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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  • Fire displaces residents of two Peoria town houses

    PEORIA, Ariz. (AP) — Six people have been left displaced after a chimney fire damaged two town houses in Peoria. Firefighters say the blaze broke out Saturday around 1 a.m. after a resident started a fire in the fireplace and went to bed. Authorities say the fire ended up igniting debris inside the chimney, which the two homes share, and caused smoke to fill the units. Crews were able to extinguish the fire, and there were no injuries. But the family of four living in one town house and the couple in the house where the fire was lit were not allowed back inside.

  • Surprise offers retirement workshop

    Surprise will host a workshop on planning for a secure retirement.The session is scheduled from 10 a.m. to noon Dec. 9 in the auditorium of the Public Safety Building (Police Department), 14250 W. Statler Plaza.The workshop is designed to help participants protect their nest egg from market volatility, provide for growth during the upswing years and assure that income lasts for a lifetime.The workshop will be led by Mark Melkowski and Robert Feinholz with the American Financial Education Alliance.For information or registration, call Ruby Sitea at 623-222-3242 or send an email to ruby.sitea@surpriseaz.gov.

  • Complete holiday shopping, fill empty bowls at WHAM

    The holidays are around the corner and local West Valley artists have been busy creating one-of-a-kind gifts in glass, clay, acrylics, oils, wood, beads and more. WHAM holiday artwalks will be from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Nov. 29 and Dec. 13. Admission is free to the public.Artists interested in reserving space to show their work should contact Norma Bush by emailing whamartwalk@aol.com.In addition, WHAM will have its Bowls of Hope event from 9:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. during the Nov. 29 artwalk.For a $10 donation, select a one-of-a-kind handmade bowl made by WHAM’s clay artists and help to feed the hungry and homeless in our community.The profits from bowl sales will go to the Mustard Seed Shelter for the homeless, Valley View Community Food Bank and St. Mary’s Food Bank. WHAM is a nonprofit committed to giving back to the community and will continue with this event annually.WHAM Art Association is at 16560 N. Dysart Road, on Dysart, one block south of Bell Road, in Surprise.

  • UPDATE: Glendale police ID woman struck, killed by vehicle

    GLENDALE, Ariz. – Police have identified the woman struck and killed by a vehicle as she crossed Thunderbird Road Friday night as a 66-year-old cit woman.Linnie Kirby was pronounced dead at a local hospital after she was taken there following the 6:30 p.m. accident at 52nd Avenue and Thunderbird Road, a police spokeswoman stated.“On Friday, November 21st just before 6:30pm, Glendale Police Officers were dispatched to a serious vehicle accident involving a pedestrian in the area of 5200 W. Thunderbird Road,” stated Officer Tracey Breeden in a prepared release. “When officers arrived on scene, the investigation revealed a two-door black sedan, occupied with a male adult driver, was traveling westbound on Thunderbird Road, approaching North 52nd Avenue. A pedestrian, 66 year old Glendale Resident Linnie Kirby, was crossing Thunderbird Road from south to north outside of a crosswalk when she was struck in the curb lane by the black sedan,” the spokeswoman continued.Information at this time leads investigators to believe the incident was an accident, and the driver showed no signs of impairment, police stated.  Neither speed nor distracted driver appear to be factors. No charges or citations have been issued..

  • Event covers fair housing laws

    Learn about the laws and policies in place to protect your right to fair housing at the city’s free fair housing event, scheduled from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Dec. 2 in the auditorium of the Public Safety Building, 14250 W. Statler Plaza.Federal law prohibits housing discrimination based on race, color, national origin, religion, sex, familial status, or disability. Details about the protected classes will be covered at the event, as well as types of discrimination and the process of filing a complaint if you believe your rights have been violated.Attendees will also have the opportunity to hear from the Southwest Fair Housing Council and the city’s Disability Advisory Commission. Registration is required. For information or to register, contact Neighborhood Services Coordinator Jason Hughes via email at jason.hughes@surpriseaz.gov or by phone at 623-222-3239.

  • Glendale PD officers must pay for Super Bowl badges

    Glendale police are really looking forward to the upcoming Super Bowl.The department’s badges have undergone a major redesign, featuring the Super Bowl XLIX logo along with the game date.Chief Debora Black on Tuesday tweeted out a photo of the new look, saying, “Glendale PD is so excited about #SB49 that we put it on our badges!”Glendale police told ABC15 the badges are not being paid with taxpayers’ money.Officers who want the badges need to pay for it on their own.The big game is coming to University of Phoenix Stadium on Feb. 1, 2015.

  • Brewer subpoenaed over her book

    PHOENIX -- Arizonans may get a chance to see who provided Gov. Jan Brewer some of the information for her book and what they told her.Immigrant rights groups challenging what's left of SB 1070 have served the governor with a subpoena demanding that she produce all documents she considered, reviewed or relied upon in writing "Scorpions for Breakfast.'' The book is subtitled "My Fight Against Special Interests, Liberal Media, and Cynical Politicos to Secure America's Border.''The attorneys want any communications she had with anyone about what went into the book, whether in formal interviews, notes of conversations, emails, formal statements or anything else "regarding the substance and/or content of the aforementioned book.''And just to cover all bases, the subpoena demands any communications she had with Jessica Gavora, who Brewer said helped her write the book, though her work is not credited.The subpoena comes as challengers seek to void one of the last remaining key portions of the bill. It requires police to question people they have stopped about their immigration status if there is reason to believe they are in this country illegally.Most of the other challenged provisions have been voided by federal courts.

  • Window washer falls onto car in San Francisco

    SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — A worker who fell 11 stories from a San Francisco building onto a moving car, crushing its roof and sending shattered glass flying into the street survived but was in critical condition. The man fell screaming from the roof of a downtown building Friday, but was conscious when paramedics reached the area, police said. He remained in critical condition at a San Francisco Hospital Friday night, officials said. The car's driver, Mohammad Alcozai, was not injured. He told KGO-TV that he's happy to be alive especially after his car's roof almost completely collapsed in the accident. He said he is praying that the worker survives. "I'm very happy that I didn't get hurt," Alcozai told the news channel shortly after the accident. "Hopefully he can make it. I pray for him that he can make it." Alcozai said he saw something hit his car shortly after making a left turn. Witnesses described seeing a blue streak and the man's shadow as he fell and then hearing shattering glass as he hit the car and then rolled onto the ground. The roof of the car, a green Toyota Camry, was smashed in, and the rear windshield shattered. Bianca Bahman, who was on the corner where the man fell, said she looked up to see his shadow and ran for cover. "As he was coming down, he was definitely screaming," Bahman, 31, a pre-medical student at San Francisco State University who was on her way to the gym, said. "It all happened so quickly. It was so instantaneous." The man, identified by police only as window washer, was moving equipment on the roof of a bank building in the heart of San Francisco's financial district and not on a window-washing platform when he fell, San Francisco police Sgt. Danielle Newman said. The platform was on the ground at the side of the building, and cables were hanging from its sides. It was not clear whether the man was setting the platform up, but he was working with a partner, police said. Bahman and about 20 other people ran to the man, who was on his back. The man was lucid, though he was bleeding. The bystanders, who included a nurse, put clothing on the man as they waited for the ambulance. The man worked for Concord, California-based Century Window Cleaning, said Peter Melton, a spokesman for the California state division of occupational safety and health. The company was cited for one serious violation and three other violations in 2008, one of them related to instructing window-cleaning employees in the proper use of all equipment provided to them, and supervising the use of the equipment and safety devices to insure that safe working practices are observed, according to federal records. The company was fined more than $6,500, though the fine was eventually reduced to a little more than $2,700. A call to the company was not immediately returned. Recent incidents involving window washers show the dangers of the job. Last week, the collapse of a World Trade Center scaffold left two window washers dangling from the nation's tallest skyscraper. The workers were trapped 68 stories above the street when a cable suddenly developed slack on Nov. 12. The workers held on to the teetering platform for two agonizing hours. One called his wife during the ordeal, fearful that it might be his last opportunity to speak to her. Firefighters used diamond cutters to saw through a double-layered window and pulled the men to safety. They were not injured.

  • Lake Havasu PTA president arrested for fraud

    LAKE HAVASU CITY, Ariz. (AP) — A Lake Havasu City school's PTA president has been arrested for allegedly using the organization's debit card for her personal expenses. Starline Elementary School officials told Today's News-Herald Friday that 34-year-old Lisa Badding has been removed from her position as PTA president. Police arrested Badding Tuesday on charges of credit-card fraud and theft. According to an arrest report, Badding is accused of using a PTA debit card to for gas, cable bills, fast food as well as withdrawals that amounted to $1,200 in all. When confronted by police, Badding said she did not recall making the purchases. Badding has since been released pending her next court date. She did not return a request for comment Friday night.

  • Barber asks secretary of state to count votes in Ariz. CD 2

    PHOENIX (AP) — Rep. Ron Barber, D-2nd Dist., is asking the Arizona secretary of state to count about 156 additional ballots from voters who say they are eligible to vote. Barber's campaign on Friday sent the request, along with 156 signed declarations from southern Arizona voters whose provisional ballots and unsigned early ballot envelopes were rejected, to Secretary of State Ken Bennett. The votes could trim the 161 vote lead now held by Republican Martha McSally. McSally has declared victory but Barber's campaign is pushing for every last vote to be counted. The race will undergo a mandatory recount of more than 220,000 ballots cast early in December.

  • Phoenix man accused of punching police horse

    TEMPE, Ariz. (AP) — A Phoenix man has been arrested for allegedly punching a police horse in Tempe. Tempe police say 20-year-old Bryson Albert was taken into custody for harming a service animal, possession of marijuana and possession of drug paraphernalia. Police say an officer tried to break up a fight on Mill Avenue and Albert punched the officer's horse. Officers also reported finding marijuana and drug paraphernalia in Albert's pants pocket. He reportedly told police that the pants belonged to his brother. It was unclear Friday if Albert has a lawyer yet for his case.

  • AP sources: Obama broadens mission in Afghanistan

    WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. troops in Afghanistan may once again engage Taliban fighters, not just al-Qaida terrorists, under new guidelines quietly approved by President Barack Obama, administration officials say. The armed forces were to limit their operations in Afghanistan to counterterrorism missions against al-Qaida after this year, until Obama broadened the guidelines in recent weeks. The plan comes as the U.S. combat mission in Afghanistan draws to a close, thousands of troops return home and the military prepares for a narrower counterterrorism and training mission for the next two years. Obama's decision also means the U.S. can conduct air support when needed. One U.S. official said the military could only go after the Taliban if it posed a threat to American forces or provided direct support to al-Qaida, while the latter could be targeted more indiscriminately. "To the extent that Taliban members directly threaten the United States and coalition forces in Afghanistan or provide direct support to al-Qaida, however, we will take appropriate measures to keep Americans safe," the official said. The Taliban's presence in Afghanistan far exceeds that of al-Qaida, adding significance to Obama's authorization. The president's decision came in response to requests from military commanders who wanted troops to be allowed to continue to battle the Taliban, the U.S. officials said. The New York Times first reported the new guidelines. Officials confirmed details to The Associated Press on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss Obama's decisions by name. The decision to expand the military's authority does not impact the overall number of U.S. troops staying in Afghanistan. Earlier this year, Obama ordered the U.S. force presence to be reduced to 9,800 by the end of this year, a figure expected to be cut by half by the end of 2015. The president wants all U.S. troops to be out of Afghanistan a year later, as his presidency draws to a close. Some of the Obama administration's planning for the post-2014 mission was slowed by a political stalemate in Afghanistan earlier this year. It took months for the winner of the country's presidential election to be certified, delaying the signing of a bilateral security agreement that was necessary in order to keep U.S. forces in the country after December. In Kabul, officials with the Afghan Defense Ministry declined to comment Saturday, while officials with the presidency could not be reached. However, Afghan military analyst Jawed Kohistani said the move probably will be welcomed. President Ashraf Ghani's new administration, upon taking office, immediately signed a deal with the U.S. to allow a residual force of 12,000 foreign troops in the country. "We have heard from many military officers who are involved in direct fighting with the Taliban and other insurgents that still there is a need for more cooperation, there is need for an ongoing U.S. combat mission and there is need for U.S. air support for the Afghan security forces to help them in their fight against the insurgents," Kohistani said.

  • Winter Wonderland opens Tuesday at Westgate

    Westgate Entertainment District transforms into a winter wonderland starting Tuesday with the opening of the holiday skating rink, the lighting of the 33-foot holiday tree with more than 3,180 sparkling lights, Santa’s official arrival, horse-drawn carriage rides and nightly snowfall.All season long, get into the holiday spirit with ongoing events taking place through the end of the year. And, take advantage of special holiday savings at select tenants with online coupons available by visiting http://westgateaz.com/shop/savings/.• Holiday Tree Lighting Ceremony & First Snowfall6:30 p.m. at Fountain ParkPhotos with Santa from 7 to 9 p.m.  It’s the official kick-off to the holiday season. Start the evening with a holiday skating performance, followed by the lighting of Westgate’s 33-foot holiday tree and Santa’s official arrival. At 7 p.m., it will snow for the first time this holiday season.

  • Complete holiday shopping, fill empty bowls at WHAM

    The holidays are around the corner and local West Valley artists have been busy creating one-of-a-kind gifts in glass, clay, acrylics, oils, wood, beads and more. WHAM holiday artwalks will be from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Nov. 29 and Dec. 13. Admission is free to the public.Artists interested in reserving space to show their work should contact Norma Bush by emailing whamartwalk@aol.com.In addition, WHAM will have its Bowls of Hope event from 9:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. during the Nov. 29 artwalk.For a $10 donation, select a one-of-a-kind handmade bowl made by WHAM’s clay artists and help to feed the hungry and homeless in our community.The profits from bowl sales will go to the Mustard Seed Shelter for the homeless, Valley View Community Food Bank and St. Mary’s Food Bank. WHAM is a nonprofit committed to giving back to the community and will continue with this event annually.WHAM Art Association is at 16560 N. Dysart Road, on Dysart, one block south of Bell Road, in Surprise.

  • Cosby performances canceled in Las Vegas, Tucson

    NEW YORK (AP) — Bill Cosby's appearances at Casinos in Las Vegas and Tucson, Arizona have been canceled amid widening allegations of sexual assault. Officials at the Treasure Island hotel-casino on the Las Vegas Strip say they've mutually agreed with comedian Bill Cosby to cancel his upcoming performance Treasure Island spokeswoman Michelle Knoll said "it wasn't a good time" for the Nov. 28 performance. She added that ticketholders will be given refunds, No reason was given by Diamond Desert Casino in Tucson, Arizona for the canceled Feb. 15 show. In the past week, numerous allegations of sexual abuse by Cosby from a number of women have led to canceled interviews and NBC and Netflix projects. "The Cosby Show" also was pulled off the air on TV Land. Cosby issued a statement Sunday discrediting decades-old accusations and his attorney has denied four of the allegations. Thursday night, he appeared in Bahamas at a benefit for a women's service organization. Including an appearance in Melbourne, Florida tonight, Cosby is slated to perform at least 36 shows between now and May 2015.

  • U.S. stocks jump after surprise rate cut from China

    U.S. stocks rose in midday trading Friday, on pace to extend their record highs from a day earlier. News of an interest rate cut in China and the possibility that Europe's central bank will do more to stimulate economic growth drove the rally. Investors also pored over a mixed bag of corporate earnings. KEEPING SCORE: The Standard & Poor's 500 index gained 12 points, or 0.6 percent, to 2,064 as of 12:03 p.m. Eastern time. The Dow Jones industrial average rose 113 points, or 0.6 percent, to 17,832. The Nasdaq composite added 22 points, or 0.5 percent, to 4,723. The Dow and S&P 500 are at record highs. SECTOR VIEW: Eight of the 10 sectors in the S&P 500 index rose, with materials stocks climbing the most. Design software company Autodesk led the gainers, adding $4.33, or 7.4 percent, to $62.77. Utilities and telecommunication stocks declined. EARNINGS SURPRISES: Investors bid up shares in several companies that reported better-than-expected earnings. Software maker Splunk rose $3.72, or 5.7 percent, to $68.66. Sporting goods retailer Hibbett Sports gained $3.70, or 8.1 percent, to $49.63. EARNINGS MISSES: Shares in Aruba Networks fell 11.6 percent after the wireless communications company's outlook fell short of financial analysts' expectations. The stock shed $2.52 to $19.28. Retailers The Gap and GameStop also reported quarterly financial results that fell short of forecasts. GameStop tumbled $5.52, or 12.7 percent, to $38.02. The Gap shed $2.20, or 5.5 percent, to $37.94. GOING, GOING, GONE: Sotheby's added 8.3 percent a day after CEO William Ruprecht announced he will step down and that the New York auction house's board has started a search for its next chief executive. Shares rose $3.26 to $42.49. BOARDROOM DEAL: Dow Chemical agreed to add four new members to its board of directors after pressure from hedge fund activist Daniel Loeb's Third Point. The stock rose $1.46, or 2.8 percent, to $52.94. CHINA RATE CUT: China's central bank cut the interest rate on its one-year loans to financial institutions by 0.4 percentage point to 5.6 percent. The surprise reduction comes in the wake of recent figures showing that the country's annual growth rate slowed to a five-year low of 7.3 percent last quarter. Many analysts think a key motivation behind the rate cut is the recent steep decline in the value of the Japanese yen, which is likely to impact on China's exports. DRAGHI ALSO MOVES MARKETS: European Central Bank President Mario Draghi also caused a stir in markets when he told a conference in Frankfurt, Germany, that the bank is willing to "step up the pressure" and increase its efforts to stimulate Europe's struggling economy. His comments sent the euro lower and stocks higher. If current efforts do not achieve the desired effect, Draghi said the ECB could "broaden even more the channels through which we intervene." For many in the markets, that's a clear hint that the bank could soon starting buying government bonds. OVERSEAS MARKETS: In Europe, Germany's DAX jumped 2.6 percent, while the CAC-40 in France rose 2.7 percent. The FTSE 100 index of leading British shares rose 1.1 percent. In Asia, Japan's Nikkei index rose 0.3 percent, while Hong Kong's Hang Seng rose 0.4 percent. Seoul's Kospi added 0.3 percent. ENERGY: The price of crude oil fell. Benchmark U.S. crude slipped 7 cents to $75.78 a barrel in New York. BONDS: U.S. government bond prices rose. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note fell to 2.33 percent from 2.34 percent late Thursday.

  • Ariz. Gains 24,700 jobs in Oct

    PHOENIX -- Arizona gained 24,700 private-sector jobs last month, enough to push the state's seasonally adjusted jobless rate down a tenth of a point, to 6.8 percent.But all indications are many of these aren't necessarily the best jobs in the world.A new report by the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis, also released Thursday, finds that per-capita personal income in Arizona grew between 2012 and 2013 at a rate just 1.0 percent. That takes the average up to $36,983.And the prior year's growth was 3.1 percent.By contrast, the BEA lists national average per capita income for 2013 figure at $44,765, an increase of 1.3 percent in 2013 and 4.4 percent the year before that.And if there's any doubt that the trend is continuing, the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics recently released its own figures of wage growth in the major metropolitan areas between this past September and a year earlier. It found just a 1.2 percent increase in wages and salaries for the Phoenix metro area, versus 2.3 percent nationally.

  • JetBlue to add bag fees on cheapest tickets

    JetBlue will add bag fees and squeeze seats a bit closer together as it tries to boost profit. The airline said Wednesday that it will create three ticket classes beginning in the first half of 2015, and only the top two include at least one free checked bag. Other big airlines have added fees on checked bags since 2008, when they needed money to cover rising fuel costs. In the first six months of this year, U.S. airlines raised $1.7 billion from bag fees. JetBlue's decision will leave Southwest as the only major U.S. airline to let all passengers check a bag free. The changes seemed to please investors — shares of JetBlue Airways Corp. rose more than 4 percent. Analysts said they showed that incoming CEO Robin Hayes was sharply focused on boosting revenue and controlling costs. But some passengers complained that JetBlue was sacrificing perks that helped the airline win customer-satisfaction awards year after year. "Airline tickets are already expensive," said Maxwell Haddad, a real estate professional in New York and longtime JetBlue flier. Not charging for the first bag "was an extra level of kindness or service that JetBlue offered. They seemed to value customer service above and beyond other airlines." JetBlue executives declined to give prices but said they would fluctuate with demand. They said that fewer than half of JetBlue passengers check a bag. The airline also will add 15 seats to its Airbus A320 planes, increasing capacity to 165 from 150, and reduce average legroom to 33.1 inches between rows from 34.7 inches now. The makeover will start in late 2016, take two years and still leave more legroom than in the main cabins of bigger airlines, JetBlue executives said. JetBlue expects that the new fare classes and bag fees will generate more than $200 million a year in operating income, the extra seats will raise another $100 million a year, and other measures will produce $150 million a year. Hayes, who is currently president and will replace JetBlue CEO Dave Barger in February, said in an interview that other amenities such as free Wi-Fi, snacks and no overbooking mean that the airline can add bag fees and seats without driving away customers. "I'm confident when customers get on and see the cabin and experience the product, they're going to say, 'Wow, this is actually better than what JetBlue was flying before.'" JetBlue announced the changes as it met in New York with investors, who have been pressing the company to boost revenue and profit margins. The airline also announced that it would delay 18 Airbus jets that were scheduled for delivery from 2016 to 2018 until 2022 and 2023 to cut capital spending by more than $900 million through 2017. Shares of the New York-based airline closed up 53 cents, or 4.1 percent, to $13.24. They hit $13.48 earlier in the session, their highest level since November 2005. S&P Capital IQ analyst Jim Corridore said JetBlue lags other U.S. airlines in financial measures partly because it doesn't charge for bags and has fewer seats than rivals with similar planes. Wednesday's changes will help close the gap, he said. Corridore said there was little risk that passengers will abandon JetBlue over the changes. He predicted that if JetBlue raises revenue without losing customers, it will convince Southwest to end its holdout and also charge for checking bags. No chance, said Bob Jordan, executive vice president at Southwest. Jordan said Southwest has extensively surveyed customers to examine the possibility of dropping its perk of two checked bags for free. "Every time we do the research, even charging for the second bag is a loser" because some passengers would not fly on Southwest, he said. Marty St. George, senior vice president at JetBlue, said his airline also did plenty of homework, and "We did not find the same conclusion that they did."

Featured columns

  • Islam comes to the National Cathedral

    There are several ways to see the National Cathedral’s decision to host Islamic Friday prayers last week. First, the facts. The service is the brainchild of the Rev. Canon Gina Campbell, the Episcopal cathedral’s director of liturgy, and South African Ambassador Ebrahim Rasool, a Muslim, who is delivering the sermon.Invitation-only guests include Masjid Muhammad of The Nation’s Mosque, representatives of the All Dulles Area Muslim Society (ADAMS), the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) and the Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC).That’s some roster if playing “Spot the Muslim Brotherhood Front” is a hobby. Clearly, it’s not the professionals’ pursuit. On being quizzed by the Daily Caller, for example, cathedral spokesman Craig Stapert had no idea that two of the invited groups were unindicted co-conspirators in the landmark Holy Land Foundation Hamas-financing trial.  A kewpie doll to the reader who can pick out the unindicted co-conspirators in the cathedral’s guest list (ISNA and CAIR -- right!). A cigar to anyone who knows the name of the man who is both ISNA president and ADAMS executive director (Mohamed Magid). And which group tops the “list of our organizations and the organizations of our friends” in the Muslim Brotherhood document explaining the “Civilization-Jihadist Process” under way in the U.S.?Here’s another hint. The U.S. government entered this “Explanatory Memorandum” into evidence during the 2009 Holy Land Foundation trial. It explains that the organization’s secret “work in America is a kind of grand jihad in eliminating and destroying Western civilization from within and ‘sabotaging’ its miserable house by (Westerners’) hands and by the hands of believers so that it is eliminated and Allah’s religion is made victorious over all other religions.” The answer, of course, is ISNA.Speaking of the Muslim Brotherhood, here’s a bonus question: Where did the first delegation of Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood to visit the U.S. make a beeline from the airport to visit? The residence of South Africa’s Ebrahim Rasool, reports South African news site City Press.

  • OPINION: Give thanks to our veterans... and never forget them

    There was a very special closing to this year’s Veterans Day in the City of Surprise. Veterans from more than 19 organizations, the mayor and council, police and fire, city staff and dignitaries from Congress, state and local governments, and as importantly, citizens from the city and elsewhere, came together to pay tribute to an ordinary man who took extraordinary and heroic action at the risk of his own life to save his fellow warriors from certain death at the hands of the enemy during a fierce fight with the Viet Cong outside of Tam Ky, Vietnam, Aug. 26, 1968.For his gallantry in the face of the enemy, President Richard M. Nixon bestowed our nation’s highest military honor, the Medal of Honor, upon Army Staff Sgt. Nicky Daniel Bacon.I did not personally know Nicky Bacon, though I sure wish I had, for he was the Surprise city manager from 1987 to 1990 when I first moved to this city. I, like so many others, did not know we had a true military hero in our midst. Perhaps that is not surprising for according to those who did know and work with him, he never made much mention of his heroic deeds and honors.  Such a humble man.I sincerely thank the City of Surprise for recognizing this true hero with a wonderful, dignified and most moving candlelight service in the unveiling of his special Memorial in the courtyard entrance into City Hall. There was wonderful military theme music played by the West Valley Pops Band, bagspipes, songs and a gun salute followed by the playing of taps. I had a serious lump in my throat. Others around me were dabbing their eyes.What made this event so special was the attendance of the entire Bacon family. Some members are local, such as Lt. John Bacon of the Surprise Police Department, the nephew of Nicky Bacon, who was the spokesman for the family, and Nicky’s wife, Tamera Ann, whom with others traveled from Arkansas to attend this tribute for her husband.A special note: This wonderful tribute to Nicky Bacon can be credited to another Vietnam war hero, a man who suffered grave wounds while saving the lives of his fellow Marines during an ambush in Vietnam, and who received the Silver Star for bravery and valor in the face of the enemy and three Purple Hearts for the combat wounds he suffered.  His name: Marine Lance Corporal Lawrence (Larry) Brown, a resident of Surprise and dear friend and fellow veteran.

  • Imitation crab doesn’t deliver omega-3 fats

    Dear Dr. Blonz: Please tell me what you know about “imitation crab meat.” I know it doesn’t contain crab, and the type I buy is actually made from Alaskan pollock. Do the treatment, coloring and flavoring processes change the amount of omega-3 fats in it? — E.E.Dear E.E.: It is a good source of protein, but pollock is considered a moderate to low source of omega-3 fats. It is comparable to that found in actual crab: a 3-ounce serving of Dungeness crab contains 383 milligrams, while a similar serving of Alaskan pollock contains 418 milligrams. The levels in these are about one-fourth of those found in salmon. Read more about Alaskan pollock at tinyurl.com/mnsfevl.The processing of pollock into an imitation shellfish, however, will bring the level down quite a bit. The fish will be deboned, rinsed and minced, then flavored, colored and reformed to resemble the muscle fiber and taste impression of the desired variety of crab. It is not a process that’s kind to the omega-3 fats. A 3-ounce serving of pollock surimi contains only 26 milligrams of omega-3 fatty acids.Dear Dr. Blonz: It has often been my habit to swallow my vitamins with a cup of hot coffee. My friend was shocked that I do this. My question is whether the hot liquid affects the quality of the pills. My friend believes that I am negating the effect that the pill is meant to achieve. — S.C.Dear S.C.: Aside from the risk of ruining your ability to enjoy the taste of your coffee, there is no basis to fear that you are negating any effects the pills are meant to achieve, to use your words.Dear Dr. Blonz: Thank you for your explanation of high fructose corn syrup. I have heard various other things on this topic. I asked a local physics professor why it was not good for you, and he said, “It has a component in it that interferes with the body’s ability to know when one is full. In essence, it keeps the door open.” Then, on TV, a man explained that it was bad for the liver because with soft drinks in an empty stomach, for example, the liver gets too much to process at once. Are you aware of these factors? — E.P.

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