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Communities throughout Pinal celebrate veterans this month
 mstaude  / 

CASA GRANDE — With parades, marching bands and various activities, Pinal County communities celebrate the troops this month.

Veterans Day is Monday.

Casa Grande’s salute to the troops was held on Saturday with the 13th annual parade, flyover and eighth annual Ride for the Warrior music festival, which brought hundreds of people to downtown Casa Grande.

“It was a great day celebrating our troops,” said Kim Vandenberg of Honoring/Hiring/Helping our Heroes of Pinal County. “I could see people lined up all along Florence Boulevard.”

This year’s parade featured more than 55 entries, including bands and floats representing dozens of youth groups, veterans groups, schools, churches and individuals.

2019 Veterans Day Parade

Winners in the Casa Grande Veterans Day parade were:

  • Most Patriotic, Casa Grande Union High School’s Marine Corps Junior ROTC
  • Best Theme Representation, float by Robert Achten
  • Best Marching Group, CGUHS marching band
  • Best Youth Entry, Girl Scout Troops No. 199, 999 and 2022
  • Best Veterans Entry, American Legion Post 8.

Veteran celebrations continue this week and through Nov. 12 with several flag-raising ceremonies, groundbreakings, parades and other activities. Below is a listing of activities throughout Pinal County aimed at paying tribute to those who served.

Apache Junction

Festival of the Superstitions

A tribute to veterans, entertainment and activities for all ages highlight the annual Festival of the Superstitions celebration in Apache Junction’s Flatiron Community Park on Saturday. Presented by the Apache Junction Chamber of Commerce, the event includes live entertainment, a car show, a beer garden, a patriotic pet parade, an art activity for kids and adults, a pie eating contest, food and fun for the whole family. The free event runs from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. at the park, 100 N. Apache Trail. The car show runs from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and benefits the Apache Junction Community Veterans Center.

Veterans Day Parade

The Apache Junction Veterans Day Parade at 9 a.m. is on Monday. The parade is coordinated by Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 7968 in downtown Apache Junction.

Casa Grande

Pinal County Veterans

Memorial Foundation

The long-awaited groundbreaking for the Pinal County Veterans Memorial is from 9 to 10 a.m. on Monday at Ed Hooper Rodeo Park, 2525 N. Pinal Ave.

Caliche Senior Living

Caliche Senior Living, 1640 N. Peart Road, has its annual Veterans Day celebration from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Monday with a lunch honoring Caliche veterans and area veterans as well. Casa Grande Union High School students will present the colors and patriotic entertainment. Those attending should RSVP two days in advance. For more information, call 520-316-8041.

Mission Heights first flag-raising

Mission Heights Preparatory High School, 1376 E. Cottonwood Lane, will host its first flag-raising ceremony in conjunction with its Veterans Day observance from 8:30 to 9 a.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 12. The school recently raised money to install a new flagpole. The event is open to the public and several local dignitaries, first responders, donors and military members have been invited to celebrate with the students.



The fourth annual Veterans Day Parade begins at 10 a.m. on Saturday in Coolidge. It features floats, marching bands, classic vehicles, equestrians and free food and bottled water. Following the parade, a celebration will be held in San Carlos Park.

First flag-raising celebration

The first flag-raising at the future site of the Honoring/Hiring/Helping Our Heroes of Pinal County new transition center begins at 11 a.m. Monday at 5497 W. McCartney Road. The event includes a potluck, cornhole games and music. It’s open to the public.


Eloy Veterans Day Parade

The annual Veterans Day Parade hosted by the Eloy Veterans Center begins at 9 a.m. on Monday. Veterans who wish to participate may meet on the day of the event at the Veterans Center, 738 Fourth St. Registration may be done as late as the day of the event. For more information, call 423-4255.


Veterans Memorial dedication

The dedication for the new Veterans Memorial in downtown Florence is at 11 a.m. Monday and is open to the public.


A veterans celebration in Maricopa is set for Saturday. Most of the activities will be at the south end of Pacana Park, 19000 N. Porter Road. They include:

  • a pancake breakfast, from 6:30 to 10:30 a.m. for $5.
  • a flag-raising ceremony at 6:50 a.m.
  • a 5K Run/1 Mile Walk that begins at 7 a.m.
  • a parade, beginning at 9 a.m., along Bowlin Road east of Porter Road and continuing north on Porter to Adams Way.
  • a Letters to Soldiers Booth that allows visitors to sign a hero card for deployed service members.

Registration and more information can be found at www.mmeinc.org or email race@mmeinc.org.

Casa Grande ASU grad semifinalist in Arizona Innovation Challenge

CASA GRANDE — An Arizona State University graduate from Casa Grande and his business partner are semifinalists in the fall 2019 Arizona Innovation Challenge.

Matthew Aguayo and Aashay Arora are hoping that the energy-efficient architectural coating, EnKoat, they created as doctoral students at ASU will help them win one of the 10 Arizona Innovation Challenge awards given out by the Arizona Commerce Authority this fall.

The award includes $150,000 and one of 10 seats in the ACA’s Venture Ready Accelerator program.

The accelerator connects start-up businesses with mentors who can help them improve their business plan, improve their marketing and find investors. Aguayo and Arora are competing against 29 other start-up businesses.

EnKoat is a material that can absorb and release heat, reducing the amount of energy needed to heat or cool a building or even a room, Arora said. The duo came up with the material while they were engineering doctoral students at ASU.

At the time, they were working with Narayanan Neithalath, a professor of civil, environmental and sustainable engineering at ASU’s Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering to create a concrete pavement that would resist cracking because of heat, Arora said.

While working on the project, Arora and Aguayo wondered if the same material could be applied to homes and commercial businesses to reduce the need for energy to heat or cool buildings.

“We wanted to take our research to market,” Arora said. “There’s a lot of good research that gets lost in graduate papers. We knew this could be used in commercial and residential construction.”

Aguayo and Arora were able to incorporate the material into indoor and outdoor paint, stucco and concrete, eliminating the need for special equipment to apply EnKoat and making it easier for construction workers or the average homeowner to apply the product, he said.

Arora and Aguayo have tested EnKoat at two mini houses they built on Aguayo’s parents’ 7-acre property near Eleven Mile Corner. They’re also testing it on the roof of the Agribusiness Center at ASU’s Polytechnic campus.

Aguayo and Arora estimate that EnKoat can save a building owner between 20 and 40% on heating and cooling costs.

The two have found that in order to get the maximum benefit from EnKoat, a building or a room needs to be coated on all surfaces: indoor and outdoor walls, ceilings, roofs and floors. The temperature inside the room or building can be regulated by increasing or decreasing the amount of coating that is used, Arora said.

Now that most of the product testing is done, Arora and Aguayo are starting to develop a business plan to bring EnKoat to the marketplace. They’ve been reaching out and talking to developers and contractors about the product. They’re hoping that if they win one of the Innovation Challenge awards, they’ll be able to use the mentoring, connections and funds to start to manufacture EnKoat on a larger scale and bring it to the general market.

The winners of the Innovation Challenge will be announced before the end of the year.

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New York businessman kidnapped in Eloy, rescued in Mexico

ELOY — Prosecutors in the northern Mexico state of Sonora say a New York-based businessman has been freed after being kidnapped in Eloy a week ago and held for ransom across the border.

Prosecutors say that in a rare cross-border kidnapping, the kidnappers transported the victim across the border at Nogales in the trunk of a car.

Prosecutors haven’t identified the victim by name but say he is a Dominican-born businessman. They say kidnappers contacted the victim’s brother in Orlando, Florida, and demanded a $500,000 ransom for his release.

The Eloy Police Department was involved in the initial missing person investigation.

“Once we received information the subject was possibly being held against his will in a foreign country we contacted the FBI and the investigation was turned over to them,” Eloy Police spokeswoman Officer Kristie Barnette said Monday morning.

Eloy Police said they have no details on the FBI’s investigation. Calls to the FBI were not returned.

The Sonora state government said Sunday that the FBI aided in the investigation. The victim was found Sunday in the Sonora state capital, Hermosillo. He was apparently guarded by a suspected kidnapper from Chihuahua state who had a .45 caliber pistol.

The Arizona Republic identified the victim as Luis Ramón. There was no report as to what or why he was in Eloy or how the kidnapping occurred.

Along the way, authorities said the suspects contacted the victim’s brother, demanding $500,000 in ransom money. But the brother said he could gather only $350,000, which he would do by selling several of his belongings.

The Republic reported agents conducted a search operation and located a 2009 Honda in Hermosillo, where they found the businessman safely inside.

Officers also found a man they identified only as Jose Antonio inside the car along with a handgun. The suspect, originally from Chihuahua, was arrested on suspicion of aggravated kidnapping and possession of a firearm.

No ransom money was paid.

Ducey warns of travel into Mexico

PHOENIX — Gov. Doug Ducey is urging Arizonans to heed advisories about travel into Mexico even as he heads off to a conference in Hermosillo.

The governor’s comments come on the heels of the Cochise County Sheriff’s Office reporting what sounded like automatic gunfire in Agua Prieta, just south of Douglas.

And there is a longer-term advisory from the U.S. State Department about travel into Sonora, the state that borders directly with Arizona. It specifically urges people to “reconsider travel due to crime.’’

That is not as severe an alert as the “do not travel’’ advisory the State Department has issued for some other Mexican states. But it is higher than the agency’s more general advisory for elsewhere in Mexico where travelers are urged to “exercise increased caution.’’

“I want people to heed to advisories,’’ Ducey told Capitol Media Services.

The governor himself is scheduled to appear Wednesday at the biannual meeting of the Arizona-Mexico Commission, along with Sonora counterpart Claudia Pavlovich. And Ducey, who does have the benefit of a security detail and a state-owned airplane, said he does not intend to change his plans.

“I am going to conduct my duty as governor,’’ he said. “But I want to make sure our citizens are safe.’’

The report from Cochise County said that about 3 a.m. on Monday local law enforcement agencies started getting calls about gunfire south of the border between Douglas and Agua Prieta.

“Initial reports indicate several rounds sounded like automatic gunfire, however there are no reports of violence spillover into the United States,’’ the report states.

Cochise County Sheriff Mark Dannels said his office is increasing patrols out “an abundance of caution.’’

“We are acting on a heightened state of alert being proactive in the event that activity south of the border crosses into our jurisdiction,’’ he said in a prepared statement. “Our highest priority is the safety of our citizens and we will take active measures to ensure that safety.’’

The Douglas Police Department issued its own advisory saying “residents are cautioned to avoid unnecessary travel into Mexico at this time.’’

The issues with travel in Sonora are more long term, with the latest State Department advisory issued April 9.

On one hand, the advisory says Sonora is “a key location used by the international drug trade and human trafficking networks.’’

But it also says that the northern part of the state — the areas north of Hermosillo — generally experiences much lower levels of crime than cities close to Sinaloa, to the south of Sonora, and other parts of Mexico.

There are, however, some apparent exceptions to that.

The advisory specifically bars government employees from traveling in the triangular area that runs from Sonoyta on the west — the crossing point into Puerto Penasco, also known as Rocky Point — down to Altar and then northeast to the Mariposa border crossing at the west edge of Nogales.

It also says that U.S. government employees may travel between the Nogales border crossing to and from Hermosillo during the day only, and may stop at the towns of Santa Ana and Imuris and at restaurants and restrooms located along the highway.

Asked for his advice for Arizonans traveling to Mexico, Ducey said people should pay attention to “whatever advisories are out there.’’

“The safety and security of the citizens of Arizona is my top priority,’’ he said.

As to whether it’s unsafe to go, the governor said it would depend “what the advisory is and what part’’ of Mexico was the destination.