MVD: Buying a vehicle? Check its history

PHOENIX – The Arizona Department of Transportation Motor Vehicle Division cautions consumers to beware of potential fraud when buying a car.

“The best defense is to do your research,” says Ralene Whitmer, MVD Title and Registration Specialist. “This is especially true for people buying vehicles from individuals. The possibility for fraud exists and it’s wise for every consumer to thoroughly look into a vehicle’s history. Reputable dealers will always be willing to provide this information, and that same standard should be expected of anyone who sells a vehicle in a private sale.”

A vehicle’s title will include information about its origin and whether it’s been stolen, water-damaged, wrecked, destroyed, or suffered other damage. In addition, some titles will be stamped “Export Only”, which means they were purchased by a dealer from out-of-state or a foreign country and they cannot be legally sold in Arizona.

“The advice from the Motor Vehicle Division is to avoid buying cars in Arizona that are stamped ‘Export Only’”, Whitmer added. “Dealers or individuals who attempt to sell vehicles with an Export Only title stamp within Arizona are breaking the law. Those vehicles can only be sold where the dealer is actually licensed. We have seen problems with this in Arizona communities that border Mexico and other U.S. states.”

Customers can get more information about title, registration and tips on buying and selling vehicles at www.azdot.gov/mvd at the Vehicle Services section.

ADOT to host Small & Disadvantaged Business Transportation Expo

PHOENIX – The Arizona Department of Transportation and partner agencies will hold an event Thursday, March 1, offering tips and tools to owners of small businesses and companies qualifying for the agency’s Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE) program.

The DBE & Small Business Transportation Expo, scheduled for 7 a.m. to noon at Glendale Civic Center, will allow attendees to learn about project opportunities, network with industry professionals and business owners and hear from transportation leaders including featured speaker ADOT Director John Halikowski. Also participating are the Phoenix Public Transit and Street Transportation departments, Valley Metro and Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport.

ADOT’s Disadvantaged Business Enterprise program helps qualifying small businesses compete for contracts. The companies must be owned by individuals from socially and economically disadvantaged groups, including women and minorities.

“ADOT’s Disadvantaged Business Enterprise program is critical to helping to reduce barriers to entry and teaching DBEs and small businesses how to fish, thrive and survive in the transportation industry,” said Dr. Vivien Lattibeaudiere, ADOT’S Employee and Business Development Administrator. “With access to project opportunities, they can become a meaningful part of building the transportation infrastructure in our state.”

To register for this free event, visit adotdbeexpo.com.

Although the expo is geared toward Disadvantaged Business Enterprises and small businesses, it’s open to all businesses, public agencies, vendors and community partners with an interest in the transportation industry.

For more on the Expo or ADOT’s Disadvantaged Business Enterprise program, contact the ADOT Business Engagement and Compliance Office at 602.712.7761 or visit azdot.gov/dbe.

ADOT officers assist local law enforcement in two northern Arizona arrests

PHOENIX – In addition to protecting Arizonans and infrastructure by ensuring commercial vehicles are safe to drive on the state’s highways and have proper permits, Arizona Department of Transportation officers manning commercial ports of entry coordinate with local law enforcement agencies. That partnership paid off during the past week near St. George, Utah, and in Kingman where ADOT officers helped apprehend suspects in cases involving rape and theft.

On Sunday, an ADOT Enforcement and Compliance Division officer inspecting a semi at the St. George port of entry learned, while determining whether the driver’s commercial license was valid, that the driver, Thorpe G. Steel, was wanted in Utah for rape.

Stalling for time, the ADOT officer told Steel to wait in the port of entry office while he conducted a walk-around inspection of his truck. The officer contacted Utah State Troopers and continued to stall until a trooper arrived and arrested Steel.

On the evening of February 6, two individuals broke into a Kingman man’s home and stole his 2007 Toyota FJ Cruiser and other items. Around noon February 7, two ADOT officers stationed at the Topock port of entry on I-40, heading back from training in Kingman, spotted what appeared to be the vehicle heading in the opposite direction.

Once they verified it was the vehicle, the ADOT officers contacted Kingman police dispatch as well as ADOT dispatch. Both ADOT and Kingman officers pulled the vehicle over on Stockton Hill Road, and the suspects were arrested without incident.

ADOT brings back exchange program aiding local transportation projects

PHOENIX – The Arizona Department of Transportation has brought back a program made possible under state law allowing local governments to build transportation projects faster and at a lower cost by reducing red tape associated with federal funding.

The HURF Exchange Program, taking its name from the Highway User Revenue Fund, allows ADOT to exchange State Highway Fund revenues for federal Surface Transportation Block Grant Program funds with eligible local governments. ADOT is required to administer most federally funded projects, but local governments taking part in the program can now administer projects themselves, facing fewer regulatory restrictions and requirements.

“This is a win-win for the state and local communities that would otherwise have to depend on ADOT to manage their federally funded projects,” ADOT Director John Halikowski said. “Enabling local governments to administer their own projects through the HURF Exchange Program helps reduce project costs and time to completion, and allows ADOT to focus its efforts on highway projects.”

Cities, towns and unincorporated portions of counties within a regional planning area with 200,000 or fewer residents are eligible to participate in the HURF Exchange Program. Projects must be programmed as part of the HURF Exchange Program by a region’s council of governments or metropolitan planning organization, be on the federal aid system and improve the efficiency, reliability and safety of travel. ADOT will provide State Highway Fund dollars at the rate of 90 percent of the amount of federal aid programmed for eligible projects.

ADOT will review projects qualifying for the HURF Exchange Program and consult with the Federal Highway Administration to determine which federal requirements may apply. These requirements will be the responsibility of the project sponsor to fulfill and are documented in an intergovernmental agreement.

The state Legislature authorized the program in 1997, but ADOT suspended it in 2009 due to a lack of State Highway Fund revenues. Before that, the HURF Exchange Program facilitated 145 projects with a total value exceeding $90 million.

For more information on the HURF Exchange program, please visit azdot.gov/HURFExchange.

AZGFD to hold OHV sobriety checkpoint February 17

PHOENIX – The Arizona Game and Fish Department (AZGFD) will conduct an off-highway vehicle (OHV) sobriety checkpoint Saturday, February 17 on the Tonto National Forest north of Fountain Hills.

AZGFD is conducting the checkpoint to ensure public safety by detecting and deterring impaired operation of OHVs. Those using an OHV are reminded to use the following safety tips:

  • Never operate an OHV while impaired by alcohol or drugs.
  • Helmets are required by law for all riders under the age of 18 regardless of the off-highway vehicle type. However, they are strongly recommended for all riders.
  • Wear a seat belt at all times, if equipped.
  • Only carry the number of passengers recommended by the manufacturer for your vehicle. Often many accidents are the result of too many people riding a machine that was designed for fewer passengers.
  • Wear riding goggles, a long-sleeved shirt, pants, riding gloves and over-the-ankle boots.v
  • Never ride alone.
  • Be prepared and equipped with a map, a first aid kit, whistle and have basic tools on hand.
  • Stay on designated trails.
  • Take an OHV safety education course designed to teach off-road motorists how to ride safely and responsibly.

Remember, state law requires all OHVs in Arizona require a title, license plate and an OHV decal to operate on public and state trust lands.
​​​​​​​
For more information about OHV use and safety course options, visit www.azgfd.gov/ohv.

Man nabbed by ADOT used stolen identity to open business, purchase house

PHOENIX – A Goodyear resident who used stolen identities to obtain Arizona commercial driver licenses, open a business and purchase a home was arrested thanks to Arizona Department of Transportation detectives’ use of facial recognition training and technology.

When Jose Casas, 41, visited a Motor Vehicle Division office Dec. 6 to renew his commercial driver license, the system found that his photo closely resembled two others in ADOT’s database. ADOT detectives with FBI training in facial recognition determined that all three of the photos were of Casas.

In 2007, Casas applied for an Arizona commercial driver license using a forged Illinois commercial driver license under the name of a Texas resident. He then used the stolen identity to open a trucking business, purchase vehicles for the business, and purchase personal vehicles and a house in Goodyear.

Detectives served a search warrant Feb. 7 at Casas’ Goodyear residence and arrested him. Casas was booked at the Maricopa County Fourth Avenue Jail on several counts of forgery and fraud schemes as well as mortgage fraud.

After being fingerprinted, detectives discovered that Casas had an outstanding warrant from 1996 in Illinois for failure to appear on drug charges, including delivery of narcotic drugs and possession of cocaine. He was booked as a fugitive after the state of Illinois verified the warrant.

The investigation also found that Casas had two other Arizona commercial driver licenses under stolen identities, both of which are currently under medical suspension.

This case is one more example of how facial recognition technology used by ADOT’s Office of Inspector General protects Arizonans’ identities and helps prevent fraud involving state-issued driver licenses and identification cards.

ADOT’s Office of the Inspector General investigates fraud involving driver license and identification card applications; vehicle sales by licensed and unlicensed dealers; and vehicle titles and registration. It also assists state, local and federal law enforcement agencies with investigations.

Come on out to the AZGFD Outdoor Expo March 24-25

PHOENIX – The largest hands-on outdoor recreation expo in Arizona is coming soon! Dates are set for the Arizona Game and Fish Department Outdoor Expo presented by Shikar Safari Club International. Come out Saturday, March 24 and Sunday, March 25 to the Ben Avery Shooting Facility in Phoenix. Admission and parking are free.

One big change this year is we’re expanding the size of our amAZing wildlife tent, which has been a huge attraction the past couple of years.

You’ll have the opportunity to see live “ambassador animals” from the department’s Wildlife Center and learn fun facts. As always, there will be plenty of hands-on fun for all ages like kids fishing tanks, target archery and other shooting sports in a safe, supervised, controlled environment on the range.

Get a feel for specialty shooting disciplines like clay target, cowboy action, practical pistol, black powder, and air gun. Check out the many firearms manufacturers, including some new brands this year.

Don’t miss the always popular cowboy mounted shooting competition. See OHV and ATV exhibits. Give kayaking a try at the “Lake Paddlemore” kayaking pond. Hike a field course and learn cool camping tips. Learn about boating and how to stay safe on the water. Talk to experts about Arizona’s wildlife, fishing, hunting and more. Visit with more than 100 exhibitors, including outdoor recreation and conservation groups, government agencies, and commercial vendors of outdoor products and services.

The department will auction off its annual collection of wildlife assets at the Expo. Sets of antlers, hides, skulls and head mounts, as well as wildlife artwork and taxidermy – all seized during law enforcement investigations, obtained from animals killed in vehicle collisions, or acquired through donations – will be put on the auction block both days. Funds generated from the auction are used to purchase equipment and technology used in the investigation of wildlife crimes and to protect the state’s wildlife resources.

Concessionaires will have food and beverages available for purchase, and many accept only cash — ATMs will be on site. There is a nominal charge for ammunition at some of the target shooting venues.

Expo hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday, March 24, and 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sunday, March 25. The Outdoor Expo is easy to find, located on Carefree Highway, about 1/2 mile west of I-17 in Phoenix.

See more information about the 2018 Expo.

Governor Ducey appoints Sam Elters to State Transportation Board

PHOENIX – Governor Doug Ducey has appointed Sam Elters, a transportation engineer with more than 30 years of experience in planning, design, construction and operations, to serve on the Arizona State Transportation Board.

Elters, who is senior vice president and national director of transportation for Matrix Design Group Inc. of Phoenix, will serve on the seven-member panel upon confirmation by the state Senate. He will succeed Joseph E. LaRue, who served as the board’s chairman in the final year of his term.

State Transportation Board members prioritize transportation needs, projects and funding on behalf of communities throughout Arizona. Each serves a six-year term.

Elters’ transportation experience spans the public and private sectors and includes serving as the Arizona Department of Transportation’s state engineer from 2005 to 2008. He also has served as a chief engineer for the Transportation Corridor Agencies providing toll roads in Orange County, California.

Elters has been in Arizona since 1981 and has been a resident of Maricopa County since 2005.

“It is an honor and a privilege to serve on the State Transportation Board,” Elters said. “I look forward to collaborating and working with the other board members and the Arizona Department of Transportation to promote and advance transportation solutions that will energize Arizona’s economy and enhance our quality of life.”

Meanwhile, William F. Cuthbertson, a Freeport McMoRan civil engineer who is from Greenlee County’s York Valley near Duncan, has been named chairman of the State Transportation Board.

Army Corps of Engineers looking to lower lake level at Alamo Lake

PHOENIX — The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Los Angeles District, has a draft Environmental Assessment for the Alamo Dam Flushing Flow Release available for public review and comment. According to a public notice issued by the Corps, it proposes to release water from Alamo Dam outside of the normal non-flood release schedule in order to facilitate required maintenance activities.

According to the public notice, the proposed release would occur as a flood pulse hydrograph designed to mimic a typical rain event in the downstream watershed released with appropriate seasonal timing. While the exact details of the release are subject to variation based on conditions at the time of release, such as water surface elevation and weather, the release will conform to the following general
parameters:
​​​​​​​

  1. Maximum release will not exceed 5,000 cfs.
  2. Total release time, including ascending and descending limbs, would not exceed 20 days.
  3. Ascending limb of the hydrograph will be moderate.
  4. Descending limb of the hydrograph will initially drop steeply, followed by a gradual return to base flow.
  5. The peak of the hydrograph will be completed prior to March 15.

The Corps is soliciting comments from the public; federal, state, and local agencies and officials; and other interested parties in order to consider and evaluate the impacts of this proposed project and alternatives.

Comments will be accepted through February 10, 2018.

There are two ways to submit comments. Either by mail to:
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
Los Angeles District
ATTN: Pam Kostka, CESPL-RGN-L
915 Wilshire Blvd., 13th Floor
Los Angeles, CA 90017

Or, comments can be sent electronically to: pamela.k.kostka@usace.army.mil.

Arizona state fish returns: AZGFD to resume stocking Apache trout

PHOENIX – The Apache trout, one Arizona’s two native trout, are returning to lakes and streams in the White Mountains by May. The Arizona Game and Fish Department is scheduled to stock around 55,000 Apache trout of a catchable size from its Silver Creek Hatchery from May through September.

Stockings could not occur in 2017 due to federal hatcheries having tested positive for Bacteria Kidney Disease (BKD). The state relies on federal hatcheries to supply the eggs necessary to raise Apache trout.

This year, AZGFD is expecting to receive about 200,000 Apache trout eggs. AZGFD has around 100,000 Apache trout eggs (BKD free) at its Tonto Creek Hatchery that came from Williams Creek National Fish Hatchery and are scheduled to be stocked next year.

AZGFD typically stocks Apache trout into Lee Valley Reservoir, East Fork of the Black River, West Fork of the Black River (campground), West Fork of the Little Colorado River at Sheep Crossing (below Mt. Baldy), West Fork of the Little Colorado River in Greer, and Upper Silver Creek.

Subscribe to our fishing reports and stay tuned for more stocking details. Apache trout can be caught by a variety of methods, including wet or dry flies, small lures, or natural baits, in either lakes or streams. Artificial flies produce the best results. Best natural baits tend to be worms or grasshoppers.

See more information about Apache trout.