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Survey shows majority in support of bond for new high school in Maricopa
 Grace Harrah  / 

MARICOPA — A small majority of Maricopa residents would support a $75 million bond issue for a new high school, according to a new survey.

The survey was presented at the Maricopa Unified School District governing board meeting on Wednesday by Paul Ulan from Phoenix-based Primary Consultants. The governing board hired the firm to assess the chances a bond would be approved in a special election if the district decides to pursue one. The money would primarily be used to fund a second high school, while also providing maintenance to existing schools.

The survey was done over the phone with 401 high-likely voters over the course of six days with a 5.5-percent margin of error. The results showed 58 percent responding “yes” when asked if they would support a $75 million bond, with 31 percent responding no. Ulan explained that 60 percent is the “magic number” in this type of survey, since approval tends to drop as elections near.

A follow-up question was asked for those answering no, if they would support a $50 million bond. Of those people, 15 percent said they would support that lower amount, with 56 percent still responding no. The same process was done with a $35 million bond. At that point, 70 percent of respondents had expressed support for at least one of the amounts.

Ulan said a challenging factor lies with Maricopa being a primarily residential community. Homeowners foot a disproportionate percentage of tax increases during the circumstance of bond and override elections, since there aren’t as many businesses paying their share.

A cross reference showed that higher support came from those with children, with 75 percent voting yes, though Ulan expressed that he would like to see the number higher. An interesting factor for the respondents with no children showed that 55 percent voted yes, which Ulan described as an “encouraging number.”

Following the initial questions, the survey asked several others expanding the plan, including if the voters would be more likely to vote yes by implementing a citizens’ oversight committee. Sixty percent answered yes to the modification.

Following those questions, when the respondents were asked once again if they would support the $75 million bond, the number of supporters went down by 3 percent.

“We lost a little bit of support, which is a little concerning.” Ulan said. “Typically you want to grow. We didn’t.”

When asked prior to the bond questions, 58 percent of the respondents answered that the current property tax amount is just about right.

Many of the voters were not aware of the plan to build a new $83 million high school in the district. Ulan described this as an “opportunity, rather than negative.”

Ulan concluded the presentation by expressing that this is not a unique issue that only applies to Maricopa.

“There is not a district in the state that doesn’t have capital needs. This isn’t a Maricopa problem. This is a statewide problem,” Ulan said.

Although the capital needs are a statewide issue, the growth of Maricopa is something unique to the plan.

“There is not a district in the state that is growing like you and have some of the circumstances that you have,” Ulan said.

The board will soon have to decide whether to go out for a bond election in November, and if so, how much they will be asking for. Should they go out for a smaller amount, it would increase the chances of going out for another bond just a couple years later for another small amount.

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Maricopa assistant fire chief retiring after years of behind the scenes dedication
 Grace Harrah  / 

MARICOPA — When asked about Lonnie Inskeep, retiring assistant chief of the Maricopa Fire and Medical Department, the fire chief and staff replied with words of honor and praise.

“It’s an end of an era,” said Maricopa Fire Chief Brady Leffler. “I’m sad to see him go, but it’s long overdue. No one has earned it more than he has.”

Inskeep is ending his 24-year career working in fire departments, from serving as a part-time firefighter in the Ak-Chin Indian Community to becoming the assistant chief in Maricopa. He was the ninth employee for the Maricopa Fire District when hired as a firefighter in 2005 and from then on, he has continued to make an impact on the Maricopa community.

“I’ve watched this department grow from nothing to four full brick-and-mortar stations,” Inskeep said.

What started his career was a simple interest that he and his wife, Cindy, took in taking an EMT training class at Ak-Chin in 1995. From then, he moved up from a part-time firefighter to full-time, eventually becoming a captain at MFMD in 2007.

In 2008, he moved to administration, where his role was to work behind the scenes with duties such as buying the trucks and equipment, working with the budgets and working on some of the necessary infrastructure for the department.

“There are a lot of parts of being a firefighter I miss. I miss the fun time you have on the truck,” Inskeep said. “There’s no better feeling for a firefighter to get somebody loaded in the ambulance as quickly as possible. It’s an instant gratification.”

Though many of the projects were not easy tasks and could take up to four or five years to attain, he mentioned that building Station 5 and working with the police department to build a new communications tower were by far the most memorable and exciting times at his job.

Engineer and paramedic Carlos Schulz was hired on with Inskeep, working together and continuing their friendship since the beginning.

“He’s one of the hardest working people I’ve ever met,” Schulz said. “Without him, we would have not been able to get to where we are in such a short period of time.”

Inskeep emphasized his devotion to the city of Maricopa and the people he has worked with.

“I’m going to miss the people of the job,” Inskeep said. “In this position I get to work with council members and the mayor, and a lot of the finance department on the budget.”

He said it has been an honor to serve the people of Maricopa.

“It’s amazing what this small community has gotten done in the past 10 years. Just to build a city from ground zero to where it is now,” Inskeep said. “Even though Maricopa is growing big, it’s still a community where the people care about each other. And it’s the same with the fire and police department. They’re all trying to make this a better place to live.”

He wishes to see the department move forward after his retirement and to see Jerome Schirmer, the new assistant chief, “knock it out of the park.”

Grace Harrah / Grace Harrah/PinalCentral  

The Rev. Arnold L. Jackson speaks during the groundbreaking ceremony.

Maricopa man killed in Friday's SR 347 rollover
 Grace Harrah  / 

MARICOPA — A man has been confirmed dead after a rollover crash on State Route 347 south of Riggs Road on Friday afternoon.

The red pick-up truck involved in the accident was driven by Alex J. Beckley, 42, of Maricopa, who was pronounced dead at the scene.

The accident happened Friday at around 3:43 p.m. when the vehicle sustained tire failure going northbound on SR 347. The vehicle crossed over to the southbound lanes and eventually came to rest on its roof. Both the southbound and northbound lanes were closed as police diverted the traffic for a detour on Casa Blanca Road. The road re-opened after several hours.

Hector Rivera has started a GoFundMe page in support of Brenda Rivera, who was also in the truck when the accident occurred. Many of the Maricopa community have reached out to the page, leaving words of sympathy and remembering Alex.

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Los Lonely Boys and Ozomatli to perform at Harrah's
 mstaude  / 

MARICOPA — Chicano rockers Los Lonely Boys will bring their unusual “Texican” rock-blues style to the stage at the Events Center at Harrah’s Ak-Chin Casino on June 8.

The rock trio from San Angelo, Texas, includes the Garza brothers Henry, Jojo and Ringo. Henry performs guitar and vocals, Jojo is on base and Ringo plays drums.

They have been recording music for more than 14 years and focus on a blend of musical elements derived from rock ’n’ roll, Texas blues, brown-eyed soul and country.

Much of their style follows the tradition of their musician father, Ringo Garza Sr., who formed a band with his brothers called the Falcones, according to a press release from Harrah’s.

Los Lonely Boys’ debut single, “Heaven,” was a No. 1 hit on the Billboard adult contemporary chart and reached the Top 40 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 2004.

In 2009, they signed to an Austin-based indie label, Playing in Traffic Records, and released an EP, “1969,” and three albums under their LonelyTone label, “Keep On Giving: Acoustic Live!,” “Rockpango” and “Revelation.”

Performing before Los Lonely Boys will be Los Angeles-based group Ozomatli.

Since its inception in 1995, Ozomatli has represented the city’s eclectic culture through music that appeals to the local community and the world beyond, the press release said.

Ozomatli’s success includes a variety of genres from classic to modern Latino, urban, hip-hop and other world styles.

Los Lonely Boys and Ozomatli perform live on June 8. Doors to the Event Center open at 7 p.m. The show starts at 8 p.m.

Ticket prices are $25, $40 and $55 and are available online through Ticketmaster.