Mayor’s Report: May 2014

I was involved in many meetings, activities and events during the month of May. The following are just some of the highlights.

May 1 – New Festival Being Planned for Surprise.  I attended the CounciI’s I Heart Grand Work Group meeting with Vice Mayor Skip Hall and Councilwoman Rachel Villanueva to discuss the development of a new city produced festival. The purpose of the festival will be to help promote Grand Avenue as well as the city’s heritage. An announcement of the new event will be made in June.

May 2 – VerdeXchange Arizona 2014. For the second straight year, I had the opportunity to attend the VerdeXchange Arizona conference. Held in downtown Phoenix, the conference featured more than 400 regional leaders discussing 280 growth and sustainability projects relating to urban planning, energy, solar power, transportation, water, education, technology and much more. This conference serves as a great “networking” event for Surprise as I had the opportunity to meet, as well as reacquaint myself with, numerous regional leaders representing a myriad of industries.

May 8 – 9 – Business Development Trip to Chicago. I traveled to Chicago for two days at the invitation of the Greater Phoenix Economic Council (GPEC) as part of their ongoing “road shows” that GPEC makes to other cities. The purpose of the “road shows” is to help enhance the exposure of the Valley as a great place to locate a business, as well as make new contacts and look for new business opportunities. Joining me on the trip was Scottsdale Mayor Jim Lane and Mesa Mayor Alex Finter. While in Chicago, we were briefed on national site selection and foreign direct investment market trends. We also received a briefing on international trade and investment from Maria Jesus Fernandez, trade commissioner of Spain. All in all, it was a fantastic trip and time well spent in promoting our city to new markets.

May 13 – New Rehab Hospital Coming to Surprise. Dallas-based Cobalt Medical Partners invited me to participate in its groundbreaking ceremony that company representatives held on the site of their future advanced rehabilitation hospital at Dysart and Bell roads. The 40-bed hospital will specialize in the treatment of traumatic brain injuries. This is an outstanding project for Surprise as job creation and new health-care opportunities are two key elements of the Council-approved Strategic Plan. Cobalt’s $15 million investment near Grand Avenue will have an immediate and lasting impact on our community, especially in the area of temporary construction and permanent health-care jobs. Prior to the hospital opening next year, the city will work with Cobalt to host a job fair and help the company recruit qualified job candidates to fill approximately 125 new jobs at the Surprise facility.

May 14 – Regional Water Summit. I joined other West Valley elected officials at WestCAPS West Valley Leaders Water Summit at Estrella Mountain Community College. Hosted by the West Valley Central Arizona Project Subcontractors (WestCAPS), a group of municipal and private water providers, the half-day meeting focused on a new study that will be important for our region. The West Valley Basin Study will encompass water supply and demand, groundwater modeling, economic analyses and identify potential challenges and possible solutions for the future. I will track this collaborative, regional planning initiative and report back to you after the study’s findings have been published.

May 19 – The Showdown in Surprise! I never imagined representing our city as mayor on a pickleball court. But, there I was facing off against Steve and Nina, the morning show duo from Phoenix radio station KMLE Country. Steve and Nina have been traveling to cities around the Valley looking for ways to earn a “key to the city.” When my office received a call from the station, we knew exactly what sport to challenge the morning show team in – pickleball! Although my partner Scott Stone and I thoroughly destroyed our visitors, I still presented our guests with the world’s largest City of Surprise ID badge (we don’t have a ceremonial key to the city). The match was great fun and helped generate exposure of our city to the station’s large listener base.

May 21 & 22 – Keeping Surprise Connected to the Region. These two days found me traveling to several regional meetings throughout the Valley. I started by attending the Maricopa Association of Governments’ Transportation Policy Committee. And, from there, it was on to the Greater Phoenix Economic Council. As your mayor, economic development and transportation are two of my most important priorities to help get our city connected regionally and moving forward. So, it’s imperative that I represent Surprise at these meetings and stay updated and fully engaged on the many regional issues, projects and initiatives being discussed. Staying “connected” regionally will benefit of our community in a myriad of ways!

May 26 – Memorial Day Service. I had the honor to participate in the communitywide Memorial Day service, which was held recently at the Radiant Church in Surprise. At the event, I issued a proclamation in recognition of Memorial Day, and our very own Vice Mayor Skip Hall, an Army veteran of the Vietnam War, was the keynote speaker. It was a very moving, as well as patriotic, service. The ceremony was sponsored by the American Legion Post 96 in Surprise.

May 26 – Memorial Day Murph Challenge 2014. Finally, I enjoyed attending this “crossfit” event that pays tribute fallen men and women of our military. I have to be honest with you – we have a lot of residents who are in tip-top shape! Sponsored by Councilman John Williams, 100 Surprise residents participated in the challenge, which included a one-mile run, 100 pull ups, 200 pushups and 300 body squats, followed by another one-mile run. This is a great community event for such an important cause that promises to get larger every year.

Upcoming event:

Don’t forget to register for the next Surprise HOA Summit on Wednesday, June 11. The summit will provide great landscaping tips, including xeriscaping (low-water) and low maintenance plants and yard designs. The event will be held from 4 – 5:30 p.m. in the Surprise Public Safety Building Auditorium, 14250 W. Statler Plaza. To register or for more information, contact Ruby Sitea at 623.222.3242 or