EVIT opens 3rd campus, in Apache Junction

Apache Junction High School has become the third campus of the East Valley Institute of Technology with close to 500 students taking classes in diverse subjects such as culinary arts and welding.

School officials foresee the program extending its offerings and eventually welcoming students from as far away as Globe.

“EVIT is a great school, but the main campus is a half-hour ride for our kids by bus,” said Apache Junction High School Principal Larry LaPrise, referring to the school’s main campus at 1601 W. Main St. in Mesa.

“When you are a kid, an hour round trip by bus is a lot of time.”

The new EVIT branch allows students to take core classes at Apache Junction High School, then walk over to buildings that have been set up for EVIT classes. Remaining on their own high-school campus also is a plus for students involved in sports or other after-school activities.


Students (from left) Kira Litchfield, Katherine Nguyen, Dominque Klatt and Tina Baxter, all 15, put the finishing touches on cinnamon rolls during a culinary-foundations class at East Valley Institute of Technology’s new Apache Junction campus. (Photo: Cheryl Evans/The Republic )

EVIT spokeswoman CeCe Todd said the district’s main and east Mesa campuses are not at capacity, but having a third location is still a plus.

“EVIT’s afternoon classes are more crowded on both (the main and east Mesa) campuses because school districts prefer to bus their students to EVIT for the afternoon session,” Todd said. “We are currently working with districts to send more buses in the mornings so that our enrollment is more equally distributed between morning and afternoon.

“There is still room for change and growth at both campuses. Most EVIT programs are market-driven and created to fill local business and industry needs. So, as needs change, some programs are added and others may be dropped. And, build-out is continuing at the newer east campus, where, for example, plans are in the works to eventually expand the growing veterinary-assistant program.”

Apache Junction Unified School District Superintendent Chad Wilson said the idea for the Apache Junction EVIT branch came about during a discussion he had with EVIT Superintendent Sally Downey two years ago. Both are interested in growing their enrollments.

Wilson said his district has struggled with declining student enrollment since the Great Recession. Some families that moved to Apache Junction during the housing boom a decade ago lost their homes during the economic downturn and moved away. Others lost jobs in the area and left.

Wilson said the district’s enrollment has declined 5.5 percent in the past five years, to 4,700 students. Because state funding is based on enrollment, the district is struggling.

Offering EVIT classes in business management, early-childhood development, culinary arts, sports medicine, photography, construction and welding did not boost enrollment at the start of the school year, but Wilson and LaPrise are optimistic about the future.

“I would like to see students from Globe, Superior, Gold Canyon and unincorporated parts of Pinal County,” LaPrise said. “Also, we would welcome charter-school and home-schooled students. I don’t know of many home-school students that learn welding.”

EVIT has taken over paying the salaries of five full-time career and technology teachers who formerly were employed by Apache Junction schools. Apache Junction, meanwhile, has made rent-free space and equipment available for the EVIT classes.

LaPrise said the two school districts already are making expansion plans for next year. A former storage area will become a larger welding shop and unused space near the culinary-arts kitchen will become a student-run cafe next school year.

Eventually, LaPrise said, he would like to see a new building house EVIT medical-training programs on his campus.

LaPrise said it was not difficult to get 488 Apache Junction High School juniors and seniors to sign up for career and technical classes. All Apache Junction High School sophomores are required to take a career and technology class, so LaPrise said he encouraged students last year to sign up for more advanced EVIT classes this year.

The most popular EVIT class in Apache Junction is culinary arts, but school officials say welding and construction also draw many students who hope to put the skills to work in their careers.

Welding “was kind of scary at first,” said junior Luis Cruz, 16, who said he hopes to learn the skill well enough to use it in his family’s construction business. “If you keep at it you have a skill you can use for life.”

Junior Anthony Garcia, 17, already has plans to study business at Arizona State University but he enrolled in welding for a skill that he can use at his father’s auto-repair shop. “It’s been fun,” he said.

Business management teacher Erik Nesheim, meanwhile, is developing a business class that will give EVIT students at Apache Junction credits that count toward their math graduation requirement. He hopes the Apache Junction schools governing board will approve the class and credits by the next school year.

Arizona high schools require students to take four years of math to graduate. Although some students want to take calculus, pre-calculus or statistics in their senior year, others would prefer math skills that immediately apply to running a business, Nesheim said.

“My students are already learning about balance sheets, income statements and how to calculate profit and loss,” said Nesheim, who was a vice president at a Tempe electronic-payments company called Vital Processing before becoming a teacher eight years ago. His program teaches high-school students how to run their own small businesses.

Wilson said he believes many students will find the class Nesheim is developing to be more practical than pre-calculus.

“There are some kids who have math aptitude but want to engage with math that has a real-world application,” Wilson said.

About EVIT

The East Valley Institute of Technology now has three campuses. About 2,900 students attend classes at the main campus in Mesa, about 735 study at an east Mesa campus adjacent to ASU Polytechnic Campus and nearly 500 study in Apache Junction.

The school has 50 instructors on its main campus, 15 at the east campus and five full-time faculty in Apache Junction.

EVIT’s School of Health Sciences on the main campus has the most students enrolled at nearly 1,000.

Source and video:  http://www.azcentral.com/story/news/local/mesa/2014/04/24/evit-opens-apache-junction-campus/8129791/

Apache Junction Chamber of Commerce honors top volunteers

Volunteers for the Apache Junction Chamber of Commerce were honored for their work at a luncheon April 5. Volunteers and chamber representatives present at the event were, kneeling, chamber president/CEO Larry Johnson and Judy Borey; center row from left, Robert Wasson, chamber vice president of operations Jan Long, Mary Thomas, Helen Marshall, Joy McNulty, Helen Schafer, Maxine Boyce, Laurie Sherman and Beverly Buzeyn; and back row from left, Bill Vanderwall, Margie Fritz, Bob Pierce, Dolores Acker, Delores Larrew, Duane Larrew, Elaine Pitzel and Gordon Hill. The following volunteers were not present for the photo: Kitty Bryant, Kimberly Bruns, Sue Craft, Jim Edwards, Valene Elliot, Cindy Fuka, Barbara Marin and Teri Sorenson (Submitted photo, Apache Junction Chamber of Commerce).

Volunteers for the Apache Junction Chamber of Commercewere honored last week by the chamber’s leadership team.

The appreciation luncheon took place April 5 at the Mining Camp Restaurant, 6100 E. Mining Camp St, in Apache Junction.

Volunteers contributed 5,734 hours of work in 2013, volunteer coordinator Gordon Hill said during a phone interview last week. Some of the chamber’s 22 volunteers have spent as many as 15 years volunteering for the chamber, he said.

Each achieved a certain level of the President’s Volunteer Service Award, according to a press release. 

Five volunteers have donated at least 4,000 hours of service during their lifetime, Mr. Hill said. Doing so qualifies them for the President’s Call to Service Award.

Mr. Hill has qualified for the award five times, he said. Jim Edwards has accumulated 11,000 volunteer hours for the chamber during his lifetime while Joy McNulty has accumulated 5,000 hours; Mary Thomas, 4,600; and Helen Marshall, 4,200, Mr. Hill said.

Source:  http://arizona.newszap.com/eastvalley/131472-114/apache-junction-chamber-of-commerce-honors-top-volunteers


Ammo shortage sparks high prices

PHOENIX — Valley shooters and gun shops are on the hunt for ammo because a popular caliber has become nearly impossible to find.

“The two hard ones to get — there’s .22 and there’s .22 magnum, which is even harder to get,” said Jeff Serdy at AJI Sporting Goods in Apache Junction.

For some reason, .22-caliber ammunition has been in extremely limited supply for the past year and a half.

“Nobody really knows [why],” Serdy said.

Theories on why .22 is in short supply range widely.

An article by the National Rifle Association a few months back blamed rising gun sales since the 2008 and 2012 presidential elections. The gun control debate after the shootings at Sandy Hook in December 2012 also sparked high gun sales with many of the popular firearms being AR-style weapons chambered in .22 caliber.

Other theories say post-Sandy Hook hoarding is partially to blame.

“Two years ago a box of [.22] would have been about $2,” Serdy said. “Now they’re about $5 and some gougers are up to seven and $8.”

The problem extends beyond small gun shops. The big boys are having trouble keeping .22 stocked as well.

A call to Bass Pro Shops in Mesa on Monday afternoon failed to turn up any available .22 ammo. Cabela’s in Glendale was also fresh out on Monday afternoon, adding that a shipment earlier in the day fired off the shelves in just 20 minutes.

The big bullet manufacturers claim they’re making just as much inventory as always.

“They’re saying they are, but I don’t know if I quite believe them,” Serdy said. “Because I talk to distributors all day long and they’re just not seeing it.”

One problem leads to another — at least for gun sellers. With .22 ammo harder to find people are a little gun shy when it comes to buying anything at all.

“People are this close to buying a gun and they say, ‘Well, I’ll take [the gun] and 500 rounds of ammo,’ and we say, ‘Well, we don’t have 500 rounds of ammo,’ and they say, ‘We don’t want the gun,'” Serdy said.

Video at:  http://www.azfamily.com/news/local/Ammo-shortage-sparks-high-prices-256125051.html


Pinal County Sends 100 Day Termination Notice to Immigration and Customs Enforcement


FLORENCE – After a frustrating year of attempting to meet with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials to discuss an adjustment to the per diem rates charged per detainee in the Pinal County Jail, County Manager Greg Stanley announced on Wednesday, April 16 that he will be issuing a 100 day termination notice to the federal agency.

Per the Intergovernmental Service Agreement (ISGA) between the county and ICE, Pinal has provided documentation of the proposed per diem and suggested deviations from the 2011 Performance Based National Detention Standards. It has been nearly two months since the county’s has heard from ICE regarding the proposal.

The ISGA, dated August 28, 2006, allows the county to send a 100 day notice of a desire to terminate the agreement.

The Board of Supervisors does not wish to end the contract, but to make it more equitable for both sides in this agreement. In the letter to ICE, County Manager Stanley states:

“Pinal is still interested in continuing its relationship with Immigration and Customs Enforcement, but cannot continue at the existing per diem rate of $59.64. At the current rate, Pinal County taxpayers are subsidizing federal costs for detention.”

The Supervisors said they will be awaiting ICE’s answer to the notice of termination.

State-owned land primed for development in Pinal County

Southeast of Apache Junction, a sprawling expanse of desert wilderness lies waiting to be claimed.

Except for cattle and desert-dwelling wildlife, the 275 square miles of state-trust land is virtually uninhabited. Developers have leapfrogged the vast tract and built farther south in Pinal County.

The state-owned land is known as Superstition Vistas, and parcels within it soon will be on the market. But not for the first time.

Almost a decade ago, the raw desert seemed ripe for development. Planners suggested it might be a major Phoenix suburb, similar to what Orange County’s Irvine, Calif., is to Los Angeles. Tens of thousands of people would live there by 2050, they said.

2006 report: Where we grow next

In 2005, a group including urban planners, conservationists, utilities and government entities banded together to commission Arizona State University’s Morrison Institute to craft growth scenarios for the area, which is bigger than Mesa, Gilbert, Tempe and most of Chandler combined.

The goal: Offer a blueprint to build a cohesive community, with good jobs, parks, infrastructure and transportation. A plan that would come ahead of all the housing rooftops, not behind it.

The plan, unveiled with ceremony in 2006, sat ignored as the housing market crashed. Over the next few years, proposals that would have updated the Arizona State Land Department’s operating laws, which could have helped the agency plan and sell the parcel, failed in the Legislature and at the ballot box.

Now the site, in northern Pinal County between Apache Junction, the Superstition Mountains, Queen Creek and Florence, is luring developers again. The State Land Department has received inquiries about the site and plans to sell 7,000 acres that were part of the original Superstition Vistas land plan.

The area around it is primed for development. More than 11,000 acres south and east of Superstition Vistas were purchased for $118 million in December.

“Superstition Vistas should be drawing attention now, and we should actively be planning growth there,” said Mark Stapp, director of the Master of Real Estate Development program in the W.P. Carey School at Arizona State University.

“But it’s a huge site, and there are many obstacles toward its development, starting with transportation.”

Taking a massive swath of desert largely without roads, power and water and turning it into a livable, sustainable community is a daunting task, especially with no ground rules in place. Transportation and land planning remain major issues for the area, along with the usual metro Phoenix worries about water availability and economic development.

Unless state laws change, parcels within the area must be sold to the highest bidder at auction, which means developers are in the driver’s seat on land planning and Pinal County officials will likely decide the zoning.

“You can continue to develop one half-section at a time, or you can look at all 275 square miles of Superstition Vistas as a whole,” said Sandie Smith, a former Pinal County supervisor and a player in early discussions of Superstition Vistas.

Read more:  http://www.azcentral.com/story/money/business/2014/04/05/pinal-county-state-land-development/7367977/

Pinal County to Suspend Issuance of Open Burn Permits Beginning April 29

FLORENCE, AZ – Starting April 2, Pinal County Air Quality will only issue three-day open burning permits. All permits will expire by May 1 and Pinal County will suspend the issuance of open burning permits on April 29. Burn permits allow for the disposal of plant material by open burning during limited daytime hours. Additionally, State law prohibits open burning in Area A from May 1 thru September 30. The Pinal County portion of Area A includes Apache Junction, Queen Creek, Gold Canyon, San Tan Valley and portions of Florence. This year’s winter rains contributed to wildflower, brush and native plant growth, which will soon dry. The annual cycle of rising temperatures will quickly dry seasonal vegetation, leading to an acute wildfire risk in the desert and upland areas of the County. The suspension on burn permits will continue until the summer monsoons arrive and mitigate the dual risks to public safety and public health. Additional information on the Pinal County Air Quality program can be found at http://www.pinalcountyaz.gov or by calling the Pinal County Air Quality Division at 520-866-6929. Key Dates: As of April 2, 2014, Pinal County Air Quality will only issue 3-day open burning permits. Pinal County Air Quality will suspend the issuance of all open burning permits starting April 29, 2014 and continuing until further notice. All open burning is prohibited by State law in the Apache Junction, Queen Creek, Gold Canyon, San Tan Valley, and portions of Florence from May 1 thru September 30. – See more at: http://www.noodls.com/view/D26C4F7CD09DE08F4A0E6F3A94F7F8975F12371B#sthash.8oWPFDoS.dpuf