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Latest News in Casa Grande, AZ

Heavy Vehicle Truck Traffic Restricted on I-10 Phoenix, Casa Grande

By ADOTTo promote safety on a 20-mile segment of Interstate 10 between Phoenix and Casa Grande, the Arizona Department of Transportation in collaboration with the Department of Public Safety is installing new signage that will restrict heavy vehicle truck traffic on this busy section of highway. Truck traffic will be restricted to the right lane only.The signs are an interim safety measure along the final two-lane stretch of I-10 between Phoenix and Tucson that has yet to be widened to three lanes in each direction.This ...

By ADOT

To promote safety on a 20-mile segment of Interstate 10 between Phoenix and Casa Grande, the Arizona Department of Transportation in collaboration with the Department of Public Safety is installing new signage that will restrict heavy vehicle truck traffic on this busy section of highway. Truck traffic will be restricted to the right lane only.

The signs are an interim safety measure along the final two-lane stretch of I-10 between Phoenix and Tucson that has yet to be widened to three lanes in each direction.

This segment has safety concerns due to heavy traffic flow and truck traffic. The right-lane restriction for heavy vehicle truck traffic is intended to help reduce crashes, along with the resulting delays and closures due to these incidents.

Based on data for the area where the signs are being posted, heavy vehicles were involved in about 20 percent of crashes and 15 percent of rear-end and sideswipe crashes.

The signs are intended to be in place until an improvement project kicks off to widen this segment of I-10. The first step is expected in 2023 with the replacement of bridges that carry traffic over the Gila River, following required environmental review and clearance. Also, ADOT is working closely with the Gila River Indian Community and the Maricopa Association of Governments to secure federal funding, to add to committed state funding, for work that could be completed as early as 2026.

The signs restricting heavy vehicle truck traffic to the right lane only are similar to those that ADOT has employed elsewhere, including I-17 north of Black Canyon City. Sign installation began Monday and is expected to continue through this week.

ADOT has worked to coordinate the interim safety measure with the Arizona Department of Public Safety and the Arizona Trucking Association. As is the case with other traffic control measures, ADOT will closely monitor traffic operations now that the signs and right-lane restrictions are in place.

For more information about plans to widen I-10 between Phoenix and Casa Grande, please visit http://i10wildhorsepasscorridor.com/.

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Trucks to be restricted to one I-10 lane between Casa Grande, Phoenix

Arizona plans to restrict all trucks to the right lane of Interstate 10 in a 20-mile stretch between Casa Grande and Phoenix.It’s billed as a way to improve safety. But the head of the Arizona Trucking Association, Anthony Bradley, says the plan is nothing short of stupid.And he scoffed at the Arizona Department of Transportation’s claim it “coordinated’’ the plan with his organization.The idea stems from accidents along the 20-mile stretch that has yet to be widened to three lanes in each d...

Arizona plans to restrict all trucks to the right lane of Interstate 10 in a 20-mile stretch between Casa Grande and Phoenix.

It’s billed as a way to improve safety. But the head of the Arizona Trucking Association, Anthony Bradley, says the plan is nothing short of stupid.

And he scoffed at the Arizona Department of Transportation’s claim it “coordinated’’ the plan with his organization.

The idea stems from accidents along the 20-mile stretch that has yet to be widened to three lanes in each direction, says ADOT spokesman Garin Groff.

Heavy vehicles were involved in about 20% of crashes in that corridor and 15% of rear-end and sideswipe accidents, the department says. And when there are accidents, the interstate can end up being closed to everyone.

“This is an attempt to try to reduce the number of heavy truck-related incidents in the area,’’ Groff said.

Bradley, however, said that’s making a presumption the truckers were at fault.

“We let them know that a lot of those accidents were probably the fault of the speeding cars that are traveling recklessly throughout that corridor,’’ he said. “Moving all the trucks to the right-hand lane doesn’t solve that problem.’’

He has another concern. The slowest vehicle in the right lane sets the pace for everyone behind. So a truck following someone towing a motorhome at 45 mph — where the speed limit is set at 75 — has no choice but to play follow-the-leader for the entire 20-mile stretch. And everyone behind is slowed to the same crawl.

This isn’t a short-term issue.

Signs are already going up informing truckers of the restrictions, which will empower Department of Public Safety officers to ticket errant drivers under a section of law that makes it illegal not to obey traffic signs.

ADOT says the signs will remain up until additional lanes are added in each direction. But the target for completing the construction isn’t until sometime in 2026, even though lawmakers approved a $400 million infusion this year to speed up the work.

In a news release, ADOT said it worked to coordinate the plan with the Arizona Trucking Association. But Bradley said that’s overstating the input his organization got in the decision.

“’Coordinate’ is probably the wrong term,’’ he said. “They informed us of their decision. We informed them of, frankly, the stupidity of the decision.’’

Bradley also said ADOT rejected ideas that would minimize the impact on truck traffic, and to deal with the backups that could result.

“We had asked that, if they were going to do it, that they create some space for us to have passing ability,’’ short breaks in that 20-mile stretch where a truck could legally get around a slow-moving vehicle, he said.

He said his organization also suggested reducing the trucks-in-right-lane-only stretch to something less than 20 miles.

“They listened to us and obviously are doing what they believe they need to do,’’ Bradley said, chiding the department for its decision.

He said he foresees other complicating factors in the ADOT decision that actually could make the traffic and safety situation even worse.

“You’re going to have passenger vehicles in the left-hand lane holding up people,’’ as the trucks occupy the right lane, he said.

“People are going to get frustrated,’’ Bradley continued. “They’re going to have no place to go, and they’re going to continue to cause accidents.’’

Groff said ADOT “will be monitoring the situation if there are unintended consequences.’’

“And we’ll make adjustments if needed,’’ he said.

Early rains a setback to wheat harvest

The monsoon has arrived, and for wheat farmers like Dennis Palmer, it’s a little too early.“It’s really screwed things up,” he said Wednesday.In November, Palmer sowed 700 acres of Desert Duram wheat, a little more than usual.But before his contracted harvesters could finish combining, the Father’s Day storm rolled in.While the 185 or so acres of standing wheat was just beginning to dry, Tuesday’s drencher set harvest back once more.“We’ve never seen the monso...

The monsoon has arrived, and for wheat farmers like Dennis Palmer, it’s a little too early.

“It’s really screwed things up,” he said Wednesday.

In November, Palmer sowed 700 acres of Desert Duram wheat, a little more than usual.

But before his contracted harvesters could finish combining, the Father’s Day storm rolled in.

While the 185 or so acres of standing wheat was just beginning to dry, Tuesday’s drencher set harvest back once more.

“We’ve never seen the monsoon this early,” Palmer said. “I’m 68 years old, and I’ve seen a lot of monsoons.”

Besides turning fields to mud and prolonging the sale of a crop, the rain can also affect the grain’s color.

A kernel of wheat usually has a light brown color, Palmer explained.

When it gets rained on, it turns white, or “bleachy,” he said. And that means the folks buying the grain won’t pay as much.

The reason kernel color is so important is because most of Arizona’s wheat ends up in pasta.

And discriminating customers expect constancy.

Kernels of wisdom

Although the 2022 wheat harvest is going a little differently than other years, Arizona farmers have grown wheat for more than a century.

The superior quality of Arizona’s durum wheat is recognized globally. About half of Arizona’s patented Desert Durum crop is exported.

But before it makes it that far, it has to get plucked from the field. And weather can, as Palmer said earlier, really screw things up for wheat farmers.

On Monday, Randy Norton, the local extension office’s interim regional director for Cochise and Graham counties, sat in his pickup as rain poured down, talking on his cell.

“Rain is always a two-edged sword,” he said. “It’s much needed and much wanted by the local growers,” he said, but he admitted that storms can wreak havoc for wheat farmers.

“[The] crop gets wet, and they can’t harvest it,” Norton said.

If harvest gets too prolonged, wheat can “shatter,” or drop its valuable kernels, he added.

Then there’s the wind issue, which can “lodge” fields, laying the stalks over and flattening them. Combines may have to run against the natural direction of the crop to salvage the harvest, causing crop loss.

Excess moisture can also cause pathogen growth on the wheat heads, where the kernels lie.

“Most of the wheat I’ve seen there in the [Gila] Valley is pretty short,” Norton said, to minimize the impact of wind.

The right hue

Eric Wilkey has worked for Arizona Grain in Casa Grande for 33 years. He’s seen a lot of bushels of wheat come and go through the private company, which acts as a wholesaler for local wheat producers. Most of the wheat they process is exported for premium pasta flour, and Wilkey knows what buyers want.

It isn’t bleached-out kernels, either.

“We’re concerned at this point that we don’t have repeated rains on this crop,” he said Wednesday.

He estimated about 20 percent of the area’s wheat crop was still in the field; he thinks the monsoon is a week to 10 days earlier than normal.

A sprinkle of rain here and there won’t affect a harvest, but sustained rains will cause the wheat to lighten, Wilkey said, which produces a pasta that is a pale instead of a golden yellow.

Imagine the way that pasta changes in boiling water, he suggested. It gets lighter the more water it absorbs.

Overall, Wilkey said there hasn’t been a large impact to wheat quality from the rain; however, Palmer said he would have to separate his two harvests into different bins, as one would be a higher grade than the other due to the drenching.

Once wheat is transferred to bulk storehouses like Arizona Grain, it’s inspected by USDA workers who grade the quality, weigh the grain, measure moisture and protein content, and examine the ratio of foreign or included materials. Farmers are paid according to the color, weight, protein content and cleanliness of the wheat.

“Protein [content] is typically an indicator of either quality or quantity or both,” Wilkes said.

Imagine your kid’s macaroni and cheese, he continued. Lower quality pasta is made with lower-quality wheat, which leaves specs called “checks” in the finished product. These look like light-colored dots in the pasta, and they indicate a low gluten strength which makes the pasta come apart in boiling water.

Wilkey acknowledged the ticket to the perfect pasta really starts with the grower: He’s worked with multi-generational farms during his three decades at Arizona Grain.

“The Arizona farmer is really somebody pretty special,” Wilkes said.

“A grower, he’s gotta be a scientist, and a gambler to some degree,” he explained.

Monsoon 2022: Where to get sandbags around the Valley, Flagstaff

--> Sorry, we're having issues playing this video.In the meantime, try watching one of the videos below.Arizona's monsoon occurs between June 15 and September 30 each year, bringing the threat of strong storms and flooding.Our state experienced a very wet monsoon in 2021 — the 9th wettest season on record — but what's in store for this year?The National Weather Service says "there is a slight tilt in odds toward a wetter than normal monsoon across southern Arizona," but for the rest of th...

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Sorry, we're having issues playing this video.In the meantime, try watching one of the videos below.

Arizona's monsoon occurs between June 15 and September 30 each year, bringing the threat of strong storms and flooding.

Our state experienced a very wet monsoon in 2021 — the 9th wettest season on record — but what's in store for this year?

The National Weather Service says "there is a slight tilt in odds toward a wetter than normal monsoon across southern Arizona," but for the rest of the state, we have equal chances of any precipitation outcome — above, near, or below-normal precipitation.

Cities around the Valley and state offer sandbags to help you protect your property in the event of heavy rain.

Click the interactive map below to find locations near you, or check the list of locations posted beneath the map.

Apache Junction/Gold CanyonThere are three locations where free sandbag resources are provided. You'll need to bring your own tools.

AvondalePublic Works offers residents pre-filled sandbags at the following locations:

BuckeyeSand will be available at the Public Works yard located at 23454 W. MC 85. You must bring your own bags and shovels. More information on storm safety will be posted here.

Cave CreekCave Creek will be offering sandbags by appointment only to residents. Call the Town of Cave Creek Marshal’s Office at 480-488-6636.

Fountain HillsSandbags will be available at Fire Station 1, located at 16426 E Palisades Blvd. Fire station personnel will fill and load bags for residents with a six-bag limit.

FlagstaffThe City of Flagstaff and the Coconino County Flood Control District are helping residents in neighborhoods downstream of the Museum Fire burn scar prepare for the 2022 monsoon season by placing pallets of new sandbags and trash bins throughout neighborhoods, which residents can use to repair their sandbag walls. Materials will be available from May 13 through July 1, 2022. If residents are unable to make necessary repairs to their emergency sandbag mitigation due to being elderly or having a disability, they can call 928-213-2102 starting May 24 to request assistance. A self-fill location is located at 2625 King Street. For more information, click here.

GilbertGilbert has sand and sandbags at several fire stations. Please bring your own shovel.

GlendaleThe city has a website for storm safety resources and will provide sandbag resources at three locations during inclement weather:

GoodyearAccording to their website, residents must bring a shovel to fill up sandbags that are provided at three locations:

MesaThe city of Mesa will provide fill-your-own and pre-filled sandbags.

Fill-your-own bags:

Pre-filled bags:

PeoriaPeoria has sand and sandbags located at various fire stations. They provide the bags and sand but please bring a shovel and someone who can fill the bags. The locations are:

PhoenixThe City of Phoenix is providing sandbags on an as-needed basis. When that determination is made, a list of locations will be provided online, here.

"Sand will only be available when there is a definite need and will be dispatched to areas impacted by the storm. When the sand distribution is activated a list of locations will appear on this page. Supplies are limited. You must bring your own bags and shovels," the site says.

Pinal CountyPinal County offers sandbags and sand at multiple locations. You’ll need to bring your own shovel and there is a limit of 25 bags per household. Officials suggest calling ahead to make sure someone is on-site. Click here for full site info, hours and contacts for each site.

Queen CreekThe city will be offering sandbag resources at Fire Station 2 located at 24787 S. Sossaman Rd.

SurpriseThe city offers sandbags after major rain events. You'll need to bring your own shovel, according to the website.

TempeThe City of Tempe has sand and bags available at two locations throughout the monsoon (June 15 through Sept. 30). The bags can be picked up 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Prior to a major storm event, bags are available on a first-come, first-served basis. Remember to bring a shovel and a helper. The two locations are:

WickenburgA limited number of sandbags are available at the Town's Maintenance Shop, 500 Coney Orosco Drive.

This list is not exhaustive, and some municipalities did not respond as of the time of this publishing. Be sure to check with your local government to see what resources are available to you during monsoon storms.

Sun Belt cities boom as major cities bleed population

More than half of American cities registered a loss of population over the last year as people flocked to suburbs and exurbs in what demographers say is among the first signs that pandemic-era attitudes have shifted for good.New figures from the U.S. Census Bureau and the real estate tracking firm Zillow show that smaller suburbs were more likely to add new population over the last year, at...

More than half of American cities registered a loss of population over the last year as people flocked to suburbs and exurbs in what demographers say is among the first signs that pandemic-era attitudes have shifted for good.

New figures from the U.S. Census Bureau and the real estate tracking firm Zillow show that smaller suburbs were more likely to add new population over the last year, at the expense of the big metropolitan cities they border.

The two cities that registered the fastest growth in the last year, Georgetown and Leander, Texas, are both suburbs of Austin. In both cases, their populations grew by 10 percent. New Braunfels, Texas, south of Austin and north of San Antonio, saw its population grow to 98,857, up 8.3 percent from last year.

The Phoenix suburbs of Queen Creek, Buckeye and Maricopa, Ariz., along with exurban Casa Grande, all landed among the 10 fastest-growing cities. So did North Port, Fla., between Sarasota and Fort Myers, and Spring Hill, Tenn., south of Nashville.

Boise, Idaho, added just 1,617 residents last year, but three suburbs — Meridian, Caldwell and Nampa — all saw their populations grow by more than 5 percent.

San Antonio, Phoenix, Fort Worth, Texas, and Port St. Lucie, Fla., all added more than 10,000 residents in the last year, more than any other place in the country, as Americans continue to flock to Sun Belt states. Those cities are large enough that their overall population increases did not land them on the list of fastest-growing cities.

The Census Bureau population figures show that some of the nation’s largest cities also registered the largest population declines last year. More than 305,000 people moved out of New York City, a larger total population decline than any other city. San Francisco registered the largest population decrease by percentage, dropping 6.3 percent for a decline of 54,000 people.

Los Angeles and Chicago each lost more than 40,000 residents. Among the nation’s 10 largest cities, only San Antonio and Phoenix grew.

At the same time, suburban areas outside those major metropolitan cities are among the hottest housing markets in the country, according to data from Zillow.

While Seattle’s population dropped by 4,200 residents last year, two of the five most popular real estate markets in the country are in Seattle’s northern suburbs of Edmonds and Woodinville. The populations of Washington, D.C., and Alexandria, Va., both dropped, but Burke, Va., just outside the Capitol Beltway, ranked as the second-hottest market in the country.

Suburbs of Tampa, Fla., Denver, Los Angeles, Atlanta and St. Louis were also among the most popular markets; among their metro areas, only Tampa grew last year.

For the first time in recent memory, housing prices in many close-in suburbs have been rising faster than prices in core urban areas, sad Nicole Bachaud, an economist at Zillow.

“People don’t necessarily have to live close to work anymore, and that really opened the door,” Bachaud said in an interview Friday. “Now that we’re entering the third year of the pandemic, people are making those longer term decisions now that they have that clarity.”

In total, 424 of the 795 American cities with more than 50,000 residents lost population in the last year.Some demographers said they were unsurprised by the drop in urban populations and the shift to the suburbs.

“When Covid hit, deaths in some urban cores went up, while births diminished modestly. Thus, there was less natural increase and less immigration,” said Kenneth Johnson, a demographer at the Carsey School of Public Policy at the University of New Hampshire. “In contrast, domestic outmigration from many urban cores picked up because more people were leaving — in some cases for rural areas, or small cities — and the influx of young people to the cores likely slowed.”

Six of those 795 large cities registered more than 100,000 residents for the first time, according to Census Bureau figures: Along with Goodyear and Buckeye, Ariz., the populations of Bend, Ore., Fishers and Carmel, Ind., and Tuscaloosa, Ala., are now measured in six figures.

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