PCSO: Missing woman may have known Apache Junction man found dead in San Tan Valley

Sheriff’s office calling the man’s death a homicide   A woman who may have ties to an Apache Junction man found dead under suspicious circumstances has been missing since May 23, according to the Pinal County Sheriff’s Office. Renae Gardner, 44, was last seen in the area of Ellsworth Road and Meridian Drive, just west […]

Man found dead in San Tan Valley ID’d as Apache Junction resident

Detectives asking for public’s help to solve case     A dead body found June 7 in a canal in San Tan Valley has been identified as Keith A. Long, 51, of Apache Junction, according to a post on the Pinal County Sheriff’s Office Facebook page. Detectives say the circumstances surrounding his death are suspicious […]

Traffic signal coming to Empire/Gantzel intersection in San Tan Valley

A traffic signal will be coming to the intersection of Empire Boulevard and Gantzel Road in San Tan Valley.

“I am pleased to say that our public works department will be installing a traffic signal on the corner of Empire and Gantzel that should be up and running by late summer or fall,” Pinal County Supervisor Cheryl Chase, District 2, said in a press release.

The Pinal County Public Works Department conducted a survey of the intersection in 2015 and found that the traffic numbers warranted a signal. Public works staff members included the signal costs in a capital improvement plan for 2016.

“By law we have to submit a design study before we install a traffic control device on any roadway,” Supervisor Chase said. “Once we started seeing the traffic numbers rise and the amount of accidents rise, we immediately conducted a study to verify a signal was needed. We are currently discussing with the local utilities to see if they can expedite relocation of their lines so we can get working on this as soon as possible.”

A temporary traffic signal was unavailable and any traffic control device spanning the roadway would need a design study to be placed there, according to the release. In the meantime, drivers are asked to slow down and obey all traffic laws in order to minimize the chances for a collision.

Pinal County District 2 in general serves San Tan Valley and parts of Queen Creek, including San Tan Mountain Regional Park, and some areas north and south.

Sheriff’s office asks for help in finding car theft/arson suspect in San Tan Valley

People who have information about a car stolen at gunpoint Feb. 14 from a roadside vendor in San Tan Valley are asked to call the Pinal County Sheriff’s Office at 520-866-5111.

According to a press release, the vendor — a 62-year-old woman — called the sheriff’s office shortly after 6 p.m. Feb. 14 to report she had been robbed and that the suspect had set a car on fire near Hunt Highway and Thompson Road.

Several witnesses reported seeing the suspect pour gasoline on a black sedan and set it on fire, according to the release. When deputies arrived, they discovered the woman who called was a roadside vendor who had her vehicle stolen at gunpoint. The stolen vehicle is a Hyundai Santa Fe with Texas license plates; it has not yet been located.

The black sedan that the suspect burned was later found to have been a stolen vehicle from Chandler.

The suspect was described as a black male in his 30s, standing 5-feet-10-inches tall, weighing 170-180 pounds and weighing a gray hood sweatshirt.

Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu said the woman was selling bonsai trees along Hunt Highway when the suspect drove up in a black sedan. The suspect allegedly approached the victim, pointed a handgun at the woman and demanded money, Sheriff Babeu said.

“When she did not immediately comply, the man went back to the black sedan and set it on fire. The victim fled without being injured, but the suspect took her vehicle and drove away,” Sheriff Babeu said.

Support group to help those raising another’s child

The Apache Junction Kinship Support Group will hold its monthly meeting 6-8 p.m. Monday, Feb. 8, at the Apache Junction Multi-Generational Center, 1035 N. Idaho Road.

The group’s members include families in San Tan Valley and Queen Creek.

The topic will be “Parents in the Know: Adolescence 101.” Childcare is available.

The support group provides information, resources and other services for families who are raising children, especially those people who are raising someone else’s child. It is overseen by the Pinal County Kinship Program, which provides services for the state’s 198,000 children who are being raised in households headed by grandparents, other relatives and non-relatives, according to the organization’s website.

These services include legal help; parenting education; foster licensing and adoption support; assistance with government agencies; connections to food, housing and clothing resources and support groups, according to the site.

The meetings are open to the public.

To reserve a space, call 480-694-5153.

Driving them crazy: Commuters anxious for Ironwood Drive roadwork to end soon

Beth Ann Dillon braces herself and her children in their car these days when approaching intersections on Ocotillo Road.
Mrs. Dillon said drivers have been cutting her off with greater frequency on her 9-mile trip from her home in San Tan Valley to Cambridge Academy East, 20365 E. Ocotillo Road in Queen Creek, where her son attends school.
She has noticed the increase in traffic and decrease in driver courtesy since roadwork to add six pull-out lanes began Dec. 7 on Ironwood Drive between Baseline Avenue and Elliot Road in Apache Junction.
The project was initiated by the city of Apache Junction. The city is contributing $60,000 of the project’s total cost of $550,000. The balance is being paid for by the Federal Highway Administration’s Highway Safety Improvement Program for safety projects, Apache Junction Public Works Director Giao Pham said in an e-mailed response to questions.
J. Banicki Construction Inc. is the contractor. The Arizona Department of Transportation is administering the project on behalf of the city of Apache Junction, according to the project description on the ADOT website: http://www.azdot.gov/projects/phoenix-metro-area/ironwood-drive-elliot-to-baseline-roads/overview.
The work includes widening the pavement to provide the pull-out lanes in three locations as well as the addition of pavement markings, signs, guard rails, slope paving and other related work, according to the city’s construction work website: http://www.ajcity.net/385/Current-Projects.
The pull-outs are intended to provide refuge for broken-down vehicles and emergency and enforcement pull-offs outside of travel lanes, according to the project description on the ADOT website.
While drivers such as Mrs. Dillon say they recognize the need for the roadwork, they question the times of day the lane closures take place, which can be during morning and evening rush hours when many are traveling to and from U.S. Highway 60, immediately north of the roadwork.
According to a Dec. 16-17, 2014, traffic study ordered by the Pinal County Publc Works Department, 27,074 vehicles traveled both north and south on Ironwood Drive north of Ocotillo Road, based on the average traffic count for the two days. During the morning peak hours, a two-day average of 3,694 drove north between 6 a.m. and 8:59 a.m. and the remainder drove south. During the afternoon peak hours, a two-day average of 6,643 drove south between 3 p.m. and 5:59 p.m.; the remainder drove north.
Drivers such as Jason Wolpers of San Tan Valley say the lane closures can more than double his travel time to work.
“We have had to add an hour and a half to our drive times for a 35-minute trip to Gilbert and the 60,” Mr. Wolpers said in a response to questions. “We have children that need to get to school on time who should not be made to get up hours ahead of time. Wish there was something we could do as a community.”
Mr. Wolpers contacted ADOT and asked if the roadwork could take place later in the morning. He received an e-mailed response from Coralie Cole, ADOT’s senior community relations officer, who said:
“Responding to your question if it were possible to start later in the morning, unfortunately that cannot be accommodated because the material source supplying for this project closes early in the afternoon, thus necessitating an early start-time to ensure a full day of operations.”

Free diabetes education classes to be offered in San Tan Valley

The Pinal County Public Health District will sponsor free diabetes classes at the San Tan Valley and Maricopa public health clinics this winter and spring. All classes will take place from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m.

Diabetes is largely self-managed with 99 percent of the care becoming the responsibility of patients and their families or caregivers.

These classes will offer up-to-date, practical how-to information and skill building on monitoring, healthy eating, being active, problem solving, medications and reducing risks, according to a press release.

To reserve a spot, call Kathryn at 520-866-7315. Walk-ins are welcome.

San Tan Valley
•Wednesday, Jan. 13: Food, medication timing and monitoring: How does it all fit?
•Wednesday, Feb. 10: Diabetes and emotional health
•Wednesday, March 9: Functional and holistic approach to managing diabetes
•Wednesday, April 13: Next big thing in diabetes products
The San Tan Valley Public Health Clinic is at 36235 N. Gantzel Road, between Poston Butte High School and Banner Ironwood Hospital.

Travel on Ellsworth Road to be restricted Dec. 16-19

A northbound double lane closure will be in place Dec. 16-19 on Ellsworth Road between Empire Boulevard to San Tan Boulevard in the far east Valley for water and sewer line tie-ins for a new development.

The restrictions will take place from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. from Wednesday, Dec. 16, to Saturday, Dec. 19.

For more information, visit the Pinal County website.

Road improvements planned for Gantzel and Bella Vista roads, Hunt Highway

Apache Junction and Gold Canyon residents who regularly travel to San Tan Valley should be aware that starting in January, Pinal County Public Works will begin construction on Gantzel Road, Bella Vista Road and Hunt Highway road improvements.

The work will take place in three main stages, according to a press release. The first stage will include the widening of Gantzel Road between Bella Vista Road and Omega Drive. The second stage will involve reconstruction on existing Bella Vista Road between Gantzel Road and Hunt Highway. The third and last stage will be the Phase III widening of Hunt Highway between Gary Road and Bella Vista Road (Golf Club Drive).

For more information, call Pinal County Public Works at 520-866-6411 or visit the county’s website.

Gosar to host Coffee with the Congressman Oct. 17 in Gold Canyon

Congressman Paul Gosar will be in Gold Canyon this Saturday, Oct. 17, to meet with constituents during Coffee with the Congressman. It will take place 9-10:30 a.m. at Common Grounds Coffee, 6877 S. Kings Ranch Road.

The event is an opportunity for Congressman Gosar to listen to local residents’ opinions in a casual setting, Penny L. Pew, the congressman’s district director, said during a phone interview.

The congressman serves the residents of the Fourth Congressional District of Arizona. The district in general covers the western border of Arizona from Yuma to the south to the Arizona/Utah border to the north, and extends into central Arizona including Prescott and the far east Valley.

Locally, Rep. Gosar has offices at 6499 S. Kings Ranch Road No. 4 in Gold Canyon and at 270 E. Hunt Highway Suite 12 in San Tan Valley,

For more information, call the Gold Canyon office at 480-882-2697.

For more information about Rep. Gosar, visit his website.