Category Archives: Featured News

Marley Park Elementary School A+ Recognition

Mayor Wolcott had the honor of recognizing Marley Park Elementary School at the June 17 City Council Meeting. The school earned an A+ School of Excellence rating from the Arizona Educational Foundation!

Marley Park A+ recognition
Pictured L-R: Mayor Wolcott; Dana Kaye, Principal of Marley Park Elementary School; Gail Pletnick, Dysart USD Superintendent; Josephine Tokhi, Principal of Sunset Hills Elementary School; Traci Sawyer-Sinkbeil, DUSD Governing Board Member

Bell & Grand Art Project – Preferred Concept

The city is considering a public art piece as part of the future Bell Rd. and Grand Ave. traffic interchange improvement project.

Following several rounds of public meetings and online input, Artist Meg Saligman has developed a preferred design concept that is centered on the Agave plant, while weaving together a diversity of images and sculptural forms that represent the community of Surprise.

The design uses paint, light, sculptured concrete and metal fencing.

View renderings of the preferred concept below or view the full presentation, which was given to the Surprise City Council on May 19.

There is an opportunity to submit your thoughts on the preferred. click here to leave a comment

Daytime view:

The Agave in the picture below is formed out of sculpted concrete. The images of people in the rendering would be painted from solargram images, photos created by exposing them via natural light. The artist hopes to curate images sent in by the public for the final design.

The fence can either represent the White Tank Mountains or leaves of the agave, depending on the light cast upon it.

Daytime view

Nighttime view:

LED lighting would be a rotation of several colors drawn from the colors of Surprise’s sunset and sunrise.

Nighttime view



Surprise wins Age-Friendly Community Competition

Age friendly community competition award

Recognized as a great place for residents of all ages, the City of Surprise was presented with the 2015 Age-Friendly Community Competition Award at the Going Places conference today in Scottsdale.

Mayor Sharon Wolcott accepted the award. “This recognition provides our city with affirmation that we are making strides in bringing the young and the young at heart together as we continue to build ‘One Surprise’ – a community of all ages,” said Mayor Wolcott. “Each generation brings their own skills and attributes, as well as a unique perspective to life, and together we’re all making Surprise the best place to live.”

In winning the award, the city will receive $5,000 in grant funds to support age-friendly programs.

The city will use the money to purchase several mobile tablets. City staff and students will bring the technology to community events and aid residents in getting connected. That could mean signing-up for various events, activities or civic engagements, requesting an application to serve on a city board/commission, or even registering to vote.

The conference was co-hosted by the MAG Transportation Ambassador Program and the Arizona Age-Friendly Network, an effort funded by Grantmakers in Aging (GIA), the Pfizer Foundation, and Virginia G. Piper Charitable Trust.

City of Surprise brings local arts scene online

Surprise Arts and Culture OnlineIn an effort to showcase its active arts scene, the City of Surprise has launched an online collection of local arts and cultural experiences at

This new arts section of the website offers listings and descriptions of venues and local performance companies, a catalogue of the city’s public arts projects, a calendar of events and a place to find the latest arts and cultural news.

The project was accomplished with the help the Surprise Arts and Cultural Advisory Commission, which provided photos and information that helped bring the webpages to life.

“I am thrilled that we now have a place for people to go and learn more about the city’s vibrant arts scene,” says Surprise Mayor Sharon Wolcott. “The arts capture and define our soul as a growing community; they not only create beauty, and offer intellectual and emotional experiences, but serve as a strong presence in attracting economic growth.”

This is just one of several art projects that the City has been focused on recently. Just this week, the city hosted a series of public meetings to discuss a potential art project within the future Bell Rd. and Grand Ave. traffic interchange, and the City is working on creating its first-ever Public Arts Master Plan.

Learn more at

Council ok’s formation of committee to vet potential bond projects

The Surprise City Council voted to form the Capital Improvement Funding Exploratory Committee to provide recommendations regarding the use of general obligation bonds in funding capital improvement projects.

The council elected to merge the Planning and Zoning Commission and Community and Recreation Advisory Commission, with two members from the Dysart Unified School District, one Nadaburg School District delegate and a member of the Surprise Regional Chamber of Commerce to serve on the ad-hoc bond committee.

This 17-member committee will meet over the next several months and review the benefits of funding 11 capital improvement projects; welcome public input; identify appropriate communication methods for educating residents and voters; and provide City Council with a written report of their findings no later than May 31.

City Council will consider its position relative to a bond program in June 2015.

Specific projects are included in three categories, that were evaluated by the city staff.

Widening of portions of Greenway, Litchfield, and Happy Valley roads, a new fire station, police property and evidence facility, court accessibility and safety items, a regional multi-generational recreation center, aquatic center, and 8 Acres Park improvements are currently on the list to be evaluated by the committee.

Should all three proposed bond packages go before and be passed by voters the property tax on the average $150,000 home would increase by $99 per year, or $133 increase for a home valued at $200,000.

Additional details about committee meetings will be publicly noticed and promoted to engage resident input. Meeting dates, times, and locations will be posted online at

IRIS USA and Japanese parent selects Surprise for Western US Regional Headquarters

IRIS LogoIRIS USA, Inc, a subsidiary of IRIS Ohyama, Inc., headquartered in Sendai, Japan, will build its new Western United States Regional Headquarters in Surprise. The new facility represents a $33-$40 million investment, 100 new jobs, and $800,000 of new city revenues in the first year of operations.

In making the announcement during her State of the City address Tuesday morning, Mayor Sharon Wolcott said, “This project is aligned with the city’s goal of attracting foreign direct investment from quality companies that want to be a part of the vision and vitality of Surprise. We could not ask for a better new neighbor. Welcome IRIS USA.”

IRIS USA’s new 280,000-square-foot building will include office, manufacturing and distribution space; located on 30 acres within the city’s Southwest Railplex Industrial District – a designated Foreign Trade Zone with convenient rail access.

“Surprise offers a premier business park that supports our global initiative,” says IRIS USA President Chet Keizer. “Equally important to us is the corporate and community connectivity due to the close proximity of the city’s civic and recreational campus to the business park.”

The recruitment of IRIS USA was a collaborative effort by the Arizona Commerce Authority (ACA), the Greater Phoenix Economic Council (GPEC) and the City of Surprise.

“Arizona’s world-class infrastructure system and strategic Southwest location are key advantages supporting the distribution channel and supply chain management needs of growing manufacturers and international companies,” said Sandra Watson, President and CEO, Arizona Commerce Authority. “We welcome IRIS USA to our business community and thank them for investing in Surprise for their corporate expansion.”

GPEC President and CEO Chris Camacho adds, “The IRIS USA selection of Greater Phoenix reinforces the pro-business environment the market has cultivated in recent years. Mayor Wolcott and her team are aggressively building a robust community. The Iris USA investment is the latest achievement in growing base industry jobs in Arizona.”

In the development agreement, which the City Council approved Tuesday evening at their Regular City Council Meeting, the city will reimburse up-to $500,000 in review/permit/impact fees at time of occupancy, provide project office space at the city’s business incubator – AZ TechCelerator during construction and host a job fair.

IRIS USA’s Western United States Regional Headquarters is expected to open in December 2015. In addition to manufacturing and distributing its consumer plastics Storage Products, the Company will be dedicating space for research and development for its commercial LED (light-emitting diode), Housewares, Wire, Pet Supply and E-Commerce divisions.

IRIS USA is a consumer products company that sells to retailers throughout North America. It currently has office, manufacturing and distribution facilities in Pleasant Prairie, WI, its corporate headquarters, and Mesquite, TX.

To learn more about IRIS USA, please visit

To learn more about IRIS OHYAMA, please visit

New corporate headquarters; jobs and a plan for Investing in One Surprise – highlight 2015 State of the City

State of City 2015

Mayor Sharon Wolcott’s 2015 State of the City Address was filled with breaking news and a vision for growing the city’s future through jobs, preservation, art and more.

She told a full house of business, civic and education leaders, at The Colonnade this morning that IRIS USA will build a new corporate headquarters in the city’s Southwest Railplex.

“This new business locate represents a $40 million private investment in our community,” she said. “In addition, IRIS USA will create 100 jobs and will generate $800,000 of new revenue for the city in just its first year of operation.”

Mayor Wolcott also announced that Western Maricopa Education Center (West-MEC) will build a large campus at Dysart and Grand in Surprise. At build out, this facility will serve 900 students.

“The West-MEC campus will offer between 12-17 programs where students can prepare for such careers as software/application developers, electricians, police officers, firefighters, auto and truck technicians, machinists, medical/dental assistants and cosmetologists,” Wolcott said.

The focus of the speech detailed the building blocks to Investing in One Surprise and how they all relate to growing economic development and jobs.

Wolcott said a business-friendly environment, top-rated schools, maintaining a safe community, the availability of clean water, and quality-of-life amenities are all important to attracting new business to Surprise.

She focused on two other significant building blocks to grow economic development: An efficient transportation system and an on-going capital improvement program to ensure the required public infrastructure is in place to effectively address current and future community needs.

“Identification of needed capital projects to support infrastructure is just the first step in building a city’s foundation for quality growth. Your city government – just like when people buy a new car or home – needs funding to make those capital investments possible,” said Mayor.

On transportation- “Let me be clear: transportation equals economic development and jobs,” added Wolcott. “A connected transportation system is paramount to a self-sustaining community. There’s no other way to say it.”

Wolcott highlighted the importance of revitalizing the Grand Avenue Corridor; the upcoming intersection improvement at Bell and Grand and spoke of the regional support needed in determining the future alignment of the future Interstate 11.

She also spoke to the significance of the city’s efforts to create a Heritage Overlay District to preserve and enhance Surprise’s Original Town Site and how the city is investing in the arts through the process of creating a Public Arts Master Plan.

The event was co-sponsored by the Surprise Regional Chamber of Commerce and Sun Health.

Read Mayor Wolcott’s 2015 State of the City Address.

Surprise named finalist in America’s Best Intergenerational Communities Awards

The City of Surprise has been named the National Finalist in the MetLife Foundation/Generations United America’s Best Intergenerational Communities Awards.

The awards are designed to heighten awareness of the importance intergenerational solidarity plays in building strong, supportive communities.

“This national recognition reflects that our city is truly a community of all ages,” says Mayor Sharon Wolcott. “In growing One Surprise, we champion our residents coming together in support of civic engagement, education, volunteerism and community pride.”

The city was recognized for several intergenerational programs including the work of local middle school and high school students assisting the senior members of the Surprise Sundancers in supporting signature city events, such as Surprise Party, Movie Nights at Surprise Stadium, etc…

The panel also lauded the Youth Civic Leader Program as a winning concept where a teen leader is selected to interact and participate with the City Council during Work Sessions and Regular Meeting presentations.

“We congratulate the City of Surprise on being the national finalist. It takes a great deal of effort and forward thinking to create a community where residents of all ages thrive and want to be part of their hometown,” notes Donna Butts, executive director of Generations United.
“MetLife Foundation understands the value of programs that encourage generations to work together for the benefit of the entire community,” explains Dennis White, president and chief executive officer, MetLife Foundation. “Communities that care for and engage all members – regardless of age – deepen bonds between the generations and set an important example for other communities to follow.”

In addition to Surprise being named the National Finalist, the communities winning the overall award are: Greater Richmond Region, VA; Greater Plymouth Area, WI and Carlisle, MA.

A blue-ribbon panel of judges selected the winning entries from among a host of applicants from across the country.

The awards will be presented February 11 on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. The Best Intergenerational Communities awards program is made possible with a grant from MetLife Foundation.

About the MetLife Foundation: MetLife Foundation was created in 1976 to continue MetLife’s long tradition of corporate contributions and community involvement. Today, the Foundation is dedicated to advancing financial inclusion, committing $200 million over the next five years to help build a secure future for individuals and communities around the world. MetLife Foundation is affiliated with MetLife, Inc, a leading global provider of insurance, annuities and employee benefit programs, serving 90 million customers. Through its subsidiaries and affiliates, MetLife holds leading market positions in the United States, Japan, Latin America, Asia, Europe and the Middle East.

About Generations United: For nearly three decades, Generations United has been the catalyst for policies and practices stimulating cooperation and collaboration among generations, evoking the vibrancy, energy and sheer productivity that result when people of all ages come together. We believe that we can only be successful in the face of our complex future if generational diversity is regarded as a national asset and fully leveraged.