An unforgettable, often regrettable year is coming to a close.
The COVID-19 pandemic was a true global disaster, killing millions around the world.
Though the West Valley’s year was largely shaped by the devastating spread of the coronavirus—and the shutdowns and slowdowns called by state, county and school officials—there was quite a bit of “non-COVID news” in 2020.
Here are some of the top stories of the year in Glendale:
20. Street racing
A growing trend of “intersection shutdowns” became an unwanted addition to Glendale, though police said they made multiple arrests and used technology to shut down the shutdowns.
19. Hot, hot, hot
Even as Westgate Entertainment District expands, a new mini version of it called En Fuego opens across Glendale Avenue.
18. Coyotes shoot … and miss
After a pandemic-shortened season, the Arizona Coyotes made the playoffs.
The hockey team quickly lost in the first round—and then took their time paying rent, missing multiple payments.
But, according to Gila River Arena officials, the team is “all caught up” and ready for a new season.
17. ‘Triangle killing’
Brandon Kimbell is accused of savagely beating his roommate to death.
He allegedly told police the victim was part of a “triangle” with Kimbell and his wife.
Kimbell faces trial for first-degree murder.
16. Parking lot rage
An Avondale man on his way to a Westgate car show got into an argument about a parking space.
He was shot and killed by a gunman who sped away—and has not been caught.
15. Spring Training ends early
As Spring Training began, fans at Camelback Ranch got to see the Los Angeles Dodgers and Chicago White Sox work out—and hound players for autographs.
But, as the COVID-19 pandemic spread, Major League Baseball abruptly ended the preseason.
The Dodgers went on to win the World Series.
14. Local elections
Though lacking in the controversy of the presidential election, Glendale elections were feisty.
After a heated battle, Mayor Jerry Weiers was reelected in a landslide win over unknown Michelle Robertson. Veteran Councilwoman Joyce Clark also won her reelection.
But voters rejected the city’s request for $187 million in bonds.
13. Glen Lakes sold
The group Save Glen Lakes protested and protested and protested some more at planning and city council meetings.
The Glendale Planning Commission agreed, rejecting a plan from a developer to “flip the golf course” into a gated community.
But city council approved the project, and the city signed, sold and delivered Glen Lakes Golf Course to a home developer.
Goodbye, Glen Lakes Golf Course … Hello, Trevino at Glen Lakes homes.
12. Homeless problem
Though the Point in Time annual count showed the city’s unsheltered population dropped slightly, Glendale continues to be by far the West Valley leader in homeless people.
City leaders continue to look for ways to provide outreach, services and ultimately permanent shelter for the homeless.
11. Teacher trial delayed
Former teacher Ricky Ordway, accused of molesting multiple students in his Sun Valley Elementary School classroom near the Peoria/Glendale border, was scheduled to go to trial in January on two dozen sex abuse and molestation charges.
The trial was delayed to April, then July, then November …
Ordway is now scheduled for trial at Maricopa County Superior Court Jan. 21, 2021—nearly 18 months after he was arrested and charged.
Ordway, who has consistently proclaimed his innocence, is out on bail.
10. Hottest summer … ever
The summer of 2020 shattered records, as Glendale sweated out its hottest summer ever.
9. Luke flies high
With more F-35A Lightning II jets on the way, Luke Air Force Base is set to take off—and take the West Valley economy along for the ride.
A mission expansion revolving around 144 new fighter jets will pump up Luke AFB’s population—as well as the surrounding areas, including Goodyear, Litchfield Park and Avondale.
Luke is gradually ramping up for the F-35A Lightning II jets over the next six years.
8. They stopped the truck stop
There was no love in Waddell/Litchfield Park for Love’s, as residents rose up to challenge the proposed truck stop on newly annexed land.
Glendale City Council approved the proposal, but the pressure led Love’s to take an exit, so to speak.
7. Classrooms yo-yo
In March, Gov. Doug Ducey closed all schools in Arizona.
With kids learning online, classrooms stayed closed for months before tentatively reopening … only to close again in November and December.
6. Casino opens
After years and $400 million in construction costs, the Desert Diamond Casino West Valley opening was a full house in February—until pandemic restrictions forced it to fold.
Eventually, the long-awaited, Las Vegas-style casino reopened with poker, blackjack tables and a whopping 1,100 slot machines.
5. Westgate mass shooting
On May 20, three were shot at Westgate in an apparently random attack by a single shooter. The suspect allegedly was armed with an AR-15 rifle that jammed—preventing him from reaching his goal of shooting 10 people, according to a prosecutor.
Police arrested Armando Hernandez, a 20-year-old Peoria resident, and charged him with multiple counts of aggravated assault.
4. Something is brewing …
Is there something in the water?
Red Bull and White Claw launched huge beverage-production plants in Glendale.
3. Glendale grows
Glendale City Council approved one annexation project after another, expanding the “New Frontier” area of west Glendale.
The city’s boundaries now extend well past the Loop 303, with industrial projects in the works that are expected to bring thousands of jobs to Glendale.
Glendale City Manager Kevin Phelps made a splash (so to speak), when he unveiled the Crystal Lagoons water park development in September.
Glendale City Council quickly gave the thumbs up to the previously secretive project, which Phelps said will include several hotels, restaurants, offices, shops, amusement parks, movie theaters …
Though Phelps said the project will be complete well before the 2023 Super Bowl at nearby State Farm Stadium, he has repeatedly delayed a promised announcement on an “anchor tenant”—and construction has already been delayed.
The coronavirus was a wrecking ball, knocking down much of the year and destroying the word “normal.”
West Valley cities raced to keep pace with the pandemic, issuing mask orders, making meetings online only, closing facilities, and canceling events from Fourth of July to Christmas celebrations.
Restaurants and other businesses struggled to survive during lockdown periods.
As hospitals filled with COVID-19 patients, good news arrived—with promising vaccines.