A1 A1
featured top story
New owners of open pit mine near CG set up hotline

CASA GRANDE — The new owners of a long-dormant open pit mine near Casa Grande have set up a hotline to answer any questions or concerns about their plans from area residents.

Elim Mining has signed an agreement to purchase the Sacaton Unit mine from the ASARCO Environmental Custodial Trust.

Elim announced it was in the process of purchasing the mine in late October. The company plans to rename the site Cactus Mine.

“We are thrilled to be joining the people of Pinal County to revitalize this historic site,” said John Antwi, president and CEO of Elim in a press release. “Our company endeavors to focus on three things: economic development, environmental protection and community partnerships.”

“I am very pleased to learn about the recent purchase agreement that will revitalize important property in our county,” said Pinal County Board of Supervisors Chairman Mike Goodman in a press release. “This type of development is just what we need, bringing jobs and many other economic benefits to our residents.”

The company has set up a community hotline to answer questions from the public about the mine. Residents can call 520-858-0600 or send an email to community@cactusmine.com.

The mine is located west of Casa Grande and north of Maricopa-Casa Grande Highway.

The primary resource Elim hopes to get from the mine is copper but it will also be looking for smaller deposits of gold, silver and molybdenum. Molybdenum is used to strengthen steel and other metals.

ASARCO operated the mine between April 1974 and March of 1984, according to Arizona Geological Survey records. In 1985, ASARCO considered turning the pit mine into a landfill. The company dropped the idea in 1987 after strong public opposition to the project.

In 2009, the state of Arizona reached a $20 million settlement with ASARCO to clean up the site.

featured top story
CG area coalition starts fourth Habitat for Humanity house
 mstaude  / 

CASA GRANDE — Every weekend for 16 weeks, volunteers are coming together at an area construction site with one goal in mind: to build a beautiful new home for a deserving family.

Representing various area churches, the volunteers were brought together by the Pinal County Coalition of Congregations. Together, even if they’ve never before swung a hammer, volunteers work to build a new home for Habitat for Humanity of Central Arizona.


This empty lot in Arizona City will soon be a home for a family.

On Nov. 16, the coalition began work on its fourth home in three years — a one-story house in the 9800 block of West Bradshaw Drive.

“Volunteering to build these houses is a great time for volunteers to come together and meet people from other churches,” said Robert Castro of Calvary Chapel in Casa Grande. “It’s also a way for volunteers to give their time helping someone else.”

Several area churches are members of the coalition — Calvary Chapel, Covenant Presbyterian, First Presbyterian of Casa Grande, Trinity Lutheran and Passion Church.

Through the partnership, the churches supply volunteer labor and some of the money for each house. Area businesses, including Hexcel and Nissan, also provide some of the funding. Habitat for Humanity supplies the land and finds a family to occupy the new home.

“It’s amazing seeing the whole process that starts with an empty lot and ends with a house being built from the ground up,” said Mark Chase, pastor at Trinity Lutheran Church & TLC Preschool.


Volunteer Rodney Ploof at a recent Habitat for Humanity job site in Casa Grande. 

As home prices steadily rise and home loan qualifications tighten, fewer prospective homeowners are qualifying for a traditional home loan, said Andrea Northup of Habitat for Humanity. They’re also having a tougher time qualifying for Habitat for Humanity guidelines.

“A few years ago, about six out of every 100 applicants for a Habitat for Humanity home would qualify,” Northup said. “Now, it’s three out of every 100 applicants.”

Habitat for Humanity homes are built in partnership between the homeowner and the community.

The homebuyer pays for the home with an affordable home loan and through a down payment of about 400 hours of “sweat equity” earned during the homebuilding process.

“These are homebuyers who might have trouble coming up with a down payment or might have things in their credit history that can be explained,” Northup said. “We look at these things and consider their ability to pay for a home loan and their willingness to put in 400 hours toward the completion of their home.”

Once qualified and accepted for a home, the buyer builds a relationship with the volunteer teams by working alongside them.

“They learn how to put up drywall and do landscaping,” Northup said. “They see the transformation of their home from empty lot to move-in-ready home and they learn how to take care of their home.”

Submitted photo  

Volunteers at a recent Habitat for Humanity job site near Casa Grande.

The coalition formed a few years ago at the suggestion of Trinity Lutheran member Ron Meyer, who approached his church with the idea of building homes for Habitat for Humanity. The coalition built its first home on Laurel Drive in Casa Grande in 2016. Since then, it’s built another on 12th Street in Casa Grande and one on West Mission Drive in Arizona City.

“For me, working on these projects is a way of living the faith, not just talking the faith,” Chase said. “Christians sometimes get a bad rap for not living the faith. This gives people an organized way to put faith in action.”

Each home costs about $100,000 to build and the coalition is reaching out to the community for the funds to keep building homes.

Because Habitat for Humanity is a nonprofit organization, donors may use the Arizona charitable tax credit option to contribute to the cause, Chase said.

Through the program, when Arizona single taxpayers give up to $400 or couples, $800, their tax liability is reduced by the donation amount.

“When using the charitable tax credit, it doesn’t cost people anything to make a donation — they’re really just reallocating their tax dollars,” Chase said.

To make a donation online, visit the Habitat for Humanity of Central Arizona website at www.habitatcaz.org. For more information about the coalition, call Chase at 836-2451 or send an email to mark.chase@tlcscg.org.

Casa Grande man applies for loan, discovers he's dead
 jheadley  / 

CASA GRANDE — Just when you think life is hard enough, imagine if a someone informs you that you’re actually dead.

It recently happened to a Casa Grande man.

William Edward Clarke II, 37, moved his family to Casa Grande from Florida in June.

The family only has one vehicle, a minivan, and it has been breaking down a lot. Clarke decided it was time to purchase a different vehicle.

He and his wife, Kira, went to a used car lot and applied for credit but were told that he had no credit history.

“That’s weird, I should have some,” he said. “We ignored it, and we just fixed the van instead.”

The van eventually broke down again.

“This time, when the van started to break down, we went to an actual big new car dealership. The lady calls back and gets a confirmation on my Social Security number three or four times. She goes, ‘It doesn’t make any sense. It says your husband is dead.’ It took us a couple of days to figure out they had to have killed me off because Dad is dead.”

When he was born, Clarke was given the same name as his father, but family members forgot to add Jr. to his legal paperwork, including his Social Security card.

“That is the biggest part of the problem,” Clarke said. “The second part of the problem is when most of your paperwork gets done, like deposits at the bank and paperwork at the Social Security office — a lot of people type in the name and then check the address. That’s it.”

He said that although he is actually William Edward Clarke Jr., he carries the exact same name as his father on official government paperwork and they lived in the same house when his father died about 18 months ago.

Clarke said for “juniors” living at the same address as their father, “they get everything switched all the time. My dad has received my tax return on a couple occasions. He has gotten my paycheck a couple times. Obviously, I am now dead because he is.”

Clarke said there was at least one warning sign before his credit was denied at the car dealership.

“The first time it should have been obvious is a year after my dad’s death, his driver’s license was still active. That is a big tipoff that somebody has the paperwork wrong somewhere,” Clarke said.

He’s not upset about it all.

“They’re lazy just like everyone else is. All they do is type in the name and confirm the address and that’s it. You’re not supposed to do it that way because of this. I don’t blame them. It’s just annoying. Dad died about a year and a half ago and apparently my credit has been off since then,” Clarke said.

He said he doesn’t have credit cards and the only thing he uses credit for is purchasing a car or a house.

“The two times we tried for a car, I got denied. One time because there was no credit and the other time because I’m dead,” Clarke joked. “It’s actually amusing. It’s not a big deal, but it is going to be annoying getting it fixed because — you know — I’m dead. Convincing the government I’m not is going to be a difficulty, but it is more amusing than anything.”

He added that if he used credit cards it would probably be much more of a problem.

“I’m not normal, I live almost entirely on cash. I could see how it could be a big deal to a lot of people,” Clarke said.

He said for some reason the “being dead issue” doesn’t seem to affect his bank accounts and only shows up when he is applying for credit.

“I guess my driver’s license isn’t dead, just my credit. Apparently, there is a difference between the credit the bank checks and the credit the car dealership checks. I don’t know what the difference is. At the bank, apparently, I’m good,” he said.

Clarke has also carried on his father’s name by naming his young son William Edward Clarke III. He said he’s been very careful to make sure all legal paperwork concerning his son clearly has the III attached to the name. He has used II instead of Jr. since his son was born.

Submitted photo  

William Edward Clarke II holds his son, William Edward Clarke III, behind his father, William Edward Clarke, before he died.

In the credit industry, someone who is incorrectly declared as deceased is known as a credit zombie.

Credit reporting agency Experian offers some advice to people who have become credit zombies.

According to Experian, “A possibility is that the Social Security number that you provided when you contacted Experian has been reported by the Social Security Administration as deceased. A ‘deceased indicator’ reported by the Social Security Administration applies to the entire credit report. You will need to contact your local Social Security office directly to correct the information.”

Pinal task force trying to balance county water needs

CHANDLER — The Pinal Active Management Area has enough water for the county to grow, but steps need to be taken to make sure there is enough water in the long-term future, the three founding members of the Pinal Groundwater Task Force told a packed room of more than 100 members of the Pinal Partnership Friday morning.

“Our backs aren’t up against the wall yet,” said Pinal County Supervisor Steve Miller, who also serves as the task force’s chair. “We’ve got time to figure this out.”

“It’s not a simple yes or no answer,” said William Garfield, a co-vice chair of the task force and a senior adviser to Arizona Water Company. “It’s really a problem of how we commit that water for projects that need to have an assured water supply in order to move forward. There is a real need for more water.”

The task force was put together by the Arizona House Ad Hoc Committee on Groundwater Supply in Pinal County in October. The task force is charged with finding possible solutions to the county’s declining supply of groundwater.

The three leaders of the task force answered questions at the monthly breakfast of the public-private Partnership and gave a brief synopsis of the results of the new groundwater model for the Pinal Active Management Area that was released by the Arizona Department of Water Resources in October.

The model states that the area, which includes most of the county but not the northern part, does not have enough groundwater to supply its existing and future demands for the next 100 years. At the end of those 100 years, the county’s water supply will have fallen more than 8 million acre-feet short of the estimated 80 million acre-feet demand projected by the department, according to its estimates.

The problem with ADWR’s groundwater model for the Pinal AMA isn’t the data, the three task force leaders said. It’s how the data was used in the calculation of the model.

The model doesn’t take in some of the nuances of the water situation in the county, Garfield said.

The model doesn’t really take into account how quickly the shift from agricultural land use to residential and industrial land use is happening in the county, he said. Homes and industries use less water than agriculture does. The state and county needs to find a way to shift grandfathered water uses from farmland that is slated to be retired to new residential and industrial developments.

Jake Lenderking, a co-vice chair of the task force and the director of water resources at Global Water, agreed. He said the new groundwater model is much more sophisticated than any of the previous groundwater models for the Pinal AMA but the new model makes some assumptions that may not be correct.

The new model doesn’t accurately calculate the amount of water that will be recharged into the aquifer or the use of long-term water storage credits or effluent, he said. The model caps the amount of water recharged into the aquifer through long-term storage credits in the Central Arizona Groundwater Replenishment District to 1,500 acre-feet per year for the next 100 years but that amount may change, Lenderking said.

The model also can’t accurately determine how much effluent is being used, he said. This is partly because there aren’t many combined water/wastewater companies like Global Water in the Pinal AMA, like there are in metropolitan AMAs like the Phoenix AMA.

Having a company that provides both water and wastewater services, as Global does in Maricopa, makes it easier to track how much water is pumped, used, treated as wastewater and returned to the aquifer as effluent, he said. When those services are split between two entities, like in the city of Casa Grande, where Arizona Water Company provides water service and the city provides wastewater service, it is harder to track.

Another problem with the model is how it calculated the shortfall in water supplies at the end of 100 years, Lenderking said. The model assumes that when a well runs dry, that is the end of the water supply for that well.

It doesn’t take into account how deep that well was drilled, he said. A well owner could drill a new well or deepen the existing well.

The model also makes an incorrect assumption about the amount of groundwater that agriculture is currently using and will use in the future, Miller said. Agriculture isn’t using its full allotment of water now. Farms have become more efficient with their water use and the number of farms will decrease as more farmland is retired and turned into developments.

All three task force members said they don’t fault ADWR for the assumptions in the model.

“They’re working within the system they have,” Garfield said. “It’s the best model available right now.”

But the task force will need the best data possible to determine possible solutions to the county’s groundwater problems, he said.

He likened the situation to balancing a checkbook — the task force needs to know how much water is coming into and going out of the system, Garfield said. The task force needs that kind of data to determine the task force’s priorities and to come up with possible solutions.

One of those solutions may be purchasing water from someplace else, Miller said.

“We will need another source of water in the future and it will cost us,” he said.

Garfield anticipated that it would take about a year for the task force to sit down with all of the various stakeholders, water companies, developers, the agriculture sector and the Indian communities and come up with a list of possible long-term legislative or regulation-based solutions for the Legislature.

At the same time, the task force is hoping to come up with some short-term solutions during that year that could be implemented sooner, he said.

Garfield said the task force’s meetings will be open to the public, but most of the heavy work will probably be done in the workgroups that will be composed of the different water users.

“We are going to get things done, real things done,” Lenderking said. “We will come out of this with a clear path for development.”