located at 1115 N. Brown Ave., Carr McNatt Park was part of the former union high school campus until 1997. 

With increased community use and few accompanying improvements, the park has demonstrated a need for modernization and an enhancement of its facilities. 

Among the proposed amenities to be phased in are the addition of pickle ball courts, a basketball court, walking paths, football practice areas, lighted multi-use field areas, and a restroom and concession building.  

A draft of the proposed master plan, detailed map and description of features, as well as a link for residents to submit their feedback, can be found at www.casagrandeaz.gov/carrmcnattmasterplan.

For questions or additional information, contact Recreation Superintendent Matt Jankowski at 421-8677.











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$671,441 in Tohono casino grants sought

(Posted June 30, 2016)



Grant applications staff report is HERE


Links to the individual applications, with explanations of requests, are at the bottom of the staff report



Casa Grande and several community organizations are requesting $671,441 in grants from the Tohono O’odham Nation, money that comes from tribal casino profits.

Approval to submit the applications is on the agenda for Tuesday’s City Council meeting, held a day later because of the Fourth of July holiday.

The community requests are:

• Boys and Girls Club of the Casa Grande Valley, $25,000 for teen program.

• Casa Grande Alliance, $16,000 for Making Our Students Think (MOST) program.

• Casa Grande Rotary Foundation, $30,000 for scholarship program.

• Casa Grande Main Street, $5,700 for cultural exchange.

• Central Arizona College Foundation, $75,000 for Promise for the Future scholarship program.

• Casa Grande Lions Club, $12,806 for vision screening equipment and services.

• Pinal Hispanic Council, $10,000 for Cesar Chavez scholarship program.

• Ride for the Warrior, $60,000 Ride for the Warrior community events.

• Vista Grande Football Booster Club, $11,960 for concussion and injury prevention.


City of Casa Grande applications:

• Casa Grande Arts and Humanities Commission, $60,000 for railroad art plaza.

• Casa Grande Fire Department, $93,000 for technical rescue project.

• Casa Grande Police Department, $81,975 for Automated Fingerprint Identification System (AFIS).

• Casa Grande Housing Division, $40,000 for housing rehabilitation program.

• City of Casa Grande, $150,000 for rodeo grounds canopy project.


Under Prop. 202, approved several years ago, Arizona tribes with casinos are required to set aside 12 percent of profits for community projects in cities, towns or counties.

Casa Grande will be responsible for the pass through of grant funds, estimated to take about 10 hours of staff time at a cost of less than $500.

Feasibility of CG transit system to be studied

(Posted June 7, 2016)


You’ll find the Sun Corridor Metropolitan Planning Organization, with studies and other information, HERE


The scope of the study is HERE


The staff report is HERE


Information on Central Arizona Regional Transit, including the Casa Grande route, is HERE


Coolidge’s in-city transit route map and information is HERE



Key Trip Destinations: 


This task includes identification of destination locations sought by both local and regional travelers. Destinations include, but are not limited to:


• Medical centers and hospitals

• Education centers

• Downtown Casa Grande

• Major retail centers, including the regional shopping mall

• City hall and other public agency service centers

• Senior centers

• Major employment centers including the major industrial area on the southwest side of the city

• Future planned activity centers such as Phoenix Mart, expected to generate significant regional traffic.

• High density residential areas

• Major parks and recreational areas

• Resorts, hotels, and motels

Casa Grande is contributing $40,000 to a grant to study whether a transit system in the city is feasible.

The money, approved Monday night by the City Council, will be added to a $160,000 grant from the Arizona Department of Transportation through federal funds.

The study will be overseen by the Sun Corridor Metropolitan Planning Organization, formed after Casa Grande’s population surpassed 50,000.

The $40,000 had already been earmarked for Sun Corridor as part of the city’s membership, thus is not a new appropriation.

The proposed study area is an approximately 19-square mile area bounded by:

• Burris Road on the west.

• Val Vista Road on the north.

• Interstate 10 and the extents of the Promenade mall on the east.

• Earley Road on the south.

Councilwoman Mary Kortsen asked what the city is getting for 

the money.

City Traffic Engineer Duane Eitel answered, “The $200,000 total is to do a study on transit for the city of Casa Grande, so it’s a real extensive public involvement. We’re going to work a lot with the public to see where they want to go if we have a transit system.

“We want to work with businesses to see what their interest is in a transit system. For instance, we would go out and visit with the Walmart Distribution Center and Tractor Supply and all those companies out that way (on the southwest side of the city) see what their interests are and what they think their employees’ are.

“And we’d do a lot of on-line public involvement that would get more people involved than just having a few public hearings where maybe seven or 10 people show up.”

Eitel added that if the decision is made to start a system, “we get about $850,000 of federal transit money a year that we can use to help run a transit system.”

Kortsen said it seems that the emphasis would be getting residents to employments areas and back, to school and back.

“That’s quite a bit of it but that’s not all of it,” Eitel responded.

“We’re also going to want to get people to the hospital, out to the mall, to Walmart, shopping, different things like that.  It’s a whole bunch of different things.

“But I think the business part of it will really help the economic development. I think I mentioned in the (May) study session, some of the development that wants to come to town one of the first things they ask is if we have a transit system to get employees to work.”

Councilwoman Lisa Fitzgibbons, looking at reaching the public, said, “I really hope that when we do these community outreaches, to really try to go into some of the neighborhoods that might not come generally to a meeting like this, to get the input from them, too. You maybe do a session with Spanish-speaking community members.

“But I really hope we get out to the general population.”

That’s the plan, Eitel responded, “because originally ADOT was talking $120,000 grant. We talked them into  $200,000, just because we wanted to ensure that we met with as many people in Casa Grande as we could, as possible.”

Councilman Dick Powell said he feels the study “is excellent to do” because he believes it “will show us that we’d be wasting an awful lot of money trying to run a bus.

“I think there’s other things we can study in transit that definitely would be valuable to us,” he continued. 

“It requires huge subsidies and this probably is not the time in our history of Casa Grande for subsidizing for things.

“People can’t get to a bus stop to catch them, anyway. That’s one of the problems you have, five bus stops scattered around town and how do people get there?

“And they want you to take them home and this and that and it would nice, but, as I say, it’s a money hole and I think that the study will prove that. So I’m looking forward to it.”

Eitel said the study would consider more than just buses.

Powell responded, “That’s what I’m saying, we can study the other opportunities, absolutely.”

During the rollcall vote on the resolution, Councilman Ralph Varela said, “I look forward to it and I vote yes. I think it’ll be a way to be creative about transit and I’m sure there is a need and it’s long overdue.”

Kortsen said, “I’m voting yes, and also to reiterate what council member Varela had said. 

“Transit isn’t just buses. We’ve got a bus system that does exist in Coolidge and it could be maybe we support that. There’s different ways to look at it, and that’s what we need to do, that’s where we invent something that’s specific to our community needs.”

Powell said, “I’d be remiss if I voted without making a statement.

“I’m glad that we’re doing the study and I think it will show other ways that we can embellish transit in the area. I don’t think we’re going to find out that that’s a bus, but there’s a lot of other things that we can do. So I’m happy to vote yes for it.”

The council vote was unanimous.


Public input sought on use of community grants

(Posted June 2, 2016)


The city’s proposed action plan is HERE



Casa Grande is seeking input on how residents feel money from the federal Housing and Urban Development should be used.

A public hearing will be held July 18 at 7 p.m. in the council chambers at City Hall, 510 E. Florence Blvd.

“The city is expected to receive approximately $318,914 of Community Development Block Grant funds from HUD in FY16,” the announcement said. “The funds must be used to benefit low income persons and areas, alleviate slum and blight or address urgent need. 

“After the 30-day review period (which ends June 30), the public hearing will be conducted by the City Council on the 2016 Annual Action Plan for review and approval.

“This document is a federal requirement which implements the activities that were prioritized in the city’s 5-Year Consolidated Plan.”

For more information about the hearing, grievances or the CDBG program; or to receive assistance in formulating prospective project ideas for presentation at the hearing, contact:

Leila DeMaree, city community development and housing manager, at 421-8630, ext. 3030, or by fax at 421-8638. Her email is [email protected].









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Terminus Antiques will close after building sale

(Posted May 17, 2016)


If negotiations work out, the complex holding Terminus Antiques & Collectibles and two other businesses will be sold and Terminus will be closed, sending building owners Judy and Bruce Kieser into another retirement.

Terminus, at 106 N. Florence St., for 14 years has been the go-to place for high-end antiques and other old items.

Bruce Kieser said sale negotiations have been underway and closing could be by May 27.

Longtime Casa Grande residents will remember Bruce as basketball coach at Casa Grande Union High School for 15 years, including leading the team to state championship in 1989.

“That’s the year (then) Mayor Jimmie Kerr gave me the key to the city and we had a parade down the street, they called off school,” he said. “The last big championship in Casa Grande of any sort.”

Bruce, who has always been interested in antiques, opened Terminus, taking the original name of Casa Grande when the railroad builders stopped construction here for the summer.

Selling out is a matter of age and health problems, Bruce said.

But that doesn’t mean totally the end of handling antiques.

“I think we’ll probably put a booth in up in Chandler (antiques mall), where you don’t have to be there,” he said.

The majority of the present collection, though, will be sold.

“We’ll put a big ad in the Phoenix paper for professional buyers,” Bruce said. “They’ll bring a truck down.

“Some stuff we’ll break even on, some we might lose on, some we’ll make some.”

What’s not taken by the professional buyers will go on sale at the present store.

When that happens, an announcement will be made, Bruce said.







Judy and Bruce Kieser, below, will close Terminus.


Terminus has a variety of high-end antiques and collectibles.