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Officers going house-to-house in Florence searching for prison escapees
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FLORENCE — State and local authorities are continuing a house-by-house search in the Florence area for two escaped inmates from Arizona State Prison Complex-Florence.

Arizona Department of Public Safety Director Col. Heston Silbert called the situation surrounding the escape of inmates John B. Charpiot and David T. Harmon “fluid.”

“We still have significant efforts going on,” he said. “We do have concerns that they may still be in the area.”

The two men escaped Saturday from the medium custody South Unit. The alarm was sounded after Charpiot and Harmon weren’t accounted for during the 8:30 p.m. inmate count after being there for the 4 p.m. count.

The men were able to break into a tool storage area by knocking a wall air conditioner out of place. They used bolt cutters, wire snips and other items to cut the fence and flee.

The state is offering a $70,000 reward, $35,00 for each inmate, for information that leads to their arrest.

The chief area of concern is that the two inmates could be holed up someplace in the immediate area, which is why officers are continuing to search house-by-house in the area, Silbert said. He asked residents to help officers by allowing them to search their property and urged the public to report to law enforcement if they have not seen a neighbor in a while or a coworker has not reported to work.

Law enforcement will be intensifying their efforts to find the escapees and roadblocks in the area will remain in place, he said. Law enforcement officers are looking both inside and outside of the perimeter that they have drawn around the town of Florence for the men. The U.S. Marshals Service is also investigating information that Harmon may have ties to Mexico, Silbert said. They are also investigating if the men may have had help.

“They may not look like they do in these pictures,” Silbert said. Charpiot may have shaved off his beard and both men will certainly have different clothes by now.

The Arizona Department of Corrections, Rehabilitation and Reentry is investigating how the two men were able to remove a wall air conditioning unit to access the tool storage area and leave the prison complex without being seen, said Frank Strada, a deputy director at ADCRR.

Strada urged the public to contact law enforcement immediately if they see anything that might lead to the capture of the two men. He also urged the public not to approach the men.

Charpiot was convicted in 2010 and was serving a 35-year sentence for molestation of a child and sexual abuse. Harmon was convicted in 2012 and was serving a 100-year sentence for kidnapping and burglary charges. Harmon has had multiple convictions since 1987.

Silbert said multiple law enforcement agencies are involved in the search including the Pinal County Sheriff’s Office, Florence Police, Arizona Department of Public Safety and the U.S. Marshals Service.

“We remain committed to apprehending these fugitives,” Strada said.

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Strong storm brings hail to CG, snow to Pinal mountains
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CASA GRANDE — A series of winter storms the last few days has brought snow to the mountains of northeast Pinal County and hail and rain to Casa Grande.

And there’s more to come.

National Weather Service meteorologist Jaret Rogers said that Sunday and Monday’s storm was one of the strongest storm systems the state has seen all winter. The storm is expected to bring a lot of moisture into the state and produce a lot of precipitation in the higher elevations.

The National Weather Service does not have measuring devices on any of the mountains near Superior, so he couldn’t give an estimate of how much snow the area got, but he did say that county residents can expect more rain in the next few days.

A high wind advisory for Casa Grande was issued for Monday afternoon as gusts reached up to 40 to 45 mph. The city experienced hail and rain Sunday.

Highs in the Casa Grande area will drop into the low 50s on Tuesday and then gradually warm up over the week to a high of 67 degrees on Thursday.

The Casa Grande area will also have a 30% chance of rain Tuesday morning with skies clearing in the afternoon and wind gusts up to 20 mph.

The rain may return to the area on Friday. The National Weather Service is forecasting a 50% chance of rain Friday afternoon and night with wind gusts up to 25 mph. The day is expected to have a high temperature of 66 degrees.

The precipitation from the winter storms in Flagstaff is more than the city had during last summer’s monsoon season, with more expected.

The mountainous northern Arizona city recorded its driest monsoon seasons on record in 2020 and 2019.

Before midnight Sunday, the snowfall measured as water topped the 1.78 inches that fell as rain from mid-June to September at 1.86 inches so far.

Other Arizona cities were on track to do the same, said Tim Steffen, a National Weather Service meteorologist.

“It’s somewhat of a gee whiz thing, but it also goes to show how dry last monsoon season was,” he said.

The weather will ping pong the rest of the week with a blast of well-below freezing temperatures Wednesday morning in places like Flagstaff, Window Rock and the Grand Canyon. Temperatures then will moderate before a weaker storm moves in ahead of the weekend, Steffen said.

Schools across northern Arizona closed or had shortened schedules Monday as heavy snow fell across the region. The biggest of the storms that have slammed the state since last week was expected to last from Monday into Tuesday.

Flagstaff, Payson and Pinetop-Lakeside could get close to 3 feet of snow or more before the storm moves out.

Authorities urged people to stay home to avoid snow-packed and slick roads. Chains were required on vehicles in some areas. Major interstates were open but some roads were closed, including State Route 89A between Sedona and Flagstaff.

At this time last year, extreme and exceptional drought was nonexistent in Arizona. Now, the two worst categories of drought cover nearly 94% of Arizona.


Lucid tells state lawmakers company plans to ultimately employ 6,120
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CASA GRANDE — Lucid Motors representatives appeared before the state Senate Transportation Committee on Monday afternoon to give a presentation on the impact the electric vehicle manufacturer is expected to have in Arizona.

“We’re very proud of what is going on in Casa Grande,” Public Policy Lead of Lucid Motors Daniel Witt said.

“We chose Arizona for a few reasons,” Director of Manufacturing Michael Boike said. During the meeting, Boike shared some of the reasons, including excellent support from the state, county and city.

According to Boike, Lucid Motors is currently in Phase 2 of construction.

“The Lucid Air launches our company, but Phase 2 launches our future,” Boike said.

During the meeting, Jim Rounds, president of Rounds Consulting, gave a presentation on the economic impact of Lucid Motors.

According to the presentation, production of Lucid’s first luxury sedan is set to begin this spring. The company initially plans to deliver up to 30,000 electric vehicles per year and will later expand the annual capacity of vehicle production to several hundred thousand electric vehicles per year.

At build-out, Lucid plans to directly employ about 6,120 high-wage workers at its facilities in Arizona.

Rounds expects that after 10 years, Lucid Motors’ economic output will be a $80.7 billion. After 20 years, it is expected to be $256.2 billion.

According to Rounds, Lucid Motors will have a large overall economic impact in the state.

“I am hoping this momentum continues,” Rounds said.

According to the presentation, 1,179 employees are expected to join the company in 2021.

In 2020, Lucid Motors invested in more than 41,300 hours of training in the Arizona team. In 2021, the company is planning for more than 190,000 hours of training as the team continues to grow.

“I hope we can continue to be proud of what Lucid is doing,” Sen. Tyler Pace, R-Mesa, said.