2015 Year in Review, 2


The Queen Creek/San Tan Valley Independent offers its readers a look back on 2015 stories. Below are notable stories in the printed Queen Creek/San Tan Valley Independent during the latter half of the year. Earlier stories were reviewed in our Jan. 6, 2016 issue.

JULY 2015

Council to institute adjusted meeting format July 15
The Queen Creek Town Council changed the flow of its meeting agenda and introduced the new format at its July 15 meeting at the Queen Creek Town Hall, 22350 S. Ellsworth Road.
Previously, the town council held work study sessions at 5:30 p.m. and regular session meetings at 7 p.m. on the first and third Wednesdays of the month. Starting July 15, the two was presented as one meeting that starts at 5:30 p.m.

The agenda changes are designed to move routine business, executive session and items that are not being heard for final action to the 5:30 p.m. start time, according to a press release.

Items under the Public Hearing and Final Action categories continue to start at 7 p.m. to ensure consistency for the public comment and input portions of the agenda, according to the release.

Town council meetings are broadcast live on the town’s website and at Ustream.tv/councilmeeting. Recordings of previous meetings are available on the town’s website.



Annexation effort halted for Magic Ranch, Arizona Farms

At its Aug. 17 meeting, the Florence Town Council voted 7-0 to rescind the annexation ordinances for the Magic Ranch and Arizona Farms areas. This action effectively stops the town of Florence’s proceedings to bring these areas into the municipal boundaries of Florence at this time, according to a press release issued by the town.

The town had planned to annex approximately 3,742 acres contiguous to the existing Florence corporate limits and within the town’s northwest Planning Area through two separate annexations. The areas under consideration included Magic Ranch, Crestfield Manner, Wild Horse Estates and surrounding areas, according to the town’s website.

They are next to each other, south of Arizona Farms Road and west of Felix Road in unincorporated Pinal County near San Tan Valley and Florence, Jess Knudson, public information officer for the town, said during a phone interview. Residents in these areas already have Florence addresses, according to the website. They are outside of boundaries considered in the past for San Tan Valley incorporation.

The annexations would have extended the town’s boundaries from 62 square miles to nearly 68 square miles and would have increased the town’s population by approximately 4,300, according to the release.



Counterfeiting ring busted in San Tan Valley

Pinal County Sheriff’s Office deputies arrested four San Tan Valley residents in conjunction with counterfeiting $20 bills and passing them at local businesses.

Alicia A. Green, 31; Henry R. Stevenson, 27; Nancy L. Burke, 42; and William C. Burke, 45; were arrested Sept. 2 at their home at 2183 W. Tanner Ranch Road, according to a press release.

All four suspects were booked on charges of fraudulent schemes and forgery into the Pinal County Adult Detention Center, where they are being held on a $50,000 bond, according to the release.

According to PCSO spokesman Mark Clark, the sheriff’s office began its investigation on Aug. 19, when deputies took a report from the Wal-Mart store at 1725 W. Hunt Highway in San Tan Valley where a fake $20 bill was passed.

A surveillance video showed the suspect, later identified as Mr. Stevenson, passing the bill and driving away in a black Mercedes sedan, Mr. Clark said in the release.

PCSO deputies recognized the suspect and his vehicle because of a June 2015 traffic stop and arrest, where he was found in possession of counterfeit currency, Mr. Clark wrote in the release.

Sheriff’s deputies began to investigate the matter and on Sept. 2 a search warrant was executed at the suspect’s home where investigators said they found evidence of counterfeit-bill production such as hardware, paper and waste. Deputies said also they discovered methamphetamine and drug paraphernalia at the home.

During interviews with the suspects, detectives said they determined the suspects all either knew of the counterfeiting or helped circulate the fake bills for profit, according to the release.

The matter remains under investigation.

People who suspect they have been a victim of counterfeit money should contact the Pinal County Sheriff’s Office at 520-866-5111 or call their local police department.



Citizen helps catch Amber Alert suspect from San Tan Valley

A San Tan Valley mother and her four children were safe after a man saw an Amber Alert on a mobile app and reported seeing the suspect’s vehicle to police.

The Arizona Department of Public Safety issued an Amber Alert for four kids who had been abducted from San Tan Valley about 8:40 p.m. Oct. 1.

Bill O’Brien saw it on the CBS 5 News mobile app on his phone. He was driving on Loop 101 at the time.

“The app popped up that here was an Amber Alert,” he said.

Mr. O’Brien noticed the vehicle in front of him matched the description of the Chevy Suburban troopers were looking for.

“I saw the license plate so I called 911, and then I followed them,” Mr. O’Brien said.
Mr. O’Brien followed the vehicle until DPS troopers and Mesa police officers stopped it.
Less than 30 minutes passed from the time DPS issued the Amber Alert to the time troopers stopped the vehicle and detained the suspect, Shane Borden.

According to the Pinal County Sheriff’s Office, the initial 911 call came it at about 4:30 p.m. Neighbors observed Mr. Borden allegedly strike Sarah Johnson and rip off her clothing, according to a story filed by CBS 5 News, a news media partner with the Independent.



Firefighters come to aid of dog being attacked by bees

Firefighters from Queen Creek Fire and Medical on Oct. 28 rescued a 4-to 6-month-old female boxer puppy that was being attacked by bees. The puppy’s leash was caught on playground equipment while her owners ran for cover in the car.

Crews were able to foam the bees and pull out more than a dozen stingers from the puppy’s body, according to a press release. The crew then used a Fido Bag from The Fetch Foundation to help aid the puppy. Capt. Anthony Klenner used the portable water bowl from Fido Bags that had been donated as part of the Queen Creek Mighty Mutts 4-H Dog Project. Although lethargic, the dog seemed fine after her owners took her to their vet.

The Queen Creek Fire and Medical Fire Administration office is at 22358 S. Ellsworth Road in Queen Creek. Its phone number is 480-358-3360.

Queen Creek’s special census nears completion

The town of Queen Creek’s mid-decade special census was scheduled to end in mid-to late-November.

The town encouraged all residents to participate to help Queen Creek receive its fair share of state revenues.

Census workers went door-to-door gathering demographic information about each individual living in the home.

Additional state shared revenues will be used for needed town services including public safety, parks, recreation programs and emergency services.

All census workers completed extensive background checks and sworn an oath to protect residents’ privacy. They were identified by their photo ID issued by the U.S. Department of Commerce. Census workers would not ask for money, Social Security numbers or bank information.



PCSO: STV man admits to 25 car thefts, other crimes

Rojelio Armenta, 18, of San Tan Valley was arrested Nov. 30 after conducting what deputies from the Pinal County Sheriff’s Office called a “one-man crime spree.”

Mr. Armenta admitted to 25 car thefts, according to a press release from the sheriff’s office. In addition, county Sheriff Paul Babeu said his detectives have linked the suspect to several burglaries, an armed robbery, endangerment, credit card fraud and felony flight law enforcement, according to the release.

The arrest came after a Pinal County deputy, who was patrolling near Bella Vista Road and Hunt Highway in San Tan Valley, observed a white Chevrolet sedan pass by him. The deputy had been notified one hour earlier that a white Chevrolet sedan had been stolen from a nearby neighborhood and this vehicle matched the description, according to the release.
After confirming the vehicle’s license plate matched the one stolen earlier that day, the deputy attempted to stop the vehicle but the driver fled at a high rate of speed. After a few minutes of chasing the vehicle in and around the residential neighborhood north and east of that location, he lost sight of the vehicle, according to the release.

A second deputy located the vehicle moments later abandoned in the 31000 block of North Candlewood Road. The suspect was spotted running through residential yards and jumping walls. The deputies in the area chased the suspect on foot for approximately 15 minutes, aided by the PCSO Air Unit, until he was captured at Hunt Highway and Paso Fino Trail.

The deputies found a stolen wallet and credit cards inside the vehicle the suspect was driving, according to the release.


Queen Creek, Apache Junction pledge to work together

Two east Valley communities formalized a cooperative agreement as they approach each other geographically under their general plans.

The respective councils of the city of Apache Junction and the town of Queen Creek in December approved a “Memorandum of Shared Intent” that calls for the two communities to acknowledge “shared goals of planning for appropriate growth while sustaining communities financially, culturally and environmentally for an improved quality of life for current and future residents,” according to a press release.

“The memorandum is an important piece of our future growth,” said Queen Creek Mayor Gail Barney. “Queen Creek is a growing community, as is Apache Junction, and communicating our shared interests now will pave a solid foundation for future councils and residents.”

The borders of the two municipalities are currently just 5 miles apart but general plans depict the two sharing a border in the future on what is now state trust land, informally known as the “Superstition Vistas” tract.

The memorandum was partly the result of a joint public meeting held by the councils in August.

At the meeting, the councils discussed municipal planning and future growth as well as the future extension of State Route 24, the spur off the Loop 202 near the Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport.

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