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Latest News in Apache Junction, AZ

Apache Junction residents say illegal campers continue to be a problem after land closure

APACHE JUNCTION, AZ — There are lingering concerns after a public land closure near Apache Junction forced illegal campers out of their grounds and elsewhere into the community.Apache Junction resident Nadine Johnson has been collecting shell casings that are scattered about a mile into nearby Tonto National Forest."...

APACHE JUNCTION, AZ — There are lingering concerns after a public land closure near Apache Junction forced illegal campers out of their grounds and elsewhere into the community.

Apache Junction resident Nadine Johnson has been collecting shell casings that are scattered about a mile into nearby Tonto National Forest.

"Lots of gunfire, especially in the middle of the night, lots of trash that's just abandoned at these trailer sites,” said Johnson.

At the Bulldog Canyon entrance near Apache Junction, the gate’s lock had been cut in half again. Residents tell ABC15 it is a popular route for many who illegally camp, sometimes for months, and leave trash all around.

"Otherwise, it's a perfect, untouched landscape, and then all of a sudden, you get patches of what looks like it's a garbage dump,” said Ben Daniels, who was bicycling in Tonto on Friday.

An ABC15 crew went less than a mile into Tonto where they found an encampment with what looks like a surveillance camera and jugs of water stored away nearby.

This comes weeks after the Bureau of Land Management closed more than 1,000 acres of public land nearby to build a new recreation area.

Neighbors are concerned those illegally camping on that land in the past are now moving into Tonto. They also feel jurisdictional issues have led to inaction.

"We would just like to see the different entities, government agencies work collectively. It feels like they work in silos and they're not working together," said Colleen Campos, another Apache Junction resident.

ABC15 reached out to forestry offices and the Pinal County Sheriff’s Office for comment but did not hear back.

For the people who truly need shelter, residents hope more options are made available to them. There is not a single long-term homeless shelter anywhere in Pinal County.

For now, it is an issue residents have to tackle alone.

"It's a housing issue, it's mental health resources and all of that stuff that really truly is the true problem that has created a lot of this," said Johnson.

Copyright 2024 Scripps Media, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Apache Junction Unified school board votes to cut a majority of social workers

APACHE JUNCTION, AZ — Starting next school year, some of the offices of social workers may be empty in the Apache Junction Unified School District.On Tuesday, the board voted 4 to 1 to have a “reduction in force” for the 2024-25 school year. That list included social workers. A majority of these positions are being cut as district officials said they were funded by pandemic-era money called “ESSER” funds. That federal money runs out later this fall for all school districts.Superintendent Robert Pap...

APACHE JUNCTION, AZ — Starting next school year, some of the offices of social workers may be empty in the Apache Junction Unified School District.

On Tuesday, the board voted 4 to 1 to have a “reduction in force” for the 2024-25 school year. That list included social workers. A majority of these positions are being cut as district officials said they were funded by pandemic-era money called “ESSER” funds. That federal money runs out later this fall for all school districts.

Superintendent Robert Pappalardo said they had known this was coming, adding that the staff under the grant-funded positions knew it was not permanent. He added that they had hoped to get different funding for the social worker positions before having to make these cuts, but it didn’t work out in time.

“The employees know it was a one-time thing. It doesn’t make the effect of that any easier for anybody,” Pappalardo said.

Emily Phares, the district’s lead social worker also spoke out in the board meeting Tuesday.

“My question for the board is this: if we approve the elimination of social workers, who fills that void? Who will students turn to for their support when they or someone they care about experiences mental illness, substance abuse, domestic violence, divorce, deportation or physical abuse, sexual abuse, neglect…. Who meets those needs? To me, that’s what meeting kids needs first is what it’s all about. Students cannot learn when barriers go unresolved,” Phares said.

With the anticipation of this happening, Pappalardo said they also partnered with health organization Paper Crane to help provide counseling and therapy for kids to help fill the gaps, saying they are also on some school campuses.

However, parents and staff made their opposition heard by the school board.

“By eliminating social workers in our schools, you are limiting mental health supports. This will without question affect students well-being and academic performance,” parent and district-employee Brittni Stimson said in the board meeting, adding that her son utilizes the social worker and that she’s fearful of what would happen without one.

Pappalardo said out of seven of their social worker positions, only one or two are not funded by ESSER.

AJUSD is not alone in this decision, too. Just recently, the Dysart Unified School District also had to make cuts for the same reason.

“I think it's unfortunate that as a public school system in Arizona, we have to be dependent on outside resources to meet the needs of kids. That it should be fully funded by the state,” Pappalardo said.

In the meantime, he said they’ll try to continue to look for funding to keep social workers in the school district.

Copyright 2024 Scripps Media, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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U-Haul of Apache Junction to Host Grand Opening Friday

Company is hiring for 15 new jobs as it expands in the East ValleyAPACHE JUNCTION, Ariz. , Jan. 22, 2024 /PRNewswire/ -- U-Haul® Moving & Storage of Apache Junction at 3395 S. Idaho Road will host a grand-opening celebration this Friday to unveil the East Valley's newest indoor self-storage and retail facility.The Jan. 26 event is from 10 a.m. to noon and includes a free lunch for attendees. U-Haul will have local food trucks on site to provide free meals. There will also be tasty sandwiches from Apache Junction'...

Company is hiring for 15 new jobs as it expands in the East Valley

APACHE JUNCTION, Ariz. , Jan. 22, 2024 /PRNewswire/ -- U-Haul® Moving & Storage of Apache Junction at 3395 S. Idaho Road will host a grand-opening celebration this Friday to unveil the East Valley's newest indoor self-storage and retail facility.

The Jan. 26 event is from 10 a.m. to noon and includes a free lunch for attendees. U-Haul will have local food trucks on site to provide free meals. There will also be tasty sandwiches from Apache Junction's The Meat Slicer Deli, which serves as a local U-Haul dealer location. Lunch will be provided on a first-come basis.

Additionally, there will be U-Haul giveaways and behind-the-scenes facility tours of the three-story building, which holds 900 self-storage rooms with high-tech security features and climate-control options that are now available to rent.

The property also includes 144 covered RV spaces with electric hookups and a warehouse to store over 650 portable moving containers, allowing U-Haul to serve more customers and meet increased demand for its storage products.

U-Haul of Apache Junction Grand Opening

What:

Lunch, giveaways, tours, ribbon-cutting

When:

Friday, Jan. 26 from 10 a.m. to noon

Where:

3395 S. Idaho Road, Apache Junction, AZ 85119

Who:

Open to the public – just come by

U-Haul began construction of the Apache Junction facility in 2018. Customers have access to truck and trailer rentals, boxes and moving supplies, towing equipment, professional hitch installation, U-Box containers and more.

Reserve equipment on the U-Haul app or contact Reservations at 1-800-GO-UHAUL.

"The City of Apache Junction has been instrumental in supporting this project," said Andy Smith, U-Haul Company of Eastern Arizona president. "AJ is the gateway to the Valley of the Sun and people are moving to this area in droves. We're eager to support a growing community with the need-based products and services AJ residents have been demanding for years."

Do-it-yourself movers arriving in Apache Junction accounted for 51% of all one-way U-Haul traffic in and out of the market (49% departures) in 2023, making it one of the Valley's many growth cities.

"AJ is booming," added Smith. "The amount of residential and commercial development in the area is noticeable. It's no surprise either. AJ is a scenic place to live and is close to the best lakes in the East Valley. U-Haul looks forward to being a strong member of this community for many years to come."

Mysteries of UFOs, UAPs, Bigfoot at Feb. 19-25 event in Apache Junction

Posted Thursday, February 15, 2024 8:01 am Explore the mysteries of UFOs, UAPs, Bigfoot, Star People and other unexplained phenomena with an expert team of paranormal researchers, investigators and enthusiasts Feb. 19-25 in Apache Junction.Hosted by the Superstition Mountain & Lost Dutchman Museum, 4087 E. Apache Trail (State Route 88), TGAPtv presents Superstitions @ the Superstitions.Monday through Thursday: The museum grounds (excluding the Sky Watch area) will be open at 4 p.m. for access to vendors and the mu...

Posted Thursday, February 15, 2024 8:01 am

Explore the mysteries of UFOs, UAPs, Bigfoot, Star People and other unexplained phenomena with an expert team of paranormal researchers, investigators and enthusiasts Feb. 19-25 in Apache Junction.

Hosted by the Superstition Mountain & Lost Dutchman Museum, 4087 E. Apache Trail (State Route 88), TGAPtv presents Superstitions @ the Superstitions.

Monday through Thursday: The museum grounds (excluding the Sky Watch area) will be open at 4 p.m. for access to vendors and the museum gift shop. The Sky Watch area will open at 7:30 p.m. The program will begin at 8 p.m. The museum grounds will close no later than 10:30 p.m.

Friday through Sunday: The museum grounds will be closed at 3:30 p.m. to all but evening lecture ticket holders. The lecture area gate will open at 3:45 p.m. The parking lot gate will close at 4:15 p.m., so please be on time. The parking lot gate will reopen for Sky Watch only ticket holders at 7:30 p.m. The museum grounds will close no later than 10:30 p.m.

Lectures and Sky Watch details: Friday lecture, “UFO and UAP activity in the Superstition Mountains and Arizona.” Ty Goff and Jeff Grunow will discuss UFO/UAP activity in the Superstition Mountains and link the ancient world to the region. Goff will be explaining how the pyramids were built and recent findings in Arizona of hieroglyphics suggesting Egyptians were also involved in our area.

Saturday lecture: “Pueblo People, Star People, & Ancient Prophecy.” Ron Regehr, Alex Hern and Jeff Grunow will examine the “who, what, when, and where.”

Sunday Lecture: “Bigfoot.” Kevin Kheen, Alex Hern and Jeff Grunow will reveal insights about the history, myth, legend, and real-life experiences surrounding Bigfoot. They will also explore the idea that Bigfoot is linked to UFO activity.

Monday through Sunday: Sky Watch. High-powered telescope equipment will be used to view and identify unexplained moving “stars” seen with the naked eye. You’ll learn how to debunk most of what is seen, but question that which is unexplainable.

Tickets are available at revenue-usa.keela.co/tickets7 and at the museum gift shop. Tickets are also available by phone by calling 480-983-4888 option 3.

All Superstition Mountain Museum programs and presentations are subject to change. Go to superstitionmountainlostdutchmanmuseum.org for information.

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Pinal County, Apache Junction approve creation of Superstition Basin

Posted Monday, January 8, 2024 9:14 am Apache Junction and the Pinal County Flood Control District have approved the creation of Superstition Basin, an estimated $3.3 million stormwater retention area that will help reduce the effects of flooding in downtown Apache Junction.Under the plan passed by the Pinal County Board of Supervisors on Jan. 3 and the Apache Junction City Council on Dec. 5, 2023, a basin will be built just northeast of the downtown area on land owned by the county, just south of the current county complex,...

Posted Monday, January 8, 2024 9:14 am

Apache Junction and the Pinal County Flood Control District have approved the creation of Superstition Basin, an estimated $3.3 million stormwater retention area that will help reduce the effects of flooding in downtown Apache Junction.

Under the plan passed by the Pinal County Board of Supervisors on Jan. 3 and the Apache Junction City Council on Dec. 5, 2023, a basin will be built just northeast of the downtown area on land owned by the county, just south of the current county complex, according to a press release from the county. The project is expected to take several months, with the city and county splitting the estimated construction cost.

“The city has been working with the county for years to determine the best site for this project to help channel floodwaters from the periodic monsoon storms,” stated Jeff Serdy, District 5 supervisor for Pinal County and former mayor of Apache Junction, in the release. “I’ve seen what the storms do to homes and businesses downstream, so it is really gratifying to work with the city on this great plan.”

The city has continued to address flooding from washes that run through the city with stormwater from rains in the mountains northeast of Apache Junction.

“We know how important the downtown area is to our businesses and residents, so it was so important to find a solution to regular flooding we see from our summer monsoons,” Mayor Chip Wilson stated in the release. “We are working on long-term solutions, and this is another step closer to making our city safer and more attractive to new business.”

The location was chosen by the city and the Pinal County Flood Control District based on existing conditions, potential storage volume, and potential future multi-use features. The basin will be constructed in 2024 just east of Idaho Road and south of State Route 88, or North Apache Trail, in an area long designated as open space by the county, according to the release.

Under the plan, the basin will hold about 30 acre-feet, or 9.77 million gallons, of water. It will also have three levels: a main low-flow and sediment collection area and two levels for overflow storage and potential multi-use amenities for residents and visitors.

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