Estrella Fire Station Update
Spring Hikes in the West Valley
The West Valley's regional parks have some fantastic events coming up in the next few weeks.
We're especially excited for the wildflower hikes coming up in the next two weeks at Estrella Mountain and White Tank Mountain Regional Parks.
This Friday night, Estrella Mountain Regional Park is hosting a Scorpion Search! Here are a few suggestions for your fun hike in our beautiful foothills...
Scorpion Hunt Searchlight
A Guide covering Arizona's Wildflowers
Sturdy Water Bottle for the Outdoors
First Aid Kit
And a Good Floppy Hat
Sunscreen and comfy socks are a good idea, too!
Whatever you choose to do, enjoy!
You read it right. Goodyear has a new hashtag.
What do survey participants care about?
The NCS looks at community characteristics, governance, and community participation. Within community livability, NCS reported back to council on ratings for safety, mobility, natural environment, built environment, economy, recreation and wellness, education and enrichment, and community engagement.
Demographics were broken into three geographical areas. Goodyear north of I-10. Goodyear south of I-10 to the Gila River. And the area mostly known as Estrella - south of the Gila River.
Responses were also ranked against national benchmarks. This year, Goodyear received 111 ratings similar to the national average, 7 categories ranked higher than the national average, and 11 rated lower than the national average.
Compared to this same survey conducted in Goodyear two years ago, 105 categories remained the same. 7 higher. 17 worse.
Survey respondents say safety and the economy are the most important issues facing them today.
Where do we stand?
Overall, participants responded positively. 78% rated Goodyear services as either excellent or good which is similar to 2014.
Oddly enough, participants rated services by the Federal Government higher than 2014.
The survey also showed participants ranked the value of services for taxes paid as lower from 2014. This year, 54% are satisfied as compared to 61% two years ago.
4 in 5 people say they would stay in Goodyear for another five years.
Goodyear fell in the category of recreation and wellness. While most categories stayed the same and "health and wellness" were up, fewer people ranked "fitness opportunities" as being excellent or good compared to two years ago.
Goodyear ranks as a great place to retire. And the city received good marks for neighborhoods, as being a place to raise kids, and for overall appearance. (Okay... that sounded like a beauty competition. But, it's important to factor when building a beautiful city for people to call "home.")
Education funding is a hot topic in Arizona at the state level. And I think it's reflected in these numbers. 68% of survey participants gave K-12 education an excellent or good rating. Just 45% gave Goodyear good ratings for cultural/arts/music activities. And the council seem to understand people want more higher education opportunities as just 55% of respondents rated "adult education" as either excellent or good.
This is where Goodyear needs to improve. Just 31% of respondents say they believe "employment opportunities" in Goodyear are excellent or good.
They want jobs and we don't have enough here in Goodyear. ~Mayor Georgia Lord, City of Goodyear
Great news for our fire and police. A majority say they feel safe in Goodyear. 89% have an overall feeling of safety. A whopping 97% say they feel safe in their neighborhood. Kudos to all the hard work these people put in their jobs each and every day!
A closer look at the numbers break down like this:
This is a great graphic showing what's most important to residents who participated in the study. The order of importance for funding and maintaining city services fall in this order:
Leaving Goodyear for other services - No surprises here.
Goodyear leaders know residents are leaving this city for services elsewhere. Council reiterated to economic development the desire residents have for attracting more of these services.
Leaving Goodyear for jobs.
A small percentage of participants say they actually work in Goodyear. And many of these folks would like to see more jobs in the medical/healthcare fields, retail, and professional services.
77% of participants say they get their information about the city by "word of mouth." After discussion, council agreed staff need to continue pumping out information through the city website and InFocus newsletter which is mailed to homes. The lowest ranking from communication comes from "talking with city officials" at 38%.
City staff plan to get information about this study out to residents using the "#thegoodingoodyear" branding slogan. We're happy to participate!
Councils Reviewing Crash Zones
So, just how are traffic lights and increased traffic patrols considered in the West Valley?
Tonight in Goodyear, city traffic engineers will explain to council members how traffic signals are evaluated and prioritized within the city's Capital Improvement Program - or CIP.
Deciding whether to install a traffic light actually starts at the top with the Federal Highway Administration's guidelines. These guidelines, detailed in the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices, (MUTCD), include nine "warrants." Warrants are factors identifying the need for traffic signals such as peak hours, school crossings, crash history, and volume of traffic in specific intersections.
Goodyear's traffic operations staff have identified nine intersections in its All-America City which are not currently funded in the CIP program but are being evaluated. Maybe you've driven through them....
Because Goodyear has no ongoing funds for installing new traffic signals, staff need to ask lawmakers for CIP funding. From this graphic below, you can see Yuma Road and Canyon Trails Boulevard is the most critical intersection under evaluation meeting four traffic signal warrants. It's reported a developer has upped 75% of the funding for a new traffic light. The other 25% will need to come from Goodyear's CIP for Fiscal Year 2015-2016.
Discussion about traffic signals got a boost after our blog post April 14th. The night before, Goodyear City Council unanimously approved a Taco Bell drive through in Estrella without first considering the traffic danger in front of the Starpointe Residents Club. Residents were surprised because they had expressed concerns to staff previously and decided the only way to bring attention to lawmakers was to start a petition and letter writing campaign.
When we purchased our home in Estrella Mountain Ranch we chose our home location based on proximity to the shopping center, club house and lakes. We wanted to be able to reach these amenities by foot or bicycle. Each morning I enjoy taking my 2 youngest children in their double stroller for a walk around the lakes. When my 7 year old is home he likes to tag along on his bike. It has become increasingly dangerous to cross the intersection. I have witnessed many close calls and 2 accidents. I am concerned for our drivers, pedestrians, and bikers. I am urging city council to please install a traffic light at this intersection. ~Suzanne McEvoy, Estrella Resident
As commercial and residential development continues in the Estrella and Canta Mia areas, traffic is getting congested and dangerous in the intersection of San Gabriel Drive and Elliot Road, where the entrance/exit is to the Starpointe Residents Club. City Council has recently approved a Taco Bell with a drive through, just east of this intersection. We are asking the Goodyear City Council to consider installing a traffic signal for the safety of our residents and guests, whether they use that intersection as pedestrians, motorists, or bicyclists. We would like to see the City Council act in a proactive fashion, instead of waiting to react to a serious accident. ~Sara Gilligan, Estrella Resident
My hat's off to residents who care enough to get involved and speak up. Lawmakers can make decisions without really understanding the local needs of the people... especially when residents do not show up at council meetings to provide public input. I do appreciate city staff and lawmakers who actually visit locations to see for themselves what concerns are BEFORE going to a vote. I do appreciate lawmakers who are willing to meet with residents, listen to their concerns, and consider options for accommodating new growth while ensuring the safety of the people in the immediate area.
HOW YOU CAN GET INVOLVED
GOODYEAR AND AVONDALE
In Avondale, the police department is taking a proactive approach with its highlighted "crash zones." Here's the link to the police department. You can email the Avondale mayor and council at this link.
This is the link to Maricopa County's Department of Transportation.
SAVE THE LIBRARIAN
Then word about cuts started happening at my own daughter's school.
Neighbors were in a panic and encouraging others to join the peaceful protests at the sate Capitol. The district held informational talks within our local community. And concerned parents started letter writing campaigns.
This week, word that our librarian's position is on the chopping block. I can only guess what's coming next.
Living in Arizona has its challenges when it comes to education. I do feel, as a parent, it's my responsibility to do a good chunk of the education at home. That's more than just reviewing homework. It's about doing additional research online, visiting locations where more learning and hands-on experiences can take place, and most important, engaging in thought-provoking conversations with my child about real world events, current and historical.
Do our lawmakers really understand what's happening in our schools? I haven't seen too many visit my child's school lately.
Tell us about the cuts happening at your school... and please share your ideas for getting taxpayers on board for voting in favor of schools.
~TELL US ABOUT THE BUDGET CUTS HAPPENING AT YOUR SCHOOL~
POST COMMENTS HERE
Last night, the Goodyear City Council voted unanimously to allow a Taco Bell with a drive-through to locate in the community of Estrella.
Bringing fast food restaurants into Estrella is a hot topic among residents. Council members know it's a hot topic, too, or at least should after the McDonald's debate in the spring of 2013. But, I'm not going get into the mud on this one.
I do want to talk about the element of "surprise."
When discussing this with others in the community, one resident commented that they didn't even know there was a meeting. In fact, not a single resident from Estrella spoke at the meeting... even though resident conversation on this topic has been ongoing for several months.
Reasonable thinking would conclude it's the resident's responsibility to know when council meetings are scheduled. In Goodyear, meetings are posted on the city's website and in its InFocus citizen newsletters mailed mailed to residences.
But, it may not be enough. And I do believe there's a solution.
In the spring of 2013, I was among a handful of council members from Goodyear who attend the National League of Cities, or NLC, conference in Washington D.C. One seminar that sticks with me today covered "Innovative Strategies for Involving and Engaging Citizens." Here are my notes from the meeting:
What creates an uninformed public in the first place?
Let's face it, government meetings can be downright boring. The typical government meeting is speaker-focused and involves just those who are already active on the issues. Afterward, there's little reporting about what happened at these meetings. This scenario makes for an uninformed public, too.
As a solution, the NLC seminar speakers from "America Speaks" suggested cities engage residents by holding "deliberative forums." What's that? It's an effort to reach into communities by getting residents who are typically not engaged to attend convenient "participant-focused" meetings. This approach invites citizens to conveniently share their ideas and concerns with lawmakers and city planners. It does require government to recruit the hard-to-reach and be creative. Successful out-reach strategies include:
If it's not cost-effective to hold a meeting in a rare location, why not send out surveys for citizen input? That's a lot cheaper and incredibly convenient, as well, for both government and residents.
*To the city's credit, planners did hold a meeting regarding the Taco Bell drive-through on February 25th at 6:30pm in Estrella. News about the meeting was hard to find. I heard about it from a neighbor who happened to see it at the bottom of an HOA email blast. It was not mentioned in the InFocus newsletter. And as you can see, the meeting is not on the city's website calendar. Turnout was small... and when that happens, the city considers the "issue" to be a non-issue.
Make no mistake, the City of Goodyear knows how to successfully pull off neighborhood events when they want to. Staff practiced the recommended approach when gathering public input for the 2025 General Plan. This document outlines every open house meeting held in which residents could attend and learn more about the plan.
So why isn't this approach being used on hot button topics like the one last night in Estrella?
When officials engage the public, the forums and results are "often seen as more legitimate." The results are more "consensus based." And the action taken is more "supportable."
If government works hard enough, it can eliminate the excuses that people use to avoid meetings. When residents feel they can have a say, such as in small group discussions and Q&A, they're more likely to get involved. Take a look at the wonderful photos from the General Plan open houses. That was highly successful... even if it took some extra work.
I was able to watch last night's meeting online. I'm incredibly concerned about the traffic safety issue and have contacted those at the city who I think can help. And that's what residents should do. Instead of complaining, be proactive. Look at the wonderful example of the "Saving the Orchard" movement.
No excuses, people. No excuses.
The Power of Community
Last Saturday, I enjoyed spending Valentine's Day with my family. Chocolate. Roses. More chocolate. My husband wrangled me into seeing the SpongeBob movie with our daughter. I did my best to sneak off, but no one was buying my excuses to leave. (I do wish the inside of my brain looked like SpongeBob's. Sunshine, lollipops, and rainbows should come to mind for those who've seen the movie.) When we got home, I took control of the remote and we ended the day watching our favorite flick, "Sweet Home Alabama", on cable.
That evening, I briefly checked the new community Facebook group page I started up with a neighbor a few days prior. Sounds silly. But, we had more than 500 people join in the first week and we are determined to have a positive page free of rumors and all that junk can come along with social media.
"Gobsmacked" doesn't even begin to explain what I felt when I saw this post...
Within minutes, dozens of posts of support and gratitude piled up one after another. It's just in my nature to need to know more about the man behind the mission.
Sunday night, I received Q&A responses from Mario about his time in Desert Storm, his background, and what motivated him to reach out. I never once felt like Mario was trying to get attention. He simply wanted to make sure the flag wasn't managed by anyone else. He didn't want to step on toes. He wanted to do what was right.
My first thought was, "How many other people walked by that flag and did nothing?" Mario did something.
My Monday started with two emails from a local tv station wanting Mario's information for a story. My reporter/producer/competitive side kicked in. Between contacting Mario and communicating with the news desk and reporter, I stirred up a life I once lived day-to-day in broadcast news. And I didn't like it. That really surprised me as I frequently reminisce about my time and the friends I made in news.
I had a rare opportunity to learn a lot about Mario in a very short amount of time. All I can say is he inspires me. Confident. Loyal. Considerate.
As it turns out, I took a photo of a pair of boots and medals at The Moving Wall, a replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall, when it was in town last fall. When I saw the boots under a panel of names on the wall, it brought tears to my eyes. It wasn't until this week that I learned they belonged to Mario.
Learn more about Mario here.
Our world needs more people like Mario - willing to do what's right without needing something in return. And the world needs more neighbors like those in my community - patriotic and grateful for the sacrifices members of the military make for our country, families, and loved ones.
Words of support. A lending hand. A small donation. It doesn't take much to show a vet your appreciation. It doesn't take much to show another human being their efforts haven't gone unnoticed.
A lot has transpired in one week. Our community's Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts are working together to raise funds and maintain the flags. Mario has a donation of 6 solar lights ordered and on their way to Estrella so they can keep our three flags lit all night long. And neighbors are still showing an interest to help and donate as they can.
I can't say it's all been positive, sadly. I've learned a lot about society, fear, deceit, greed, and ego this week, too. I'm doing my best to channel my inner Eckhart Tolle. But I do know I've had an incredible opportunity - on countless occasions in my short lifetime - to see what can happen when good people come together to make great things happen.
I do hope my daughter can see the good in the people the way I do.
Thank you, Mario. Thank you, Dad. Thank you, to everyone who's fought for the freedoms we so enjoy in America today.
A Vote for the General Plan
A friend recently asked me for information about the Goodyear 2025 General Plan. Voters have the final say about the plan as it's on the ballot for the November 4, 2014 election.
I'm all for it. Here's why.
Planning for the "plan" started quite a while ago, (I remember several meetings about the General Plan while I was in office 2 years ago). City employees mapped out a very thoughtful and detailed approach to launching a committee and community meetings. Hundreds of residents had input on the plan. For those who couldn't attend meetings - they could voice their opinions online at Goodyear Connects. The city made it difficult for residents to NOT know about it...
A general plan is required by law in Arizona. Sure! You can call it a "wish list." A general plan is basically a roadmap or blueprint to guide future growth. Goodyear's plan is ambitious and solid. It's clear a lot of time, thought, and energy went into developing this plan.
Those who develop general plans, volunteer residents and city leaders, strive for an achievable and healthy vision for making a city more desirable for residents, businesses, and visitors.
Here’s the catch to a general plan: Lawmakers. Exactly how do they plan to make a fancy plan
- on paper - come to life? They use our tax dollars.
I make no apologies for being quite conservative. I believe Goodyear needs to find a way to eliminate the food tax without jeopardizing pay for police and fire, the services they provide, and all the necessities that come with a clean and safe community.
The biggest concern about implementing a general plan is having people in office and leadership roles who will abide by the plan, and do so with fiscally conservative funding decisions. It may be that the entire “wish list” doesn’t happen - or doesn’t happen quickly. But, it’s a plan that has a lot of backing by residents in the hopes of a positive future.
If you don’t get bored by city planning, (I find it quite fascinating), I highly recommend going to the next Goodyear council retreat November 7th & 8th at the Justice Center. You'll get an idea how the council and city planners go about following the current General Plan and mapping out spending for the upcoming budget season. If history repeats itself, this meeting is not broadcast, (which is a shame because of the importance of what is discussed). Being there in person is usually the only way you'll get to see it.
Cheers to a bright future!
Jen's note: Opinions posted here are simply opinions.
Please double check the city's website or call before attending the meetings to make sure they have not been rescheduled.
Blessings and Binders
Early this morning, on the Estrella lakes, nearly 200 cancer fighters, survivors, and caregivers gathered for a morning walk. This year's event was double the size of last year's. Pink. Blue. Green. White. Burgundy. Walkers wore colors representing the cancers that have touched their lives.
Jeff and Judy Gauvin, Goodyear residents and the founders of Estrella Cancer Crusaders, hosted this event. Judy is a ten-year breast cancer survivor and - together with Jeff - she has the passion to make the annual walk a success year after year.
I've had the incredible opportunity to volunteer for the Gauvins. This morning I took some photos and videos of the event to put together for their website and social media. Two of the walkers at the event were willing to be interviewed. They are mother and daughter. One a breast cancer survivor. The other a uterine cancer survivor. When asked how they felt about having the opportunity to support one another through their battles, they used the word "blessed."
"Blessed." It's the same word I apply to my journey. As a six-time, six-year vocal cord cancer survivor, I'm blessed for countless reasons. Blessed for a loving family and the few friends who stuck around once the bad news hit. Blessed for an amazing husband who had the wherewithal to move us from Colorado to Arizona for better care. Blessed for Mayo Clinic tackling my case. Blessed for being cancer-free long enough to deliver a healthy, (and completely amazing in every way), daughter early on in my journey. And blessed for the one vocal cord which still functions... because Lord knows, I have a lot to say! (Humor is a must...)
Over the years, I've picked up a few tricks to help me keep organized so I can make the most of my appointments and follow up care. Doctors have actually thanked me for having the information ready when they walk in the room as it helps refresh their memories, too. I'm hoping some of these tips might be of use to others.
Tips for keeping organized while fighting cancer...
1. Get a binder. This is the best way to keep everything in one place. Yes, we all love our computers and cell phones. But when a doctor asks you for photos from your last surgery or your newest blood results from another doctor's office, you'll want to have this handy. (Don't rely on technology to work when you only have six minutes of your doctor's time.)
My binder is sectioned into various categories. Depending on your diagnosis, you'll want to modify your binder. Be sure to leave room for insurance papers, lab results, blood tests, doctor contacts and phone numbers, appointment reminders, and notes. Notes? YES! Write down your questions before every appointment and have them handy when the doctor walks in. This way, you won't forget any questions, and you'll be ready to write down answers. (Be sure to write down the answers - or have a loved one take notes - because you may be so nervous during the appointment you could forget what your doctor said.)
2. Resources. Estrella Cancer Crusaders has put together a modest list of starting points for finding resources in Arizona to help you get the information you're looking for. These are by no means the only resources available. But, they're a good start. Click here.
3. Be sure to listen to your doctor's advice. And don't try to diagnose yourself on the Internet. Odds are you'll only scare yourself.
4. Let your family and friends know what you're going through and take advantage of their offers for help and support.
5. Listen to your gut. If something doesn't sound right or feel right... go with your gut. Ask questions. Write down your feelings. And use the information to help you make the best decisions for you. Never feel bad about getting a second opinion. Just my humble advice...
"Cancer is a word. Not a sentence." ~John Diamond
While seeing the number of people double in size for this year's awareness walk was wonderful... it would be even better if no one showed up because cancer had been wiped out.
Until then, just remember a kind word or a helping hand for someone fighting the battle can go a long way.
To Jeff and Judy, thank you for all you do to bring awareness to all kinds of cancers. Your work is greatly appreciated.
It’s pretty difficult to drive anywhere in the state right now and not notice all the campaign signs. I always wonder what candidates would rather do with the money they spent on signs if they had the opportunity to designate the funds to go somewhere else.
Nevertheless, 100’s of committees just filed their campaign finance reports. Campaigns influencing initiatives on the November ballot are required by law to file a post-primary report, among others.
So let’s see what’s hot right now. What's generating the most money?
The attached photo is today’s filed totals available on the Secretary of State's website. At any time, you can check for updated numbers here.