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Latest News in Ahwatukee, AZ

Boyd Bounces Back in 2021-22, 'Even More Excited' for Upcoming Season

Coyotes forward notched personal bests in multiple categories last year, excited for training camp to kick offAs the NHL offseason begins to wind down, the number of players skating together at the Ice Den continues to increase.Informal skates or not, Coyotes center Travis Boyd competes to win.That internal drive has helped Boyd, who ...

Coyotes forward notched personal bests in multiple categories last year, excited for training camp to kick off

As the NHL offseason begins to wind down, the number of players skating together at the Ice Den continues to increase.

Informal skates or not, Coyotes center Travis Boyd competes to win.

That internal drive has helped Boyd, who inked a two-year extension with Arizona last March, set career-bests last season in games played (74), goals (17), assists (18), points (35) and average time on ice (16:31), among other categories.

The 28-year-old plans to contribute even more this season, and he's been practicing with teammates, former teammates, and even other NHL players who are training in The Valley throughout the summer.

"Everyone's ultra-competitive, so you get out there and you start playing some 3-on-3 games or whatever, and you want to win," Boyd said after a recent session at the Ice Den. "You don't want to get embarrassed; you want to go out there and do your best. They're really good skates, and they should pay dividends once training camp gets going."

Following his senior year at the University of Minnesota - where he played two seasons with new Coyotes forward Nick Bjugstad - Boyd spent three seasons with the Washington Capitals and one split between the Toronto Maple Leafs and Vancouver Canucks before landing in Arizona.

His time with each of those teams was mostly in a bottom-six role (or in the AHL), and when he arrived in the desert a little over a year ago, things started out on the same path.

That's when Boyd elevated his play, centering one of the Coyotes' most productive lines between Clayton Keller and Nick Schmaltz. The rapid progression of his game not only helped him finish fifth on the team with 35 points, but also earned him the aforementioned extension.

It was a long time coming.

"I just wanted an opportunity going into last year, and I was lucky enough to get it," Boyd said. "What I'm most proud about is just taking advantage of that opportunity, showing that I can play in that role, and it makes me even more excited for this year by just looking back and thinking where I started last year as a player."

His steady rise in production was no accident. After recording just one point in the month of October, Boyd notched seven points in 12 November games, five points in six December games, and another seven points in 13 January games.

That maturation came naturally, and as the point output started to increase, so did his confidence level.

"If you look at where I started the year in October and November, and the plays I was making -- or not making for that matter -- compared to March and April of last year, it was night and day difference," Boyd said. "Obviously Keller and Schmaltz are elite, really good players, but at the same time, I think I've always viewed myself as someone who can play with those players and fit right in."

That progress did come with some unintended consequences, as well. Boyd's increased time on ice throughout last season took its toll, so that made skating and conditioning a focal point of his offseason routine.

It's much needed, too, because his presence brings a stability to the Coyotes that's meaningful not only to Boyd, but also his teammates. In turn, the Hopkins, Minn. native said he expects the club to surprise some of the pundits this season, especially as the team's younger players look to advance in their development.

"There's a lot of young guys here, and those young guys got a lot of experience last year," Boyd said. "They played in some pretty big roles, and I would expect those young guys to hopefully take a step forward as well."

This season marks a lot of new territory for the Coyotes, who are set to move into their temporary home, Arizona State's Mullett Arena, when the season begins this fall.

Despite the unknowns, though, Boyd is excited to be a constant in the desert for the next few years, and is looking forward to what the upcoming season has to offer.

"There's not a doubt in my mind that hockey, and the NHL, will survive here. I'm excited," Boyd said. "I expect that arena to be packed every night, and I expect it to be loud.

"It's going to be a lot of fun to play in those games."

Ahwatukee community rallies around neighbor living without AC for 3 years

Neighbors stepped in to help Bill Klesenski’s after finding out his AC unit hasn’t been working for three years and he couldn’t afford a new one or a repair.AHWATUKEE, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) -- An Ahwatukee neighborhood is stepping up after learning about a man who has been living in his home without air conditioning for the last three years. “If it was my parent I would want the same thing. He has no family, no kids, a sister that lives in New York,” said Kim Steinwinder.Steinwinder lives across th...

Neighbors stepped in to help Bill Klesenski’s after finding out his AC unit hasn’t been working for three years and he couldn’t afford a new one or a repair.

AHWATUKEE, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) -- An Ahwatukee neighborhood is stepping up after learning about a man who has been living in his home without air conditioning for the last three years. “If it was my parent I would want the same thing. He has no family, no kids, a sister that lives in New York,” said Kim Steinwinder.

Steinwinder lives across the street from Bill Klesenski, a 70-year-old retired architect with Gravis disease. “In 2012, I was diagnosed with Gravis; it wasn’t as bad as this,” explained Klesenski. “I can’t sketch, I can’t draw, it’s gone. It’s all I ever was.”

Steinwinder said she didn’t know much about her neighbor, other than that he’s been living alone since his wife passed in 2015. But, on Sunday, she saw on her surveillance camera that he showed up at her door. “When my oldest son came home I said, ‘who is this man?’ He said, ‘mom that’s Bill.’ Immediately alarms went off,” Steinwinder said. “I came over here, I’m pounding on the door, ringing the doorbell — nothing. Banging on the garage — nothing. So I went to the backyard.”

She discovered Klesenski was living in the back room of his house. “During the summer I live in the one room in the back that I can have a window unit,” he said.

Klesenski said he didn’t mean to knock on Steinwinder’s door. “I saw a portable unit in their next-door neighbor’s garage, so I went over and asked if he wanted to sell it,” Klesenski explained.

However, it turns out, Steinwinder’s door may have been the right door to knock on all along. After hearing that Klesenski’s AC unit hasn’t been working for three years and he couldn’t afford a new one or a repair, she posted his story on Ahwatukee411. That’s when the owner of Aragon Airvac Heating and Cooling reached out to her.

“I just said hey, I’m available. I can come out to you. I won’t charge you guys. Sounds like you have a situation where we just need a second opinion,” said Austin Aragon. “I felt like, I could do this and I should do this and give back to my community, give back to Bill.”

Aragon looked at Klesenski’s air conditioner and saw that he needed a new compressor. “Realistically I could have maybe ordered a new compressor and put a Bandaid on it, but the cost of a repair versus a replacement, it just didn’t make sense,” said Aragon. “I want to make sure this is done properly so that bill doesn’t have to worry about this for the next ten years.”

Aragon and Steinwinder set up a GoFundMe to help pay for the new unit and any other expenses Klesenki may need help with. “Anything over and above that $6,000, it has been decided amongst Austin and I, that it will go towards doing what we need to do for Mr. Bill — providing extra filters for the home, he has agreed to let me come in and clean the house and get the dust out and get things organized to make it a better living condition for him,” said Steinwinder.

Klesenski says he never thought his community would step up for him like this. “I’ve never won like a lottery. I’ve heard of crowdfunding but I never thought that it was real, not for me,” Klesenski said. “I never wanted to be a burden on anyone.”

Aragon hopes to have Klesenski’s new AC unit installed this weekend or early next week.

Copyright 2022 KTVK/KPHO. All rights reserved.

Ahwatukee studio offers film, other lessons for kids

Kema Charles, founder and executive director of the new Arizona nonprofit Lights, Camera, Discover, has labored diligently for months to prepare her expansive Ahwatukee studio for youthful students.Located at 4825 E. Warner, Suite 11, it is now completed, and she’s already signing up local children for their inaugural summer session – where they’ll be taught rudiments of video and film production.From screenwriting to acting, directing, filming and editing, children ages 9 years and up can discover opportuniti...

Kema Charles, founder and executive director of the new Arizona nonprofit Lights, Camera, Discover, has labored diligently for months to prepare her expansive Ahwatukee studio for youthful students.

Located at 4825 E. Warner, Suite 11, it is now completed, and she’s already signing up local children for their inaugural summer session – where they’ll be taught rudiments of video and film production.

From screenwriting to acting, directing, filming and editing, children ages 9 years and up can discover opportunities to grow during their week-long summer program July 11 through July 15.

Online registration for the summer program is currently underway and there is no charge.

Charles said classes and programs at the 11-year-old nonprofit are always free to attend although there is usually a class size limit.

“No, there is never a charge for our programs. We never want a family to feel their child can attend due to financial reasons. And we never want a kid that can pay versus those that can not pay feel like they are on a different level than one another. That is why we ask for donations. If a family wants to give they can do so in the form of a donation, not a registration fee. We are all the same and we will all be treated the same,” she said, smiling broadly.

Her work won recognition from the Festival of Lights Committee, which designated it as one of three beneficiaries – along with the Foothills and Club West HOAs – of the proceeds from last Friday’s Wine and Beer Festival.

Charles’ inaugural July session has space for 30 students ages 9 and up. Lunch and snacks are provided for the daily 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. classes.

Charles said students will learn the basics of filmmaking and animation while at the same time incorporating anti-bullying and social awareness campaigns into their own projects, individually and in groups.

And they will showcase their projects for family and friends at an event called “Final Screening” July 16, at the LCD studio.

“Whether their aim is to be an actor, a director, an animator, a photographer or a film producer, there is a program at LCD that will fit them,” said Charles, a Tempe resident.

The Ahwatukee studio is the second one Charles is currently operating in Arizona. After a forced COVID hiatus, her Tempe LCD will reopen this fall.

Charles also operates an LCD studio in Chicago. She said “a solid team” of qualified staff members enables her to keep the three running efficiently.

She said there’s a lot more to Lights, Camera, Discover than what meets the casual viewer’s eye.

“It’s not only about how you can make a film or public service announcement, it’s how you can apply what you learn to everyday life,” said Charles.

“It opens up their minds, and whether their dream is to be an actor, a director, an animator, a photographer or a film producer, there’s a program here at Lights, Camera, Discover that will capture their imagination.”

Weekday courses at the new Ahwatukee facility will be initiated after their week-long summer program ends and the local school schedule resumes.

Besides after-school LCD programs for ages 8 and up, LCD has partnered with Best Buy for a six-week, once-a-week class in coding this fall. The dates are currently being decided and will be posted, along with the available after-school classes, on her website LightsCameraDiscover.org.

Prior to opening their two Arizona studios and classrooms, Lights, Camera, Discover was in Pensacola, Florida.

Charles first discovered her own acting talents in Orlando, going on to act in 2000-2002 TV series “Sheena” and producing her own film in 2007.

She also served as director of operations for a filmmaking program in Abuja, Nigeria before founding her first LCD in 2011 in Los Angeles. Since 2013, she has launched Lights, Camera, Discover in four different states.

At 9,600 square feet, the Ahwatukee location is the largest LCD site to date. Charles said she chose the larger space purposely with the hopes that the rental venue might augment income.

“We have 3,200 square feet in our venue for renting out. Our classrooms and office space take up the remainder,” she said. “The potential income from the rental space helps us not to have to rely 100% on donations and grants.”

An extraordinary grant appeared as an early 2022 Christmas present.

Last December 6, Lights, Camera, Discover students and the founder were surprised with the presentation of a $100,000 grant, in oversized check form, presented by Suns guard Devin Booker at a press conference prior to a Phoenix Suns game against the Spurs.

He also presented the new cameras and laptops to the five LCD students attending who thought they were there for a meet-and-greet only.

Charles said they were all deeply touched at Booker’s largesse.

Charles explained a question on the registration form that may flummox some parents. It asks if the family is currently receiving public assistance.

“We work with all students. We are a very diverse program,” said Charles of her nonprofit. “In our application we do have a line asking about financial assistance, we ask that question in order to be a QCO (Arizona Tax Credit); we must ask these questions in order to qualify.”

To sign up for the week-long summer session, see their Programs page on their website at LightsCameraDiscover.org.

Coyotes Announce New ECHL Affiliation Agreement with Atlanta Gladiators

As announced by General Manager Bill ArmstrongFOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Thursday, August 25, 2022SCOTTSDALE, ARIZONA - Arizona Coyotes General Manager Bill Armstrong announced today that the Coyotes have signed a new affiliation agreement with the Atlanta Gladiators of the ECHL beginning with the 2022-23 season. The Gladiators previously served as the Ottawa Senators' ECHL affiliate in 2021-2022."We are very pleased to once again partner with the Atlanta Gladiators as our new ECHL affiliate," said ...

As announced by General Manager Bill Armstrong

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Thursday, August 25, 2022

SCOTTSDALE, ARIZONA - Arizona Coyotes General Manager Bill Armstrong announced today that the Coyotes have signed a new affiliation agreement with the Atlanta Gladiators of the ECHL beginning with the 2022-23 season. The Gladiators previously served as the Ottawa Senators' ECHL affiliate in 2021-2022.

"We are very pleased to once again partner with the Atlanta Gladiators as our new ECHL affiliate," said Armstrong. "The Gladiators are a first-class organization with a loyal and passionate fan base. We look forward to working with Gladiators President Jerry James and Head Coach Jeff Pyle this season."

"We're incredibly excited to be partnering with the Arizona Coyotes and the Tucson Roadrunners as our NHL and AHL affiliates," said Gladiators President Jerry James. "The Coyotes organization has done a phenomenal job developing young players, and we're thrilled to be a part of that pipeline."

"I'm excited to work with Arizona," said Head Coach Jeff Pyle. "They have a lot of good young talent, great people to work with, and they will be an exciting team to watch. We look forward to working with their prospects and creating opportunities for them to develop."

This will be the second time the Gladiators franchise has been an affiliate with the Coyotes, as the clubs previously had a partnership from 2011-15.

The Gladiators franchise is entering its 26th season in the ECHL and plays its home games at Gas South Arena in Duluth, GA. Atlanta, who is one of 28 teams that competes in the ECHL, plays in the South Division of the Eastern Conference. The franchise began play in 1995-96 as the Mobile Mysticks and have since rebranded to the Gwinnett Gladiators (2003-15) and Atlanta Gladiators (2015-present). The franchise has captured three division championships (2005-06, 2011-12, 2012-13) and one conference championship (2005-06).

Pyle has been the Head Coach of the Gladiators since 2018-19, while also serving various hockey operations roles. He previously was the team's bench boss from 1998-11 before leaving to be the Head Coach of the AHL's Texas Stars. During his ECHL coaching career, Pyle has recorded 580 wins and coached 1,137 games to rank second in League history in both categories. Pyle also played 12 seasons of professional hockey in the AHL, ACHL, IHL and in Germany.

Atlanta will open the 2022-23 season on October 21 at home against the defending Kelly Cup champion Florida Everblades at Gas South Arena.

Planning panel OKs Chandler Boulevard reclassification

The arrival of Ahwatukee’s largest new subdivision in years is one step closer to reality after the Ahwatukee Village Planning Committee on June 27 recommended city acceptance of the developer’s request to downgrade the classification of two segments of Chandler Boulevard so they won’t have to be widened.With seven of the committee members absent, the panel voted 5-3 on the request by Reserve 100 LLC and Blandford Homes, its parent, moving the matter to the city Planning Commission for its recommendation on Aug. 4 be...

The arrival of Ahwatukee’s largest new subdivision in years is one step closer to reality after the Ahwatukee Village Planning Committee on June 27 recommended city acceptance of the developer’s request to downgrade the classification of two segments of Chandler Boulevard so they won’t have to be widened.

With seven of the committee members absent, the panel voted 5-3 on the request by Reserve 100 LLC and Blandford Homes, its parent, moving the matter to the city Planning Commission for its recommendation on Aug. 4 before heading to City Council for approval on Sept. 7.

The action involved the newly named Upper Canyon development, which had been called Canyon Reserve until last week – several months after the developers were told that another Ahwatukee community is named Canyon Reserve.

Upper Canyon comprises 1,050 mostly single-family houses, 150 townhomes and 329 apartments on 373 acres of former state land for which Blandford paid $175.5 million at a state Land Department auction in early 2021.

Located along Chandler Boulevard between 27th and 19th avenues, the land was rezoned years ago for large single-family residential and some multifamily and commercial development.

What the developer is seeking is a General Plan amendment reclassifying Chandler Boulevard and 27th Avenue, which in effect would retain their current width.

That likelihood raised a question about access to some of the neighborhoods west of the development in the event of an emergency, but Executive Assistant Fire Chief Scott Walker told the committee he saw no reason for concern.

Stating “there’s always an outlier” neighborhood in the city, Walker said, “The roads are such that we can generally get around.

“Obviously, if it was catastrophic, we can get resources into these areas through other means,” he continued. “If someone’s having a medical condition, there’s always air resources we could use for those very rare outliers…Obviously we’re not seeing hazardous materials transported along that road.”

City staff had recommended committee approval of the roads’ reclassification, and a traffic impact analysis by Kimley-Horn supported it.

Jennifer Meyers, a representative of Norris Designs, the developer’s zoning consultant, said the reclassification of the Chandler Boulevard and 27th Avenue segments that form part of Upper Canyon’s boundaries was compatible with other streets in the area.

She also noted that the Arizona Department of Transportation’s decision years ago to eliminate its plan for a South Mountain Freeway interchange at 25th Avenue – a move requested by Phoenix officials – reduced the likelihood of much of an increase in traffic on Chandler Boulevard in years to come.

“The interchange was constructed at 17th Avenue so traffic going west of 17th Avenue is considerably less than if the interchange was built at 25th Avenue,” Meyers said. “The reduction of the number of planned lanes on West Chandler Boulevard will right-size it for the forecasted level of traffic and make it more in keeping with the continuation of West Shaughnessy Road,” Meyers said.

Though 11 neighbors had protested the reclassification, mainly because of concerns about traffic, Meyers said the developer’s design “seems like a win-win for everybody.”

She said the developer will provide 28 parallel parking spaces at the Preserve trailhead, a signed and striped pedestrian crossing at 19th Avenue and Chandler Boulevard, and two bike lanes and a sidewalk along the southern edge of Chandler Boulevard.

Meyers also said that Foothills Reserve HOA may seek a similar General Plan amendment to reclassify and keep the existing width of West Shaughnessy Road west of Chandler Boulevard.

Blandford Homes Vice President Tom Lemmon said that once Liberty Lane is extended through Upper Canyon to Chandler Boulevard, it “will act in some ways as a reliever on West Chandler Boulevard” for eastbound traffic from places like Promontory.

He said people coming from communities west of Upper Canyon will drive along Shaughnessy Road, head to Liberty Lane and cross over to 17th Avenue, eventually hooking up with the freeway.

“It’ll just feel pretty seamless,” Lemmon said.

“We’ve also heard that speeding is an issue on West Chandler Boulevard,” Meyers said” and in our mind, increasing the lanes are just going to increase the speed.”

Meyers also addressed other issues, including some residents’ complaints of the lack of any clear plan for retail and commercial development.

About 44 acres zoned for apartments or condos and 11 commercial-zoned acres are located in the southeast

corner of the tract near 29th Avenue and the freeway, although an appraisal

done for the state Land Department said that zoning could be moved around within the development’s boundaries with little problem.

Some residents say that the absence of retail, such as a gas station or supermarket, adversely impacts the quality of life for people living in Ahwatukee’s western-most communities, such as Promontory and Foothills Reserve.

While acknowledging the residents’ concerns about retail, Meyers had nothing to say about them.

Many of the committee members’ concerns focused on the trailhead parking, with some calling it a “bad design” because drivers in vehicles parked in the spaces that run parallel along Chandler Boulevard would be opening their doors with moving vehicles coming up behind them. Meyers noted that there would be about a foot between the edge of the parking space and the boulevard curb.

Another committee member was concerned that vehicles leaving the parking area would be making U-turns on Chandler Boulevard, posing the possibility of frequent accidents.

Meyers replied, “We worked with the city and that was actually a request by the city.”

Some committee members thought highly of the plan to leave Chandler Boulevard’s width unchanged, saying it would reduce the heat island in that area and prevent more motorists from speeding even faster than many do already.

But others acknowledged that many residents had numerous concerns about safety and traffic issues related to retaining the current width.

“It’s a long stretch of road,” one member said about the South Chandler Boulevard portion. “You’re going to speed whether it’s two lanes or four lanes – let’s be honest – because there’s literally only one turn (onto) Liberty Lane. That’s the only thing that breaks a 2.1-mile stretch.

“So I’m just looking at it from a safety impact. I get the economics. The economics are: less land you dedicate to building roadways, the more land you keep for the project – slightly larger lot sizes, maybe some premium lots.”

Lemmon said Blandford hopes to begin construction by the end of the year and start selling houses by 2024.

That led to a question about heavy construction equipment moving to and from the site along Chandler Boulevard as well as nearly 24/7 noise.

“We’re going to have an endless amount of tractor trailers hauling preformed trusses, things like that,” one member said. “So you’ve got a two-lane road in and out of western Ahwatukee that’s largely going to be dominated by heavy equipment and heavy trucks actually for years at all hours of the day and night.”

Lemmon replied, “I’d phrase it a little differently, but the short answer is yes.”

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