News Briefs

By Christina Fuoco-Karasinski

Buckeye employee wins state award

Buckeye’s senior center manager, Phil Yabes, was named the 2021 Professional of the Year by the Arizona Parks and Recreation Association.

Yabes has worked for Buckeye for 16 years and is called a “jack of all trades” for the city and the community services department.

Shortly after the pandemic hit, Yabes led roundtable discussions with other APRA professionals regarding senior services to share ideas, offer support and problem solve.

The goal was to continue offering the much-needed critical services to seniors. These discussions were so successful, Yabes now leads the APRA Adults and Senior TEAMS to continue the work.

In addition, Yabes found ways to increase meal production for senior and disabled residents. This resulted in a 39% increase in meal production over last year. More than 40,000 meals were served and/or delivered throughout Buckeye and the surrounding community.

He also leveraged his relationship with the Salvation Army and Buckeye’s Water Resources Department to help develop a utility assistance program for residents facing financial hardship as a result of the pandemic using CARES money. The Buckeye City Council approved a $500,000 allocation, which was managed by his office.

The professional of the year award recognizes an individual who demonstrates continuous contributions to park, recreation and/or cultural services at the local, state, regional or national level with a minimum of 10 years in the field. Required skills include leadership, research, education, public relations and job performance.

Yabes received the award at the annual Arizona Parks and Recreation Conference and Expo.

Ken Kunze set to lead Westernaires

Ken Kunze will succeed Sue Powell as president of the Westernaires Chorus of Sun City West on January 1.

During its recent quarterly general meeting, the club also elected Dick Hermann to succeed vice president Betsy Talbert and re-elected Jean Bramucci and Russell Flack as secretary and treasurer, respectively.

The holiday presentation, “Noel Festival,” will feature classic and modern music directed by Sylvia Collins in the Stardust Theater on Friday, December 3, to Monday, December 6.

Tickets, $12 in advance, can be purchased at the rec center’s box office. They are $15 at the door. For more information, contact Powell at 610-209-5136 or email

AAUW meets for lunch

AAUW Northwest Valley-Special Interest Group, Girlfriends and More, met for lunch at Nick’s Diner in Surprise. Following dinner, the women saw the film “The Last Duel” at the AMC Theatre.

The American Association of University Women (AAUW) is the nation’s leading voice promoting equity and education for women and girls. Since its founding in 1881, AAUW members have examined and taken positions on the fundamental issues of the day—education, social, economic and political.

AAUW advances gender equity for women and girls through research, education and advocacy. Membership is open to anyone who earned degrees ranging from associate’s to postgrad from a regionally accredited college or university.

For more information, call 623-986-0165.

Friday Night Christmas Lights kicks off at Fellowship Square

Fellowship Square Historic Mesa is in the spirit of the season with Friday Night Christmas Lights.

Residents, staff and visitors are invited to tour the property at 35 W. Brown Road, Mesa, to check out the festive window décor and vote for their favorites from 5 to 6:30 p.m. Fridays December 3, December 10 and December 17.

The top three contestants in each of the best window categories — Celebrating Our Savior, Jolly Holiday and Spirit of the Season — will win a rent credit or a donation to a charity of their choice.

For more information, visit