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Guitar wizard Jones to play CG
 mstaude  / 

CASA GRANDE — Donning his signature bolero hat and playing some of his favorite songs on his Fender guitar, blues-inspired guitarist Carvin Jones and his band plan to rock the Paramount Theatre on Friday, Sept. 6.

“It will be an absolutely rockin’ show,” said Jones, who has been performing for audiences worldwide for more than 25 years. “It’s a night people won’t soon forget.”

The show will be the first in which Jones, a Phoenix-based guitarist, has performed in Casa Grande.

“I’m excited and looking forward to playing in Casa Grande,” he said. “I have a few surprises for the audience.”

The show, he said, will be “an energized night full of unforgettable rock ’n’ roll.”

Jones began playing guitar at age 6, inspired by B.B. King, Jimi Hendrix and ZZ Top.

“I heard them play and I wanted to be just like them,” he said.

Since then, he’s played in 35 countries, including Iraq and Kuwait, where he performed for U.S. troops.

Carvin Jones and his band perform about 300 shows a year. He’s performed on stages in Canada, Spain, England, Scotland, Serbia, France, Russia, Finland, Iceland and Italy.

Earlier this month, he performed in Belgium and Germany.

“I’ve been blessed to play to sold-out crowds all around the world,” he said.

He has shared the stage and toured with B.B. King, Santana, Jeff Beck, Albert King, Albert Collins, The Animals, REO Speedwagon, Jimmy Vaughan, Double Trouble and has performed with Joe Cocker and the Fabulous Thunderbirds.

Jones frequently performs for fans at festivals, has made numerous television appearances and has received praise and recognition from some of the top artists in the blues world, according to a press release.

Over the years, he has released four albums featuring his high-energy and unique guitar style, including “What You Need” in 1999, “The Carvinator” in 2008, “Victory is Mine” in 2014 and his latest, “What a Good Day” in 2018.

A few years ago, he was named one of the top 50 blues guitarists of all time by “Guitarist Magazine.” In that article, Eric Clapton is quoted saying “Carvin Jones is a young cat out of Phoenix who I think is the next up-and-coming blues player.”

The show at the Paramount Theatre begins at 9 p.m. Doors open at 8.

Ticket prices start at $25 for general admission. VIP tickets, which include access to the preshow soundcheck and meet-and-greet, are $75 each.

Jones said the show is suitable for all audiences. Tickets are available online at For more information, visit Jones’ website at

Premier bringing Mitsubishi dealership to CG

CASA GRANDE — A Mitsubishi Motors auto dealership will soon be the first import franchise in Casa Grande in many years, Premier Auto Center announced Wednesday morning.

The franchise will open as early as October at Premier Auto Center’s Pinal Avenue location and will be called Premier Mitsubishi. Premier will remodel the existing dealership as part of the change.

“We are honored to be selected as the newest Mitsubishi franchise!” principal owner Scott Lehman said in a press release. “This is an amazing opportunity to bring my hometown of Casa Grande its only import dealership.”

Premier Auto owns used car dealerships in Tucson and El Paso, Texas, in addition to its store at 1648 N. Pinal Ave. “Premier Auto Management would like to thank the local elected officials of Casa Grande, including Mayor Craig McFarland, for making this franchise possible,” the press release said.

The franchise will be the only new import dealership in Casa Grande and the first to operate since a Volkswagen franchise closed in the early 1980s.

“It’s truly an exciting time in the growth of our company to be awarded this amazing brand and franchise,” Lehman said. “It’s important for me to secure the opportunity to service the Casa Grande community by offering them another choice to ‘buy local.’”

The company started 12 years ago with Lehman and four employees. He said during an open house at the dealership Wednesday morning, where he signed the dealership agreement, that Mitsubishi’s product lines are ideal for Pinal County, featuring 10-year, 100,000-mile guarantees and economical prices.

“We’re just going to be able to help more people,” he said.

breaking top story
'YouTube Mom' Hobson declared incompetent but ‘restorable’
 bwright  / 

FLORENCE — The issue of competency with Machelle Hobson, known as the “YouTube Mom,” is not over yet.

While doctors for the defense and the state have declared the Maricopa woman, charged with abusing her adopted children while running a lucrative YouTube channel, incompetent to stand trial, there was no mention in their reports that she could not eventually be restored to competency.

On Wednesday, Pinal County Superior Court Judge Delia Neal declared Hobson incompetent but restorable. Attorneys for both sides will present a recommendation to Neal for a restoration specialist. That information must be presented to the court within seven days.

Hobson was not present in court, and defense attorney Josh Wallace said he thinks she is still at the same medical facility where she has been held since being removed from jail for health reasons.

The state has a 15-month window to restore Hobson, 47, to competency. She could be restored much earlier than that, but 15 months is the maximum time allowed for the process.

Pinal County Attorney Kent Volkmer said he is confident Hobson will be held accountable for her crimes.

“I believe she will be restored (to competency),” he told PinalCentral outside the courtroom after the conclusion of Wednesday’s hearing. “I believe the 15-month timeframe is enough for us to get her restored, allow her to be brought back into court for her to be held accountable, and ultimately go to trial and find her guilty.”

Once a restoration specialist is approved by Neal, which Volkmer said should happen within a day or two after she receives recommendations, reviews of that restoration process, with updates from the specialist, will occur every two months.

The first restoration review is scheduled for Oct. 2.

Some members of the community have openly questioned on social media why a woman who was approved to adopt foster children could be found incompetent. But the evaluation of one’s competency is not solely based on their sanity or psychological state.

In certain cases, a medical issue could lead to a diagnosis of not competent. For example, Volkmer said a stroke or traumatic brain injury that impairs brain functioning are among other reasons why a person could receive that designation.

However, Volkmer said he could not comment on the specific reason Hobson was declared incompetent by the two doctors.

Hobson is charged with 30 counts of abuse, ranging from Class 2 to Class 6 felonies, with some designated by the state as dangerous crimes against children.

The allegations against Hobson include that she used pepper spray on the children, starved them, locked them in closets, hit and spit at them and pinched a child’s genitals hard enough to draw blood.

If she is eventually restored to competency and stands trial, the five juvenile victims may testify against her.

“It’s highly likely the children would be required to testify,” Volkmer said.

While police reports indicate Hobson’s two older sons may have known about the abuse, they have not been charged. Volkmer said he was not confident enough in a reasonable likelihood of conviction on any charges against her sons at this time, although that could change if his office receives new information in follow-up investigations.

The case has received national attention, in no small part because of the YouTube channel Hobson ran, which featured adventure videos starring the children she allegedly abused. It was a popular channel with more than 800,000 subscribers and videos that were viewed more than 200 million times. The channel reportedly generated hundreds of thousands of dollars for Hobson.

Volkmer said it’s a child abuse case unlike any other he’s seen due to use of social media and what the state believes was the impetus for committing the abuse.

“I can’t think of a case that mirrors these generic facts, in that the abuses these children suffered were in furtherance of the YouTube channel and in furtherance of her making money,” he said.

breaking top story
Court: Johnson family can argue to get Pinal utility back

PHOENIX — The owners of Johnson Utilities are going to get a chance to argue that the takeover of the management of the firm by state regulators is illegal.

In an order Wednesday, the Arizona Supreme Court agreed to review a lower court ruling which concluded the Arizona Corporation Commission was within its power when it handed the day-to-day operations last year over to EPCOR, another utility. That other company is still running Johnson Utilities.

Wednesday’s order does not mean that George Johnson and family members will regain control. But it does give him the best chance so far, as he and his company have been rebuffed in prior legal fights.

Potentially more significant, it sets the stage for the state’s high court to decide once and for all exactly how much power regulators have to wrest control of an operating utility from its current owners, and over their objections.

The commission order follows a 14-day hearing last year which dealt with what regulators concluded were significant issues with the operation of the utility, including low water pressure and leaking sewage. Tied to that were questions of not just billing practices but also whether the company was spending the money necessary to ensure safe and reliable operation.

That order allows Johnson Utilities to regain control of the water and wastewater company that serves about 35,000 customers in the Florence, Queen Creek and San Tan Valley area only after showing it “would not present an unreasonable risk of service.’’

Attorneys for Johnson Utilities sued, contending that only a court has the power to give control of the company to someone else, even on an interim basis.

Earlier this year, the Court of Appeals rejected that claim.

Appellate Judge Peter Swann, writing for the court, said the Arizona Constitution gives broad powers to the commission. And he said that, in general, courts give deference to the commissioners in deciding what actions they need to take “to protect consumers from abuse and overreaching by public service corporations.’’

More to the point, Swann said there is no requirement for regulators to wait until the problems are so bad as to require immediate intervention. He said the commission is empowered to act to prevent problems.

It is that appellate court ruling that the Supreme Court will review.

In separate court fights, attorneys for the commission argued that there is precedent — albeit not recent — for regulators to step in as a manager.

But Sharon Moyer, one of the utility’s lawyers, said all those cases involved incidents where the owners of small companies had simply packed up and left town, leaving the utility and its customers stranded. Moyer has argued this is different, with the commission taking control of an operating utility and doing so over the objections of its owner.

There was no immediate reaction from the commission.

Since being granted control of the company, EPCOR has embarked on what it says is a capital improvement plan — using money from Johnson Utility ratepayers that otherwise would have gone to the family business — to ensure the equipment is sufficient to meet current and future needs.

Johnson was personally indicted along with former Commissioner Gary Pierce, Pierce’s wife Sherry, and Johnson Utility lobbyist Jim Norton on charges stemming from what the Department of Justice said was a scheme to bribe Pierce in exchange for his vote on two issues of interest to the utility. A jury was unable to reach a verdict last year and federal prosecutors did not seek a new trial.