Yuma County News




Yuma, AZ –


On Tuesday, February 18, 2020, at about 1:25 a.m., Yuma Police officers responded to a report of a two vehicle rollover collision on 20th Street and Avenue B. 


The initial investigation revealed a 2004, Nissan Xterra, driven by 22 year old male, was traveling south bound on Avenue B approaching 20th Street.  The Nissan attempted to turn left on to 20th Street and collided with a Chevrolet Sonic that was also traveling south bound on Avenue B, causing it to rollover ejecting three of the passengers.  The driver of Chevrolet Sonic, a 26 year old female, and all four passengers were transported to Yuma Regional Medical Center.  An 18 year old female from the Chevrolet Sonic succumbed to her injuries on the way to Yuma Regional Medical Center. 


The case is still under investigation. 


The Yuma Police Department encourages anyone with any information about this case to please call Motor Officer J. Welch at (928) 373-4752 or the Yuma Police Department at (928) 373-4700 or 78-Crime at (928) 782-7463 to remain anonymous.





YUMA, AZ – Yuma Union High School District wrestling programs put together an impressive stretch of wins at the Arizona Interscholastic Association state championships from Feb. 13-15, 2020, including Yuma High School claiming its second state title in three years, and multiple male and female athletes claiming individual victories.

Yuma High, which took the Division III championship in 2018, tallied 111 team points, besting second place Sahuarita by 19.5 to earn its second Division III title under head coach Jeff Welsing. It was the third state title for Yuma High wrestling in program history. Their first victory at state came in 1963.

Jayden Dobson took home the 220-pound individual title, his second in as many years, while five wrestlers placed in the top six.

“We were in second place and down by 5 points to heavily favored Canyon Del Oro [High School] after day one,” Welsing said. “We had 3 in the semifinals and 4 in the consolation round heading into day two. Two of our three semifinalists advanced to the finals (Dobson and Mario Bugarin), and we just kept winning and advancing in the consolation rounds and headed into the final round with a 10.5-point lead on the field. We needed two of our five medalists to win in the final round to seal the state championship and after Mario lost in the finals, 126-pound Jacob Navarro did just that and pinned the No. 1 seed and defending state champion in his fifth place match to seal the state title.”

The previous night, Cibola High School earned a second place finish overall in the Division II state tournament, with three wrestlers winning individual crowns. Juan Sierra (126 pounds), Zeke Guerrero (145 pounds), and Liam Hoffmeyer (195 pounds) won their respective weight classes.

Carolina Moreno from Kofa High School, who became the first female state champion in YUHSD history last year, capped off her undefeated season with a rousing victory in the 125-pound title match. She accumulated a 27-0 record on the season and won three of her four matches in the state tournament by pin.

Moreno’s feats were not the only historic results for YUHSD girls wrestling.

San Luis High School’s Jenny Peralta, who wrestled in the 130-pound weight class, earned a sixth place finish, becoming the first-ever female wrestler from San Luis High to place at the state level.

Here is a complete list of all individual medalists for YUHSD schools:

Juan Sierra, 126, First Place
Zeke Guerrero, 145, First Place
Liam Hoffmeyer, 195, First Place
Sebastian Valencia, 160, Second Place
Ben Torres, 140, Fourth Place,
Jordan Mellor, 152, Fourth Place
Marcos Meza, 285, Fifth Place
Demarko Gomez, 113, Sixth Place

Anthony Morales, 145, Second Place
Damian Moreno, 106, Fourth Place
Raul Aispuro, 126, Fifth Place
Nicolas Moreno, 285, Sixth Place

Jayden Dobson, 220, First Place
Mario Bugarin, 113, Second Place
Servando Campos, 170, Third Place
Justin Perez, 285, Fourth Place
Jacob Navarro, 126, Fifth Place

Gila Ridge:
Clemente Delgado, 106, Third Place
Ty Moreno, 132, Fifth Place

Carolina Moreno, 125, First Place

San Luis:
Jenny Peralta, 130, Sixth Place

Gila Ridge:
Madison Bocanegra, 225, Sixth Place



Yuma High School held the first-ever Yuma Union High School District Unified Basketball tournament on Friday, Jan. 31, 2020 in the Palace Gym. 


Cibola, Gila Ridge, San Luis, and Yuma all fielded teams in the 4-on-4 tournament that included peer mentors partnering with students from Unified Physical Education classes.


Yuma High’s team went undefeated in round-robin play before defeating Gila Ridge in the gold medal game. The Hawks took home a silver medal, while San Luis and Cibola won bronze medals. Additionally, all student participants were awarded trophies.


“This was an awesome event,” said Yuma High baseball coach Nick Johnson, who assisted as a master of ceremonies. “This allows the realm of athletics to go past what we usually see in athletic programs and highlight an amazing partnership between Special Olympics and YUHSD.”


The tournament was facilitated by YHS Unified Sports Coach Liz Huyck with a goal of developing a basketball team that can compete in Arizona Interscholastic Association’s (AIA) Unified Sports. In an effort to build interest in the community and Yuma High, Huyck decided to host the event and said she hopes to make the tournament an annual occurrence. Special Olympics Arizona and the AIA were on-hand.


“My favorite part is seeing the camaraderie with the athletes and their peer mentors,” Huyck said.


The tournament included support from a wide-range of students on the Yuma High campus: a rendition of the National Anthem was performed by Jesus Pulido, a member of the Yuma High Choir; Yuma High basketball players Jacob Straub, Kevin Hernandez, Julian Goldsborough, and Xavier Martinez served as officials; the Yuma High dance performed prior to the final game; and YHS Student Council provided lunch.


After Lunch, each school had a player participate in a free throw contest where the winner, Jordan Hunter, was awarded a free throw trophy. A 3-point contest followed, where the winner, Mario Arroyo, also received a trophy.




The Kofa High School Hall of Fame Committee enshrined a dozen members as part of the class of 2020 in the school’s Athletic Hall of Fame on Saturday, Jan. 25, 2020 inside Rillos Gym.

The group was the second class of inductees after a dozen members were part of the inaugural class a year ago. Festivities for the Hall of Fame class began last Thursday with a meet-and-greet at Lute’s Casino in downtown Yuma, followed by recognition at intermission between the boys and girls varsity basketball games on Friday, and culminated with a luncheon and plaque unveiling on the Kofa campus on Saturday.

“The one thing I really cherished was the experience to have the opportunity to not only play athletics, but getting the education from the teachers we had here (at Kofa),” said Frank Martinez, who was a three-sport star for the Kings and graduated in the Class of 1977.

Here is a complete list of inductees for the class of 2020:

Phil McKeown (Class of 1965), basketball; George Martinez (1969), football and baseball; Frank Martinez (1977), football, basketball and baseball; Miguel Jaurequi (1983), basketball; David Amaya (1996), basketball; Denise “Gooch” Cardenas (1997), volleyball, basketball and softball; Doug Sturm (1997), wrestling; Chelsie Mesa-Brooks (2003), volleyball and softball; Jorge Benitez (2009), wrestling; Irwin Pallack (1962-1986), coach: track, football and basketball; 1963-64 state champion boys cross country team; and John Boemer (1971), supporter of athletics.

The Kofa Athletic Hall of Fame honors the contributions and accomplishments of those individuals who are worthy of recognition and have set examples for others to emulate. Nominees for the Hall of Fame must exemplify the highest standards of sportsmanship, ethical conduct, and moral character. All candidates are judged on their significant and/or long-term contributions to athletic endeavors.


The packet for nominating individuals or teams for the Class of 2021 is available on Kofa’s website as well as the Hall of Fame’s official Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/KHSHallofFame/. Nominations are also accepted via the following digital form: http://bit.ly/KHSHOFNominations.




 In Gadsden Elementary School District #32 located along the U.S.-Mexico border, Omar Duran has worked diligently as a teacher and principal to give his community’s students the opportunity to live the American dream. Born and raised in Yuma County, Duron sees his mission as not only professional, but personal. Today, that dedication was rewarded with a $25,000 Milken Educator Award, which he can use however he wishes.


Duron was surprised with the prestigious national recognition by Milken Educator Awards Founder Lowell Milken and Arizona Superintendent of Public Instruction Kathy Hoffman at an all-school assembly at Southwest Junior High, where Duron is serving his third year as principal. Previously Duron worked in the district as a classroom teacher, teacher leader, and a professional development coordinator in the central office.


“Drawing on his own deep roots in the San Luis community, Omar Duron has made understanding students and their families a top priority,” said Lowell Milken. “Talented, charismatic and reflective as a teacher leader, he leveraged his knowledge and skills by mentoring others. Now as principal, Omar firmly believes that leading is collaborative, hands-on, and supportive, resulting in a schoolwide determination to prepare all students for success.”


Duron is the only Arizona recipient of the Award for the 2019-20 school year and among up to 40 educators nationwide to receive the honor this season.


Hailed by Teacher magazine as the “Oscars of Teaching,” the Milken Educator Awards celebrate, elevate and activate the American teaching profession and inspire young, capable people to join it. The Milken Educator Award is not designated for lifetime achievement. Recipients are heralded while early to mid-career for what they have achieved — and for the promise of what they will accomplish given the resources and opportunities inherent in the Award.


“Strong school leadership is critical to student and teacher success,” said Superintendent Hoffman. “When our educators know they have a leader that believes and invests in them, they are more likely to stay in the classroom. I am grateful for Omar Duron’s commitment to building teacher leaders and student achievement at Southwest Junior High. He represents the best of Arizona’s public education system.”

More About Omar Duran


Innovation: Building teacher leadership is important to Principal Duron. The district partners with the National Institute for Excellence in Teaching (NIET), and Duron embraced the rubric and collaborative practices of NIET’s TAP System for Teacher and Student Advancement. TAP’s integrated system of support includes multiple career paths (teacher leadership), professional development, educator evaluation and feedback, and performance-based compensation.


Results: Described as data-driven, methodical, organized and a strong role model for teachers and students, Duron strives to secure the resources his Southwest school community needs to succeed. He instills in his team that all students deserve an equitable opportunity to learn and grow academically. Virtually all Southwest students deal with poverty, and half are migrants and/or English language learners (ELL). Defying stereotypes, student achievement has risen steadily for the past five years. A Stanford University study showed that the district outpaced peers and ranked in the top 10% of the nation for growth. Before Duron took over as principal, the Johns Hopkins Center for Talented Youth (CTY) recognized Southwest as one of the top 10 schools in the world for supporting the development of academically advanced students. Duron has continued the CTY partnership, through which about 30 students each year engage in advanced academic programs.


Leadership: Duron spends most of the instructional day visiting classrooms and knows every student by name. By being a product of Gadsden schools, Duron knows firsthand the challenges and obstacles that his students must overcome to live productive and fruitful lives. He builds relationships centered around student needs and is committed to advancing policies to support migrant and ELL students.


Extra Credit: Duron brings unique learning opportunities to Southwest that help students flourish. They take ACT preparation classes during the summer and practice creative problem-solving through Odyssey of the Mind.


Education: Duron earned a bachelor’s in elementary education in 2004 and a master’s in administration in 2016 from Northern Arizona University. He is pursuing a doctorate in educational leadership.


More information about Duron, plus links to photos and video from today’s assembly, can be found on the Milken Educator Awards website at https://www.milkeneducatorawards.org/educators/view/omar-duron

More About the Milken Educator Awards: “The future belongs to the educated.”

The very first Milken Educator Awards were presented by the Milken Family Foundation in 1987. The Awards, created by Lowell Milken, provide public recognition and individual financial rewards of $25,000 to elementary and secondary school teachers, principals and specialists from around the country who are furthering excellence in education.


Along with the $25,000 financial prize, recipients join the national Milken Educator Network, a group of more than 2,800 top teachers, principals and specialists. The network serves as a rich resource for fellow educators, legislators, school boards and others dedicated to excellence in education.


The 2019-20 honorees will also attend an all-expenses-paid Milken Educator Forum in Indianapolis March 26-28, 2020, where they will network with their new colleagues and exchange ideas with state and federal leaders on the future of education. In addition, the Milken Educator Awards’  “Why Not Us” program will pair each 2019-2020 recipient with a veteran Milken Educator mentor to explore and prepare for expanded leadership roles that strengthen education practice and policy.

·         Over the years, more than $140 million in funding, including $70 million for the individual cash awards, has been devoted to the overall Milken Awards initiative, which includes powerful professional development opportunities throughout recipients’ careers.


·         The Awards alternate yearly between elementary and secondary educators; this season honors secondary school teachers.


·         Veteran Milken Educators frequently go on to leadership roles at state, national and international levels.


·         Unlike most teacher recognition programs, the Milken Educator Awards has no formal nomination or application process. Candidates are sourced through a confidential selection process and then reviewed by blue ribbon panels in each state. Those most exceptional are recommended for the Award, with final selection made by the Milken Family Foundation.


·         The cash award is unrestricted. Recipients have used the money in diverse ways; for instance, on their children’s or their own continuing education, financing dream field trips, establishing scholarships, and even on the adoption of children.  


Submitted by Eric Patten, YUHSD


Arizona Supreme Court to hear oral arguments at San Luis High School


SAN LUIS, AZ – The Arizona Supreme Court will hear oral arguments at San Luis High School on Thursday, Feb. 13 at 9 a.m. as part of the Court’s “oral arguments on the road” community outreach program.


The Court hears arguments at Arizona’s two state law schools each year and at other local venues around the state, including in Arizona schools and community centers. The event in

San Luis is open to the public with limited seating in the campus performing arts center.


“It’s a unique experience for the students of San Luis High School and our community, and we are excited to host the Arizona Supreme Court,” San Luis High School Principal Lucky Arvizo said. “We have a large number of students who are interested in the field of law and public safety as well as government, but the chance to see the judicial system in action and converse with Supreme Court judges is fantastic opportunity for all of our students.”


The student body and members of the public will be able to review summaries of the legal issues being considered by the Court and will be able to participate in a question and answer session with the justices following the arguments. Students in the school’s Career & Technical Education agriculture program will host a private lunch for the Court after the arguments.


“We are looking forward to visiting the growing community of San Luis, Arizona,” Chief Justice Robert Brutinel said. “The Arizona Supreme Court hears cases outside of the courthouse at least four times per year.  We regularly try to visit communities outside of Phoenix to keep in touch with local community concerns and to emphasize that we are the Supreme Court of the entire State of Arizona. We enjoy the opportunity to answer students’ questions and hopefully to start some of them thinking about a career in the law and in the judicial branch.”


San Luis High School and Yuma Union High School District has worked closely with Arizona Supreme Court personnel to coordinate the event. The cases before the Court in San Luisꟷand all Supreme Court oral argumentsꟷwill be livestreamed at http://www.azcourts.gov/AZSupremeCourt/LiveArchivedVideo.



ABOUT JENNIFER: Jennifer Blackwell hails from Safford, AZ!  In 1993, Jennifer relocated to Yuma to be with her husband, Jeff (a native Yuman!) The two have been married since 1994 and they have a son, Jace, who is a college student.

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