News reports from around the East Valley
AHWATUKEE FOOTHILLS - Jewelry store heist suspect surrenders
A man wanted in a jewelry store armed robbery turned himself in Wednesday.
James Henry Dennis, 19, of Phoenix is accused of robbing Ahwatukee Jewelers, 3626 E. Ray Road, Phoenix, on June 27 and fleeing after being shot by a customer.
Dennis was with his attorney and did not make any statements. He was photographed, fingerprinted and released.
Another suspect, James Tyler Gutierrez, 20, also was shot. He was booked into jail on suspicion of armed robbery, kidnapping and an unrelated felony warrant for possession of marijuana.
The investigation is ongoing and there could be more suspects.
-- Katie McDevitt, (480) 898-6334
GILBERT - Vandals damage community center
Vandals set the Gilbert Community Center on fire early Thursday, demolished a storage shed and smashed a van’s windows.
The fire at the 100 N. Oak St. center began about 3:45 a.m. when the center’s gas meter was removed from the building and the escaping gas was used as fuel, a fire department official said. Smaller fires were set around the building. Damage was limited to the exterior.
The center will remain closed through today.
--Mike Branom, (480) 898-6536
Social to give new residents a leg up
The Congress of Neighborhoods and Gilbert’s Neighborhood Services department will host a new resident social 9:30 to 11:30 a.m. July 16 at the Southeast Regional Library, 775 N. Greenfield Road.
The social provides new residents with an opportunity to learn about programs, resources and volunteer opportunities offered by Gilbert and community organizations.
Seating is limited. Call (480) 503-6767 or e-mail
--Sara Thorson, (480) 898-6574
MESA - City set to award towing contract
The City Council will have the opportunity to award the city’s new towing contract Monday following a public hearing, the council decided Thursday.
Current provider Cactus Towing is the city’s recommended winner for all four geographic zones. Cactus Towing, which remains under investigation by the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office, was scored higher by city staff evaluators than three other towing companies. The council is not obligated to award the contract to Cactus Towing.
The council meeting will start at 5:45 p.m. Monday in council chambers, 57 E. First St.
--Brian Powell, (480) 898-6842
Pickup kills woman crossing street
A woman walking across Main Street in Mesa was struck and killed by a pickup truck Wednesday night.
Clara L. Kelley, 54, stepped into the curb lane and path of a 1977 Chevrolet pickup driven by Jack W. Berletch Jr., 51, in the 3800 block of east Main, Sgt. Chuck Trapani said.
Since June 5, there have been six fatal pedestrian accidents in Mesa, Trapani said. In all, the city has seen 37 deaths from vehicle crashes; last year’s total was 39. Authorities soon will be meeting to discuss the rash of pedestrian-vehicle crashes, Trapani said.
--Mike Branom, (480) 898-6536
Mesa schools score high in survey
The Mesa Unified School District was the only East Valley district named as "outperforming" in a survey of Arizona schools by School Matters evaluation services, a project of the National Education Data Partnership. The district had significantly higher percentages of students who scored as proficient or above on state reading and math tests over two years in a comparison with districts with similar socioeconomic status. It’s the second consecutive year Mesa has earned the honor.
--Beth Lucas, (480) 898-6373
QUEEN CREEK - Youth commission seeks students
High school students living or attending school in Queen Creek are invited to join the town’s youth commission.
Members help plan youth events, meet Town Council members and learn about the community.
Applications are available at the Town Hall front office, 22350 S. Ellsworth Road, or the parks and recreation office across the street.
For information, call (480) 987-0497 or e-mail
firstname.lastname@example.org or anthony. baumann @queencreek.org.
--Sara Thorson, (480) 898-6574
SCOTTSDALE - City officials get raises, payment
The City Council approved raises for three top administrators Wednesday night. City Manager Jan Dolan is to receive a 3.5 percent raise, bringing her salary to $167,670. Dolan also will get a one-time payment of $8,384 this budget year. City Auditor Cheryl Barcala’s salary was bumped up 6 percent to $103,480, and City Clerk Carolyn Jagger is receiving a 15 percent raise, or more than $12,000, bringing her annual pay to $92,040.
The raises came after the council completed annual reviews of all top administrators; this year was the first that Scottsdale conducted such reviews. In May, the council opted to fire Joseph Bertoldo as city attorney following his review.
-- Ryan Gabrielson, (480) 970-2341
TEMPE - Woman holds up Tempe credit union
Tempe police are looking for a serial female bank robber after a heist at 1 p.m. Thursday at the Arizona Central Credit Union, 3350 S. Price Road.
The woman presented a demand note to a teller and threatened him, all while talking on a chrome-colored cell phone, before obtaining an undisclosed amount of money, police said.
Detectives believe she also robbed the U.S. Bank, 1800 E. Baseline Road, on June 15 and at least one bank in Phoenix. She is described as Hispanic; in her 20s; 5-feet 4-inches tall; medium build; wearing a dark shirt, white pants, a baseball hat with multicolored front, white bill and red mesh back; and mirrored sunglasses. Police ask anyone with information to call (480) 350-8311 or Silent Witness at (480) 948-6377.
--Kristina Davis, (480) 898-6446
Pima ramps to Loop 202 to close
Ramps from the Pima Freeway stretch of Loop 101 to Loop 202 will close Saturday morning in Tempe.
From 6 a.m. to noon, drivers will not be able to reach any direction of Loop 202 from any direction from the Pima Freeway. However, ramps will remain open from Loop 202 to Loop 101.
The ramps will close so crews with the Arizona Department of Transportation can work on cameras and lighting at the interchange.
-- Garin Groff, (480) 898-5938