Another year has come to an end. Too bad COVID-19 didn’t go with it. On the bright side, it can’t get any worse. Oops, I just jinxed it.

There was a lot of good news, too. And good people. The Dispatch wrote about them. The not-so-good got their share of ink, usually on Pages 2A and 3A, below the obituaries.

Don’t forget government, sports and business. It was all there in the Dispatch. Time to move on? Sure. Right after this brief quiz on the highlights and low blows of 2021.

Bill Coates mug

Bill Coates

1. In a search of the 2021 PinalCentral database, the term “COVID” appeared:

A. Nearly 3,000 times, at least 500 more than in 2020.

B. Hardly at all, because editors decided readers were tired of hearing about it.

C. As often as the number of stars in the Crab Nebula, give or take a few.

D. More times than I care to count.

2. Ashton Clark was the first baby:

A. To run a mile under five minutes.

B. To eat Gerber’s strained green beans without making a face.

C. Born at Banner Casa Grande Medical Center in 2021.

D. Elected to be mayor of Eloy.

3. In a 2021 food-related crime:

A. A Maricopa woman was cuffed for overcooking her Christmas turkey.

B. A school cafeteria worker was charged with taking bribes for serving extra slices of soggy pizza.

C. A Casa Grande man was arrested after allegedly assaulting a dinner guest with a piece of beef brisket.

D. Little Billy was hauled off to juvie for allegedly refusing to eat his peas.

4. The Pinal County Board of Supervisors and area city councils debated the pressing issue of:

A. Whether to arrange agenda items by letters or numerals.

B. Approving or restricting additional recreational pot shops allowed by a voter-approved law.

C. Giving animal-shelter puppies cute names to make them easier to adopt. “Maggie” was favored over “Grouchy.”

D. Lobbying the Arizona Legislature to make javelina the state pig (though it’s not really a pig.)

5. In 2021, community leader Mark Vanderheyden:

A. Traded his entire Beatles collection for a rare copy of “Spice Girls Greatest Hits.”

B. Retired as executive director of Seeds of Hope, a faith-based charity known for the Mondo Anaya Community Center, created under his guidance.

C. Was the first person over 60 to run up Casa Grande Mountain in under a minute.

D. Won a blue ribbon at the Arizona State Fair for growing a 900-pound squash that looked like W.C. Fields.

6. Longtime Casa Grande City Council member Dick Powell proposed easing Pinal County’s pending water shortage by:

A. Building a pipeline to tap into floodwaters from the Mississippi River.

B. Towing icebergs down from Alaska.

C. Building a desalinization plant in the Gulf of California.

D. Dropping water balloons from surplus cargo planes.

7. The FBI Violent Crimes Task Force arrested a man who allegedly robbed 23 banks, including two in Casa Grande, one of them twice. He was dubbed the:

A. “My Back Hurts Bandit.”

B. “Call for Backup Bandit.”

C. “Back Door Bandit.”

D. “Back Again Bandit.”

8. Casa Grande city planners used the word “zombie” to refer to:

A. People who suddenly wake up during planning commission meetings.

B. All the people who rose from the dead to vote for Joe Biden, many of them not registered.

C. A leftover Thanksgiving turkey that came to life and was last seen loitering on Florence Boulevard.

D. Renewed development of once-abandoned subdivisions.

9. Casa Grande became a major manufacturing hub with the arrival of Lucid Motors. In 2021, another big player signed on to build a million-square-foot facility. That is:

A. Kohler Co., which makes toilets, faucets, sinks and other products for bathrooms and kitchens.

B. Button Down, a maker of dress collars for men who wouldn’t feel right going out in a T-shirt.

C. Doodle Dogs Inc., which manufactures a wide range of gear for doodle dogs, including Labradoodles, goldendoodles and wienerdoodles.

D. Man Caves LLC, maker of man-cave essentials such as a 240-inch HD TV and a fridge with a 300-Budweiser capacity.

10. A 43-year-old man fled from Pinal County sheriff’s deputies and spent 107 days in the desert before his capture. He survived by:

A. Ordering takeout delivered by Uber Eats.

B. Dining on scorpions and black widow spiders he found under rocks.

C. Shooting javelina and eating fish taken from a nearby Central Arizona Project canal.

D. Standing on a nearby freeway with a handwritten cardboard sign that read “I’d gladly pay you Tuesday for a hamburger today.”

11. The Casa Grande Union High School Cougars football team won a state championship game with:

A. A trick play, where the quarterback faked a handoff to every member of the team before passing it to himself.

B. A field goal from behind the concession stand, where the ball was placed after the Cougars racked up 243 yards in penalties.

C. The offensive line drawing the Poston Butte defense offsides by dancing the Macarena.

D. An unbelievable 57-yard pass on a fourth down with less than three minutes to play.

Answers: 1.A (though D would work) 2.C 3.C 4.B 5.B 6.A (though he’d probably support C) 7.D 8.D 9.A 10.C 11.D

And finally a moment to reflect on the loss of three people I had the good fortune to interview over a number of years: Dick Myers, historian of all things Eloy; Frank Pratt, a rare humble and soft-spoken politician; and Frank Mejia, barber and storyteller.


Reach contributing writer Bill Coates at bccoates@cox.net.


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