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Coolidge council questions inmate fees set by Pinal

COOLIDGE — Disputing a county fee increase to house misdemeanor inmates, the Coolidge City Council on Monday night unanimously decided to delay voting to approve and extend an intergovernmental agreement with Pinal County for criminal detention.

The council voted 7-0 to place the IGA item on the Oct. 12 meeting agenda for consideration after City Manager Rick Miller and other staffers can obtain more information and perhaps negotiate the terms of the agreement. Among those items of interest were inquiring what other Pinal County municipalities have discussed and asking the county if the phased-in fee increases can be activated in accordance with a fiscal year calendar in July rather than in approximately 16 weeks.

Currently, the city of Coolidge pays the county $72.33 per day for each inmate sent to the Pinal County jail from the Coolidge Municipal Court. The fee is scheduled to be $103 after Jan. 1, according to the IGA. Additionally, there is a separate booking fee, currently $193.86, that also will jump, according to the IGA.

The four-phased proposal from the county would eventually rise to $375 per inmate on or after July 1, 2022. The fee structure does not apply to inmates held on felonious charges.

“Can you tell me any reason that it would cost $375 to book somebody into a county jail?” a disgruntled Mayor Jon Thompson asked after a presentation from Police Chief Harry Grizzle detailing the IGA. “I just wanted to make it clear that certainly this council, or to my knowledge no other city council in Pinal County, had anything to do with any negotiation or any input regarding this IGA that we will, maybe, be voting on tonight. So if the costs go up or taxes get raised anywhere I want people to know it wasn’t the city councils that did it.”

Whether police would avoid making a valid arrest in the future because of the higher fees the county would incur is a potentiality that worried Councilman Benjamin Navarro.

“Man, that is a heck of a jump. I mean it’s almost four times. That’s a lot of money. We shouldn’t have to not arrest somebody because it’s going to cost too much. That’s ridiculous. It’s common knowledge now, a common act, to find out that you can do just the smallest enough crime that they won’t arrest you because it’s not worth it. I’m wondering if we just hold off maybe a little bit perhaps we can make some phone calls, do some negotiating. If they are stone cold set on doing this or there’s some wiggle room because that money seems excessive.”

The council did approve a resolution to accept a $12,000 grant from the Gila River Indian Community to be used to purchase personal protective equipment storage lockers for the Fire Department.

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Bears already clicking in volleyball

COOLIDGE — Volleyball season this year might seem a lot like “The Wizard of Oz.”

There’s no yellow brick road to follow, no wicked witch to be afraid of, no Dorothy to cry for, nor is there a Cowardly Lion, Scarecrow or Tin Man to bemuse you.

But watch closely and you will see a lot of players clicking heels. It’s a COVID thing in a 2020 era when time-honored traditions are discarded as one player comes off the court and another goes in.

“There’s no skin contact so that’s their new thing,” Coolidge coach Dolores Bojorquez said. “They’ll click shoes and go in. It’s going global, I think, because I’ve been watching college and a lot of them are doing that. It’s a way of showing some kind of support to each other.”

The shoe tapping also is a way for the players to keep up their camaraderie when they are discouraged from high-fiving, slapping hands or exchanging other teammate gestures in a competitive environment, Bojorquez said.

“When you’re out there you can’t do that. If we didn’t come up with a foot bump it would get very humdrum even when they just made an awesome play. It’s a way for them to interject that ‘attaboy’ or ‘attagirl,’” Bojorquez said.

“Even though we’re cheering, there’s no touching whatsoever. To me, you turn to your teammates for that ‘oomph’ and all you can do is say ‘hey good job.’”

When the Bears are practicing volleyball they also are practicing the safe and healthy guidelines that have become the norm this year everywhere.

“We do our temperature checks. We have to sanitize before we play and after we play and constantly remind the girls they have to maintain their social distancing, trying to remind them that every so often you have to sanitize your hands,” Bojorquez said. “That in itself takes up time and energy. We just have to adjust to it. It took us a little bit when we first started, even with me. We adjusted our practice hours. We gave ourselves an additional half hour just so we can focus on that and not take away from our actual practice time. We start at 4:30 and we end at 8. That gives us 5 to 7:30 to really focus on just practice.”

The Bears have four players returning from last season’s team, junior Jrew McWilliams and seniors Precious Jordan, Shae Clegg and Keisha Fields. McWilliams is the team’s setter and the other three are relied on to score points from spiking the ball.

“Honestly, they all pull a little bit from each other. They all become leaders when they need to be,” Bojorquez said. “(Jrew) does have a lot of vocal action out there. Shae and Precious and Keisha always step in and help out. They are my seniors so I’m counting on them to pull through and help with the younger girls.”

The Bears opened the season with a three-set loss at Chandler Valley Christian, 9-25, 9-25 and 5-25. They played at San Tan Foothills on Tuesday and host Florence at 6 p.m. Thursday.