Your West Valley News: Local news from Phoenix's West Valley communities - Sun City West, Sun City Grand, Surprise, Glendale, Peoria, El Mirage, Youngtown

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  • El Mirage woos new businesses

    The City of El Mirage released a new economic development Web page located at or to promote new business attraction and retention.The new page will also have information for site selectors and business owners interested in locating to the city.Mayor Lana Mook said she sees this Web page as a vital component in order for the city to attract new businesses.“This Web page will make it easy for site selectors and business owners to gather information regarding what El Mirage has to offer to the commercial and retail community,” Mook said.For information, contact Thomas Doyle, Economic Development specialist, at 623-876-2935 or via email at

  • Dodge ball tourney returns to Peoria

    Peoria will host a teen dodge ball tournament from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. July 31 at Rio Vista Recreation Center, 8866 W. Thunderbird Road.It is a best of three double-elimination tournament with prizes for the first and second place teams.Participants ages 12-17 can preregister by calling Rio Vista Recreation Center at 623-773-8600.The $5 fee includes admission, live DJ, raffle prizes and fun for all.

  • Surprise woman arrested after 2-year-old left alone in vehicle

    SURPRISE, Ariz. - A Surprise woman is facing child neglect and endangerment charges for leaving her 2-year-old child in a hot car Saturday afternoon.Police say shortly after 4 p.m., Surprise officers responded to a call of a small child left unattended in a car at a shopping center near 134th Drive and Bell Road.Authorities say when police arrived on scene, they found the child locked inside the car and sweating profusely.Officers broke the vehicle's windshield and the child was transported to the hospital with non-life threatening injuries.According to Surprise police, readings inside the car indicated an average temperature of 108 degrees. Police believe the child had been in the car at least eight minutes before officers arrived.Officers locate the child’s mother, Mikayla Lynn Peer, age 20, inside a store shopping. Authorities determined at least 20 minutes had passed from the time the child was left inside the locked car until Peer returned to the parking lot.

  • Glendale police searching for victim, attackers in home-invasion and assault

    GLENDALE, Ariz. –Police are seeking several male suspects and a male victim in a home invasion and assault early Friday.Officers responded around 4:30 a.m. Friday to a residence in the area of 6200 W. Cavalier Drive, where an investigation revealed several adult males had forcibly entered a residence there, and once inside, a verbal confrontation ensued between the suspects and Uridan Barrera, 27.At some point during the altercation, the male suspects began to physically assault Barrera, removed him from the home and fled the scene in an unknown vehicle.Barrera’s girlfriend and her three children were also in the residence and not physically harmed during this incident.Residents inside the home heard a gunshot during the altercation, but it is unknown at this time if anyone, including Barrera, was struck by gunfire. The motive for the assault is also unknown at this time. Detectives do not have suspect or a vehicle description. Witnesses could only describe the suspects as appearing to be Hispanic adult males.

  • Cardinals’ training camp begins Aug. 1 in Glendale

    With a late Labor Day pushing the start of the NFL season deeper into September, the Cardinals’ first practice of training camp in 2015 won’t be until August.The Cards will be back at University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale for camp for a third straight year, with reporting day coming July 31 and the first practice on Aug. 1 — the first of 19 practices open to the public.The Fan Fest practice will come a week later, on Aug. 8.As always, admission and parking for all open practices, including Fan Fest, are free.Full Fan Fest details and other training camp activities will be revealed at a later date.Because of the late start to the NFL season, the Kids Interactive Zone and the Kids Autograph Experience will cease Aug. 14 given that most kids will have returned to school by that time.

  • Youngtown woman arrested after pit bull in her care dies

    YOUNGTOWN, Ariz. - A Youngtown woman is facing charges after a pit bull she was taking care of died from heat and lack of shelter.Maricopa County sheriff's deputies arrested 25-year-old Connie Eileen Schuneman on suspicion of animal abuse.Schuneman was booked into jail Wednesday and released.She doesn't have a lawyer yet, and her next court appearance is scheduled for July 15.Court records show Schuneman had been watching the dogs for her roommate when a deputy following up on an animal-abuse complaint found the dog's carcass June 17.A veterinarian examined the dog and determined it had been dead for 36 to 48 hours.

  • Two dead, three missing after boat capsizes in Ohio River

    LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — Two people were killed and three remained missing after the pontoon boat they were riding in hit a barge and capsized in the Ohio River, Kentucky authorities said Sunday.Louisville Fire Chief Greg Frederick said nine people were aboard the boat and that four were rescued after the accident shortly before 10 p.m. Saturday. He said three of those rescued were children and that they were wearing life jackets.Frederick said the fatalities include one adult and one child. He said a child is among the missing. It's unclear if they were wearing life jackets.No identifications have been released.Frederick said Sunday evening that the search would continue in the morning but that the Louisville Police Department is now in command as the search turns from a rescue to a recovery effort.Frederick said the barge was in a construction site about a mile upstream from the Clark Memorial Bridge. He said authorities planned to search for survivors until Sunday night, and that the Civil Air Patrol was helping in the search.Frederick said the current of the river was too strong to use divers, and that it contained a lot of debris."There are entire trees ... floating down at a rapid rate of speed," he said. "We just don't think it's safe to put divers in."

  • Peoria Fire-Medical: Man nearly drowns at Lake Pleasant

    PEORIA, Ariz. -- Officials with the Peoria Fire and Medical Department say a man nearly drowned at Lake Pleasant Sunday afternoon.A 38-year-old man was reportedly submerged for an unknown amount of time. He was unconscious but breathing when fire crews arrived.The nature of the incident and his immediate condition were not known.Several other drowning incidents occurred over the holiday weekend, including a 32-year-old man at the Salt River and an 8-year-old in the Verde River.

  • Health coach tackles high blood pressure

    Sun Health will host a class on how to exercise safely with high blood pressure.The session will be from 11 a.m. to noon July 15 in the Community Education Room at La Loma Village Health and Rehabilitation Center, 14260 Denny Blvd., Litchfield Park.Rhonda Zonoozi, exercise physiologist and health coach, will lead the non-exercise class and provide methods to manage high blood pressure, including regular physical activity.Call 623-455-5633 or visit to register for this free class.The Sun Health Community Education Series presents ongoing health and wellness programs on a variety of health care, healthy living and personal safety topics focused on seniors. Events occur several times each month at locations across the West Valley and are presented as a community service.Registered participants are asked to call to cancel at least two business days in advance if they cannot make a session.

  • Police: passenger causes Greyhound bus crash in California

    SAN BERNARDINO, Calif. (AP) — Authorities say five people were injured after a passenger on a Greyhound bus grabbed the steering wheel from the driver, forcing it into a ditch off a Southern California freeway.California Highway Patrol Sgt. Grady Stevens says the bus careered off Interstate 10 in San Bernardino, crashed through a chain link fence and into the ditch Saturday afternoon.Stevens said the man who caused the crash broke a bus window and ran several blocks before collapsing in the parking lot of an Olive Garden restaurant. Stevens said he was taken to a hospital to get treated for a gashed forearm before getting arrested.The bus was taking 22 people from Phoenix to Los Angeles when the crash occurred.Five people were taken to the hospital for minor injuries.

  • Arizona prison to relocated more 350 additional inmates

    Arizona Department of Corrections officials were relocating more than 350 inmates Sunday following a disturbance at a privately run prison in Kingman.About 355 inmates are being transferred to other facilities because of damage that was done to housing units the day before, department spokesman Andrew Wilder said.The process should be completed by Sunday evening, and the inmates have remained compliant, Wilder said. The prison's operator has already transferred 700 inmates since the Saturday disturbance.Gov. Doug Ducey toured the damaged prison Sunday morning while receiving briefings from public safety officials."The state is taking this situation seriously and deploying the necessary resources to protect Arizona citizens," Ducey said in a statement.The governor said he planned to remain in close contact with corrections officials to make sure all transfers are completed properly and safely.

  • Grand Canyon commercial boaters seek alternative fuel

    FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. (AP) — A group of commercial boaters in northern Arizona are set on one day leading excursions along the Colorado River in greener fashion.The Arizona Daily Sun reports the rafting companies that comprise the Grand Canyon River Outfitters Association have been experimenting with how to emit less fossil fuel and noise on the river.Association executive director John Dillon says an April trip using a battery-powered motorboat marked a major milestone in their efforts.Dillon says the technology to make boats battery-operated is still years away from being widespread and it would likely cost thousands of dollars.Steve Hatch, association president, says a hybrid technology to fuel boats hasn't been a smooth ride but is worth the possible benefits.

  • Documentary explores transgender phenomenon

    NEW YORK — “Growing Up Trans” explores the transgender phenomenon as younger people than ever (and their parents) now experience it: a frontier of possibilities and unknowns, and a minefield of high-stakes choices for these youngsters as they also navigate the changes adolescence brings.Airing on the “Frontline” documentary series (check local listings on Ch. 8), it begins with 9-year-old Lia (formerly Liam) Hegarty, who says she transitioned when she was about 7 and now is “almost completely female.”Ticking off the steps with each finger, she says, “I’ve changed my name, my clothes, my room and my pronouns. And that’s really all you need.” Except for the fifth step, she adds, looking ahead as she presents her thumb: “Surgery and medicine.”But through it all looms doubt and risk.“We’re asking families to take some leaps of faith,” says Dr. Robert Garofalo of Lurie Children’s Hospital in Chicago, who cites vexing uncertainties from as-yet-unproven drugs and procedures.“How realistic is it to believe that a 14-, 15-, or 16-year-old has the capacity to make that kind of decision for him or herself? But at the same time, to deny them — that’s tough,” he says. “This is tough stuff.”

  • Vintage market returns to Peoria

    The Front Porch Pickins vintage market is returning to Peoria.The event will be from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. July 17 and July 18 at Park West Mall, 9744 W. Northern Ave.Front Porch Pickins Vintage Market is a treasure-hunter’s dream, and features more than 40 vendors sharing their wares in the cool, air-conditioned comfort. While specialty goods and tough-to-find vintage items are Front Porch Pickins’ primary draws, this summer’s event will also feature food trucks, an onsite appraiser and a “man cave” with flat screens and comfy recliners for those who’d rather kick back than keep shopping.The onsite appraiser will offer up two complimentary appraisals for any guests who furnish a $15 donation to the Arizona Humane Society.Additional draws include reappearances by favorite vendors from Front Porch Pickins’ April event like the Hula Hooper, and appearances by other innovative vendors like Bright Idea, a maker of jewelry crafted from light bulbs, and Beth Border’s Boards, a manufacturer of unique signs and other woodworks boasting inspirational quotes and phrases.For more information about Front Porch Pickins’ Vintage Market or to apply to be a vendor, visit or stay connected socially by following them on Facebook and Twitter. Early entry tickets are $10 and give guests an extra hour to peruse the racks before the crowds settle in. Advanced-purchase general admission tickets are $2, and admission is also possible at the gate for $3.

  • Resort seeks poker champion

    Poker players have just a couple of months to practice their best bluffs and refine their skills. The 11th annual Arizona State Poker Championship is right around the corner, kicking off on Aug. 14 in The ARENA Poker Room. The No Limit Hold’em tournament will feature a prize pool of more than $1 million dollars and four-time World Series of Poker champion Tom Schneider will emcee the final table, making this a must-see event for all poker enthusiasts.Hopefuls can enter the tournament with just a $1,100 buy-in. The tournament will begin at 9 a.m. and contenders will start the match with $16,000 in tournament chips. An additional $10,000 in chips will also be available for $30. This year’s competition will include a new dinner break on Aug. 14 through Aug. 16, as well as upgraded satellites and Poker Tournament Directors Association rules. Finals will commence on Aug. 18 and will include a fight to the finish by the remaining 10 competitors. Registration is under way in The ARENA Poker Room. For more details about the 11th annual Arizona State Poker Championship, visit or call 480-850-7734. All participants must submit their $1,100 buy-in during the sign-up process. Participants must be 21 or older to participate.

  • Economic development is long-term key in Surprise

    Through debates of a potential bond election and a possible increase in the property tax rate, and smaller aspects of the fiscal year 2016 budget adoption process, one overarching theme emerged.Surprise needs to generate more revenue and create more diversified revenue streams to take care of some of its infrastructure improvements.The City Council chose not to seek a $60 million bond initiative or hike its property tax. So the list of potential bond projects — save for pavement preservation and Greenway Road improvements from Litchfield Road through Bullard Avenue — will wait another year.By city policy, the first $1.25 million in construction sales tax revenue each fiscal year goes into general fund. Excess goes to capital funds.“Over the last couple of years, not in the downturn . . . we’ve put between $1.5 and $2 million into those funds. During the boom time it was $10 to $15 million. Then you had sufficient capital to be able to do things,” City Manager Bob Wingenroth said.And as Surprise is currently constructed, those and other sales tax revenues are a large part of the city’s economic engine.

  • Want a national day? Check a website in North Dakota

    NEW YORK (AP) — To most Americans, July 4 is Independence Day. But on Marlo Anderson's calendar, it's also Caesar Salad Day and Barbecued Spareribs Day.Anderson is the mastermind of the National Day Calendar, an online compendium of pseudo-holidays that has become a resource for TV and radio stations looking to add a little levity to their broadcasts.The 52-year-old co-owner of a VHS digitizing company in North Dakota started the calendar in 2013 and soon realized the site could also be a way for people to declare their own special days. So last year, he started charging $1,500 to $4,000 for "national day" proclamations."People certainly don't need to use us. It's just we really give it a jumpstart," he said.Marketing experts give Anderson credit for seizing on the desire by companies and groups for another way to promote themselves, though they question the effectiveness some of the resulting campaigns. It's not the only reason for celebration, but food seems to be a common subject for special days.Already, the National Day Calendar has given its blessing to more than 30 made-up holidays. A crouton maker paid for National Crouton Day (May 13), a seafood restaurant submitted National Fried Clam Day (July 3) and a craft beer maker came up with National Refreshment Day (fourth Thursday in July).Anderson's venture, which he says brings in roughly $50,000 a year, underscores the free-for-all nature of such days.In 1870, Congress established the first four federal holidays with New Year's Day, Independence Day, Thanksgiving and Christmas. Since then, only six more annual federal holidays have been added, with the most recent being Martin Luther King Jr. day in 1983. But even the authority of those holidays is limited; although they're broadly observed, they're technically only legally applicable to federal employees.A few dozen other dates are also recognized in the U.S. code, including Mother's Day, National School Lunch Week and American Heart Month. Mayors, presidents and other lawmakers can declare days honoring individuals and causes too, although those usually aren't widely observed.Beyond that, there's no single authority for declaring the legitimacy of special days, which can become part of culture in myriad ways, including marketing campaigns, advocacy efforts and folklore.The often murky origins present an opportunity for the National Day Calendar, which has emerged to bestow an air of authority on special days. For a price, the site mails official-looking proclamations that Anderson prints out and frames at Zoovio, his VHS digitizing business.Boston Market's chief brand officer, Sara Bittorf, said the idea for National Rotisserie Chicken Day (June 2) came from the chain's ad agency, but noted the day was one of few approved by the National Day Calendar's selection committee.Since the National Day Calendar doesn't have its own staff, that selection committee is made up of four Zoovio employees.Amy LaVallie, a committee member, said the general rule is to pick days with broad appeal. It's why "National Sean Connery Day" was rejected, she said, but Boston Market's submission passed muster."National Rotisserie Chicken Day, okay? People like chicken. Simple as that," LaVallie said.Still, some question the validity of Anderson's calendar declarations."It seems like hokum to me, but more power to him," said Robert Passikoff, president of Key Brands, a consulting firm. "Ask him if they have a P.T. Barnum day, and see if they're celebrating a sucker born every minute."While special days give companies another way to promote a product, Passikoff said their effectiveness would depend largely on whether there's a natural interest in the category. He said National Donut Day (June 5) gets a lot of attention because the pastries are popular and the day has interesting origins; the Salvation Army says it began during World War I when its workers gave soldiers coffee and doughnuts in the trenches.As for a day celebrating rotisserie chicken, Passikoff questioned whether anyone would really care.While the National Day Calendar is a quick way for companies to get recognition for a special date, it isn't the only keeper of notable days.In 1957, brothers William and Harrison Chase started Chase's Calendar of Events as a reference for the media. The first edition was 32 pages, but the book has since mushroomed to 752 pages and includes federal holidays and events like musical festivals, as well as days celebrating things like squirrels, pooper scoopers and s'mores.It costs $80 and is used by places like libraries and media outlets.Holly McGuire, editor-in-chief of Chase's, said she and her team try to gauge whether people actually "observe" particular dates when deciding what should be included in the book."Really, in the last 10 or 20 years, people have just been throwing them out there. They may take or not. We try to bring a little order to the chaos," McGuire said.For instance, McGuire said Chase's doesn't list a day for chocolate since there are about three floating about and she can't figure out how they came to be. Yet the book lists a "Sneak Some Zucchini Onto Your Neighbor's Porch Night," which is intended to relieve people of squash from "overzealous planting."McGuire didn't provide details on Chase's methods for investigating the legitimacy of special days, but said a couple retweets on Twitter wouldn't qualify."We've got a team and we're constantly looking at things, kind of like dictionary editors do with new words," she said.People can submit special days for inclusion in Chase's, but acceptance doesn't hinge on payments.At the National Day Calendar, by contrast, one-time proclamations for birthdays, anniversaries and other occasions are on sale for $19.99 or $39.99. The price for ongoing inclusion in the calendar is higher.For $1,500, Anderson provides a framed proclamation. For $2,500, he helps arrange interviews with the media. And for $4,000 and travel expenses, he'll show up to present proclamations at events. So far, Anderson says three groups have taken him on that offer.This fall, he's traveling to New York for National Dumpling Day (Sept. 26); the day was submitted by TMI Corp., a distributor of Asian foods.

  • U.S. employers add 223K jobs; jobless rate falls to 5.3%

    WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. employers added a solid 223,000 jobs in June, and the unemployment rate fell to 5.3 percent, a seven-year low. But wages failed to budge, and other barometers of the job market paint a mixed picture.The unemployment rate fell from 5.5 percent in May, the Labor Department said Thursday. But the rate fell mostly because many people out of work gave up on their job searches and were no longer counted as unemployed.In addition, the percentage of Americans working or looking for work fell to a 38-year low, a possible sign of more discouraged job seekers. And employers added 60,000 fewer jobs in April and May combined than the government had previously estimated.The figures capture the persistently uneven nature of the job market's recovery from the Great Recession. More people had begun looking for work in May, yet all those gains were reversed in June. And wages, which had shown signs of finally rising earlier this year, have now stalled.Construction companies failed to add any jobs in June after hiring 15,000 in May and 30,000 in April. Manufacturing gained just 4,000 jobs in June. But health care added 53,000 positions and retailers 33,000.Still, over the past three months, hiring has averaged 221,000, a step up from 195,000 in the first three months of the year. That suggests that many employers are confident that consumer demand for their goods and services will remain strong enough in coming months to justify more staffers.Thursday's report may heighten expectations that the Fed will boost the key short-term rate it controls in September or, if not, in December. The Fed has kept that rate at a record low near zero for 6½ years to support the economy. A Fed rate hike would lead to higher rates for mortgages, auto loans and other borrowing."The mixed signals make the Fed's data-driven interest rate hike difficult to predict, though certainly the lower unemployment figures would indicate they hike sooner rather than later," said Tara Sinclair, a professor at George Washington University and chief economist at the jobs site Indeed.Strong hiring has endured this year despite a miserable winter, which helped cause the economy to contract 0.2 percent at an annual rate in the January-March quarter.The job gains show that employers are increasingly confident that their customer demand will keep growing. Their willingness to hire in anticipation of greater demand marks a shift from earlier in the economic recovery, when many businesses tended to hire only when essential.A survey of purchasing executives at manufacturing firms released this week found that factories reported a scant rise in orders in June but ramped up hiring anyway.Americans are finally spending more after boosting their savings earlier this year, in part because they're growing more confident about the economy. The Conference Board said Tuesday that its consumer confidence index reached 101.4, matching March's figure for the second-highest level since the recession.That's good news for auto dealers and real estate agents. Auto sales jumped to nearly a 10-year high in May. The National Automobile Dealers Association forecasts that sales will top 17 million this year for the first time since 2001.And home sales are running at an eight-year high and boosting construction. Permits to build homes jumped 11.8 percent in May to the highest level since 2007.Most economists now expect economic growth to reach an annual rate of 2.5 percent in the April-June quarter and 3 percent in the second half of the year.

Featured columns

  • Wedding bells bring changes to tax situation

    If you’re getting married this summer or anytime this year, there are few steps you should take that will help make tax time easier next year. Here are some tips to help keep tax issues that may arise from your marriage to a minimum:• Change of Name: Your name and Social Security numbers listed on your tax return must match with the records from the Social Security Administration. So, if you have a name change, you must report it to the SSA. The easiest way to get the forms is to download them from the SSA website at• Change in Tax Withholding: You may have to fill out a new Form W-4 with your employer to change the amount withheld from your paycheck. The withholding rate is usually lower than for those who are single. You can use the IRS Withholding Calculator Tool to help you determine how many exemptions you should take. To get to the calculator tool go to• Change of Address: It is important to let the IRS know if you have a change of address from what was on the prior year’s tax return. The form to file the address change is No. 8822. It could be downloaded on the website.• Change in Your Filing Status: If you get married at any time during 2015, the filing status on your tax return will change from Single or Head of Household to Married Filling Joint or Married Filing Separate.Linda Vitale has been a tax professional for 19 years. You can read her previously written articles on or on

  • Pessimists are wrong about American innovation

    Wilbur and Orville Wright’s airplane flew for the first time in December 1903. It was one of the most important innovations of human history, changing the world in every imaginable way.To celebrate their accomplishment, the press offered a yawn and a shoulder shrug.Only a few newspapers reported the Wright’s first flight at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina. All of them butchered the facts. Later flights in Dayton, Ohio, the brothers’ home, still drew little attention.David McCullough explains in his book, “The Wright Brothers”:“‘Have you heard what they’re up to out there?’ people in town would say. ‘Oh, yes,’ would be the usual answer, and the conversation would move on. Few took any interest in the matter or in the two brothers who were to become Dayton’s greatest heroes ever.“An exception was Luther Beard, managing editor of the Dayton Journal ... ‘I used to chat with them in a friendly way and was always polite to them,’ Beard would recall, ‘because I sort of felt sorry for them. They seemed like well-meaning, decent enough young men. Yet there they were, neglecting their business to waste their time day after day on that ridiculous flying machine.’”

  • Tee to Green: Unrealistic expectations foil future success

    Is there anything more cliché than someone who has great ability but can’t get his act together emotionally to get the job done?I think it is fair to say that emotional failure is a much greater determinant to failure on the golf course among good players than physical failure.I have always said that the thing that set Tiger Woods apart when he was winning everything was his ability to make a putt every time he needed to. That speaks to something internal, not his ability to handle a putter.Arnold Palmer said that he had to beat only a half-dozen players in the field at a major championship because everyone else didn’t believe they could win it anyway. They weren’t up to the challenge emotionally.As a matter of fact, one of the truly new developments in the game these days is the ability of young players, newly arrived on tour, to play well in pressure situations and “close the deal” and win golf tournaments.They believe they can win right from the beginning.

Luke AFB F-16 Instructor Pilot Travis "Slam" Swan

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