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NEWS

This page is for general Casa Grande city government and other city reporting by Harold Kitching, continuing what he did at the Casa Grande Dispatch for more than 11 years before he resigned after being told that kind of work was no longer wanted.


(Older items are in NEWS ARCHIVE)



You can watch the 7 p.m. meeting on-line HERE
Or watch it on the city’s Cox channel 11.
The city does not television study sessions.

Studying ways to relieve the Kortsen sewer lines

(Posted July 24, 2016)


The staff report is HERE


The scope of work is HERE



The first thing to be clear on is that this sewer proposal is not the projected large line running east to the area of future site of PhoenixMart.

This concerns the lines down Kortsen Road and how that system is nearing capacity.

The only way PhoenixMart ties in is if nothing is done about Kortsen, the future flow coming from PhoenixMart and linking to Kortsen will cause major problems.

That’s why, perhaps belatedly, the city is paying an engineering company $499,700 to figure out what would be the best alignment for one of the three reliever line routes studied. 

Initial approval was given during the last City Council meeting, with final approval expected at the next meeting.

“Currently, the existing sewer lines within Kortsen serve approximately half of the city’s wastewater service area,” Deputy Public Works Director Terry McKeon told the council.

“The capacity available in those lines, it’s getting close to full, is the simple way to put it. We need to put together a plan for providing relief for those sewers to be able to continue to serve and develop within the area.”

The evaluation by Sunrise Engineering will determine which of three corridors would be best for a replacement sewer, McKeon added, “where here can we get the most bang for our buck, what can we afford to build that provides us the most capacity we can afford without having a ridiculously large sewer.”

McKeon said the city has worked with Sunrise to do that evaluation and provide a conceptual design.

“Not full design plans,” he added, “but conceptual vertical and horizontal alignment to identify constraints, challenges and, most importantly, cost estimating. At the end of the day we need a reliable cost estimate that we can then carry forward and budget and be able to find the money and build it.”

Councilman Matt Herman, calling the project “very unglamorous, but very necessary,” asked how long it might be before the Kortsen system is full.

“I know it is a bit of a moving target, but what are you anticipating?” he asked. “Are we going to have to be ready for this next year or five years?”

McKeon replied that, “Unfortunately, we haven’t budgeted crystal balls yet. A lot of it, really, obviously all depends on development.

“When this project was conceptualized, if you will, or put into the budget process, we were in the process of determining the needs for the PhoenixMart development and adjacent area.

“The short answer is essentially when and if the first phase of PhoenixMart is built, that is probably going to take up every drop we have available in the existing system.

“So in some ways we might be a little bit behind the ball on this one, but we need to get this project ready to roll forward and make it shovel-ready for whenever that time comes.”

Herman said he wanted to make clear that this is not the PhoenixMart sewer line project itself.

“No, it is not,” McKeon replied. “This is not just to accommodate PhoenixMart. It would be almost as complicated as this, but it would be kind of pointless. We’re looking for much more than that, to be able to support much more future development that simply PhoenixMart or even the east area.”

Councilwoman Lisa Fitzgibbons asked if it is common that sewer lines need to be expanded, adding, “How are we here?”

McKeon said, “Well, I think the nature of development is, you can master plan, we have a number of master plans, we’ve had many over the years that show you ultimately this is what you need. But you’re a small community, you can’t afford a 60-inch diameter, 12-mile-long sewer that’s going to sit there for 40, 50 years, so you develop interim solutions, sizing that fits the need.”

City Manager Jim Thompson said that about 10 years ago, before the TransWestern gas line came through the community, the city talked about putting a sewer line along the north branch of the Santa Cruz to help service the area, plus talked about going to Rodeo Road to catch everything from the north.

“Eventually, they all ended up on Kortsen, because that’s where the (treatment) plant’s located,” Thompson continued.

That plant would eventually handled 50 million gallons of sewage a day, Thompson said, noting the city has acquired additional land for expansion.

“We know eventually Kortsen’s going to have to service a lot or we have to come from different directions,” he continued.

“We’ve looked at different alternatives but we’ve never sat down and done a master plan to really give us all the numbers and all the information. We’ve talked about alternative lines, we’ve talked about picking some additional up south of it down on Casa Grande Avenue and other locations and bringing it closer to the plant, then putting it back into Kortsen, but we’ve never sat down and talked about the final portion on this side of the interstate.”

On the east side of Interstate 10, Thompson said, “we’ve designed the entire system through the master plan and then in relationship with our partnership with PhoenixMart where they’re going to pay for that portion of the engineering — which they have done.

“But on this west side we know that we needed some additional alternatives.

“So I think right now the biggest issue for us over the history of it is to find out what of those alternatives is the best.”

A major challenge for upsizing the Kortsen lines, Thompson said, “is that Kortsen is so heavily used and we have multiple schools now located off that roadway and when you put a major sewer line into Kortsen you start tearing up the road. 

“That’s why we looked at the north branch of the Santa Cruz back then, but that was somewhat inefficient and then when TransWestern came in and took some of that area that we would have otherwise used, we talked about concerns over if we do have a large (flood) event how much of the soil is going to be scoured away, will it expose pipes? There’s other concerns. So then we started talking about Rodeo. We pick up almost everything from the north if we we put a larger lateral down Rodeo and then drop into the plant that way, as well.

“That’s where we kind of gravitated towards over the years, but now we want to really know what’s the best alternative, what the costs are associated with that. But we have been talking about it for 10 years, so it isn’t something that we’ve ignored, it’s just a matter of this is a sewer project, so whenever we go to spend money it impacts rates. And we know our concerns over the rates over the rates over the years, we’ve tried to have been as frugal as we can, and as Terry’s mentioned we found other ways to divert flows, to do other things, but now we’re to the point that we need to start doing something and move the project forward, so that’s why we’re here this evening.”

Mayor Bob Jackson said the situation is similar to the southwest area of the city, where the Burris Road sewer line was upgraded to handle more flow from the industrial area.

Councilwoman Mary Kortsen said, “I like the timing on this because my concern has been that we have that Kortsen interchange (on I-10) coming up, we’re trying to encourage Arizona Department of Transportation to come in and expand and add those lanes in there. I’d like to have this in place and done before they come in to do it because I think it’s going to be cheaper than them putting everything in and then us trying to dig under. So the timing, I believe, is just critical in that area in addition to capacity.”

McKeon replied, “Just to note, as Jim mentioned, the city’s east area sewer expansion project, which is currently under design and that PhoenixMart is actually paying for, goes from the west side of I-10 all the way over toward PhoenixMart. That project actually accommodates the footprint of that overpass.”


Deputy city manager job opening posted
               The announcement        City jobs link

Council approves updated CDBG action plan
            The staff report is HERE     The plan is HERE

You can watch video of the regular meeting on-line HERE

A brief update about PhoenixMart construction 

(Posted July 15, 2016)


A brief update on progress with PhoenixMart was given during Thursday night’s meeting of the Planning and Zoning Commission.

“They are currently installing under-slab utilities — plumbing, electrical that goes underneath before they pour the slab,” Planning and Development Director Paul Tice said. “That, of course, has to be in place.”

Tice added that, “My building inspector tells me that they tell him they’re going to start pouring slab in about 30 days or so. It’s essentially a 35-acre slab and it will take awhile for that concrete to flow, quite awhile.

“And then they’ll at some point start going vertical with the walls.”

Tice said he was contacted Thursday by the development CEO “regarding a proposal to file a condominium plat for the building itself. They are preparing a condominium plat that will allow them to sell vendor suites as condos, versus lease them. 

“That will be before you probably in your September meeting.” 


School building use, zoning request acted upon

(Posted July 15, 2016)


The staff reports on both requests are HERE


A conditional use permit for PPEP TEC charter high school to use a building near the southwest corner of Pinal Avenue and McMurray Boulevard was approved Thursday night by the Planning and Zoning Commission.

The commission sent a favorable recommendation to the City Council on a request to change zoning to general business on a half-acre parcel on the south side of Rodeo Road, generally south of where Pottebaum Avenue ends.

If the council approves, the developers must come back before P&Z with a request for a major site plan outlining any project in detail.


You can watch the regular meeting on-line at

http://casagrandeaz.gov/dept/citymanager/pio/channel11/

or on the city's Cox channel 11


Modified approval for car wash variances

(Posted July 12, 2016)


Scroll down to original story for other details and link to the staff report


A request for zoning variances to turn a boarded up former gas station/convenience store at the southwest corner of Pinal Avenue and Cottonwood Lane into an automated car wash was approved Tuesday night by the Casa Grande Board of Adjustment, but with a modified condition.

As a rule, variances go with the land, meaning they are legal any time in the future not matter what kind of project. In this case, however, board member Mark Zeibak asked that the variances approval be only for the car wash proposal. If that falls through, the zoning reverts to its original status.

Approval was 5-1, with Chuck Wright voting against the modified approval. Member Debra Shaw-Rhodes was absent.

Board of Adjustment approval of the variances does not mean the project will start immediately.

The proposed development, to be known as Trejo Express Car Wash, would require a major site plan and conditional use permit to be reviewed by city staff and considered for approval by the Planning and Zoning Commission.  in accordance with development within the B-2 zone district.A traffic impact analysis, drainage study, and water and wastewater reports will be required as part of that submittal.


Variances would allow for automated car wash

(Posted July 9, 2016)


The staff report is HERE


A request for zoning variances to turn a boarded up former gas station/convenience store at the southwest corner of Pinal Avenue and Cottonwood Lane into an automated car wash is the only agenda item when the Casa Grande Board of Adjustment meets Tuesday night.

The meeting, open to the public, begins at 6 p.m. in the council chambers at City Hall, 510 E. Florence Blvd.

At issue is that under revised city codes, the property does not provide the required right of way along both Cottonwood and Pinal.

If that right of way is dedicated as part of the project, the city says, the property would not meet present zoning requirements for the property. The city recommends that the variances be granted, which would allow the widening of the streets.

According to the staff report, “As a minor arterial road classification, Cottonwood Lane is to be 55 feet from its centerline to the property. Presently, 42-foot of right of way exists. As part of the development process, the applicant will be required to prepare a map of dedication that would dedicate an additional 13 feet.

“Similarly, the Arizona Department of Transportation is requiring an additional five feet of right of way for Pinal Avenue. 

“If these right of way dedications were not required as part of redevelopment, the proposed site layout would meet the Business 2 zoning setbacks. 

“The existing lot width is shy of the required 200 feet for corner lots. The right of way dedication, however, will reduce the lot width even further; thus necessitating a variance to corner lot width as well. As it is, the currently developed parcel is comprised of five platted lots, and does not conform to the 200 feet corner lot width requirement. The additional feet to be dedicated for right of way makes the parcel even less compliant.” 

Opposition to the requests came from the owner of a nearby car wash at 332 E. Cottonwood Lane.

According to the staff report, “The concern was that development closer to the property line than which is ordinarily allowed could be a visibility hindrance and public safety threat. 

(The opposition email is included in the staff report, linked above.)

“Staff and the applicant contend that the additional right of way for Cottonwood and Pinal will, conversely, increase safety because new development will ensure the roadway will be at its fullest required width to allow any improvements necessary for traffic both related and not related to this development.”

As part of the proposed project, the present building and canopy would be demolished.


City budget, revised fee schedule approved
     Action taken during Tuesday night's City Council meeting

              The budget            Fee schedule

City getting paving machine for larger projects

(Posted July 4, 2016)


UPDATE: Unanimous final approval was given Tuesday night


A paving machine that will allow the Public Works Department to do larger projects is up for final approval when the City Council meets Tuesday night, a day later than normal because of the July 4 holiday.

The $145,627 machine received initial OK during the last council meeting, but not without questions.

According to the staff report from Streets Supervisor Pedro Apodaca, the paver the department now has “is a small entry level paver that was used to pave many of the city-owned parking lots in the past but it is undersized and underpowered for our current needs. 

“The replacement unit is a midsize paver that has the ability to do parking lots as well as larger street paving projects. It has a larger paving path, a self ­feeding hopper and it is able to push a loaded truck for continuous paving operation producing smoother finished pavement surface. 

“Used in conjunction with our new milling machine, this paver will increase the division’s ability, efficiency and performance, allowing them to replace larger road sections with new asphalt.”

Public Works Director Kevin Louis told the council that, “The paver that we’re going to be purchasing is mid sized paver and it will really allow staff to take advantage of doing some larger projects. In the past, we’ve done smaller projects, parking lots. We’ll be doing large projects in conjunction with the purchase of our asphalt zipper, which is is our milling machine that we were currently doing projects with.”

Louis said the present paver, a 1998 model with 914 hours of use on it, will be traded in on the new purchase.

Only 914 hours is what brought questions.

“It says 914 hours on it, on an 18-year-old machine,” Councilman Matt Herman said. “We’re using it about an hour a week, then?”

Louis responded that paving is not done every day.

“Our paving operations are very limited,” he continued, “and that piece of equipment gets used for about 10 minutes and then you wait for the truck to come. It’s a very slow operation. The hours are not tied to how many hours we actually had that piece of equipment on projects. It’s one of those pieces of equipment that sits around 90 percent of the time doing nothing until we actually need it.”

Councilwoman Lisa Fitzgibbons asked, “But now this new equipment has the capability of doing other things, so you’ll probably use it a little more, is that correct?”

That is the plan, Louis said, adding that, “As long as we have funding to pay for the materials we’re definitely going to use it as much as we can.”

Councilman Karl Montoya asked if the department has a budget for materials for the paver.

“Yes,” Louis responded. “Each year we program materials into our operation budget. I believe this year it’s $165,000 was identified for maintenance materials. So that’s what is used to cover the cost of the asphalt to supply this piece of equipment.”

If the paver is used only for a small amount of time, would it be better to hire projects done? Herman asked.

“I mean, what justifies us owning this paver if we’re only using 10 percent of the time?” he continued. “I understand how pavers work, you just use it for a little bit and you have to wait for it to fill up.”

It comes down to the size of the project and whether it makes financial sense to hire it out, Louis responded.

“We can typically do a small project for about $50,000,” he said. “If we were to contract that out, $50,000 probably wouldn’t even cover the cost of mobilizing a contractor to come out.

“So we use these pieces of equipment sparingly on smaller projects — alley paving, small sections of pavement, those types of things — not large projects.

“We still have our capital improvements projects budget that we use to do the larger projects and get that economy of scale.”


You can watch the regular meeting video on-line at

http://casagrandeaz.gov/dept/citymanager/pio/channel11/


Golf course summer maintenance July 5 and 6

(Posted June 23, 2016)


The city issued this announcement today:



On July 5 and 6, the Dave White Golf Course and Falcon Golf Management maintenance staff will do aerification on the summer greens. 

On Tuesday, July 5, the work will performed on the front nine and the back nine will remain open for play. On Wednesday, July 6, the maintenance work will shift to the back nine and the front nine will be open for play. Following the treatment to the greens, the maintenance staff will perform ongoing aerification to the fairways throughout the summer months. During the fairway maintenance process, the golf course will remain open for play. 

Aerification is a common summer maintenance practice for golf courses to help facilitate healthy turf growth and prevent disease. 

During the process, holes are poked in to the soil to allow air to penetrate the roots. Within a few months of aerification, the holes are usually filled with grass roots. This proliferation of roots deep into the soil results in a much better turf condition and allows for much better water holding capacity. As a result of less water run off, the need for additional irrigation will be reduced.

The putting green playing surfaces are anticipated to be completed healing within seven to 10 days after the work is performed.

For additional information or questions, contact Golf Shop Assistant Jennifer Marsh at 836-9216.


Grant gives Fire Department a life-saving tool

(Posted June 21, 2016)


The Casa Grande Fire Department has obtained a life-saving vehicle extrication tool through a grant from the Arizona Governor’s Office of Traffic Safety, the city announced today. 

The tool, also called a RAM, allows firefighters to extend their reach to roll dashboards and remove patients from floorboard obstacles and other impediments that can cause severe delays. 

“This is particularly significant as these delays can negatively impact the patient’s critical ‘golden hour’ of trauma survivability,” the announcement said.

“As stated in grant proposal, this tool is particularly necessary in a community like Casa Grande, which contains two major highways in addition to several state routes. The high volume of highway traffic brings with it a significant potential for major accidents, especially large truck and semi-tractor trailer incidents that require a large hydraulic RAM device.”

The announcement quotes Battalion Chief Frank Ricci as saying, “This tool provides more power than any of the extrication equipment we currently have and it will surely enhance our technical rescue capabilities to allow for faster patient extrication.

“Thanks to this grant, we now have the ability to more safely and quickly remove a patient from an entrapment, and reduce the amount of morbidity and mortality in our community’s highway accidents.”

The city said residents with questions or wanting more information may reach Ricci at 421-8777, ext. 5998, or email fricci@casagrandeaz.gov.


$261,650 in community partnership grants

(Posted June 21, 2016)


The staff report, with links to applications from organizations, is HERE



Community partnership funding totaling $261,650 was approved Monday night by the Casa Grande City Council.

The awards are:


General Fund: 

Chamber of Commerce, ­$43,500.

CG Main Street, ­$39,150.

CG Valley Historical Society, ­$34,000. 

Access Arizona, ­$25,000.

(The Access Arizona award is tentative, pending what the organization decides its future will be.)

Pinal County Water Augmentation Authority, ­$20,000.


Promotion and Tourism Fund: 

Boys & Girls Clubs, ­$100,000.


“It is anticipated that the actual impact of the services provided will far outweigh the city’s financial commitment,” the staff report says.


Final action July 5 on budget, fees, utility rates

(Posted June 20, 2016)


Changes in the fee schedule, which has been in effect for many years, may be found HERE


The utilities rates staff report is HERE


The final budget is HERE



The decision was made during Monday night’s City Council meeting to consolidate final action on budget items for the July 5 meeting rather than that night.

Those include the budget of $174,235,700 for the fiscal year beginning July 1, the updated list of city fees and charges, the property tax rates and the sewer and trash fees.

The city’s primary property tax will remain at 99.99 cents per hundred dollars of assessed valuation, with the secondary rate at 63.08 cents. The 99.99 cents is below the allowable rate of $1.15.

The residential sewer rate will be increased $1.25 monthly to $33.70. The trash collection rate goes up $1.15 a month to $23.15. The combined rate will be $56.85, an increase of $2.40, beginning Aug. 1.

A tentative study session was set for July 5 on proposed rent increases for some hangars at the city airport, the condition of some of the hangars and what plans the city has for repairs.


Video of the main discussion about the condition of the hangars and the proposed rent increases is HERE. That discussion begins at 56:30 minutes into the video. The video is L1 on the list.


Council approves Youth Commission members

(Posted June 20, 2016)


Several appointments and reappointments to the Casa Grande Youth Commission were approved Monday night by the City Council.

Appointed were:

Sheyenne Donlay, Ackela Eldridge, Nathan Harris, Gloria Holt, Shawn Johnstone, Joseph Kolaniak, Luis Medina, Alex Mejia Jr. and Michelle Ramirez.

Reappointed were:

Alexandra Chaparro, Brooklyn Johnson, Chase Salcido, Skylar Goodsell, Olivia Carter, Simarah Smith and Savannah McMahon.


I-10 widening, Maricopa overpass moving forward

(Posted June 17, 2016)


Because of additional funding available through the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act, the Arizona Department of Transportation will be able to move forward on a quicker timeline with two major projects that will improve key commerce corridors: widening Interstate 10 in Pinal County from State Route 87 to Picacho and from Earley Road to Interstate 8.

Also approved Friday by the State Transportation Board as part of the five-year plan is moving forward with an overpass in the city of Maricopa.

ADOT gave these descriptions:

• State Route 87 to Picacho: This $85 million project to start in FY 2018 will widen the highway to three lanes in each direction and improve traffic interchanges.

• Interstate 10: Earley Road to Interstate 8: This $40 million project in FY 2019 will widen the highway to three lanes in each direction and improve traffic interchanges south of Casa Grande.

“Once the two I-10 projects are complete, ADOT will have reached its goal of widening the entire stretch of I-10 between Casa Grande and Tucson to a six-lane divided highway,” the announcement said.

• An overpass on State Route 347 in  Maricopa thanks to a $15 million federal TIGER grant and $15 million local contribution in addition to ADOT’s $19 million commitment.

“This project will alleviate traffic backups at the Union Pacific Railroad crossing in Maricopa by replacing the existing at-grade intersection with an overpass on SR 347,” the announcement said. 

Other highlights of the five-year plan approvals are HERE

The 2017-2021 Five-Year Program will be published next week at www.azdot.gov.


Hearing Monday on proposed city fee schedule

(Posted June 15, 2016)


The proposed fee schedule is HERE



The City Council will hold a public hearing during Monday night’s meeting to allow residents to comment on the proposed Casa Grande consolidated fee schedule, a document that lists all city fees and charges.

The meeting begins at 7 p.m. in the council chambers at City Hall, 510 E. Florence Blvd.

“Each year, the consolidated fee schedule establishes rates and fees for city services, such as development reviews, sewer charges, copying public documents, use of city parks and recreation programs, construction permits, and many other related activities,” the announcement said.

“This is an opportunity for residents to express their opinions directly to the council regarding the proposed rates and fees for FY17. As a customer, you are encouraged to attend these public meetings and express your opinions.”

The schedule found in the link above is the proposed fees. The rates established in the final document approved by the council are considered maximums, meaning that they will not increase above that amount during the fiscal year.

The city said questions and comments may also be emailed directly to Interim Finance Director Celina Morris at finance_director@casagrandeaz.gov


Community Services director retires July 15

(Posted June 15, 2016)


Community Services Director Bill Schwind will retire July 15, the city announced today.

Schwind has served with the city twice, once beginning in 1984 as recreation program manager before moving five years later to a Valley city, then returning in 2012 as community services director.

“During his cumulative 11-year tenure in Casa Grande, Schwind oversaw the trail development at Casa Grande Mountain Park, the expansion and renovation of the Casa Grande Main Library, and the completion of the Carr McNatt Park Master Plan, which included turf enhancements, walking paths, and sports/court field renovations,” the city announcement said. 

The announcement quoted Schwind as, ”I am thankful to have been given the opportunity to dedicate the last years of my career to the residents of Casa Grande.

"While I will miss this rewarding work, I am confident that the city's leadership team, along with the staff of the Community Services Department, will continue to invest in enjoyable quality of life amenities for our community for years to come.”

Schwind is a certified public manager and serves on the board of directors for the Boys and Girls Clubs of the Casa Grande Valley.


The proposed trash, sewer rate increases
        Final adoption during June 20 City Council meeting

City Council study session agenda, June 6
Presentation and discussion on reasons for increasing trash and sewer rates. OPEN TO PUBLIC

New measles case; CG exposure areas widen

JUNE 2 UPDATE: Two more infected at prison


(Posted May 30, 2016)


The exposure sites list as of the afternoon of May 30


The state and Pinal County health departments issued this update today:


The Arizona Department of Health Services, Maricopa County Department of Public Health and Pinal County Public Health Services District have confirmed an additional case of measles stemming from the outbreak at the private detention center in Eloy, bringing the total number of confirmed cases to eleven. 

The potential exposure area is being expanded because some of the identified cases may have exposed other people within Pinal and Maricopa counties.

"This is an evolving situation, and given how contagious measles is, public health will continue to update our communities on places of potential exposure," said Dr. Cara Christ, director of the Arizona Department of Health Services. "People who have a rash and fever must call their healthcare provider or emergency department before going to let them know they may have measles. This is vital to help stop the further spread of the disease."

Symptoms appear seven to 12 days after exposure but may take up to 21 days. It begins with fever (101 F or higher), red, watery eyes, cough and runny nose and is followed by a rash that is red, raised, and blotchy. The rash begins on the face at the hairline and moves down the body. The rash may last five to six days. 



Newly identified public exposures: 


• Wednesday, May 18, 2016:

• Denny's, 1851 E. Florence Blvd., Casa Grande, from 2-5:30 p.m.

• Wal-Mart Pharmacy, 1741 E. Florence Blvd., Casa Grande, from 3:30-6:30 p.m.


• Thursday, May 19: 

Wal-Mart Pharmacy, 1741 E. Florence Blvd., Casa Grande, from 5-8 p.m.


Daily between May 20-29: 

Circle K, 2382 N. Pinal Ave., Casa Grande from 2:30-7 p.m.


Friday, May 20:

• Safeway, 1449 N. Arizona Blvd., Coolidge, from 4-7 p.m.

• Golden Corral, 2064 E. Florence Blvd., Casa Grande, from 8-11 p.m.

• Ross, 1004 N. Promenade Pkwy., Casa Grande, from 9 p.m.-midnight.

• Walmart, 1741 E. Florence Blvd., Casa Grande, from 10 p.m.-1 a.m.

• Corner Store, 2182 E. Florence Blvd., Casa Grande, from 10 p.m.-1 a.m.


• Friday, May 27, 2016: 

Cheddars, 2530 W. Chandler Blvd., Chandler, from 5 to 9 p.m.



Previously reported public exposure from another case includes:


• Saturday, May 21: 

Harrah's Ak-Chin Casino, 15406 North Maricopa Road in Maricopa, from approximately 6 a.m.-2 a.m. (May 22).


• Sunday, May 22: 

Arco AM/PM Store, 2245 E. Florence Blvd., in Casa Grande from 8:30-11 a.m.


• Multiple visits to the Apostolic Assembly - The Faith, 424 E. Frontier St., in Eloy on Sunday, May 15, from 1 -3 p.m.; Monday, May 16, from 6-8 p.m., and Wednesday, May 18, from 7-8:30 p.m.


• Tuesday, May 17: 

Villa Oasis High School graduation, 3740 N Toltec Road, in Toltec, from 6-9 p.m.



What to do if you think you have measles:


• If you have a healthcare provider, contact him/her by phone and let them know that you may have been exposed to measles. They will let you know when to visit their office so as not to expose others in the waiting area. 

• If you do not have a health care provider, you may need to be seen at your local hospital emergency room/urgent care center. Please call before going to let them know you may have measles. 


For more information on measles' signs and symptoms or where you may find vaccine, please check with your healthcare provider or your county health department. 


You are immune to measles if you have received two measles, mumps, and rubella [MMR] vaccines or were born before 1957 and have received one MMR vaccine.


Health care providers are required to report suspect cases of measles to their local health department. Public Health continues to investigate contacts and places of exposure for these new cases. The department will continue to provide updates and additional information on confirmed cases and potential public exposure as information becomes available. 


For information on signs and symptoms of measles, or where you can find vaccine, visit StoptheSpreadAZ.com


Medical questions should be directed to your health care provider. 


For outbreak-related questions, community members may call 602-839-2275. 


Even those trashy landfills need maintenance

(Posted May 30, 2016)


The scope of work agreement is HERE



Even landfills need maintenance — both to keep them functioning and to head off environmental problems.

In the case of Casa Grande’s operation, a stormwater collection system needs to be constructed to lead from the west area to the retention basin on the north.

Easier said than done, given that the engineering company hired to design the system will have to work with the federal Bureau of Indian Affairs and the San Carlos Irrigation Project, both of which have a canal in the area.

Sunrise Engineering from Mesa will do the design work and handle permitting from the other agencies. The contract is for $96,214, broken down as $79,538 for the base contract and $16,676 for optional services.

“We’ll only use those services if we absolutely need to once we get into this project,” Public Works Director Kevin Louis told the City Council during discussion of the contract.

“We have three cells at the landfill, west cell, east cell and then a north cell,” Louis said. “The west cell and the east cell are both permitted for a landfill and the north cell is not. We currently use that for the retention of our stormwater from that site.

“The landfill’s west cell needs to have a drainage system designed through a series of ditches and canals along the existing berms that will convey that retention to the basin located in that north cell.

The challenge is, those basins are located on the other side of the canals that are operated by the Bureau of Indian Affairs and the San Carlos Irrigation project. so environmental challenges and permitting challenges will definitely be an issue with this project.”

Councilman Dick Powell asked if the rainwater now runs through the garbage or is it diverted beforehand.

Yes to both questions, Louis replied.

“We have stormwater that sheets off the sides and the top of it, as well as there is some water that does go down through the trash,” he said.

Powell said that he noticed in the environmental section of the proposal that contaminants and other substances might be brought to the retention ponds.

“Yes,” Louis replied. “We’ll look at all of those issues. Of course, we’ll not get a permit unless we meet all the environmental requirements.”

Councilwoman Lisa Fitzgibbons asked why the project is just now being approved.

“I know it’s budgeted and everything, but is it something we’ve had to do for several years and we’re kind of coming to the point where we have to do this?” she asked.

Louis responded that, “We developed a landfill master plan and it was identified in that master plan as something that we needed to do, so we’ve been looking at each phase of that master plan and this has now come up, and of course we want to stick to that as closely as possible.”

Mayor Bob Jackson asked, “At some point, that drainage would be required as part of the closure and post closure care of the landfill, as well, would it not?”

Correct, Louis answered.

“As we get further and further out of the ground — in other words, going above the areas around that in elevation — we have to maintain that drainage,” he said.

“Otherwise we’re going to impact those (surrounding) properties negatively, and we can’t do that.”


Rezoning, charter school before P&Z Commission
            Rezoning staff report      Charter school staff report

Raggedy Ann, Andy demolition to begin June 7

(Posted May 25, 2016)


Demolition of the former Raggedy Ann and Andy day care center is scheduled to begin June 7, the city announced today.

AGE General Engineering submitted the low bid of $13,284 for clearing the building at 419 W. Second St.

Demolition of the 6,700 square feet structure should be completed by June 15, the announcement said.


NextCare appeal of off-site sign citation denied

(Posted May 24, 2016)


The staff report is HERE


Scroll down to bottom of report to see other such signs in question and signs that have been removed.



An appeal by NextCare Urgent Care of a code enforcement citation that its off-site sign along Florence Boulevard is illegal and must be removed was denied Tuesday night by the Casa Grande Board of Adjustment.

The vote was 6-1 to deny, with board member Debra Shaw Rhodes voting in favor of NextCare.

NextCare did not make a presentation during the meeting to outline reasons for its appeal.

A woman in the audience said she works for NextCare but was asked by the company to only attend the meeting and report back on whether the appeal was upheld or denied.

Planning and Development Director Paul Tice told the board that his department will work with NextCare about removing the sign.

Code enforcement officials contend that NextCare, which operates a clinic at 1683 E. Florence Blvd. at Arizola Road, placed a large sign on a vacant lot north of Florence Boulevard to the east that it rents from an investment company.

The city cites a sign code section that says permanent off-site signs are not permitted.

According to the staff report, NextCare filed an appeal based on:

• Their facility (behind Bank of America next to the 99 Cents Only store) has limited visibility for passing traffic. 

• The sign directs people who are in need of medical attention to their location. 

• Their patient clientele has expanded with the sign at this location. 

The staff report says NextCare contends that the sign is beneficial to the area because:

• It is well maintained. 

• It is attractive. 

• It does not diminish property values. 

The city contends that, among other things:

• The NextCare suite is located on the corner of the building, therefore allowing two attached signs instead of one. 

• NextCare has a sign panel within the monument sign along the frontage of Florence Boulevard, a high traffic street. 

• There are other ways of publicizing the clinic, including social media and newspaper advertising.

Tice told the board that there is enough room on the parts of the NextCare building on the east and north sides to almost double the size of the present signs.

NextCare has not taken advantage of that opportunity, he said.


Thornton Road reconstruction bids sought

(Posted May 18, 2016)


Casa Grande is seeking bids for a contractor to reconstruct the mile-long stretch of Thornton Road between Gila Bend Highway and Cottonwood Lane, including new pavement, curbs and traffic control signs and striping.

According to the bids request, the work will include:

• Remove existing pavement and miscellaneous curb sections.

• Grade the roadway for paving.

• Construct new cement treated subgrade.

• Place, install and compact aggregate base course.

• Construct new asphaltic concrete pavement,

• Construct new curb and gutter sections,

• Install new traffic control signing and striping,

• Adjust valves and manholes to finished grade,

• Other miscellaneous and contingent work needed to complete the project,

The deadline for submitting bids is June 21.


Issuing bonds for community center approved

(Posted May 16, 2016)


The bonds resolution is HERE


Bonds 20-year repayment chart is HERE



Issuing $16 million in bonds for construction of a community recreation center was authorized by the Casa Grande City Council during Monday night’s meeting.

The issuance date will be early in June, the council was told.

Issuing the bonds does not guarantee that a center will be built. It is to have money available if the council approves the final building plans, now in the process of being developed.

During the April meeting of the Parks and Recreation Advisory Board, Community Services Director Bill Schwind said that possibly by the middle of this month the contractor for the proposed center would be meeting with city officials to put forth a design schedule for the project.

“We’ll hopefully have a schedule out and ready to go when it comes to the projected timeline that Haydon (the contractor) and Architekton (the architects) will be using to get us to the end road, which will get us back to council with a decision on whether or not to move forward  with building it,” he said.

“In looking at some documentation recently from Haydon and Architekton, they were thinking about a nine-month planning process. We’re hoping for maybe a five-month design process, because this isn’t the first building they’ve ever built.

“And then you’ve got a 12- to 18-month construction period. So, a couple of years away for building completion.”

The $16 million in bonds will be the last issue from the $47 million approved by the voters in November 2016.

So far, the Public Safety Facility, Len Colla Center renovation, library improvements and some golf course work have been completed.

At the time of the 2006 bond election, city officials said the recreation center would be the last project to be built.

The bond resolution approved Monday night also allows refinancing of some existing city bonds to take advantage of lower interest rates.


Uptick in permits for single-family residences

(Posted May 14, 2016)



You’ll find monthly building and code enforcement reports HERE

   (April report is not yet posted on city website)



The Casa Grande Planning and Development Department is seeing an  uptick in single-family housing permits, something that will continue to be watched.

During his report to the Planning and Zoning Commission during this month’s meeting, Planning and Development Director Paul Tice said, “The observation I’d make on the building permit data is for March we had a spike in the number of permits for new single-family homes. It’s 23.

“Over the last five or six years it’s been averaging about eight to 10 a month, so that was a pretty big spike.”

That contrast with six during January and nine for February, rising to 14 for April.

“We’re going to continue to watch that trend,” Tice said.

“DR Horton continues building in Desert Sky Ranch. They’ve had a lot of home under construction in Desert Sky. They’re building in Mission Valley.

“I called them DR Horton, but they’re rebranding here in Casa Grande under Express Homes by DR Horton, so they’re Express Homes, but they are building.

“And Meritage is building in Mission Royale.”

DR Horton has been buying and building on selected residential lots in subdivisions that were never completed.


I-10 lane restrictions begin Monday night

(Posted May 13, 2016)


The Arizona Department of Transportation issued this announcement today:


Interstate 10 will have overnight right lane and shoulder restrictions in both directions in Pinal County from Casa Blanca Road south of Chandler to Sunshine Boulevard west of Picacho (mileposts 175-208) beginning Monday, May 16, for bridge inspection work. 

The work will take place Monday-Friday from 9 p.m.-5 a.m. through late June. 

Lane restrictions will only occur at each inspection site and will vary each night.

Law enforcement will be on site and message boards will direct motorists through the closure.

For more information, please call Paki Rico at 520-388-4233, or email prico@azdot.gov.


May 16 City Council regular agenda
    (clicking on an agenda item brings up staff reports and documents, if available)
May 16 City Council study session agenda

Cox cable customers may watch the 7 p.m. meeting HERE

Permit, site plan for Dunkin' Donuts approved

(Posted May 5, 2016)


The staff report is HERE


The company press information kit is HERE


The menu is HERE



A conditional use permit and site plan for a Dunkin’ Donuts at 1306 E. Florence Blvd. were approved Thursday night by the Planning and Zoning Commission.

The site, between Great Western Bank and JB’s Restaurant, is just east of Colorado Street.

The commission was told that the building plans are now in second review by the Planning and Development Department, which should be finished within 30 days.

After that, construction could begin, taking four to six months.

The operation will be open seven days a week from 4 a.m.-9 p.m., the commission was told. There will probably be about 15 to 20 employees, with five on a shift.

As presented, the building would be 1,985 square feet, with a 247-square-feet covered patio on the south side facing Florence.

There will be a drive through lane that wraps around the northwest side of the building.

As part of the requested action, that part of the Casa Grande Shopping Center will be replatted to make a separate plat for Dunkin’ Donuts of just over a third of an acre.

The staff report says the operation is projected to cause 1,802 vehicle trips per day, with 222 in the morning peak hours and 95 during the afternoon and evening.

According the the company website, “Dunkin' Donuts is the world's leading baked goods and coffee chain, serving more than three million customers per day. Dunkin' Donuts sells 52 varieties of donuts and more than a dozen coffee beverages as well as an array of bagels, breakfast sandwiches and other baked goods.”


City moving toward nitrate removal in system

UPDATE: Final approval was given during the May 16 City Council meeting



(Posted May 4, 2016)


Photos of the equipment are HERE


The nitrate warning is HERE


The notice of providing clean water is HERE



Initial approval has been given to spending $206,533 for equipment to remove nitrates from water in the small city-owned Copper Mountain Valley Water Co.

Contrary to a story in the Casa Grande Dispatch that the request was approved during Monday night’s City Council meeting, when a contract is more than $50,000 it requires an ordinance. An ordinance needs two readings (or approvals) by the council. That final approval is expected during the May 16 council meeting.

The equipments is expected resolve a longstanding problem the water company has had with nitrate levels exceeding the health levels. The city has been sanctioned by the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality and had entered into a consent agreement that it would install removal equipment.

Public Works Director Kevin Louis told the council that, “We’re hoping to get this completed in about three to four months. It’s going to be quite the effort but we believe we can meet the requirements of the (ADEQ) consent order.

“At this time, the plan is that the wastewater staff will perform the labor needed to install this equipment, as we started to run into some budget issues and just thought it would be better if we did that in-house to save some funds. That is what we’re going to try and do.”

Answering a question from Councilman Dick Powell, Louis said that the nitrates removes from the water will be held in a containment area until pumped out and taken for disposal.

The contract indicates that the water company, with one well, serves an estimated 690 people and has 276 connections. 

The facility near the intersection of Anderson Road and Maricopa-Casa Grande Highway.

It is entirely separate from the private Arizona Water Co., which serves the majority of residents within Casa Grande.

The city had previously advertised for a consulting company that could determine what equipment would be needed for nitrate removal.

According to that request, "this facility includes an existing 180-gallons-per-minute well, 300,000-gallon storage tank and booster pumps. The water produced by the existing well exceeds the maximum contaminate level (10 mg/l) for nitrates. Nitrates have been observed at levels of approximately 10.5 to 12 mg/l."

The small water company was acquired years ago at about the time the ill fated Copper Mountain Ranch megaproject northwest of Pinal Avenue was being ballyhooed. The operation covers Santa Rosa Ranch, Santa Rose III and Saddleback Farms. Mayor Bob Jackson said during discussions last year that the geographical area of the city water company is "north of Maricopa-Casa Grande Highway for the most part, west of Russell Road to Anderson Road, and then there's a second component that is south of Maricopa-Casa Grande Highway about half a mile south on the west side of Anderson Road."

The city has had problems with the system since the beginning.

Why, then, did the city acquire it?

Almost 11 years ago, then Mayor Chuck Walton said during a boards and commissions dinner that with the growth of the city at that time, it was decided to go into the water business to be able to have a say in water planning for the future in this area.

"To get in the water business," he told the audience, "the estimates we found would have cost $3 million to start from scratch to form a water company on the north end of Casa Grande to accommodate some of the fast growth that we were seeing at that time.

"We searched around and found a water company that was already in existence that had about 250 customers. It was literally a piece of junk; it wasn't worth 15 cents, but the purchase price was over a million dollars. 

"Now, we got a lot of criticism for that, for how come these idiots would hit taxpayers 1.2 or 1.3 million dollars for a piece of junk," Walton said.

"Well, number one, I want to remind everybody that we didn't spend taxpayers' money on that water company. We got a mediation gift from Reliant (Energy) for putting that big steamboat out on the west end of town that's known as the electric generation plant (now a SRP facility).

"They bought that water company and gave it to us and we gave it to the citizens of Casa Grande. So we literally started into the water business at the taxpayers' expense of zero dollars."

Walton added that, "we're on the verge right now of putting that water company on the market, we don't need it any more. And since we don't need to anymore, it's an asset we need to liquidate.

"We've got a minimum bid on that water company of $5 million, so anything over $5 million that water company's going to have a new owner.”

Nothing came of that.


Casa Grande collects tons of scrap metal each year

(Posted May 4 2016)


Casa Grande collects a lot of scrap metal — tons of it, in fact.

And, the city sells it to the highest bidder.

According to a notice for bids posted on the city’s website, the landfill ships approximately 226 tons of scrap metal (452,000 pounds) for recycling per year. 

Bidders are to bid on a price per ton basis and will be responsible for be removing and providing empty containers as needed to keep up with incoming scrap metal. 

“Landfill staff will support the operation by packing/compacting materials down into the containers in an effort to maximize container weights,” the bids request says. 

“An average of two containers is shipped every other week, averaging over seven tons of scrap metal per shipment.”

The last time around, the bid was $11 per ton.


Finance director taking same job in Goodyear

(Posted May 4, 2016)


Doug Sandstrom, Casa Grande’s city finance director, is resigning to take the same job with Goodyear, Ariz., the city announced today.

His last day will be May 20, at which time an interim director will be appointed by City Manager Jim Thompson, the announcement said.

It added that the city will conduct a nationwide search for a permanent replacement, considering both outside applicants and applications for present employees.

Sandstrom became city finance director in November 2013.


Three public sessions on Casa Grande budget

(Posted April 29, 2016)


PROPOSED BUDGET


PROPOSED FEES SCHEDULE



Casa Grande residents have three opportunities to learn about the city’s proposed budget for the fiscal year beginning July 1.

The proposed budget has not yet been made public.

The public meetings are:

• City Council study session (open to public)

May 16 at 6 p.m.

City Hall council chambers

510 E. Florence Blvd.

• City Council meeting/budget public hearing

June 6 at 7 p.m. 

council chambers at City Hall 

510 E. Florence Blvd.

• City Council meeting/budget public hearing

June 20 at 7 p.m. 

council chambers at City Hall

510 E. Florence Blvd.

“As part of the budget process,” the announcement said, “the City Council reviews changes to the city's consolidated fee schedule, which is a list of fees charged for certain services. The City Council also establishes property tax rates on a yearly basis. 

“For questions or additional information about the budget process, contact the Finance Department at 421-8600 or at http://casagrandeaz.gov/dept/finance/.”


City wants to hike sewer, water company rates

(Posted April 28, 2016)


A trash collection rate increase is also proposed  HERE


The city sewer rate increase chart and report are HERE


The Copper Mountain Ranch water increase chart and report are HERE


One of the items on Monday night’s City Council agenda is a notice that Casa Grande intends to raise its monthly rates for sewer service and for its small Copper Mountain Ranch Water Co. on the northwest side of town (not to be confused with privately-operated Arizona Water Co., which serves most of the city).


City sewer

The proposed single-family residential sewer increase is $5 monthly, going from $32.45 to $37.45.

The rate increase chart shows projected increases through 2021, ending at $43.45 monthly.

Similar increases are proposed for businesses, industry and multifamily housing.

City trash service is not at this time included in the increases.

Monday night’s action is to approve publishing a notice of intent for sewer and water increases. A public hearing is scheduled for the June 6 council meeting.

“Following the public hearing the council will be asked to adopt fee increases for both the water and wastewater systems,” the staff report says. “Council has the ability to adopt fees as presented in the written report or at any level less than presented but may not adopt fees higher than those presented.”



Copper Mountain Water

NOTE AGAIN: This is the city-owned Copper Mountain Ranch Water Co. It is not Arizona Water Co., a private business that serves most of Casa Grande.

The proposed rate increase for all basic accounts is $2.04 monthly, going from $20.35 to $22.39. 

Increases are also projected through 2021, ending at $32.77 monthly.

Another agenda item Monday is for spending $206,533 for a nitrate removal system for the company water. The company now exceeds permitted levels.

The nitrate staff report is HERE.


May 2 City Council regular meeting agenda
  (clicking on an item brings up staff reports, documents when available)
May 2 City Council study session agenda

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