A1 A1
featured top story
Trashed alleys cause CG sanitation headaches

CASA GRANDE — The city’s alleys may have reached their useful lifespan when it comes to trash pickup.

Casa Grande Public Works Director Kevin Louis told the City Council during a study session on Monday that the department is encountering more and more problems with trying to safely maneuver trash trucks down alleys that are too narrow or are filled with too much bulk trash, he said.

The largest problem sanitation crews are running into is uncontained bulk trash that is left in the alleys for pickup, Louis said. The city collects bulk trash about every six weeks but residents sometimes forget what day their bulk trash is picked up and that bulk trash is limited to a pile that is 6-by-6 by 7.5 feet in size.

Overly large bulk trash piles create a maneuvering problem for the city’s trash truck drivers, who are trying to pick up the regular 300-gallon containers that residents share, he said. Crews also have problems where loose trash falls out of the containers or an animal or person goes through the trash and scatters it, causing an unsightly mess in the alleys.

In one instance, someone dragged part of a house being demolished into the alley for pickup, Louis said. The city required the property owner to drag the addition back onto the property and dispose of it properly.

In some areas, the alleys are tight because of changes to utilities or landscaping and the changing size of trash trucks over the years that the city can no longer safely get a truck down the alley, he said. The city has had to move those customers to curbside trash pickup.

One solution may be to switch all residents with alley trash pickup to curbside pickup, Louis said.

Casa Grande Alleys Get Trashed

The department did a test program where it replaced the 300-gallon alley containers in one area of the city with street-side pickup, he said. The city found that the alleys stayed neater and it was easier for city workers to pick up trash.

However, some of the older homes on those streets have no space to store a street-side container on their property, Louis said.

Another possible solution is to create a special fee for residents who have alley trash pickup, he said — although, the department didn’t really feel that was fair to residents who have to rely on alley trash pickup.

Councilman Dick Powell agreed, asking why residents who keep up their alley be charged more because they have a home that doesn’t have storage for a curbside container.

A solution to the messy bulk trash pickups could be requiring residents with alley trash pickup to have to call in for a bulk trash pickup like curbside trash customers have to, he said.

Crews have also experienced problems with illegal dumping in alleys, Louis said. He pointed to photos showing blocks of broken concrete left in an alley that was probably not left by any resident along that street.

It’s often hard to track down where this type of trash comes from, he said.

“We can probably determine where about 80 percent of the trash that’s uncontained comes from,” Louis said. “The rest we don’t know where it comes from.”

Some of that untraceable trash may be coming from county residents, he said. Municipalities are required to provide trash service or contract for trash service for their residents. People who live outside of city limits are not required to have trash service, he said.

“When you’ve got folks that aren’t required to have sanitation services, they’re going to get rid of their trash one way or the other,” Louis said. “And driving down an alley and chucking out the back of the truck is obviously a pretty convenient way of doing that.”

In one case, public works cleaned up one trashed-out area only to find it full of trash again a couple of days later.

The department is trying to educate residents, landscapers and contractors about what can and can’t be put in bulk trash and that there is no dumping fee for residents at the city landfill, he said. But it may take getting the police and some serious fines involved in some cases of illegal dumping.

“I think that if people are fearful that they’re going to get a hefty citation, they may think twice,” Louis said.

The department has worked with the Police Department in the past to put up temporary game cameras in one problem area and were able to track down three illegal dumpers, he said.

“I think we were fortunate. I don’t know if we’ll have that kind of success with every placement of a camera,” he said. “But it’s one of the things we’re going to continue to work with (the police).”

Councilman Matt Herman suggested putting a Dumpster in areas where there is a high volume of illegal dumping.

Louis said doing so might cause more of a problem.

“If you invite them, they will come,” he said. The city has offered cleanup days in the past in certain areas, but those kinds of events have to be carefully monitored because the city can’t collect tires, paint and other hazardous materials.

Powell suggested gating off alleyways. Louis discouraged that idea, saying that keys would have to be issued to all of the utility companies, trash truck drivers, police officers, firefighters and residents. The gates can also be expensive, costing thousands of dollars that must paid by either the city or the homeowners, he said.

The city is also experiencing a problem with shopping carts being abandoned all over the city, including the alleys, he said. In one case, crews found 13 abandoned shopping carts in one alley.

Police volunteers are usually called to round the carts up and deposit them at the landfill, where stores have 30 days to pick them up, he said. Carts that aren’t picked up are scrapped.

Louis said the department will bring more ideas on how to curb illegal dumping and clean up alleys during the city’s budget process.

featured top story
You can buy the CG Domes in new 'Casa Grande-opoly' game
 mstaude  / 

CASA GRANDE — We don’t receive too many gifts in the newsroom, so when Late for The Sky Production Co. sent us its newest game, “Casa Grande-opoly,” several of us were eager to play.

Casa Grande-opoly takes players into a world where downtown Casa Grande can be purchased for the bargain price of $425. City Hall sells for $375 and players can buy the police department, fire department and the major roads of Florence Boulevard and Cottonwood Lane as well as some coveted property, such as Caywood Farms.

The game is modeled after Monopoly. Players maneuver game pieces around a board, buy or rent property and face frequent windfalls of luck or bad fortune. Released earlier this year, it’s one of more than 200 city-specific games created by Late for the Sky that aims to showcase favorite landmarks and much-loved places in various communities.

“We research several cities and communities around Arizona to make a very localized game about a specific area,” said Bill Schulte, one of the owners of Late for the Sky. “We always make sure that the locals love their town before we take on a project. We try to make the content as authentic as possible.”

In the newsroom, five of us decided to give the game a try. Players included me along with Eloy reporter Maria Vasquez; Casa Grande reporter Suzanne Adams-Ockrassa; sports editor Brian Wright; and county editor Joey Chenoweth.

As we sat down to play, we noted that some notable landmarks had spots on the board, including the abandoned “Domes” on the west edge of Casa Grande, Paul Mason Sportsplex, Pinal Fairgrounds and Event Center as well as The Museum of Casa Grande and Casa Grande Art Museum.

Some odd ones made the cut too, such as the “Casa Grande space capsule” — an abandoned cement mixer that a California artist turned into a realistic replica of a crashed space capsule in 2017. The “space capsule” is in a farm field but visible from Interstate 10 near milepost 190.

The North Branch Santa Cruz Wash and the now-gone Southern Pacific Railroad depot also seemed like odd “landmarks” to include.

And some major, much-loved area landmarks are missing from the game. The new Neon Sign Park, Casa Grande Mountain, Francisco Grande/Grande Sports World and even Casa Grande Ruins National Monument (in Coolidge) aren’t mentioned on the game board.

In a town with dozens of quality restaurants, including some serving great Mexican food, only Creative Cafe, Big House Cafe and BeDillon’s Restaurant received a space on the board.

Michael Schulte, marketing manager for Late for the Sky Production Co., said it decides what landmarks and businesses are placed on the board based on its research.

“We are never going to make everyone happy with our selections but we do our best with the information we have. No businesses can pay to be on our board,” Schulte said.

Casa Grande-opoly is one of three games created for cities in Pinal County. Coolidge-opoly and Apache Junction-opoly games were released in May.

Walmart, which partners with Late for the Sky to sell the “opoly” games, generally suggests which communities should be featured in a game. Casa Grande, Apache Junction and Coolidge have Walmarts.

“We do some research about each of the cities,” Michael Schulte said. “We get requests from our partners at Walmart and that really guides us at this point. There are so many games we could make but having suggestions from our retail partners really assists us in knowing what direction to go in.”

While Late for the Sky plans to add cities to its “opoly” game lineup, there are no definite plans to include other Pinal County communities.

“We are not there yet with the other cities. We are moving at a neck-breaking pace trying to get new cities out all the time,” Schulte said. “We have been releasing new cities pretty much weekly.”

Late for the Sky is not affiliated with Hasbro, the maker of Monoply, and does not use any of its protected trademarks. Casa Grande-opoly retails for $19.98 and is sold at Walmart.

mstaude / Melissa St. Aude/PinalCentral  

Many of the Big Fun and Contingency cards in the Casa Grande-opoly game are specific to the community.

The game is fun to play. After all, it offers players a chance to buy city hall. In our game, Adams-Ockrassa, who covers Casa Grande, including city hall, for PinalCentral, purchased city hall. She also bought the police department. Vasquez was crowned “Miss Casa Grande” in the game and Wright picked up a contingency card that gave him a first-place finish in the Pinal County Fair — but earlier in the game, he had purchased the fairgrounds so that provided for some giggles. Chenoweth picked up a contingency card that read: “You ate too many wraps at Creative Cafe. Lose one turn.” Of course, he also owned the Creative Cafe spot in the game.

We decided the Casa Grande-opoly game would live in the newsroom so that it could be brought out from time to time for fun, as a stress-reliever or to give the PinalCentral reporters and editors a chance to feel like they too can buy city hall, if only in a game.

featured top story
'Calendar Girls' at CAC features 90-year-old on stage
 mstaude  / 

CASA GRANDE -- Billie Bogart has a few things in common with Lady Cravenshire, the character she plays in the new BlackBox Foundation and Central Arizona College production of “Calendar Girls.”

The plot of “Calendar Girls” follows the story of a group of middle-age ladies hoping to raise money for a charitable cause by posing nude for a calendar.

The character of Lady Cravenshire is a local dignitary who interacts with the main characters during a cake-judging event. She’s older, genteel and ready to share her expertise with the others.

At 90, with decades of acting and stage experience on her resume, Bogart said she’s excited to take on the role of Lady Cravenshire.

“It’s a small role but an important one,” Bogart said. “She’s such a fun character to play.”

Bogart is one of 14 actors cast in the production, which opens Friday in the Pence Center at Central Arizona College’s Signal Peak Campus.

Written by Tim Firth, “Calendar Girls” is based on the true story of main character Annie, played by Kari Davis, whose husband has died of leukemia. She and her best friend Chris, played by Lindsey Gemme, resolve to raise money for a new settee in the local hospital waiting room. They persuade four friends to pose nude with them for a calendar. Although the calendar is a huge success, Chris and Annie’s friendship is put to the test with their new-found fame and Chris is forced to question her real motivation behind doing the calendar.

“Everyone in the play is so talented,” Bogart said. “The whole cast is very dedicated and it’s a delightful show.”

Bogart has been singing and acting much of her life, but “Calendar Girls” is her first production with BlackBox Foundation.

She has a degree in vocal performance from Wesleyan University and spent her young adult years living in New York City studying voice with a highly regarded opera instructor while also working as a flight attendant for American Airlines.

Throughout her life, she’s been involved with various professional and community theater companies, including the Muny in St. Louis.

“I think I’ve done every Rodgers and Hammerstein musical at least once,” she said.

But it’s been years since she performed.

At 90, she spends much of her time playing bridge, going to the movies with her granddaughter, doing jigsaw puzzles and spending time with family. She moved in with her daughter’s family in Casa Grande in 2017.

It was her daughter who suggested she audition for a role in “Calendar Girls.”

“I wasn’t sure — it’s been a while since I’ve had to memorize lines — but she convinced me to audition,” Bogart said. “Lady Cravenshire is an older lady and I do like to do things to keep my mind active. The role is small so there weren’t too many lines to memorize.”

Staying involved in activities helps her stay young, she said. And “Calendar Girls,” Bogart said, delivers a message that “age doesn’t matter.”

“A lot of people, when they get to be my age, they tend to sit in a rocking chair and rock,” she said. “That’s not me. I want to enjoy life.”

“Calendar Girls” is the first theatrical event of the season for Central Arizona College.


Some of the characters in the BlackBox/CAC production of “Calendar Girls” pose for a publicity photo.

There are three chances to catch the show:

  • Friday, Oct. 25, at 7 p.m.
  • Saturday, Oct. 26, at 7 p.m.
  • Sunday, Oct. 27, at 3 p.m.

Tickets are $12 each, or two for $20. To purchase tickets in advance, go online to www.EventsAtCAC.com or call 520-477-SHOW. The show is rated PG-13 for adult themes and simulated nudity.