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Eloy to get 4 estimates on Dust Bowl Theatre rehab, destruction

ELOY — The first step in deciding what to do with the Dust Bowl Theatre is underway after the Eloy City Council gave staff the authorization to obtain cost estimates to assess different options for the theater.

“This is a proposal to go out and find a company that will give us a series of estimates, so we know exactly what we’re talking about going forward,” Jeff Fairman, economic development specialist, told the council Monday.

The city is looking for four estimates based on what can be done with the building. The four options include:

  • Completely restoring the theater
  • Turning the building into a “vanilla shell” that could later be turned into any type of business
  • Simply stabilizing the building
  • Demolishing the building

“Each one of these has its own considerations and concerns,” Fairman said. “Most particularly is the adjacency of the Veterans Center building, they share a wall, and I can tell you from talking to a lot of people who have been involved in that, that it’s not necessarily standard construction that you would see used today.”

During Monday night’s meeting, the council also approved a tentative budget of $48,775,865 for fiscal year 2020-21.

Following an all-day budget meeting last month, a few changes made included creating a line item for registration fees, decreasing funds for the Martin Luther King Jr. celebration and the Tip Over the Shelf 5K run and placing the funds in the council contingency line item.

Additionally, the employee appreciation line item was increased to $6,000 and there is now a budget for cost of living adjustment and merit for all eligible employees.

“There’s a contingency plan that’s in case there’s a shortfall on revenues, but we feel very comfortable with what we’re presenting,” City Manager Harvey Krauss said. “We will have monies in contingency as well as ways to reduce expenditures in case revenues fall short because of the COVID-19 pandemic.”

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Eloy Elementary to start school July 20 with safety measures in place

ELOY — Last week, Arizona Superintendent of Public Instruction Kathy Hoffman released a “roadmap” for school districts to consider the best approach for their schools for the upcoming academic year.

The roadmap provided four scenarios from the National Institute for Excellence in Teaching:

  1. All students start the school year attending school in person.
  2. Some students start the school year attending in person while some are using distance learning.
  3. All students are using distance learning from the start of the year, with the option of returning to physical buildings when appropriate.
  4. Students are intermittently in person and using distance learning based on guidance from local and state health departments.

The Eloy Elementary School District held its monthly board meeting Monday morning at the Eloy Junior High gymnasium as many teachers anxiously awaited the board’s decision about re-opening.

The Governing Board approved the second scenario of having some students attend school in person. According to the roadmap provided by Hoffman, schools can consider that option if there are minimal to moderate cases of COVID-19 in the community.

“It’s because of our community,” EESD Superintendent Ruby James said. “We feel that we need to see our babies. We need to get back to the teacher-student interaction and see where they are and what their needs are. We cannot afford not to see them, so that’s why we went with scenario two with some modifications.”

James added that limited access to technology doesn’t make the last two scenarios possible for the school district and the first scenario is also not an option due to the large class sizes.

The roadmap suggests that the board should also have a contingency plan and must have a comprehensive communication plan, along with communicating screening and educational expectations to staff and families.

“We have created, and we have met the mandates for keeping students six feet apart,” James said. “All the desks are facing one direction in every classroom, we have moved out excessive furniture, like extra furniture, we have already removed that. The classrooms will accommodate 15 students per session, so that has been taken care of and they’ve all been sanitized and cleaned.”

Additionally, schools must have a plan for students with disabilities in which distance learning could be a possibility while also taking into consideration the student’s learning needs.

James mentioned that the district’s modification to the plan is splitting up the school day to reduce the number of students allowed at all three schools.

“We have an hour from when ‘A’ group is done to go and sanitize the entire classroom to be ready for ‘B’ group,” James said.

The district plans to release a schedule for both school groups once school staff has finished dividing up its student roster.

Board member Anna Ogle requested to check back in with school staff a few weeks after they have started to see if any additional changes need to be made.

As of right now, the EESD plans to begin school on July 20 and is sticking to the regular school calendar.

“We’re excited with caution; we’re cautiously excited,” James said. “We know that COVID-19 is very, very serious, and we’re taking it very serious. We’re going to put everything in place to make sure that the staff and students are healthy and safe.”

Eloy native living out dream with Essential Cuts

ELOY — Edward Sauceda always enjoyed going to the barber shop, so opening his own shop in his hometown is the realization of a dream.

“I always thought it was cool going to the barber shop,” he said. “It was always my favorite thing to do. I was always wanting to go to the barber shop. I’d go every week if I could. I like hanging out and cutting hair. You meet cool people to talk to, see what’s going on in their lives. It’s always interesting, it’s never the same. I mean yeah, it’s the same people always coming in, but they always have good stories.”

Sauceda graduated from Santa Cruz Valley Union High School and then went off to college for a year before he realized that college wasn’t really his thing.

“I was just trying to think of jobs that I thought were cool and a barber is the only job that I thought was really cool and that I’d enjoy,” he said. “There’s not that many barber shops here, like Casa Grande has like 30 or 40. You talk to people here and they go to TA (truck stop) or Casa Grande, and I thought why don’t I open up something here.”

He added that he has always enjoyed the atmosphere of a barber shop.

“It was just a real cool place, the barber shop, I always liked it,” Sauceda said. “It was a real good place to hang out and a real good place for the community. You meet cool people, and I felt like Eloy needed something like that.”

He also admitted that his first few months of barber school were the hardest and there was a time when he thought he wouldn’t be able to get the hang of things.

“I thought it was going to be a lot easier,” Sauceda said. “The first two or three months is the most difficult part. There comes a point where you think dang, I’m going to have to quit because there is no way to get this. But as soon as it started to click, you just understand more and more. I still feel like I’m learning every day.”

After a long wait due to many factors related to COVID-19, Sauceda finally opened his shop, Essential Cuts, last month.

“Essential employees,” Sauceda said. “The coronavirus slowed me down, and I thought all the essential workers stuff was kind of fun, so I just figured Essential Cuts.”

Along with having to convince his parents, Anna Bell and Edward, to sign off on his loan. Sauceda then had to wait for the bank to finish up with the small business loans related to the COVID-19 outbreak, which delayed his business loan.

Being close to his family was a big factor in choosing the location for his shop.

“My parents are just not leaving here; they’re never going to leave,” Sauceda said. “I asked them and they said they weren’t leaving. I thought the city need it, and I wanted to be closer to my family.”

Before officially opening, Sauceda was cutting hair at his house, so he’s already built a steady clientele, which has made the transition easier.

“I didn’t really like having people come to my house,” he said. “You like to keep your personal life and your work life separate, and that’s kind of hard when people start showing up to your house in the middle of the night asking for a cut.”

As of right now, Sauceda is the only barber at Essential Cuts and he offers facial shaves and men’s haircuts. Following CDC guidelines, he is only available by appointment, that way he has time to clean up between every cut.

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Video: Eloy residents bring back 'Cruise Night'

ELOY — The night of May 29 seemed like a scene from the movie “American Graffiti” as cars cruised up and down Eloy’s Main Street with their windows rolled down.

For the younger generation who may not be familiar with the 1973 film, imagine the scene from the Disney movie “Cars,” as there also was a tow-truck driving up and down the street.

It doesn’t matter what movie comparison you use because for many Eloy residents, that Friday night was a great way to relive memories.

Trini McAnulty originally began a group chat on Facebook in hopes to draw some of the local businesses in Eloy after she noticed some posts on Facebook about how people in Midwest towns used to cruise.

She then posted a message on the group chat about how Eloy was also “lit back in the day” and that people would cruise around peacefully. From there the idea of holding a cruise night just snowballed as people started getting on board with the idea.

“The amount of people saying ‘yeah, we should,’” McAnulty said. “I’m like, OK, let’s do it, let’s pick a day and go cruise. Let’s show solidarity for our community. We love our community and our town, let’s go show that we’re still here and that we come together peacefully.”

Initially McAnulty believed that only a few of her closest friends would show up to support her efforts but she never expected to see Main Street full of vehicles.

“I was really surprised at how many people showed up,” she said. “It was really, really nice. They were just so grateful and I’m like no, thank you, Eloy. You guys did this, you guys came out. I just had a platform and an idea; I didn’t do nothing but just say let’s do it.”

McAnulty added that while the older generation felt nostalgic during the whole event, the younger generation experiencing it for the first time had some mixed reactions.

She heard about a group of kids at Circle K asking about what was going on and why.

“A lady had to explain to them that this is what we used to do back in the day to socialize,” McAnulty said. “We were too young to go to the bar so we’d cruise and they’re like, ‘Oh, so it’s like a ‘90s night. That’s cool.’ And then a lot of the kids were like, ‘Why are we going around in the street over and over again? This is dumb, take me home.’”

After receiving positive feedback from all those involved, the plan is to make Cruise Night a monthly event.

“Amidst a world of rioting and protesting, Eloy came together in solidarity to show love and support of our community,” Michael Curradi posted on Facebook.

Eloy Police Chief Chris Vasquez added that the event was done safely and there were no issues.

On Monday night, McAnulty plans to go before the City Council to find out what is permitted as far as trying to get vendors out for Cruise Night and other ideas that can bring the community together.

“Just trying to get something positive back into this town because I’ve been here my whole life,” she said. “I love my town. I want people to be like, ‘Oh, yeah Eloy, that’s the town that cruises.’ Just trying to change people’s view of Eloy into something positive.”