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Florence council takes issue with work done on Hunt Highway
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FLORENCE — The town is dissatisfied with recent work to rebuild nearly a mile of Hunt Highway north of Anthem and is asking the contractor to make it right.

Councilman John Anderson said at Monday’s meeting he hasn’t been impressed with the work. Vice Mayor Michelle Cordes agreed, adding the road is already bumpy.

Florence Public Works Director Chris Salas said the town has informed the contractor that it is not satisfied with Hunt Highway, and the project is under warranty. Complicating repairs is the road is also under consideration for widening to four lanes “in the very near future,” Salas said.

Anderson and Vice Mayor Michelle Cordes recalled that when the council awarded the contract, it was told at that time that widening to four lanes could be years away. The council awarded a $1.2 million contract in April to Cactus Asphalt to rebuild the deteriorating section of road.

Council members became unhappy with the project before it was finished when a temporary bypass road buckled and crumbled on June 4, making it impassable. Despite this setback, the work was completed on time.

Also at Monday’s meeting, the council awarded Cactus Asphalt a new contract to widen Centennial Park Avenue south of Butte Avenue to the town’s standards. Anderson asked if the town received any other bids.

The town didn’t, because Cactus Asphalt was awarded the work in a job order contract, in which the town orders work under the terms of one of the company’s previous bids, town staff said.

Mayor Tara Walter asked Public Works Director Chris Salas how he would characterize Cactus Asphalt’s price for the Centennial Park job, and Salas said it’s “extremely competitive.”

Cordes noted, “I don’t like job order contracts,” but the council voted unanimously to approve the contract for $140,533.

Centennial Park Avenue will be constructed with additional pavement and curb and gutter on the west side. This improvement will extend south from Butte Avenue approximately 735 feet to match the existing improvement. Merrill Property Division Trust LLC donated the right of way.

In other business, the council granted final plat approval to three new adjoining subdivisions north of Hunt Highway in Anthem Parkside. Unit 59A will consist of 93 lots on 30.44 acres, or 3.45 per acre; Unit 59B will have 146 lots on 41.18 acres, or 3.54 per acre; and Unit 59C will have 76 lots on 24.2 acres, or 3.13 per acre.

The council also granted final approval to rezoning of a vacant lot at 725 E. 8th St. at North Pinal Parkway. The lot, which used to have a home and was zoned for various types of residences and Neighborhood Office, was rezoned to Highway Business.


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Woman alleges harassment by Florence councilman
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John Anderson

FLORENCE — A Florence woman told the Town Council on Monday that her neighbor, Councilman John Anderson, has kept up a “well-known and well-documented case of harassment” against her family since they moved to Anthem at Merrill Ranch in 2014.

Cassandra Scherm said this includes years of text messages, instant messages and Facebook posts. It began three days after they moved in with his request that they cut down a tree, followed by complaints about their dogs barking and water from their garden.

Town Attorney Cliff Mattice interrupted Scherm twice to ask if her comments would include anything related to the jurisdiction of the Town Council.

Scherm said pictures of her backyard, clearly taken from above Anderson’s 8-foot backyard wall, have “destroyed any sense of privacy and happiness in our home.” She said she has filed for an order of protection against Anderson, and it would be in the town’s best interest for him to resign from the council.

Anderson responded that the attorney was correct, Scherm’s issues are “an HOA matter.” He told PinalCentral after the meeting that his wife took pictures of the Scherms’ backyard at the request of their homeowners association after asking the HOA “if they’re allowed to have all of this in their backyard.”

Scherm’s husband, Mike, a firefighter who is the town’s Community Emergency Response Team director, also spoke to the council. He thanked Mayor Tara Walter and Interim Fire Chief Jim Walter for attending the recent CERT graduation, at which 20 new members were welcomed to the team.

He further noted after the graduation on Saturday, six team members responded Sunday to help after a fatal natural gas explosion near Coolidge.


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