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Eloy council approves marijuana cultivation facility
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ELOY — The Eloy City Council approved a conditional use permit for a medical marijuana cultivation facility during Monday’s meeting.

Community Development Director Jon Vlaming said New Gen Real Estate LLC submitted its application nearly two months ago to readapt and reuse an existing building on Tweedy Road. Upgrades to the site will be made in order to provide appropriate security. The site is approximately 15 acres overall and consists of two parcels.

Vlaming said the medical marijuana cultivation facility will bring 30 full-time jobs with most positions earning annual salaries around $40,000.

The facility will diversify Eloy’s local job base and will increase property taxes and, indirectly, sales tax collection for the city.

Only one property owner adjacent to the site’s location disapproved of the cultivation facility. According to Vlaming, the opposed property owner did not give a specific reason for his disapproval but did say that the owner believes it will reduce property values.

Vlaming told the council that a virtual neighborhood meeting was held, but no one attended. The application also went before the Planning and Zoning Commission, and the public hearing that was held also was unattended by the public. The commission approved the application and allowed it to move forward.

Carolyn Oberholtzer with Bergin, Frakes, Smalley & Oberholtzer said the cultivation facility is part of a bigger picture as it supports a dispensary.

A dispensary is allowed to have an offsite cultivation facility. The dispensary’s current cultivation facility is 16,000 square feet in Phoenix.

According to Oberholtzer, that facility is only capable of producing product for 75% of its customer demand.

“This facility will enable them to grow and serve their full dispensary population,” Oberholtzer said. “They also have expansion plans for that dispensary, so the size of this facility is perfect for what they need.”

Vext Science Inc. is a U.S.-based cannabis THC and hemp cannabinoid products company manufacturing THC cartridges, concentrates, edibles and accessories under the Vapen brand and hemp-based products under the Pure Touch Botanticals brand as well as the Vapen CBD brand.

“Arizona is set to continue to be one of the most attractive cannabis markets in the U.S. and as a limited-license state, cultivation capacity is key to ensuring Vext is positioned to maximize its share of market growth,” CEO Eric Offenberger stated in a press release. “Once operational, the facility will ensure we have consistent access to high-quality biomass to support the growth of our award-winning Vapen brand, the growth we are experiencing in our current operated dispensaries as well as leading us to the foundation necessary to aggressively expand our retail network in the state over time.”

Vext plans to build and operate a state-of-the-art medical marijuana cannabis cultivation facility for a 72,000-square-foot industrial facility, with 34,000 square feet under canopy.

“We are pleased that Vext has selected the city of Eloy to be a partner in its continued expansion,” Mayor Micah Powell said. “This is another win for economic development for the city and will bring additional high-quality jobs for Eloy residents. I know I speak on behalf of the council and entire staff when I say we are looking forward to continue working with Vext to get the facility up and running.”

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Dust Devil competes in 3 state tournaments during pandemic year
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ELOY — Santa Cruz Valley athletes have worked hard navigating the pandemic this year, balancing online schooling and the many curveballs that the Arizona Interscholastic Association has thrown their way.

Through all the twists and turns, one Dust Devil managed to compete in the state tournament in three different sports this year.

Davin Ethington won a championship ring as member of the football team in the fall. In the winter he qualified for the wrestling state tournament in the 220-pound weight class, where he was eliminated in the fifth round.

A few weeks ago, the junior was the only Dust Devil to qualify for the tennis tournament and made it to round two of the Division III singles tournament before falling to Sabino’s Ilya Gromochenko.

Ethington stated he didn’t set a goal to qualify in all three sports as he thought he wouldn’t qualify in wrestling.

“I didn’t think that I was going to make it because I don’t consider myself good,” he said. “But I ended up going and pinning three people and winning five matches, so I just think of it as a building block. Last year I didn’t make it, this year I did and next year hopefully I can win.”

Additionally, with the winter sports season being pushed back and then also qualifying for the state tournament, Ethington had a delayed start to the tennis season.

His biggest fear was that he wouldn’t be able to qualify after having so few matches to start the season, but he still ended up with a 10-5 record. In order to qualify to the state tournament in tennis, the athlete must complete at least 50% of their matches and finish in the Top 16 in their division.

There are a lot of differences between the three sports from the atmosphere to what goes into preparing and actually playing each sport. Football and wrestling involve a lot of physicality and strength, tennis is more about finesse.

“I just slow it down,” Ethington said. “You have to think about every single hit you’re going to make, where you want it so it’s not out. You have to think about it a lot because if you don’t think about it and you just hit the ball then it’s going to be out or something.”

On the independent level of play such as wrestling and tennis the biggest similarity, Ethington found he is having to be self-disciplined and putting in the work for yourself rather than for a team, and really have a sense of wanting to win.

“(Tennis) is a quiet sport,” he said. “There’s not a lot of cheering and screaming. It’s just you out there, you don’t have to worry about a team messing up because everything is on you and you have nobody else to blame but yourself. It makes me want to work harder because I can’t rely on someone else to win it for me. I have to win it myself.”

He added that controlling his strength is the most difficult part coming from football and wrestling.

“You just want to smack (the ball) hard and fast,” he said. “The quiet is hard, it’s nice sometimes but sometimes you want the crowd. It’s something to have to compensate yourself for. I cheer myself on sometimes.”

Originally Ethington had no interest in playing tennis but stated that he had to find a sport to play in the spring.

“My dad sort of made me,” he said. “He has a rule where we have to (always) play a sport, and I don’t really like baseball. And I cannot run at all. Tennis was just there, and I had always made fun of tennis. I was like it looks like they have fun out there, so I tried it and I loved it. It’s one of my favorite sports out there.”

Ethington began playing tennis his freshman year and stated that he spent most of his time goofing off. He eventually found interest in it and began to put in some effort. His time on the court was limited his sophomore year due to the cancellation of the season because of the pandemic.

This year he set the goal of qualifying for the state tournament as he was curious what it was all about as he had never been there before.

“It’s something that I wanted to do because every time we’d (play) someone I’d always ask them ‘how is state?’” Ethington said. “It just felt like an accomplishment to win some matches and then going to state and winning at least one match. That felt nice.”

Having finally experienced everything firsthand, Ethington stated that it was a lot of pressure, but he was proud to represent Santa Cruz.

“There was a lot of people there and I had never played in front of that many people,” he said. “I think the most I’ve had at one of my matches was like two people, my parents, that’s it. At state there were like 30 or 40 people watching me and you feel the pressure.”

Ethington tries to keep things light and uses comic relief to take some of the pressure off. He believes that by taking things too seriously it stops being fun.

“It’s fun just being out there, smacking balls around,” he said. “It’s like Ping Pong. I’ve always loved Ping Pong. It’s like a giant Ping Pong. That’s the sport I used to play with my grandpa and my dad, it’s like our family sport.”