Arizona Republic from Phoenix, Arizona on April 3, 1995 · Page 71
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Arizona Republic from Phoenix, Arizona · Page 71

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Phoenix, Arizona
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Monday, April 3, 1995
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Page 71
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I Mesa 10 11 12 uazette mi riiiiii SERVING Apache Junction Mesa THE ARIZONA REPUBLIC ssssns Monday, April 3, 1995 11 ' COMMUNITY Around Town Better than eating crow He may have spent his prize money on Pepto-Bismol, but Clay Rinehold got the $100 prize in the recent Superstition Mountain Museum pie-eating contest in Apache Junction. , Rinehold, former publisher of The Territorial newspaper, downed about 7 pounds of apple pie to out-gobble his opponents. Let's talk II CM: Imagination to reality: We remember going to see banta tlaus to tell him what we wanted for Christmas. But we don't remember going to see the Easter Bunny. tU But all of a sudden, city , parks and malls are hosting events where the Easter Bunny shows up and poses for pictures with children. When did the Easter Bunny become something to see, talk to and pose with, instead of just to imagine? And why? If you can explain, call us at 271-5656, press 2420, and leave a recorded message. Thanks. Watch the kids, summer's coming: The K.C.Johnson Foundation of Mesa was awarded the 1995 Voluntary Organizational Service Award for its anti-drowning programs. The foundation, created in 1985 by the family of 8-year-old drowning victim K.C. Johnson, was honored by the National Recreation and Parks Association, Pacific Southwest. Do you know of someone who has done something praiseworthy? Call 271-5656, press 2419. Leave your name and number. You won't believe my date last night! A recent errand at Arizona State University took us to the facilities maintenance building, where a door sign warns: "Date Quarantine Area." Now, we don't know what kinds of dates are under quarantine, but we do wonder if the room has anything to do with campus social life. On the road Question on the plate: We like personalized license plates in general such as the easily understood 10S NE 1 or T IT UP -but the really fun ones are those on the cryptic side like the one recently spotted on Mill Avenue: "PL8 MAN". Go figure: Somebody who enjoys eating? An artist who decorates fine china? Perhaps an ASU geologist working on tectonic plate theory? Maybe a supervisor in a license plate factory? Top teacher, driver honored: Tom Markley at Red Mountain High School was named professional of the year by the Arizona Driver and Safety Education Association at its recent convention. Markley was cited for "making his mark" in teaching techniques and articles on driver education. 0 fill Do you know of someone who has done . something praiseworthy? Call 271-5656, press 2419. Leave your name and number. The Bottom Line They have telephones in Florence now. I didn't know if you knew that. Pinal County Superior Court Judge Robert Bean to the Apache Junction City Council - h J " V " r X s 'f (l( (! 'Ik ft 0 Nancy Engebretson staff photographer Penny Nickel-Relf has been hunting for her daughter, Heather, now 14, since she disappeared with her fugitive father In September 1992. gra top Teenager in hiding with fugitive father By Clare Ullk Staff writer H I HEATHER eather Anne Relf is a young teenager living a secret life. For nearly three years, 14-year-old Heather has been . hiding, living on the run with her ' father, Richard Relf, a fugitive charged with stealing nearly $1 million from his Phoenix employer. No one knows where they are. Or who they may have become. Relf had legal custody of Heather when the two disappeared in 1992. Heather's mother, Penny Nickel-Relf, gained custody last summer and grows more desperate each day to find her daughter, whose face is seared in her memory as a freckled 1 1-year-old. "It has gotten to where focusing on other things is not easy, because all I want to do is get her back," said Nickel-Relf, a petite 39-year-old who covers up her fears by being organized and methodical in her search for her missing child. "She's getting older, and she needs her mother. And she's going to need some psychological help after living on the run and feeling like she has to defend her father for hiding her all these years." When she disappeared, Heather was about 4 feet 8 and thin, with long, strawberry blonde hair. She has freckles across her nose and cheeks, and blue eyes. Relf is 6 feet 2, about 300 pounds, with brown hair and hazel eyes. Nickel-Relf is convinced that Relf has changed his and Heather's identities. She said he's done it before. When she met him in "It has gotten to where focusing on other things is not easy, because all I want to do is get her back." Penny Nickel-Relf Heather's mother 1979 in Seattle, he went by the name Edward Galen Vachta. He had used a dead man's Social Security card to acquire the identity. "He told me it was because he had left an ex-wife and child back East, and he didn't want them to find him," Nickel-Relf said. Relf resumed his given name when the couple moved to the Valley, where Relf s family lives. Relf and Heather disappeared from their Cave Creek home on Sept. 9, 1992. He had been fired for stealing money from his employer, Brown Wholesale Electric Co., and was nervously awaiting the outcome. Relf was indicted by a Maricopa County grand jury on two counts each of fraud and theft a month after he fled. He allegedly embezzled more than $800,000 by having checks sent to fictitious suppliers and then pocketing the money. If convicted, Relf could be sentenced to a maximum 48 years in prison. Nickel-Relf learned of her ex-husband's disappearance when she received an unopened letter that she had written to Heather, along with a note from Relf s third wife, Joanne Johnston. It said: "Richard and Heather left Sept. 9th without leaving any notes or messages. This is all I know. Sorry, Joanne." See DAUGHTER, Page 3 Graham argues for vouchers faces tough legislative battle By Bob Petrle Staff writer . V. s. Jr I GRAHAM MESA State Superintendent of Public Instruction Lisa Graham said she'll continue to battle for a school voucher program, despite tough sledding through the Legislature this spring. "It's already died three times in the Legisla ture, and I don't think it has a shot (this term)," said Graham, speaking at an educational town hall meeting at Red Mountain High School. Vouchers would allow a student to use state funding to attend any school, including private facilities. Such programs are controversial,' especially when sectarian schools are eligible for vouchers, which Graham and Gov, Fife Symington favor. She acknowledged 'the program, if passed in Arizona, would likely be challenged in the courts; but said vouchers can be a useful tool in putting students "in the best setting possible" for learning. Graham predicted the number of students changing schools would be negligible. "The future of it is it ultimately will pass, and it won't have a huge effect because most people are at the schools they want to be at now," Graham said. Other topics discussed during the one-hour meeting Thursday included year-round schooling, ed- ucation funding, student assessment testing, and making sure students are ready for the workplace when they graduate from nigh school. Graham said she supports year-round schools, but prefers increasing the number of educational days to 220 per year, rather than just rearranging the 175 days students now attend over a 12-month schedule. The days could be added at the rate of two a year to phase it . in over the next two decades, she said. But she said districts would need to show they would use the extra time on core education. "I don't think the public would See GRAHAM, Page 6 Renewal of freeway tax assumed By Anthony Sommer Staff writer . Did you know that in 2005, you're going to go to the polls and vote to extend the existing half-cent tax for freeways for another 10 years? At least that's what the Maricopa Association of Governments is telling the federal government you're going to do. MAG has structured a 20-year freeway construction plan based on that assumption. Tempe Mayor Neil Giuliano called it a "plan built on quicksand." But then he voted for it anyway. The additional money would be used to build the Red Mountain Freeway east of Gilbert Road and the San Tan Freeway east of Chandler. Both are designated "unfunded" in Gov. Fife Symington's freeway plan. The 20-year construction plan, See TAX, Page 2 INSIDE TODAY What did they get for that old house? COMING WEDNESDAY Lost in history: Pair seeks to redeem WWII hero's name

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