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Year in Review:
From the pages of Wrangler News, 2005
By Doug Snover

January 7, 2006

Year’s end is neither an end nor a beginning but a going on, with all the wisdom that experience can instill in us.

-- Hal Borland, New York Times columnist, 1941 to 1978

Salt River Project shocked the community with plans to string a new high-voltage power line through the Kyrene Corridor. As 2005 ended, the utility said it would build the new lines in the Loop 101 freeway corridor as far as possible and bury a mile-long stretch nearest to homes.

Kyrene District officials announced a new middle-school schedule that stresses core courses over electives such as orchestra, and angry parents launched a recall drive to unseat Governing Board President Rae Waters.

As the year ended, Kyrene Superintendent Maria Menconi unexpectedly resigned.

A local congregation is divided by the worldwide shakeup with the Anglican Church.

In sports, Corona del Sol High School’s popular baseball coach Ron Davini retired. And Valley Christian High School’s football team redeemed itself by winning a state championship.

“It was an eventful year, one that managed to keep us on our toes,” Wrangler News Publisher Don Kirkland said of 2005. “It was also a good year, in that we were able to add some impressive new writing and photographic talent to our list of regular contributors.

“That’s what we feel helps to make Wrangler News an enjoyable, worthwhile addition to our community.”

Here’s a look at some of the news events that impacted the Kyrene Corridor in 2005.


As the year began, Wrangler’s “Discerning Diner,” Elan Head, advised readers to “juice it up” in the New Year – with fresh citrus juice, that is. Her advice contained a small bit of irony: Head was “sick in bed with a lousy cold” as she wrote her column.

TechnoFiles writer Riley Gay told readers how to disconnect the phone company by using the Internet for long-distance calling. Meanwhile, Screen Gems columnist M.V. Moorhead listed the various incarnations of The Phantom of the Opera.

Also in January, local actress Juel Masnard recreated “Ginger” in a musical based on the television comedy “Gilligan’s Island.”


The Kyrene school controversy over schedule changes was just beginning to boil with public forums scheduled for early February. Ironically, perhaps, teacher Dave Mittel and students at Kyrene Middle School were rehearsing for their performance of “The Music Man,” starring eighth-graders Ben Scolaro, Lauren Johnston and Anna Stough.

On a more prophetic note, author John M. Barry visited Changing Hands Bookstore to sign his book, The Great Influenza, and caution that the next great influenza pandemic could begin soon.

Running coach Dean Hebert, approaching his 49th birthday and 49,000th mile, began preparing for the 2005 Boston Marathon.


Charlene Westgate, the Arizona director of Americans for Fair Taxation, organized a “Tempe Tea Party” in March to dump the U.S. Tax Code into Tempe Town Lake. Protestors want the country to adopt a flat national retail sales tax to replace federal income tax.

The first recommendations for cutting costs in Kyrene Schools hit the Governing Board with a bang as local resident Mckell Keeney launched an email survey to oppose the changes.

“We haven’t heard anybody yet say they like this plan,” said Keeney, who had attended the public forums and decided parents’ objections were not being heard.

Elan Head, happily recovered from her New Year’s cold, became a helicopter pilot but maintained a low profile with tips on the best way to make pancakes.

Third-graders at Kyrene de Las Brisas Elementary School made the world a cleaner place by mounting a massive recycling program, while Tempe’s decision to loosen its sign code made the world more colorful for businesses like Tom Smith’s Flower Frenzy shop on Elliot Road.

Finally in March, residents were assured that the insects that looked like giant mosquitoes invading our homes were actually harmless Crane Flies.


Just days before Easter, the Rev. Keith Andrews at St. James the Apostle Church on Warner Road announced that he and a large portion of the St. James congregation were splitting from the Episcopal Church to follow the more orthodox ways espoused by the International Anglican Communion.

Fees Middle School also became more orthodox, banning the ever-popular jeans, cargo shorts and tee shirts for the upcoming school year in favor of a school “uniform” that included polo, golf, or button-down shirts in solid red, white or light blue and slacks, walking shorts, capris, skirts or jumpers in solid khaki, navy or black.

Chandler police honored Officer Troy Spielman, whose beat extends from Price Road to McClintock Drive, as one of its most diligent and observant officers.

Also honored was the late Pat Tillman, whose death in Afghanistan a year earlier prompted Gina Bertocchi and fellow teachers at Kyrene del Sureño Elementary School to enter Pat’s Run, a celebration of Tillman’s life and legacy at Arizona State University.

“Pat was a friend of mine. He volunteered here at Sureño for about six years. He read to the kids. Everybody got pretty attached to him,” Bertocchi said. The teachers call their after-school running club the “PT Cruisers” in Tillman’s honor.

Meanwhile, the bare steel skeleton of a four-story Edward Jones office building began rising in the ASU Research Park, unnerving residents of the adjacent Estate La Colina neighborhood.

And Film Fare columnist Mark Moorehead recounted the true story of The Amityville Horror.


A fatal traffic crash at Rural and Carver roads prompted local resident Julie Wilfert and others to lobby city officials for improvements to the innocent-looking intersection. The city responded with additional traffic signals and brightly painted signs with pithy messages ‘such as “Give Students a Brake” aimed at reminding motorists to slow down and stay alert.

On Cinco de Mayo, long-time Tempean Irene Trujillo reflected on her heritage growing up Mexican-American in the changing Tempe in the 1950s and 1960s.

Allison Dubois, whose own life story inspired the popular television show “Medium,” visited Changing Hands Bookstore to discuss her book, “Don’t Kiss Them Goodbye.”

Corona del Sol High School drew approximately 275 volunteers to clean up its campus on a Saturday morning. The volunteers were rewarded with free food at the event, dubbed “Scrub and Grub.”

“It seemed like a really good community service project. I went to Corona for four years and I felt like it was a good way to give back to the school,” said senior Carrie Moy.

In sports, the Corona lacrosse team finished its inaugural season with a 9-1 record and a championship as co-captain Jordy Patterson, a freshman, led the league with 51 goals and 18 assists.

The city announced plans for Tempe to become the first major U.S. city to offer Wi-Fi Internet service. Provider MobilePro Corp. considered starting the program in south Tempe but later reconsidered and began installing its shoebox-size antennas in the downtown area first.

Parents angry at Kyrene Board President Rae Waters over middle-school schedule changes filed documents to begin a petition drive to recall Waters.

Ron Davini retired as Corona del Sol’s varsity baseball coach, ending a 34-year career as a high school coach. “I have a million sons,” said Davini, who shortly afterward took on duties as executive director of the National High School Baseball Coaches Association.

Hundreds of graduates of Corona del Sol, meanwhile, faced their futures with mixed emotions. “We do face greater challenges that what our parents faced,” said Dane Klett, who said “teenagers of today lack the freedom that parents once enjoyed.”

“I’ve had my life planned out for a very long time so it’s pretty scary to realize that the future I’ve been anticipating has arrived,” said Wendy Zupac, who added, “The pressure to succeed in college and get into a good law school is going to start pretty soon.”


Keith Gould, a 2001 Corona graduate, tried college after graduating from high school but concluded it wasn’t for him. Instead, Gould joined the Marines and found himself flying relief missions in Southeast Asia after the 2004 tsunami disaster and, later, combat missions in a Marine Corps CH-46 helicopter in Iraq. Wrangler News was there in June when Gould’s HMM-165 “White Knights” Squadron returned to American soil at the Marine Corps Air Station Miramar north of San Diego.

“Keith’s still Keith,” his mother, Wendy Gould, said of her battle-tested 22-year-old son. “Which is good.”

Nathan Papadeas, a junior at Valley Christian High School, earned the AIA Scholar-Athlete Award by batting well over .500 for the school’s baseball team.

Speaking of baseball, Corona del Sol staffers Andy Meyer and Tim Smith fulfilled a boyhood dream by touring baseball stadiums in the Midwest, subsisting on brats, pizza at Wrigley Field in Chicago and traditional ballpark hotdogs.

“We just like baseball,” Meyer said of their trip, which included catching baseball games at Wrigley, Busch Stadium in St. Louis, Comerica Park in Detroit, ballparks in Cleveland and Cincinnati, and US Cellular Field in Chicago, where they were joined by fellow Corona staffer Mike Wehrli and found themselves being interviewed on Fox Sports television during a Diamondbacks game.


Retired teacher and current author Sammy Echeveste has lived all over the world, but settled down in the Kyrene Corridor. Echeveste, now 72, wrote of his childhood growing up in Grover Canyon, a Mexican enclave near Globe, where the residents spoke Spanish, ate traditional Mexican meals and danced to traditional Mexican music.

“What I tried to explain, to concentrate on, was what happened in Grover Canyon as a Mexican boy from the prejudices I saw around me. But as I developed in my life and I went away to Phoenix, to the Army, where I served in Korea, and then lived in Europe, I realized that prejudice was not the ‘Gringo-Mexican’ thing. Prejudice was everywhere you went,” Echeveste said of his book, Grover Canyon.

His outspoken opinions angered some Mexican-Americans, he said, because Echeveste calls himself American, not Mexican-American.

“No doubt I’m an American. Others can label me what they wish. But I’m an American first, an American second, an American third.”

As July ended and the new school year loomed, students, parents and teachers in the Kyrene middle schools pondered the new schedule that emphasized core classes over electives such as music programs, while students and parents at Fees Middle School went shopping for new uniforms that meet the school’s new dress code.

At Corona del Sol, students were required to present a notarized parent permission slip before leaving campus during lunch breaks, a direct result of a fatal traffic accident at Mesa’s Dobson High School in the previous school year.


Super-cyclist Ralph Heins would not let a little thing like being broadsided by a car stop him from trying to bicycle cross-country. Heins, 74, made it from Flagstaff to St. Joseph, Mo., before the pain proved too great. Heins, a local Realtor, spent some of his recovery time refitting a 1952 Chris-Craft wood boat that he and his wife, Ann, planned to use as their California “condo.”

The Vasquez family, operators of the popular Someburros restaurants, opened a new location on Frye Road just south of Chandler Center. George Vasquez and his son, Tim Vasquez, both former minor league baseball players, continue the restaurant business started by George’s father, Eusevio “Poncho” Vasquez. George’s daughters, Amy and Jennilyn, also work in the family business.

Temperatures were well over 100 degrees, but the Corona del Sol boys golf team practiced daily in hopes of winning its first championship on more than two decades behind junior Nate Scherotter.

Austin Scates practiced, too. Scates, 14, achieved his goal of becoming the first freshman on the Corona del Sol marching band’s drum line.


As Sept. 11 approached, Tempe police and fire officials pronounced that they were ready for disaster but wondered whether residents are. To that end, the city hosted an “Are You Ready?” disaster preparedness event on Sept. 10.

Tempe Union High School District Superintendent Shirley Miles completed her first year on the job to mixed reviews. “I think it just takes time to get to know me,” Miles said of detractors’ claims that she appears standoffish.

Mochajumbies Island Coffee café, a small coffee shop at Kyrene and Warner roads, plays tropical scenes on big-screen monitors to help customers escape to tropical isles, even if only in their imaginations.

Twelve-year-old Edward Fancher, however, went to New York City for real. The seventh grader at Summit School of Ahwatukee was a finalist in Arm & Hammer’s contest to find “the kid with the sharpest taste buds.”

His favorite food is sushi. “I like the texture and flavor. I like the sea flavor,” Edward said.

Antigone Pierson came to the Kyrene Corridor from New Orleans after the devastating floods of Hurricane Katrina. Pierson and her son, Taylor, fled their home in Lacombe, La., and stayed with friends in Scottsdale. Pierson went to work at as a receptionist in the Mary Contreras State Farm Agency until she could reenter the job market as a paralegal. At last report she was working in a Tempe law office.

Architect-philosopher Paolo Soleri, father of the Arcosanti project near Cordes Junction, spared no words for Hurricane Katrina victims or for “delusional” Arizonans who build sprawling communities in the desert.

What the Tsunami victims lost was the quasi-pathological leanness of their lives. What Katrina victims lost is an indulgence toward the hedonism of life. Both places need habitat designed to cope with the tantrums of ‘mother’ nature. We do not cope; we are resetting the stage for countless Tsunamis and Katrinas. We are capricious creatures, dreamers!” Soleri told Wrangler News in an email interview.

“The Arizonan desires are profoundly delusional and they are so rooted in the tradition of ‘free enterprise’ at all cost that there is no way to change the pattern we have selected: the passion for hyper consumption, this passion arising now in about 3 billion, the population of China and, very soon, the population of India. … [W]e are presented with a planet incapable of sustaining 5 or 6 billions of passionate consumers,” Soleri warned. “What will ensue is a ferocious competition for the acquisition of scarce resources: water, energy, soil, forests, pure air, minerals…Skyrocketing prices for scarcity will generate violence and will add a countless number of destitute. The Haves and the Have Nots steeped in injustice.”


Tempe Councilman Ben Arredondo suggested the city use its 2006 election to poll voters on the possibility of merging the Tempe Union, Tempe Elementary and Kyrene school districts.  Arredondo quickly withdrew his proposal, however, when he realized a state commission was just beginning work on the merits of unifying districts statewide.

Both Tempe and Chandler were honored by America’s Promise – The Alliance for Youth as being among the 100 best places for young people in the nation.

Smitha Ramakrishna, meanwhile, was honored by the Tempe Community Council with its annual Hayden Youth Award. The 14-year-old Corona freshman has a history of accomplishment and leadership that is remarkable for anyone, but especially for someone so young, the selection committee concluded.

Former Arizona Gov. Bruce Babbitt, a former U.S. Secretary of the Interior and unsuccessful candidate for president, visited the Changing Hands Bookstore to promote his new book, “Cities in the Wilderness: A New Vision of Land Use in America.”

Babbitt wants the federal government to take the lead in protecting what’s left of the American landscape, urging federal intervention in land-use planning down to the local level.

“Local governments generally have neither the political will nor the expertise nor the financial resources to stand up to well-financed developers demanding ‘just one more exception,’ while lubricating their requests with political contributions,” Babbitt wrote.

He declined, however, to respond to the Wrangler News’ question whether any of his so-called “Cities in the Wilderness” are Arizona cities.

Hundreds of Tempe residents gathered to recall old times at the 2005 Tempe Old Settlers Association meeting at Arizona Community Church. “My kids picked onions at Guadalupe and Rural, in the onion fields. On the southeast corner. All this was farmland, as far as the eye could see,” said Mary Parker, a 48-year Tempe resident.

“It just too big. It was a nice little town to raise a family in. It’s grown so much that hardly anyone knows anyone anymore,” lamented Clare Schrieks, who moved to Tempe in 1952.


Salt River Project stunned residents and city officials alike by announcing it was considering six routes for a new 69-kilovolt power line that threatened to bisect the Kyrene Corridor. The cost to bury the line could be $10 million, according to SRP, which said it would not pay that price.

The only way the lines will be buried is if cities pick up the extra costs, according to SRP.

Residents packed two open house meetings hosted by SRP to protest the utility’s plan and urge that the high-voltage wires be buried regardless of cost.

“It’s safety, esthetics and property values,” said J.J. Camptell. “This easement would probably be in my backyard.”

The recall election against Kyrene Board President Rae Waters was slated for sometime in 2006 after the Maricopa County Elections Department validated 7,307 signatures on recall petitions. Parents angry with Waters for her support of schedule changes in Kyrene middle schools needed to collect 7,230 valid signatures to force a recall election.

Waters refused to resign her post and vowed to campaign to retain her seat in 2006.

Another possible candidate – for President of the United States – came to Changing Hands Bookstore. Sen. John McCain, who has not officially announced his candidacy for president, promoted his new book, “Character Is Destiny.”

As the latest Harry Potter movie, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, was set to open, Screen Gems columnist M.V. Moorhead advised moviegoers to first see Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azbakan on DVD to better understand the Potter phenomenon.

Mary Frances Lewis, longtime member of the Tempe Union High School Board, urged Tempe Union, Tempe Elementary, and Kyrene District officials to make plans to replace the “dinosaur” that is Tempe Union High School District with one or more unified districts without waiting for the state commission that Tempe Councilman Ben Arredondo a month earlier said he should study the issue.

Theresa Zamora, recovering from a Sept. 19 heart transplant, sent a Thanksgiving message from her hospital room to friends and family.

“I couldn’t have done it without them,” the mother of four said. “The wait for the heart … the wait to get the body prepared to accept the heart. There’s just so many waits,” she said. “It’s just … the wait. Just so many baby steps.”

Hannah Shanken is only 12 but she has always loved to perform. Hannah, who attends Kyrene Apprende Middle School got her biggest chance on Thanksgiving Day when she danced in the 79th Annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City.


A huge offensive line played a huge role in Valley Christian High School 45-28 victory in the state 2A championship game, redeeming Valley Christian for its 2004 loss in the championship game.

“We were blessed,” said Bill Morgan, Valley Christian’s first-year head coach. Blessed, in large part, by a large offensive line led by senior tackles Kyle Groth and Nick Hernandez, each of whom stands about 6’4” tall and weighs 280 pounds or more.

Groth and Hernandez shared the pit with center Andy Montano, who stands only about 5’9”“ tall but who weighs about 260 pounds. Montano was flanked by tackles Isaac Remington, at 6’6” and 235 pounds, and Mark Timpani, the smallest player on the Valley Christian offensive line at 6’3” and about 180 pounds.

That exceptional line helped senior quarterback Ben Bergsma pass for more than 1,800 yards and nearly 20 touchdowns on the way to the 2A state championship, Morgan noted.

Salt River Project announced on Dec. 23rd that it has selected a route for its controversial power line that follows Loop 101 from Guadalupe to Ray Road, then uses an existing power line route along Ray Road from Loop 101 to McClintock Drive.  Chandler and Tempe officials have agreed to use SRP’ Aesthetics Fund” money to bury approximately one mile of the route along Loop 101 between Warner and Ray roads, according to SRP.

Brad and Cami Schiff told Wrangler News that being Jewish and Buddhist will not deter them from celebrating Christmas as “an American holiday” for their two-year-old daughter, Emma.

Abe and Barb Feder shared their beliefs about celebrating both Hanukkah and Christmas in an interfaith household. “The menorah looks nice alongside the Christmas tree,” Barb Feder said.

Maria Menconi surprised the Kyrene Governing Board by announcing her resignation in June 2006. She will be leaving the area when her husband “most likely” accepts a new job, Menconi explained.

South Tempe will be well represented in the 2006 Tempe City Council election. Incumbent Leonard Copple and newcomers Shana Ellis, Onnie Shekerjian, and Corey Woods announced candidacies for Tempe City Council, while Councilwoman Pam Goronkin said she will not seek re-election in 2006.

Judith L. Pearson’s spacious home in south Tempe and stylish dress belie the dark subject matter of her books. Pearson’s latest book is “Wolves at the Door,” the true story of a one-legged American woman named Virginia Hall who spied for England and the United States in occupied France during World War II.

Pearson said she plans to write a new book on Jennie Hodgers, an Irish immigrant who fought for the North during the Civil War disguised as a man, and who lived the rest of her life as a man until her secret was discovered when Hodgers, a.k.a. Albert Cashier, was in her mid-60s and living in a retired-soldiers home in Illinois.

Finally, Kyrene Corridor retailers reported solid holiday sales.

“We’re having one of our best years ever; just different types of items are selling more,” said Zach Berning of Berning’s Jewelry, who said less-expensive items were selling better than big-ticket items.
















































































































































































































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