Before 2009, no one had ever heard about San Tan Valley. Why? It didn't exist. The area that became known as San Tan Valley on June 23, 2009, had previously been called almost anything else. Some called it Queen Creek (which it was never a part of, causing its own list of problems), some referred to the area as the name of the housing subdivision they lived in such as Johnson Ranch, San Tan Heights or Pecan Creek. Others called it Pinal County while others simply called it "land way out there".
Over the last seven plus years San Tan Valley not only became a census designated area with a name, but businesses started popping up, new homes continue to build, schools are being added, roads are improving and now with the passing of HB2088 that was signed by Governor Ducey on Feb 21, 2017, San Tan Valley has the opportunity to vote on whether or not it wants to become a city, without fear of neighboring communities blocking that vote.
All of these pieces are doing more than just defining a geographical area, but they are creating a community that is called San Tan Valley. San Tan Valley isn't just an area out in the far east valley, residents are taking ownership and working to improve their quality of life. Not only do they want the community to be one where they can live and work, but they want to be a part of a community that supports each other, a community they feel they can belong to.
Community isn't something that is just created with economic growth, new roads or affordable housing. A community is created by the people who live there. It's a feeling that people get, a culture, a brand. Defining who San Tan Valley is, has been a challenge over the years and sometimes it's tough to see the change taking place right underneath your nose.
This past Saturday however was an exceptional example of the community that is being created here. Residents from all different backgrounds, with different passions and causes, came together and by doing so, they were able to show the community in San Tan Valley.
The morning started out in one of the beautiful rural areas of San Tan Valley, near the San Tan Mountain Regional Park. Residents in the area noticed that a particular area by the park had become an illegal dumping area. Estimating at least 4-5 truckloads of garbage had been dumped, some started reaching out to others in the community to schedule a clean up day. Within only a couple of weeks, elected officials, county employees, community members, business leaders, residents young and older all came together and cleaned the area up. "This was as much about the community coming together as the practical aspects of getting some ugly trash out of a beautiful spot," said local San Tan Valley resident Stan Tomkiewicz.
Around the same time but on the opposite end of San Tan Valley, Compassion Queen Creek was holding its annual event, providing free medical and dental services to anyone in need. The event was held at the J.O. Combs Middle School and while it didn't start until 8am, residents were lining up just after 5am. From well women checks, to dental services and even haircuts and massages, thanks to a strong partnership of about 33 local churches who put on the event, local businesses who donated their services, non profit agencies who presented resources available and community member volunteers, over 1000 residents were provided services that day. With the opening of the Compassion Care Center last year, which is located at 5418 E Skyline Dr, San Tan Valley, AZ 85140, residents throughout the area now have somewhere to go locally for assistance, whether or not they received services during the annual Compassion event.
Saturday was also the American Legion Post 97's Annual Cruise-In for Vets Car & Bike Show, which is an event not only honoring our active military and veterans, but raising funds to help provide services and assistance to Veterans in need. The Motorcycle Color Guard of America and the Arizona Precision Motorcycle Drill Team kicked off the event which was then filled with cars, bikes, trucks, specialty vehicles, music, fun, raffles, prizes, food trucks and vendor booths.
To watch an area of homes and businesses, become a community over the years is something that is incredible to not only watch, but to be a part of. From keeping our community clean, to helping those in need and celebrating our Veterans, I couldn't be more proud of the community San Tan Valley is creating.