Arizona's Christmas City

2014-12-18 | ImagesAZ | Community

Writer Tom Scanlon     Is Christmas in the city — or a modern suburb — getting you down? Feeling like it’s all become just too commercialized, too contemporary? Then you may want to wander up to “Arizona’s Christmas City.” Prescott may be 99.9 road miles north of Phoenix, but thematically, it’s 99.9 million miles away.   The Prescott area is a great getaway pretty much any month of the year. Visitors from the Valley can breathe cool mountain air in the summer, be dazzled by the colors of fall and in general be charmed by the small town feeling. The population is just over 40,000, as it has been for years, and downtown Prescott is pretty much as it was in the 1980s; maybe even the 1950s.   In December, Prescott ramps up the charm, with a string of Christmas-themed events that invite visitors to soak up nostalgia. In turn, the town merchants are more than happy to soak up visitors’ dollars, as the events were masterminded to stimulate the local economy. But it’s a... More

Ringing in a New Era, New Year's Signature Event

2014-12-18 | ImagesAZ | Community

Writer Stephanie Maher Palenque     New Year’s Eve in New Jersey during my childhood meant getting into footed sleeper pajamas and waiting until the ball dropped in Times Square. At the stroke of midnight, I would run outside with my sisters and cousins and put dents in my mother’s cookware, giving the pots and pans a beating they wouldn’t forget until the following New Year’s Eve.   This New Year’s Eve, save your cookware and bring the family to a wonderful one-time-only event planned to celebrate not only the arrival of 2015, but also the 15th anniversary of the Anthem community. It is planned for the evening of December 31, from 6 to 10 p.m.   This event officially closes out a year filled with special anniversary events in Anthem, starting with the opening of the Anthem Civic Building on January 25.   “We want this to be a memorable event for everyone,” said Kristi Northcutt, director of public affairs and communications for Anthem Community Council. “It’s... More

A Love of Antique Automobiles Spans Three Generations

2014-12-13 | ImagesAZ | Lifestyle

Writer Barb Evans     Arizona will soon become heaven on earth for thousands of classic car collectors and antique automobile aficionados when collector car week converges upon the Valley next month. Numerous car auctions, sales and events, most notably Barrett-Jackson’s auction at WestWorld, will take place in Scottsdale and Phoenix. Among the crowd will be my husband, son and father-in-law, who have had the week circled on their calendars since last year.   When Steve and I married 17 years ago, I knew he was passionate about antique cars. After all, he had picked me up in a 1963 Buick Riviera on our first date, and one of the requirements for when we were planning our wedding was to not schedule it for the first weekend in October, the standing date for the Antique Automobile Club of America’s annual Fall Meet in Hershey, Pennsylvania, to which he had gone with his father every year since he was 7 years old. But not until a few years ago did I realize that I should have added... More

Andrew Z's Gift Giveaway

2014-12-12 | ImagesAZ | Community

Writer Stephanie Maher Palenque     There is perhaps never more hoopla surrounding the holiday season in Anthem than when Andrew Zychowski of Andrew Z Diamonds and Fine Jewelry begins his annual gift giveaway. This season, he will be doing it for the seventh year in a row, to the delight of residents all over the Anthem area.   The festivities kick off on Thanksgiving night and extend through Christmas Eve. Each gift-wrapped treasure is worth between $25 and $100. It might be a watch one day, a bracelet another or any number of items that are sold in Andrew Z’s store in Anthem. Instead of gift giving during the traditional “12 Days of Christmas,” Andrew extends the gift giving to a gift on each of the 30 days preceding Christmas and, to keep everyone on their toes, he may even throw in a bonus gift on certain days. The gift of the day is then hidden somewhere in Anthem and the hints are posted on Andrew Z’s Facebook page. The hint might be a picture, a map or even a... More

Boulder Creek Fall Sports: Splashes & Touchdowns

2014-12-11 | ImagesAZ | Youth

Writer Tom Scanlon   November was championship time for fall high school sports, with one sport after another coming crashing to its conclusion after months of competition. If there was a combination score (as in the Olympics), Boulder Creek High School might have won the title, as the Anthem high school finished near the top in several events.   The swimmers, who put in thousands of laps at the Anthem Community Center, were some of the top performers. You could say Krista Kolkebeck finished her BC swimming career with a splash. Led by her fourth-place finish in the 100-yard freestyle, the BC girls’ swim team finished sixth in the state.   Participating in perhaps the most competitive race in swimming, Kolkebeck faced the top water athletes in the state. The 100-yard freestyle is her strongest race and was her best chance to be one of the four who received medals on the podium.   “I set a goal to make it to the podium and after I touched the wall, I looked up at the scoreboard... More

Lady Jags' Seniors Hope to Lead Boulder Creek to a State Title

2014-12-10 | ImagesAZ | Youth

Photo Credit: Mike Harvey
Writer Tom Scanlon     Rick Klein may be in his first year coaching the Boulder Creek High School girls’ soccer team, but you’ll get no coach speak from him, no, “I have a very talented team, we’re just going to play hard and take it one game at a time.”   Klein is fired up about these Lady Jags and is anxious to watch them tear up the playing field.   “Our team is stacked!” Klein exclaims. “We have eight Elite Clubs National League players and the rest are top level state league club players.”   Klein, taking over for previous coach Natalie Schmidtke, has a group of scholarship-winning stars led by Angela Boyle, Kyle Escobedo, Shelby Stewart and Natalie Stephens. Boulder Creek girls’ soccer was just an afterthought until the 2011-12 season, when these four talented players, then freshmen, stepped onto the Anthem playing field.   Led by the first-year kids, the Lady Jaguars doubled their win total from the year before, going from an 8-8 record to a sparkling... More

5 Arts Circle

2014-12-07 | ImagesAZ | Lifestyle

Writer Donna Kublin     Efforts to keep the arts alive in the Phoenix metro area take many innovative forms, all with a large measure of dedication, commitment and passion.   One such effort began 15 years ago with an idea that has led to nearly $4 million being raised for five of the Valley’s premier arts groups: Arizona Opera, Ballet Arizona, Phoenix Art Museum, Scottsdale Cultural Council and the Phoenix Symphony.   Know as 5 Arts Circle, its founder, Howard Hirsch, conceived the idea on a golf course in December 1999, a time when Arizona’s population was booming but donations to the arts were not. Hirsch issued a challenge within his foursome to enhance cultural offerings in the Valley by supporting five Phoenix arts groups. They responded by not only writing their own checks, but also going on to secure additional private donations. Thus began the membership-based non-profit, which today has 50 members and 10 corporate partners.   “We are thrilled to be celebrating 15... More

Desert Reach Program Reaches Out

2014-12-07 | ImagesAZ | Lifestyle

Writer Peni Long     As the Desert Awareness Committee (DAC) turns 40 this year, its Desert Reach program turns 10 — and has so far reached more than 5,000 students. The creative and organizational talents behind this flagship program are Diane Vaszily and Fran Wylie. Both came to Arizona from different parts of the country, but with their training, talents and dedication are now focused on a mutual goal of fulfilling the DAC’s mission to “educate all in understanding, conserving and preserving our fragile desert, its plants and animals, its water and wildlife.”   Volunteers Making a Difference for the Future Diane is first and foremost an environmental educator. Since joining the DAC in 1992, she has been an advocate for our desert resources.   “Personally, it is important to me for people who live in or visit an area to understand how it functions, how it fits into the larger ecosystem and especially how it impacts them,” she says.   Diane brings a substantial... More

Ageless Spirit

2014-12-06 | ImagesAZ | Lifestyle

Writer Donna Kublin   “The spirit never ages,” said Chilean writer Isabel Allende. Giving testament to this truism is an exhibit of artwork by three accomplished, passionate, professional artists at the Holland Gallery of Fine Art this December.   On display are works by master printmaker Ann Otis, abstract-expressionist painter Kay Orton and Hank Keneally, who integrates digital art, photography and painting. With their 238 years of combined experience, they are shown together for the first time with more than 50 art pieces representing a body of work that reflects on the past and looks forward into the future. The exhibit is a completely modern expression of art and the artists, all in their 70s or 80s, are ardent, energetic and full of spirit.   Ann Otis is a storyteller. Using her prints as visual means of communication, she comments about life, culture and nature, keeping a light touch and a bit of humor throughout, as well as a measure of fantasy. Working with copper plate... More

Another WILDE Ride Coming for Pinnacle Basketball

2014-12-05 | ImagesAZ | Youth

Photo Credit: Mike Harvey
Writer Tom Scanlon     Worry? Charlie Wilde?   After 24 years of coaching high school basketball, the last 15 at Pinnacle High School, Wilde’s not about to sweat over losing his superstar scorer, super reliable point guard and other top scorers to graduation.   So what if Dorian Pickens is draining three-pointers off the bench at Stanford University, instead of pouring in 25 points per game for Pinnacle? So what if Trey Ingram, the masterful point guard who ran the offense the last two years, has also graduated and gone off to college?   The Stockton and Malone of North Scottsdale, Pickens and Ingram led Pinnacle to back-to-back state championship appearances. Though his starting lineup has been gutted by the graduation of the two stars and three other frequent starters from last season, the veteran coach did not sound a bit worried as practice for this season began.   “We should not have a drop off at all,” said Wilde. “[This season’s team] is a great group. The... More

Healing Hearts: A New Sanctuary in New River

2014-12-05 | ImagesAZ | Inspiration

Writer Peni Long     Jennifer Brumbaugh, executive director of Healing Hearts Animal Rescue and Refuge, has moved her precious stock from Willcox to New River, occupying the property established by Dreamchasers Horse Rescue. It’s a good match for an organization with a mission to save and serve neglected and often abused horses. These healed horses often find wonderful new homes as companions for other horses or animals — or humans, for that matter.   Healing Hearts was founded as part of a response to the financial meltdown several years ago.   “Arizona horses in particular had it bad,” says Jennifer. “They need space, food and care, all of it expensive. Too many people could no longer afford to keep their animals and had nowhere to send them.”   Jennifer had acreage in Willcox, which became a haven for those horses. But through her experience over the past few years, she also knew that Maricopa County is a wonderful place for such an operation. Healing Hearts opened... More

Black Mountain Campus: Celebrating 5 Amazing Years of Growth & Service

2014-12-05 | ImagesAZ | Community

Writer Peni Long   The Black Mountain Campus of community facilities is celebrating five years of growth as it provides an ever-expanding series of learning opportunities, community service and health and wellness programs through its three partner organizations.   Desert Foothills Family YMCA, the Foothills Community Foundation and Paradise Valley Community College share the campus, designed as a neighborhood gathering place for people of all ages to exercise both mind and body. Located at the foot of the iconic Black Mountain at 60th Street, just south of Carefree Highway, the campus serves the surrounding communities of Carefree, Cave Creek, Anthem, North Phoenix and North Scottsdale by providing education options, meeting spaces and recreation facilities in one central location.   Development of the campus was a significant community undertaking, and its success is backed by some impressive numbers:   • $8 million was raised from individuals all around the surrounding... More

Neighbors Serving Neighbors: Foothills Caring Corps

2014-12-04 | ImagesAZ | Community

Photo Credit: Bryan Black
Writer Jenn Korducki Krenn   Until the day when a daring explorer — and no doubt ardent admirer of Juan Ponce de León — successfully discovers the elusive Fountain of Youth, there is no stopping it; from the moment we’re born, we’re growing older.   Although age is just a number, and the physical transformation we undergo as decades seem to zoom past us can never take away our childlike enthusiasm unless we let it, there are inevitable consequences of our mortality. Often, aging increases the physical distance between family and friends, as individuals pursue their personal and career aspirations. Aging also increases our risk factor for certain diseases or mobility limitations, making it even harder to connect as we experience the inability and even fear of leaving our homes. And over time, aging increases the possibility that we’ll have to say our final goodbyes to loved ones who pass away before us, further emphasizing the feeling that the older we get, the more alone... More

Meet The Magtibay Family

2014-12-04 | ImagesAZ | Community

Photo Credit: Loralei Photography
Writer Lara Piu   Lucky for Paul, Joan, Peter and Jack Magtibay, their mother is no matchmaker. More than 28 years ago, Barbara Magtibay tried to set up her future husband, Paul, with one of her good friends.   “When I first met Paul, I thought he was funny,” says Barbara. “He made me laugh and we had so much fun together, so why would I try to set him up with anyone else?” Paul and Barbara ended up dating for five years and have now been married for 23 years. Today, they live in Cave Creek with their four kids.   Their oldest, Paul, was among the four boys who broke the Cactus Shadows’ school record in the 4x800-meter relay in 2012. He is now studying health sciences as a junior at Arizona State University’s downtown campus. His younger sister, Joan, also currently attends ASU as a freshman. Joan is planning on majoring in journalism and public relations. She was an editor for the yearbook and newspaper during high school, as well as a member of the cross-country... More

Clarkdale Comes Into its Own

2014-12-04 | ImagesAZ | Lifestyle

Writer Suzanne Wright   I settle into my first-class seat in the Sedona car. Brandon, who introduces himself as the bartender for our ride, is offering passengers their choice of champagne or apple cider. I opt for the former and raise a glass to my seatmates, a foursome of well-coiffed friends from Scottsdale and Minnesota who are sitting across the aisle.   I’m aboard the Verde Canyon Railroad, which leaves from Clarkdale, 22 miles west of Sedona. It’s a clear, chilly November day; a bright cobalt sky stretches above, with puffy clouds suspended high over green-studded mountains in the distance.   “It’s not the destination, it’s the journey” is the railroad’s slogan, and it’s certainly apt. Over the next four hours, we travel just 20 miles, hugging the Verde River through the rugged inner canyon wilderness of high desert rock interspersed with prickly pear cacti, cottonwoods, willows and white bark sycamores blazing autumnal gold.   Locomotive-themed music —... More