Hello. How are you?
Life has changed a lot since we last talked. The pandemic changed us in ways we never realized possible.
For me, I did a complete nose dive into caring for my family and focusing on the things within my reach.
WHY COME BACK NOW?
2022 offers the people an opportunity to take back what's been lost. It's an opportunity to rebuild.
I'm not talking at the federal level. I'm talking about where it really matters.
In our own communities.
As I revamp West Valley Families, my focus will start with the City of Goodyear and the local school districts. Eventually, I'll expand. But this is where I start.
Local government has the biggest impact on our daily lives. The unconscionable, discriminatory and divisive actions of law makers and school officials have prompted residents across the state to get more active and involved.
Locally, Goodyear will hold an election in August. The mayor's seat and 3 council seats are up for grabs.
Even closer to home are school board elections. School boards control what our children are enduring day-after-day. What our kids learn in the classroom and whether they compete on the court is up to a handful of people who sit behind the dias.
Many times, school board decisions are made by people who don't even have children in school.
When lockdowns kicked in 2 years ago, I quickly discovered that a majority of the representatives on the governing board at Buckeye Union High School District did not have children in the district. How could they possibly know what it was like to see our teens lie in bed all day, behind screens, and think they'd come out of this year ok?
The problem is that parents are not running for these seats. In the Liberty Elementary School District, a board member who recently moved here from another state was simply seated on the board as they were running unopposed.
My hope is to motivate parents to run for these open seats and get them filled by people who understand what's happening to the students and teachers. (Find out which school board seats are open here.)
SHARE THE WEALTH
My gift is being able to share my knowledge.
When I started up West Valley Families in 2014, I spent a lot of my time aggregating local events and fun information for families to find in one convenient place. Since then, several social media pages and apps have popped up providing that same information. So there's no need for me to go back to that.
My purpose is bigger in 2022.
What's up next for mandates and restrictions? Will schools will be overcrowded in August? Does my kid really need to take the SAT? (That answer is NO!)
I'll show you how to file a Freedom of Information Act form with your school district. And together we'll take a look a the questions every parent should be asking.
What pressure will businesses have to face? How can the city improve safety services? Where can families in need find help? And how can we help them? This is what's important in 2022.
A NEW GENERATION
A new generation of moms have pulled together an army of motivated parents who are willing to fight for their kids. I consider myself one of them.
I look forward to being part of a process making 2022 much better than the last 2 years. Please join me. It's going to be a worthwhile ride...
GOODYEAR GROWTH - 2018 AND BEYOND
Driving down Estrella Parkway, it seems our little town is really growing up. From new industry and small businesses to housing developments and homelessness... Goodyear has a lot on its plate.
Have you seen the construction next to the Goodyear Ballpark? That vacant land will be home to "Gates at Goodyear" - condos with mixed-use for the west Valley. Reportedly, "It will feature 80 residential units, with office, dining and retail space below. Noting Arizona’s heat and long-lasting sunlight as motivations, Fair also plans for the structure to be energy independent and efficient, with the goal of residents having net-zero energy consumption. One feature is that residents’ units will have what Fair describes as transition glass, which darkens when exposed to sunlight." The CEO is Andra Fair who got the idea from his land partner, David Byrd, who owns several Goodyear hotels. "The development also involves Sonnen home energy storage systems, so each unit will have two solar-powered batteries, allowing residents to go on or off the grid, he explained."
We're chomping at the bit for Saddle Mountain's patio to open. Maybe October? Hopefully? We can't wait!
MC85 at Lower Buckeye Road is going to take on new shape in Goodyear. Microsoft is moving in south of the Goodyear Airport. Check out more here.
A new school! Litchfield Elementary School District is building a new school. "School 16" will be located at 18601 W. Campbell Avenue in Goodyear... just north of Indian School Road and east of Perryville Road.
Pickleball courts at the Goodyear Community Park unveil September 22nd. Goodyear says, "The event will kick off with a tour of the court and remarks by city officials. Later, there will be on-court demonstrations by local pickleball players as well as mini-clinics covering the basics – from selecting the right paddle to understanding the rules of play. The celebration concludes with the courts open for general public play. The project, which was funded and approved in response to residents’ request, converted basketball courts to accommodate pickleball and maintain two high school-sized basketball courts." The cost to build these was $168,000. The project plan reports, "Repurpose the existing basketball court to include four lighted Pickleball Courts and two lighted high school level basketball courts. The courts will receive new court surfacing and striping."
Dunkin' Donuts is reportedly opening this week on Estrella Parkway just south of Van Buren. Don't forget, there's a fabulous Sunrise Donuts just south of there at 725 S. Estrella Parkway, Goodyear, Az. They're a mom and pop shop with lots to offer!
Rumor has it that a Culver's is opening in Goodyear. We checked with the company and they said they do NOT have plan for a Goodyear location. (Hope I'm proven wrong. Although, they are located in Avondale and around the west Valley.) They also sent the franchise link to me if anyone is wanting to open a Culver's. Anyone?
Dream Swirls, owned and operated by Estrella residents, moved to a new location. We stopped by during the grand opening and it was PACKED! I love mom and pop shops. Be sure to check them out. 15557 W. Roosevelt Street, Suite 102, Goodyear, Az. Near Robeks on Estrella Parkway.
A quick jaunt into Litchfield Park for a moment... Teacup has opened. Its menu looks awesome and I hope to get there soon.
The City of Goodyear made two new hires in big positions. Lori Gary is the new economic development director. Goodyear states, "Prior to accepting the post in Goodyear, Lori was a senior project manager for the city of Mesa’s Office of Economic Development. Specifically, she promoted new investment, redevelopment and reuse, and job creation within Mesa’s Fiesta District, Falcon District, and West Mesa."
Tammy Vo starts in October as the city's new communications director. "Tammy has spent the last six years working as the marketing and communications manager for the city of Phoenix. Before then, she spent 13 years in television news."
Both positions seem to have high turnover in Goodyear. Let's wish them the best of luck in our growing city.
Soon-to-be hired are interns for the Goodyear Spring Baseball Season. Check out opportunities here.
At Goodyear City Council tonight, Police Chief Jerry Geier and Sgt. Justin Hughes of the Professional Standards Unit will discuss a difficult issue... Homeless Outreach. The agenda reads, "City Management requested that staff prepare information on the issue of homeless outreach and nuisance behaviors such as panhandling in order to ascertain the Council’s level of interest in pursuing an ordinance, policy revision, or other action. This issue has not come before Council in the past."
When I assisted Goodyear with its All-America City application in 2008, Goodyear reportedly knew of just 11 homeless people. Now that the city has grown immensely, and so quickly, it's sadly obvious that number is growing. "Staff has compiled information on the issue of homeless outreach, including definitions, existing conditions, and information from other valley cities. Possible alternatives will be presented and direction will be based on Council feedback," Goodyear Staff Analysis.
Homeless Youth Connection sent out an email today inviting the community to attend its Empowering Youth Breakfast. It's October 25th. You must RSVP. More here.
If any of the above issues interest you, I encourage you to run for office. In 2021, several termed-out seats will be open and we'll have, potentially, an all new council. Now is the time to brush up and get involved.
We were beyond thrilled this week to see Councilmember Laura Kaino announce she's running for the position she was appointed to when Joanne Osborne vacated the seat. We worked with Kaino on the Goodyear Water Conservation Committee and hope she brings that knowledge and ideas to the table. Please follow her on Facebook. She's been very active in the community!
Open Seats in the Goodyear Spring Election of 2019 are:
Finally, if you're looking to watch some great high school volleyball this weekend, please check out the Wolves Classic Invitational at Estrella Foothills High School. It's Friday/Saturday. The school's high school Homecoming Parade and Carnival follows at 5pm Saturday night. Best wishes to all the students and athletes this weekend!
We'll continue to follow what's happening in Goodyear and the west Valley. Our mission to keep informed ramped up again this spring when a Goodyear City Councilmember falsely made accusations against us. She got us wondering about what's really happening. We know it's important to the community and taxpayers to stay informed. If there's something you'd like for us to check out, please contact us.
10 REASONS TO BE GRATEFUL IN ESTRELLA
Estrella and the West Valley look much different than when my family moved here more than 10 years ago.
I've been fortunate enough to learn a lot about the area's humble beginnings and understand what's being done now to prepare for future growth.
In all the hurry and distraction of the holiday, we pause to point out a few of the many things we have to be grateful for here... and to say, "THANK YOU."
10. A HOME FOR VETERANS
This past summer, Goodyear, Arizona was ranked one of the top cities in the United States for veterans by NerdWallet.com, "Veterans in Goodyear have an unemployment rate of 1.5%, the lowest on our top 10 list." Our city leaders, community colleges, and local non profits continually find ways to support those who protect our freedoms. We thank all those who sacrifice - and their families - for serving our country.
9. COMMUNITY VOLUNTEERS
This year, Estrella saw new social events at the Starpointe Residents Club - such as "Pickin' on the Patio" - and a fabulous Happy Hour introduced at the Golf Club of Estrella. (The Ice Cream Social and karaoke were a huge hit, too.) These ideas were brought about by caring residents who were willing to go the extra mile to encourage more activities in Estrella. To all of those who step up to "Be the Solution" in our community, "thank you." (My personal "thanks" to resident HOA board members and volunteers who work so hard and take so much heat. You do an incredible job. Thank you.)
8. GOODYEAR CITY COUNCIL
We're not Glendale. By that, I mean we're very fortunate to have city council members who can work together to find nonpartisan solutions for our city. They may disagree at times... but they move on and continue to work together. By the way, Mayor Georgia Lord is one of the most motivating people I've ever met. You may not realize it, but we're incredibly lucky to have her serving our city. The woman works dawn to dusk... with a motivated attitude to grow our city. (This also is a good place to mention our City Water Resources Manager, Mark Holmes. With a few national awards under his leadership, our water is improving and our future residents have him to thank.)
7. YOUTH SPORTS
Full disclosure, I manage the social media for Estrella Youth Sports. That said, I think we're pretty fortunate having a nonprofit in our community which is able to provide a wide variety of "active activities" to children in our community. Estrella Youth Sports brings out involved, volunteering parents who serve as coaches, caring businesses who donate to help the organization grow, and children who are motivated to give it their all on the field and court. Estrella also is home to the Junior Wolves football team and, of course, many of our kids participate in Goodyear Rec programs.
I don't play pickleball. And, quite frankly, I don't think anyone would ever pick me to be their playing partner. But, Jo does play. And I can tell she loves it. One player recently told me the game is "addictive." The Estrella Mountain Pickleball Club appears to be a fun group of movers and shakers who've brought this rapidly growing sport to Estrella... and represent Estrella well at local competitions. The sport started in 1965 and is played with a paddle and plastic ball.
5. LOCAL SCHOOLS
Not many Arizona communities have it as good as we do in the West Valley. Even though the recent Liberty Elementary School District override failed this election season, we DO have many caring teachers and parent volunteers who are able to keep our schools running smoothly. From PTO's, community volunteer programs, and tax credits, we all have several ways to "be a part of the solution" moving forward.
4. GOODYEAR POLICE AND FIRE
Not only does Goodyear have a low crime rate, we're fortunate to have truly caring people serve in our police and fire departments. These folks don't make a lot of money, but you wouldn't know it by the good deeds they do in our communities. Remember, a lot of these folks will be keeping us safe while we're home eating lots of turkey and dressing with our families and friends.
3. MOTHER NATURE
It's a tie between sunrises, sunsets, and sunny days.
Growing up the mid-west is reason enough to call Arizona "home." Gorgeous winter weather combined with the random rain storm is a unique combination which I'll always cherish.
As the saying goes, "You can't shovel the sunshine."
2. CHARITY SPONSORS
When Jo and I started this page, we took lots of criticism. Lots. One resident accused us of starting the page to raise money for our own endeavors. That was never the case and the criticism motivated us to start up the Estrella Mountain Residents charity program. In our first year - actually, since May - our membership raised over $2000 to give back to local nonprofits and a deserving family. That's pretty incredible. We're humbled.
1. NEIGHBORS WHO STEP UP
Sometimes you just need a lending hand. Estrella has no shortage of caring residents who step up to help each other out. Whether it be giving a left over finger print card to someone who needs one, a fundraiser for a family in need, or taking care of a lost pet till its owner is found, Estrella truly is a great community of people.
~WE WISH YOU ALL A HEALTHY AND HAPPY THANKSGIVING~
Jo and Jen
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Jennifer Barber is a Goodyear resident resident of almost 20 years and a retired broadcast news journalist. Involved in various nonprofit and city organizations since 2008, Barber has a unique view of what's happening in the West Valley of Arizona.