Category Archives: D4 News

Current information and events about the Surprise District 4 community.

Benevilla Proud to Announce the Formal Dedication of the Surprise Community Garden Entrance Kiosk

Benevilla, the West Valley’s premier human services nonprofit, held a formal dedication at the new entry Kiosk for the Surprise Community Garden located on the Benevilla campus. The event was attended by local dignitaries including Ken Remley, Surprise District 4 Councilmember, Jodi Tas from the Surprise Office of the Mayor and City Council, Brigham Bennett, Building Plans Examiner at City of Surprise and his son Stone Bennett representing Surprise Boy Scout Troop #862.

Councilmember Remley commented: “This is great addition to the community garden and wonderful example of the partnership between Benevilla and the City of Surprise.” This is just the beginning of my plans to expand the value and relevance of this enterprise in the community.”

The event was hosted by Tony Earl, the Surprise Community Garden Liaison for Benevilla. Mr. Earl joined Benevilla as part of the Experience Matters Encore Fellowship program.  This program recruits highly skilled, experienced professionals ready to transition from primary careers in the for-profit sector and make a significant impact for nonprofit organizations in need of their talent.

The new Surprise Community Garden Kiosk was developed and financed through a $1,485 grant from the 2016/2017 City of Surprise Neighborhood Grant Program. This program, established in 2015, fosters a special partnership between the City of Surprise and its neighborhoods.  It encourages involvement of residents, public and private organizations to support neighborhood-initiated, community building and improvement projects.

The Kiosk project took over a month to complete. A majority of the design and construction work was completed by Benevilla garden volunteers Pol Dano and Patrick Folan as well as members of the Surprise Boy Scout Troop #862.

The Surprise Community Garden, opened in 2012, is a “Community For All Ages” (CFAA) program led by Benevilla in partnership with the City of Surprise and Rio Salado College. The garden is located on the Benevilla campus at the Hellen & John M. Jacobs Independence Plaza, 16752 N. Greasewood Street near the Surprise Bicentennial Park.

This garden serves as an important space for area residents, children, and local organizations to learn about growing organic food in a desert environment. Individuals and groups can rent their own garden plot to grow produce for themselves or to donate to local food banks. There are currently 100 gardeners working 34 raised-soil beds which are built at a height friendly to young children and wheelchair-bound gardeners.

“We are so fortunate to have the City of Surprise and so many local organizations and citizens pulling together to help create this beautiful garden area for local residents,” said Benevilla President and CEO Joanne Thomson. “Benevilla strives to provide a better life experience for our community and our garden is a great environment for everyone!”

Started by the community and for the community in 1981, Benevilla is a not-for-profit human services agency dedicated to enhancing the lives of West Valley residents by providing care services for older adults, intellectually disabled adults, children, and families. For more information on services, volunteer opportunities or to make a donation to Benevilla, call 623-584-4999 or visit http://www.benevilla.org/.

Ottawa University Announces New Residential Campus in Surprise

City of Surprise to become university town with classes beginning August 2017


Ottawa University and the City of Surprise today announced that Ottawa University Arizona (OUAZ), a new residential university campus, will be opening Fall 2017 in Surprise, Ariz., expanding upon the university’s 40-year presence in the Valley of the Sun, making Surprise a university town, and bringing intercollegiate athletic programs to the West Valley.

OUAZ Surprise, 15950 N. Civic Center Plaza, will offer a full complement of academic, athletic and student activity programs primarily for traditional-age college students, including multiple undergraduate and graduate degree programs. The university will be home to 19 varsity men’s and women’s sports teams, and will be working toward a National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) designation. Upon award of the designation, OUAZ would be one of only four NAIA programs in Arizona. The school mascot is a grey wolf and the sports teams are called the Spirit.

At a dedication event this morning, Ottawa University President Kevin C. Eichner announced the university aims to enroll 250 students for its first semester of classes at the new campus, with a target of up to 3,000 residential students over 10 years, adding to its current 8,300 alumni roll in the Arizona market.

“Ottawa University has expanded strategically during the last 151 years and we are poised for significant growth and exceptional student outcomes here in Surprise,” said Eichner. “We are grateful the City of Surprise shares our vision for delivering a new model for education with an emphasis on educating and developing the whole person, and creating work-ready graduates who are prepared to be successful on the job from day one.”

Ottawa University is a private, non-profit, Christian university that was founded in Ottawa, Kansas in 1865. The university has been operating in Arizona since 1977 with campuses in Phoenix and Queen Creek, and has been serving the Surprise community for eight years at its current location as part of the Communiversity at Surprise, a partnership of higher education institutions. Historically, the Surprise campus has primarily served adult learners, which it will continue to do; the traditional-age student is a new market for OUAZ.

The future 35-acre OUAZ campus will be embedded within the Surprise City Center, integrating with the existing 250-acre City of Surprise Civic Center and Recreation campus. The school will also launch out of existing space within the Civic Center, allowing students to avail themselves of the surrounding city amenities, including the Surprise Aquatic Center, Dream Catcher Park, the Surprise Tennis & Racquet Complex, and Surprise Stadium, as well as robust shopping and dining amenities.

“Surprise is a college town! Our graduating high school seniors now have the option to pursue a college degree in their hometown,” said Surprise Mayor Sharon Wolcott. “This partnership keeps our promise to residents; after all, university campus development is part of the City Council’s Strategic Plan and we could not ask for a better partner than Ottawa University. This is a storied educational institution with more than 150 years of success and a 40-year foothold in the Phoenix market. They know us and we know them!”

Expansion plans for the Surprise campus include development of residential housing, an indoor activity center, dining and conference space, and new athletic fields, including a stadium with artificial turf for football and soccer.

OUAZ innovates a unique approach to education. In addition to traditional academic degree and athletics programs, the University places significant emphasis on evolving all dimensions of the student: intellectual, spiritual, physical, artistic, financial, familial and vocational. A key delivery vehicle for this approach is OUAZ’s Adawe Center, which pairs a life coach with each student upon registration who will remain with the student throughout their enrollment at the university, helping them identify and pursue their degree and life paths, and preparing them to pursue their desired vocation upon graduation. Another distinctive element of OUAZ is “personal growth days.” No classes are held on Wednesdays so students may take part in chapel, attend the numerous personal and professional skills development conferences and workshops offered throughout the year, take part in volunteer or service activities, and share a meal together with faculty and staff.

OUAZ’s unique FlexTerm academic calendar offers a 21st century approach to enable students to learn how and when they want to learn. Courses are offered in formats that run for four weeks, eight weeks, or in more traditional semester-length time frames. With this format, students will typically take just two courses at a time, allowing them the benefit of concentration vs. fragmentation (when trying to balance four or five courses in a traditional semester system). The OUAZ FlexTerm calendar encourages students to tailor their educational experience and investment to go deeper into their studies while also interspersing their classroom learning with internships, service learning, international and cross-cultural study programs. It also allows students to accelerate toward graduation in less than four years and even to combine master’s degree studies within their educational plan, enabling OUAZ graduates to enter the job market with a combination of degrees.

OUAZ will be introducing the Ottawa Alliance for Quality Christian Education, a network of not-for-profit mission-based organizations that are interested in supporting a Christ-inspired community of grace throughout their educational institutions and the world. The Alliance aims to reduce the cost of Christian education, increase enrollment at Christ-focused schools and encourage enrollment at Ottawa University. Scholarships for students; faculty, staff and board members; and, faculty spouses and student parents will be available.

Of particular interest for strong academic and service-minded students will be the prestigious Founders and Pioneer Scholarships targeted for well-qualified and motivated students who will serve with OUAZ to shape student culture at the new campus. A limited number of these scholars can begin serving the institution this spring by working with prospective students and their families.

“We are a steadfastly Christian, positively open and inclusive university empowering students from around the world and every background to become ‘whole’ people, to develop their passions and abilities, and be ready to face the world when they graduate from OUAZ,” said Eichner. “We are proud to be bringing a full-fledged residential university experience to Surprise and to our future students.”

The OUAZ leadership team includes: Dr. Dennis J. Tyner, Provost; Keith Johnson, Chief Operating Officer; Dr. Amy Hogan, Dean of Instruction; Brandon Fowler, Dean of Student Experience; Dr. David Barnes, Executive Director of University Advancement, Arizona; and Kevin Steele, Director of Athletics.

Additional faculty hires are underway, with a number of key athletic coaching positions already filled. Student recruitment for August enrollment has begun.

For enrollment information and to learn more about OUAZ Surprise, visit www.ottawa.edu/Surprise.


About Ottawa University

Founded in 1865, Ottawa University prepares professional and liberal arts graduates for lifetimes of personal significance, vocational fulfillment and service to God and humanity as a Christ-inspired community of grace and opening inquiry. Ottawa University is a comprehensive, not-for-profit educational institution serving more than 4,000 students through its residential campuses in Ottawa, Kan., and Surprise, Ariz. (opening Fall 2017), and adult campuses in Overland Park, Kan.; Phoenix, Queen Creek and Surprise, Ariz.; Brookfield, Wis.; Jeffersonville, Ind.; and online. For more information, visit www.ottawa.edu.

City begins FY18 budget discussions Feb 7

The City of Surprise Fiscal Year 2018 budget-building process begins at the City Council’s Work Session, 4 p.m., Tuesday, February 7.

This is the first in a series of presentations regarding the overall development of the budget. This presentation will give a general overview of the city’s budget and review the calendar for the upcoming process. Emphasis will be placed on the areas of policy making that the City Council has available to impact the FY2018 budget.

The presentation will also discuss outside issues that will influence the outcomes of the budget process.

Future Council Work Sessions and Regular Meetings will include additional presentations related to budget development, including topics on Capital Improvement Projects and continued operating budget discussions.

This process will result in the adoption of a balanced FY2018 budget in June. FY2018 begins July 1, 2017.

Council agendas are posted online at http://agenda.surpriseaz.gov/ at least two business days before the meeting. City Council meets the first and third Tuesdays of each month. Work Sessions are at 4 p.m. and Regular Meetings begin at 6 p.m. All meetings are carried live on Surprise TV for cable customers and streamed online at www.surpriseaz.gov/surpriseTV.

Councilmember Ken Remley Sworn in during City Hall Ceremony

Councilmember Ken Remley Swearing In
Councilmember Ken Remley Swearing In

The first Regular City Council Meeting of the New Year included the swearing-in ceremonies for mayor and three councilmembers, on Tuesday, January 3.

Sharon Wolcott, who was re-elected in the August 2016 Primary Election, was sworn in as Mayor of Surprise for a second term.

Re-elected Councilmember John Williams was sworn into office to serve District 3.

Newly elected Councilmember Ken Remley took the oath of office to serve District 4.

Jim Hayden, who won the District 2 council seat in August 2016 and joined the City Council, last October through a vacancy, was also sworn into office.

City Clerk Sherry Aguilar administered the oath of office to each elected official; each of which is sworn to a four-year term.

2017 Councilmember at there seats on the bench

For more information about these elected officials visit:

https://mayor.surpriseaz.gov/
http://d2.surpriseaz.gov/
http://d3.surpriseaz.gov/
http://d4.surpriseaz.gov/

The next regular Council meeting is scheduled for January 17 at 6pm in City Council Chambers. City Council meetings are televised on Surprise TV and streamed live on the internet at www.surpriseaz.gov/surprisetv.

City celebrates reopening of Bell Road

Commuters were able to cruise over the new Bell Road Bridge at Grand Avenue on their way to work this morning, as the Arizona Department of Transportation officially opened the road at 12:15 a.m.

The city of Surprise hosted a pre-celebration on Monday in the Surprise Marketplace parking lot to officially kick-off the 2016 Holiday Season and to thank the area businesses, residents and drivers for their patience during the seven-month closure of Bell Road.

“To the customers that continued to shop these businesses, thank you for realizing that they were ALWAYS open and for supporting them,” said Mayor Sharon Wolcott. “And to those that took a different commute during the closure, I invite you to come back to this area. No more stopping for the train and three new businesses have opened since the closure began in April, with two others opening this fall. Come check them out!”

Representatives from the Arizona Department of Transportation and the Surprise Regional Chamber of Commerce also spoke at the event that was attended by neighboring elected officials, residents and local businesses.

As a “thank you” for supporting the businesses around the Bell and Grand intersection attendees received Surprise shopping bags, filled with vendor coupons and promotional items. A perfect reminder to Shop Surprise this holiday season!

The Bell Road closure was part of the ADOT US 60 (Grand Ave) and Bell Road Interchange project which began in January 2016. By closing Bell for 7 months, construction delays were avoided during two Spring Training Seasons and this year’s holiday shopping season.

The entire Bell-Grand project, including the ramps connecting Grand Avenue to Bell Road, is scheduled to be complete prior to Spring Training 2017 at the Surprise Recreation Campus. In the meantime, your Bell to Grand Avenue access remains on Dysart Road, east of the intersection and Bell to Reems to Grand, west of the intersection.

City cuts ribbon on new water operations, training center

City leaders and GateWay Community College administrators gathered at the Surprise-GateWay Training Center today to officially cut the ribbon on the new 13,100 square foot facility.

The observation-centric training facility provides individuals interested in pursuing careers in the water and wastewater professions new opportunities for hands-on learning in the West Valley.

In addition to training space, the center provides mission critical labs and assembly facilities for city water professionals.

The center is located on the grounds of the South Plant (SPA1) Water Reclamation Facility; a facility that currently processes over 8 million gallons of water per day making it a logical location for practical learning.

For more information about the training center, call 623.222.6000.