New Italian Youth Opera Makes American Debut

2015-04-01 | ImagesAZ | Youth

Writer Rebecca Zaner   “The Toy Factory,” a children’s opera composed and premiered in Italy, makes its American debut in Anthem this April. Based on the children’s book, “The Sword and the Stone,” “The Toy Factory” portrays an updated version of the classic tale through music and theatrical arts.   To debut the opera, Joan Yakkey, composer and librettist of “The Toy Factory,” will travel to Phoenix along with six of her young madrigal singers from the Scuola di Musica di Fiesole. The North American premiere takes place on April 23 and will run through April 25 at Boulder Creek High School.   In partnership with Boulder Creek High School choir students and director, Kirk Douglas, this performance features international as well as local young talent. Students from Canyon Springs Elementary School will also be featured in the program. Generously supported by Arts Council of the North Valley and its president, Mary Sue Hyatt, “The Toy Factory” is a highly... More

Guy Fieri Gives Tom’s Thumb a Thumbs Up

2015-04-01 | ImagesAZ | Culinary

Writer Barb Evans   Fans of the Food Network’s popular series “Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives” got a taste of Arizona on a recent episode, and they may have noticed that we don’t do things the usual way around here — especially when it comes to getting gas.   One of the restaurants featured on the February 6 “Arizona All-Stars” episode was Tom’s Thumb Fresh Market, an unassuming gas station and car wash on the outside, but a bustling market, gift shop, wine bar, bakery and restaurant on the inside known for serving up a mean barbecue.   “If you got to go get your car washed, and get it filled with gas, and you’re hungry, why not do that all at the same place?” asked owner Kipp Lassetter during a recent interview.   Show host Guy Fieri and his film crew paid a visit to the Northeast Valley eatery last December, where he traded in his iconic red Camaro for a Polaris recreational vehicle and filled up on gas and grits. He joined Lassetter in the kitchen, where they... More

Meet the Oughterson Family

2015-04-01 | ImagesAZ | Family

Photo Credit: Bryan Black
Writer Barb Evans     Life for Cave Creek resident Jon Oughterson has come full circle. At one time, he was taking orders as a barista and bartender for the former Cave Creek Coffee Company, located on Cave Creek Road. Now, he’s giving the orders as the owner of his own coffee shop, located in the same spot as his former employer.   Jon and his wife, Lauren, opened Local Jonny’s, a coffee shop, bar and restaurant, last October. Although it occupies the same space as the former Cave Creek Coffee Company, which closed two years ago, it isn’t the same place with just a new name. Taking a fresh spin on an iconic bike shop in Texas named Mellow Johnny’s, Jon, who grew up in Cave Creek, teamed up with his high school friend, Kaolin Cummens, owner of Flat Tire Bike Shop, to share the space and give it a new purpose.   “I could see it right away,” says Jon. “We could have a bike theme, with retail on this side and seating on the other. It was exciting; I said, ‘We have to... More

Skyepeople, Primitive figures created in our time.

2015-04-01 | ImagesAZ | Community

Photo Credit: Sam Paul
Writer Donna Kulin     Always looking to find quality artwork done by local artists to add to her store’s offerings of classy, vintage Western home furnishings, Big Bronco Furniture Barn and General Store owner Faith Weinberg added Sara Lawless’ “Skyepeople” collection about six years ago.   “Skyepeople are a completely unusual and personal expression,” said Weinberg. “They are the artist’s own inspiration with their distinctive copper faces, specialty fabric and colorful beadwork. Customers really appreciate the uniqueness of her one-of-a-kind art pieces. They took a look at her dolls and were inspired to ask questions, wanting to know about them, noting their expressiveness as well as how they were made: the weaving, beads and fabric. Being quite affordable, tourists and locals buy them for gifts, home décor and collections.”   Sara Lawless came to Arizona in 2002, after traveling here from San Diego for four years to do art shows. She was drawn to the desert... More

Tower To Casey - You are Cleared for Takeoff

2015-04-01 | ImagesAZ | Youth

Photo Credit: Mike Harvey
Writer Tom Scanlon     He’s not quite at the “Top Gun” level yet, but Casey Cooper is well on his way. The future is up in the air, literally, for this North Scottsdale resident who attends Notre Dame Preparatory.   At a time when many teenagers are playing video games that simulate flying, Casey is actually doing it; he made his first solo flight last year and in mid-February was promoted to the rank of second lieutenant in the Civil Air Patrol. He began flying when he was just 14 years old.   “My parents, John and Christy, knew that I wanted to fly and they purchased me an explorer flight for my 14th birthday to see if I enjoyed it,” he said. “I currently have nearly 30 hours of flight time. I need to get up to a minimum of 40 hours before I can receive my private pilot’s license.”   His passion for flying goes back to an even younger age, when he was around 8 years old.   “My grandfather flew Cessnas before I was born and I had heard some of his stories about... More

Big Upside - Star Freshman Leads Lady Falcons to Playoffs

2015-04-01 | ImagesAZ | Youth

Photo Credit: Mike Harvey
Writer Tom Scanlon     Attention basketball fans: You may want to reserve seats for the next three Cactus Shadows High School girls’ basketball seasons to catch a rising star named Caitlin Bickle. She is coming off a freshman year that suggests she might be the next big thing, literally and figuratively.   After three consecutive losing seasons, Cactus Shadows girls’ basketball was at best an unknown entity at the beginning of the 2014-15 season. Then Bickle went and turned that question mark into an exclamation point, averaging 13 points and 6 rebounds per game and leading the Lady Falcons to a powerful 22-8 season.   With the tall, athletic freshman leading the way, Cactus Shadows finished second in the section tournament, earning the team a home game to start the playoffs. Though the crowd was behind them, the Lady Falcons came up short; three questionable technical fouls in the final minutes played a factor in a close loss that ended an unexpectedly exciting... More

Passion & Romance on Canvas

2015-04-01 | ImagesAZ | Art

Writer Donna Kublin     “I am deeply romantic and love love,” said Wahid Nahlé, an acclaimed international and local artist. “When I see a romantic couple sitting by the beach, it moves me. It is this emotion I express in my work.”   Brimming with passion, Nahlé’s paintings convey the strength and sensitivity of the human spirit. His figurative forms are often a couple sharing a romantic moment. His large-scale paintings have a somewhat dreamy, almost mystical quality and always include his signature in every piece: moon, stars or sun, symbolizing the connection of humans to the cosmos, as though love transcends this planet.   “Opening the heart and inspiring the soul” is his byline and artistic goal. His positive and happy energy, combined with the influences of his surroundings, shape his work. When painting in Arizona, his home of 23 years, mountains, open skies or cacti are often center stage; when painting in another location, the sense of that place and the... More

Stirling Swims for Gold

2015-04-01 | ImagesAZ | Youth

Writer Tom Scanlon     After two narrow losses in the state swimming meet finals last year, Connor Stirling swam a blazing sub-44 second pace in the final of the 100-yard freestyle in November, only to be edged by rising superstar Ryan Hoffer, who clocked in at a state record 43.20 seconds.   In the preliminary of the 200-yard freestyle, Cactus Shadows High School star Stirling touched the wall at 1:41 — very fast, but more than a half second slower than another rising star, Brophy High School sophomore Jack Blake.   Much of what happens in swimming takes place outside high school competitions,, however, and Stirling had already made his mark on the national scene. He was ranked as the fourth fastest sprinter in his age group and scored an Olympic-trial qualifying time in the 50-yard freestyle. He was ranked as the top high school senior in Arizona and 23rd nationally.   Even so, the prospect of Connor Stirling leaving the Cactus Shadows trophy case with four second-place... More

Geodes Nature's Nodules

2015-04-01 | ImagesAZ | Community

Writer Marc Fleischer   In their simplest form, geodes are hollow rocks with a crystal-lined interior and a complex origin. They are named after the Greek word, geoides, which means “earth-like.” Geodes are spheroidal in shape and can occur in igneous rock, where they form inside gas bubbles within chambers of basalt and lava close to the surface, and in sedimentary rock as rounded cavities.   After rock formations surrounding these cavities harden, dissolved minerals rich in silica and other constituents are deposited inside. Geodes are partly hollow and slowly, over a great amount of time, groundwater from above and hydrothermal solutions from below allow crystals to form inside the hollow chambers. Often times, there are well-formed crystals of quartz, calcite and other minor minerals that have crystallized inward to a central cavity, and sometimes geodes can even replace fossils and other crystals that were in the host rock.   Once the rock surrounding the cavity has... More

Be Prepared: National Champs Advice to Young Athletes

2015-04-01 | ImagesAZ | Community

Writer Tom Scanlon     If you — or perhaps your children or friends — are interested in pursuing college athletics, you might want to talk to Cassie Miller. She can tell you not only what it takes to play for one of the best programs in the country, but also what it’s like to go all the way to the top.   This talented girl, who was known as “El Gato” (Spanish for cat) when she dominated on the field for Cactus Shadows High School, was a two-time National Soccer Coaches Association of America Girls’ Youth All-American and toured the world with the United States Under-17 (U17) national team. She has grown into a woman and is still a dominant force at Florida State University, fast becoming one of the most outstanding soccer players in the country.   In her first year of college play, she was not only a goalkeeper, but also an impenetrable wall, shutting down opponent after opponent. In the December championship game, she stopped everything that came her way, literally. In... More

Family Dreams Take Flight

2015-04-01 | ImagesAZ | Family

Photo Credit: Jerry Clifton
Writer Lauren Strait     Scott Clifton’s head has always been in the clouds. A third generation Arizona native, Scott knew his way around aircraft before he could even talk. His father, Jerry Clifton, a Vietnam helicopter pilot veteran, worked at Deer Valley Airport teaching students how to fly and served as one of the Valley news chopper pilots.   Scott would always find an excuse to join his dad at the airport. He would wash airplanes, clean the hangar, hook up gliders and tow planes all day long just to earn time to take a glider out for a spin. He was so driven that he managed to get his flying license before his driver’s license. Little did he know that one day his passion would take flight and lead to a mass ascension of a lifetime.   The Clifton family moved to Cave Creek 38 years ago. It’s not very often you find people who were born and raised in the Cave Creek area; this is where true “creekers” earn their titles.   Scott’s professional career began when his... More

Wild West Shootout. Notre Dame Prep Girls' Soccer Wins State Title

2015-04-01 | ImagesAZ | Youth

Photo Credit: Mike Harvey
Writer Tom Scanlon     It wasn’t a massacre, but thanks to an intrepid goalkeeper, the girls’ soccer Division 2 state championship may be remembered in Notre Dame Preparatory history as the “St. Valentine’s Day Shootout.”   Following minute after minute of tense, scoreless play, the NDP girls’ soccer team’s season came down to penalty kicks against Campo Verde High School. Each side would take four kicks, with the kickers taking turns trying to blast the ball into the goal from short range. In this penalty kick scenario, no defenders are allowed other than the goalkeeper.   For Meredith Reinhardt, that meant continuing to keep Campo Verde shots out of the NDP goal. The game was played at Campo Verde, making this an even more difficult task for the Lady Saints. But led by the extraordinarily stubborn Reinhardt, NDP had won three previous playoff matches, twice by shootouts.   Indeed, NDP, which won a state title in 2009 and finished second two years later — both... More

Whatever It Takes: Local Stars Take it to The Next Level

2015-04-01 | ImagesAZ | Youth

Writer Tom Scanlon You dream of your kid playing sports in college — better yet, being so good that he or she will win a free education.   It’s certainly not an unrealistic dream, as there are thousands of scholarships passed out every year, from traditional powerhouses like football and basketball to emerging sports such as volleyball and women’s soccer. Pinnacle High School soccer is a great example, as more than half of the seniors on the 2013-14 girls’ soccer team earned scholarships.    Looking back, it would have been shocking if the 2014 girls’ soccer team didn’t win a state title. Indeed, it’s mildly surprising (in retrospect, at least) that the team lost three of its 27 matches last year. Eight of last year’s soccer seniors are playing at the collegiate level, and a handful stepped right in and started kicking with the best in the country.    The powerful Jorian Baucom was named SEC Freshman of the Year after scoring a team-leading eight goals for... More

When Mom Needs Motherly Love

2015-04-01 | ImagesAZ | Community

Photo Credit: Keri Meyers Photography
Writer Lara Piu     When it rains, it pours, and Scottsdale resident Lori Haenny was drowning in a flash flood.   The drizzle began in the fall of 2013, when her husband of 20 years left the family. A few months later, Lori was packing his things when she fell 10 feet through the attic, landing on her back on the concrete garage floor. Her lumbar burst, her ribs fractured and her skull cracked. She was told she might not walk again, but two back surgeries and one titanium spine support later, and she was walking out of the hospital after nine days and returning to work after three months.   Then came the storm.   “The week before I started back to work, I found a lump in my breast,” says Lori. “In June, I had a lumpectomy and a series of radiation treatments. Chemotherapy followed in July and continued through the end of October.”   That spring, Lori’s co-workers contacted Michelle Moore-Fanger at Mother’s Grace Foundation.   Shortly after, Michelle was on the phone... More

Code Red-I, Casting Bets on The Future of Tech

2015-04-01 | ImagesAZ | Community

Photo Credit: Loralei Photography
Writer Amanda Christmann Larson     She’s beautiful, bold and smart. But the one thing you should remember about Tina Machado is that she’s got a sensationally intelligent business mind that has figured out what the future holds in technology. That, and she’s got what it takes to make it work for Valley businesses.   Machado and her business partner, Jerry Schwalbach, have launched Scottsdale-based Code Red-I, an app and game development studio that combines innovation and creativity with the kind of business savvy that separates the rookies from the pros. The pair has invested in a vision that apps are where it’s at across the entire business paradigm; a vision that the rest of the population will soon realize.   “Society utilizes mobile apps over desktops for internet connectivity,” Machado noted. “Smartphones and tablets have taken over as the most efficient way to communicate, do business and manage their lifestyle. They’re what people are going to instead of... More