On the surface, Gre
On the surface, Greenfield Elementary may look just like all of the other elementary schools in Gilbert. Tour the school and you begin to realize you are in a special place, due largely to the efforts of longtime Building Manager, Jerry Gift.
Much of Mr. Gift’s 23-year tenure with the school has been spent championing environmentally conscious change. Several years ago, Mr. Gift made note of the often only partially filled trash dumpsters on the school site. The dumpster volume was taken up largely by non-recyclable Styrofoam used during the lunch service, making thrice weekly pickup service necessary.
Mr. Gift presented a solution to the school principal – a machine to melt down the Styrofoam. Not only would the Styrofoam be compacted to take up less space, the 4x4x2 foot condensed Styrofoam could be sold and used as an alternative fuel source or be made into other products like planters. Gilbert Public Schools’ services were sold on the idea and purchased a Thermo Compactor for Greenfield Elementary.
Mr. Gift encourages the elementary students to serve as volunteers in assisting the school’s recycling efforts.
“I like to keep it simple with the students by having them do the same jobs everyday thus making them feel more confident in their role as recyclers,” says Gift.
The schools combined efforts to recycle Styrofoam as well as milk cartons and aluminum cans, have cut their weekly trash pickup service from 3 times a week to 2 times a week. This minor change not only reduced costs but also the carbon footprint required to service the receptacles more often. A win-win all around!
Mr. Gift’s reduce, reuse, recycle efforts did not stop there. He suggested removing one overhead bulb from every fixture in the facility that would normally use two, resulting in a marked cost savings for the school. Mr. Gift is a modest man who does not solicit recognition for his actions. He is quick to point out that he works with a “very supportive staff” and credits the wonderful students who he inspires to go the extra mile and do their part to contribute each day the school’s recycling efforts.
Mr. Gift’s forward thinking and willingness to think globally and act locally is what makes him Gilbert’s Reduce Reuse and Recycle Hero of the month. We salute you Mr. Gift!

Do you know someone who could be Gilbert’s next RRR Hero of the Month? Nominate them today by emailing

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Gilbert Will Never Forget By Layton J Baker

I wrote the following poem for our 911 Artifact:

It’s been 10 years since 2001 on that fateful 11th of September

Nearly 3,000 lives were lost and so we must always remember

We must never ever forget the great sacrifice of so many that day

When this catastrophe brought us together in a most frightful way

A plane first crashed into Tower One and we all wondered why

But wonder turned to fear as Tower Two exploded in the sky

Few of us will ever know about really putting our life on the line

As NYC’s finest did, saving more from becoming angels divine

Who can forget both of the Towers crumbling into the ground

That dust and rubble made our stomachs turn upside down

Firefighters, police, and EMT heroes are now part of our lore

And forever they will be in our hearts and in so much more

So the Town of Gilbert asked for and received this artifact

Our town manager drove the truck getting it here intact

A 1,500-pound piece of steel to honor and memorialize

A great visual reminder that attracts every citizen’s eyes

Yes, it’s a long 2500 miles from Gilbert Town to ground zero

But we can still remember, memorialize and honor every hero

That’s why Gilbert displays this twisted, 8-foot girder beam

As a permanent reminder of Gilbert’s “Never Forget” theme

And the Town has set aside a nice area for this remembrance

Nicely constructed with benches and trees as a great semblance Of how one American town honors every lost sister and brother

By turning this great tragedy into more unity with one another

Our benches will provide a place for all to sit and to ponder

About our many fragile freedoms and this artifact’s wonder

The planted Trees of Life symbolize our hope for every year

So our future generations can learn to overcome their fear

Those who come to Gilbert will better understand our town

Through the symbolism of this historical beam of great renown

For Gilbert is an example of a diverse American community

That reflects the strength of good neighbors living in unity

How do we continue to remember these heroes no longer living?

By assembling together right here in an attitude of thanksgiving

Displaying our gratitude with a thankful smile instead of a mope

Because never forgetting truly means our future is full of hope

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Michael McAvoy’s Story

I was born in Brooklyn, NY in 1959. I am the youngest of 3 boys. My Dad was was a 2nd generation American He was born in NYC & is 100% Irish. He was a WWII Marine who fought on Iwo Jima. Upon returning from WWII he became a New York City policeman. He retired after 23 years. Mom was a stay at home Mom early on. When I was 10 she went to work in lower Manhattan for Chase bank, 2 blocks east of the WTC. She worked there for 22 years.
I started my career in 1980 working for Wall Street Firms in downtown NYC. Most of my career was spent in downtown Manhattan close to or inside the World Trade Centers. From 1986 to 1992 I worked on the 102nd floor of the World Trade Center 2 or the south tower as it is referred to. I hope I will help paint a clear picture of what it was like to personally witness the tragic events of 9-11 through my eyes.  Everyone remembers where they were when they first found out about the terrorist attacks. The morning of September 11th, in New York City was a crystal clear beautiful Autumn Day. I was in my 8th floor office that morning, which had a direct view of the World Trade Centers.  At about 8:30am I went to the 4TH floor company cafe to get some breakfast.  As I was heading back to my office I noticed some co-workers peering out at the windows facing the Trade Center’s. I casually asked what’s going on?   Someone said a plane had hit World Trade Center 1.  Everyone’s first thought
was that it must be a small plane, maybe a Cesna.  I over heard someone say that it was a commercial airliner that had struck the tower.  What – how can that be? I got up, walked a few feet and what I saw made my stomach sick.  In just a few short minutes WTC
#1  the North Tower had huge gapping holes. It was engulfed in flames and had black smoke pouring out from it. I rushed back to my desk. I wanted to call Jimmy, my lifelong best friend, who worked in WTC1 on the 104th Floor for Cantor Fitzgerald. Jimmy and I met in first grade 36 years ago and had been friends ever since. I called his office – no answer.  I tried his cell phone – no answer.  I tried both phones 3 or 4 more times. Jimmy lived in NJ right near a beautiful golf course. I thought ok maybe he stayed home today to golf. I sure as hell hope so. I dialed his home number and what I heard will never leave me.  Jimmy’s wife, Sheri answered – she frantically shouted HELLO.  My heart sank, for I knew she was hoping it was Jimmy – instead it was me.  Before I could say anything she asked me if Jimmy worked in the tower with the antenna on it, I said YES – and that was the building that had been struck  just moments earlier by the plane. I told her I’ll get in touch
with him and call  back. Don’t worry.  I tried his cell phone a few more times….no answer. I’m thinking maybe he didn’t have time to grab it. A few minutes went by I decided to get up from my desk and walked towards the windows again.  As I neared the windows  co-workers already staring out the windows screamed and some even fell to their knees. I asked what just happened? Someone said look at the other building …another plane hit WTC2.  Now I KNEW that this had to be terrorism.  A plane had never collided into the WTCs in their 30 years of existence.  Now in 20 minutes – 2 planes had struck them.  The sight was awful.  Both towers have gaping holes and are in flames. It is a sight I will never forget!!   As I walked back to my desk, for some reason I looked at my watch – it was 9:05am.  Ugh oh What about my older brother John. Is he working.
My brother John, is a NYC fireman, who worked in lower Manhattan, 5 minutes from the WTCs.  In NYC, a fireman’s shift starts or ends at 9am.  So he was either working the day shift or finishing the night shift. Maybe he had the day off.  I hoped once again. I knew my mother kept John’s schedule, so I called her. I was amazed at how calm she seemed. I asked her if she saw what was happening at the Trade Centers and she said yes, she was watching it on TV.  I asked her if John was working and she said NO he worked the nightshift last night.  For the 2nd time I got that pit in my stomach. I just knew John was at the Trade Centers!!  John was a 23 year veteran of the FDNY. He was the ultimate firefighter. He lived to help people.  There was no other place he would rather be on the morning of Sept 11th.  I thanked Mom and said I’ll call you back. I called John’s fire house – of course there was no answer.  Why would anyone be there?  All 12 of the firemen stationed at ladder 3 were at the WTCs.
My fellow co-workers and I tried frantically to get information . . . what’s happening . . . are other buildings being struck ..  Everything was moving fast and in slow motion at the same time. I tried to think of any other friends I knew that worked in or near the trade centers. I had friends who were cops a cousin who is federal agent downtown and Wall St. colleagues all over lower Manhattan. But one guy in particular came to mind, my buddy Paul….  We were co –workers for many years and we used to work in the Trade Center together, and now he works in the trade center and lives adjacent to them. I called his home number and he answered.  That was the best news I had all morning.  He told me he was knocked out of his office chair when the 2nd plane hit. He was ok but very frightened, he was in his apartment taking his 2 year old son out and heading to the basement or somewhere he thought was safe.  He said take down my parents number call them tell them I’m ok. That day at times phones worked other times not. I tried his parents once.. it didn’t go through and I never called again. I walked back over to the windows.  The day that started out so beautiful was not so beautiful anymore. Actually it was horrendous.  Both buildings were totally engulfed. Fire.. flames..ugly black smoke. How is anyone going to get out who is above where the planes hit. Someone in the office mentioned they heard the Pentagon had been hit too and more planes were in the air heading towards Philadelphia or Washington.  My thoughts were –This is war.  Why aren’t we defending ourselves?? Where the hell are the F14’s. What the hell is happening to us.
 I tried Jimmy’s cell phone – but now all the phone lines are dead… calls were not going through.  Did Jimmy get out in time? Maybe he lost his phone while he was rushing out. Is John ok …was he out of Manhattan and on his way home when this happened. I wanted some positive news.
At the office we were discussing what to do. We thought about evacuating our building, yet we seemed pretty safe where we were.  We were hearing that all the bridges and tunnels were either closed or full of emergency vehicles.  NYC subways weren’t running either. There truly was no place to go. So we just watched from the windows and things are completely out control. It was hard to believe what we were witnessing …we were starring at the trade centers .. when suddenly the South Tower collapsed.  Did that really just happen? In seconds a 110 story disappeared. I looked at my co-worker Brian and said – OMG 20 thousand people just died. The feeling was complete and utter helplessness and to this day it’s one of the hardest sights for me: to watch those buildings collapse. There was smoke and dust everywhere.  We thought we had seen it all – yet it was only getting worse.  I felt sick. I just knew my brother had to be down there somewhere. I had worked in and around those buildings for many years and now one of them was 110 stories of dust. No more flames just columns of iron. no metal just dust.
I saw it happen – yet I couldn’t believe it.  It was trulty a sickening feeling.  My co-workers were getting more information that there were still more hijacked planes in the air. Where is our defense…why aren’t we fighting back. A few of us decided to go outside to see what was going on. It felt and looked like war. People were walking around like zombies – covered in soot and dust some were crying and everyone was very scared. I kept trying Jimmy’s cell phone – or home phone but phone lines were still dead. At one point though I was able to get through to my wife Natalie working in NJ, she was 8 months pregnant at the time. I told her what I thought I knew about John and Jimmy and maybe she should go to Jimmy’s house to be with Sheri and the kids. Jimmy’s kids were 2 and 4.
The next news we heard was that a hijacked plane had crashed in Pennsylvania.  This day is a complete nightmare and getting worse by the minute. . I’m not a pacifist and I‘m not a sit back and let someone else do it type of guy. I love to help people and here I am unable to go anywhere or do anything for the people I love – in the city I love – in the country I love. I’m boiling mad, sad and feeling hopeless all at the same time.  People at the office, grown men and women were praying and crying. Once again we walked over to the windows hoping to see a miracle I guess. The north tower, the one with the antenna on it, was burning completely out of control. We were worried it might collapse too . . . and then it did. Gone in seconds.. How many more are dead. We were numb to what we were witnessing.  2 of the largest sky scrapers in the world are completely gone. Dust, smoke and papers. That was all that was left.  The silence at the office was deafening . . . no phones ringing – people were speechless and in shock. I could only imagine the destruction in and around those had to be horrendous. Once again time was moving fast and in slow motion. No one knew where to go or what to do …the only news we had was from the internet and it was not good.
I couldn’t stay put I felt I had to go somewhere I couldn’t just stand around and do nothing. Then someone said some of the subways were running. I decided to try and get to my brother’s firehouse in lower Manhattan.  A co-worker and I boarded a subway train. The train was crowded yet eerily quiet..people’s expressions said everything. Moments later the train pulled into the Chamber St. station which is only 2 blocks away from the trade centers. The subway doors opened. No one got on or off.  We looked out to the subway platform dust and soot covered the benches and the platform . The train started to pull out of the station when suddenly it came to an abrupt stop. People gasped and screamed. NYC subways always stop this way, but on this day, with people’s nerves on edge, we all reacted to it. Everyone had looks of fear and disbelief. This has become the common expression of the day. 5 minutes later I got off the subway and started walking to John’s firehouse, which is Ladder 3 on the East side of Manhattan.  Smoke, ash and sirens fill the air.  No pedestrian traffic just emergency vehicles. Out of nowhere I heard a low flying plane. People walking in the street ran for cover I moved up against a building… it flew right over our heads and disappeared. Man it scared the hell out of us. It was like a scene out of the Twilight zone.
I started walking again I got within a few blocks of my brother’s firehouse – I could see many fire trucks and Fireman. I thought ok maybe John is there. I started to run…I got there and I’m searching their faces for John or any firemen I might know. But I didn’t recognize them. Looking at them they didn’t look right.  Even these big brave, courageous NYC firemen were scared & nervous.  They knew many of their fellow comrades, brothers as they called each other, were inside the towers when they collapsed. Then I see a fireman from Ladder 3 who works with John. He is covered in ash.  He just came back from the towers. I looked in his eyes and asked Billy if there is any chance for survivors?  Do you know if my brother was down there?  He didn’t know what to say. I said, Billy, tell me!!  He said, Mike I wish I had better news, but that place is unlike anything we’ve ever seen and we aren’t finding survivors. All 12 guys who were here this morning ..he paused….we think their gone. In my heart I knew John was gone, but I wasn’t going to give up.
I decide to walk to the nearest hospital, St. Vincent’s. When I arrived at the hospital, staffers were handing out lists of the injured. I scanned the lists over and over and tried to will a Jimmy Ladley or a John McAvoy onto the list. I would see a John or a Jim, but they didn’t have the right last name. Not the one I was looking for. Doctors and nurses were waiting outside the hospital for more injured patients – but none were coming. I met a guy who was looking for his brother who worked for the same firm Jimmy worked for, Cantor Fiztgerald. We exchanged numbers and said we would call each other if we heard any news of any one surviving from Cantor. We never called each other.  I did this at 3 or 4 hospitals. Those lists never had the right names on them.
My cell phone rang and it was my friend Mike. He lived in NYC, 3 minutes from the St Vincent’s Hospital and 2 stops by train from the trade center.  We were out together the night before. I had spent the previous night at his downtown apartment. I had walked the streets for a few hours and visited 2 or 3 hospitals with no luck. I was mentally and physically wiped out. I walked a few blocks to his apartment. The whole time I’m thinking this can’t be happening… Are my brother and best friend dead. It can’t be so.
Mike’s buzzed me into his apartment building. When I opened his apartment door he and his girlfriend were hugging each other almost as one sitting on his couch. He had walk home from his downtown job. He too had dust all over him. Everyone I met that day had this same look of fright and disbelief. We didn’t know what to say to each other. I sat on his couch. I told him that Jimmy and John were both missing and I had a bad feeling.  He was trying to be positive and supportive that’s his nature. But he too was frightened. It was 3 or 4 o’clock at this point and the day was becoming a very bad day for me my family and friends. I buried my head in my hands. For the first time the realization hit me…and I let it out and I started to cry.  I looked at Mike and said words I never thought I would ever say. I said Mike I think my brother John and best friend Jimmy are dead!! He had no response. I know I will have to go to my mother’s house and tell her what I know. BUT HOW. How do I look at her and tell her that her hero son is gone.  How is she going to react… I thought of my sister in law… my niece and nephew who were 15 and 11.  I thought of Jimmy’s wife.. they are so in love and their 2 small children. They had a perfect life. I was distraught yet trying to hold it together. By nightfall after spending a few more hours between hospitals and my brothers firehouse met my oldest brother and we decided to go to  mom’s. We spent 3 days at Mom’s listening to the radio watching TV and hoping for a phone call that told us John or Jimmy were found alive. We never rec’d that call.
 As fate would have it, those gut feelings I had on 9-11 became reality.  Both John and Jimmy perished on 9-11 inside the trade centers. It would take months for their remains to be recovered. We later found out John was in the firehouse in street clothes and off duty when the first plane hit. He and another fireman put on their gear hailed a cab and went to the trade center by cab. He was and still is a true hero.
My brother was a loving husband, brother, friend, son and father.  He was courageous and fearless.  He lived to help people. He was a tough guy, and fearless and my guardian angel too. .
Jimmy was the best friend any guy could have.  He was someone whom you asked for advice about life because he always knew the right answer.  He was my best man when I got married   in 1998. He was to be the godfather of my daughter born Oct 2001. He, my brother and thousands more were murdered on 9-11 and they must never be forgotten. I certainly will never forget them and what I witnessed on 9-11.
9-11 was truly one of our darkest days.  But it was also one of our brightest.  Ordinary citizens became heroes, rescue workers saved over 25,000 lives, the largest rescue in our history. Many young men and women volunteered to join our armed services to protect us against terrorism and take the fight to the enemy.  Some have died ..many have watched their fellow soldiers die and they still fight on. Their courage, dedication and sacrifice must never be forgotten.  On 9-11 the bravest and finest of NYC gave their lives so others could live. Ordinary citizens aboard flight 93 fought to saves lives on the ground and prevented another attack. And still today our servicemen and their families sacrifice for us. Their heroism is a testament of our American spirit.  We must remember the sacrifice all gave and still give for our freedom each and every day. We must ALWAYS thank our veterans, our police and fireman, not only today but everyday.
May God bless them all and God Bless America!!

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Help us Recognized Moments that Changed our World

Moments pass by all the time, sometimes we disregard them as we take a break from those other moments of intense hard work.

Some moments, though, stand out in history – and are important to take note of.  Such moments include the instant that the first plane struck the World Trade Towers, and the moment the second one did – instantly stealing the lives of innocent people, and ripping a hole through our nation that we filled with heroism as we came together to heal.

Those moments include the moment a third plane crashed into the Pentagon, and the instant that heroes aboard Flight 93 high above Pennsylvania determined to change history and save untold lives.

As we approach the 10th anniversary of those attacks that stole 3,000 good people from us, and brought us together, we ask you to plan your morning by scheduling these moments of silence with us, marking those instances that continue to resound in our national conscience.

Join us on Facebook and Twitter as we remind people of each #911MomentofSilence – help us retweet those moments so that we collectively can hear the silence as we remember those lost, and pay the tribute deserved by the heroes that rushed into the buildings, risking their lives to change ours.

I ask you to take out your smart phones and calendars and mark these moments down.  No matter what you are doing, join us in these moments of silence and reflection.  This tribute will only make us stronger and continue to bring us together as a nation proud of our diversity and character.

Please join us in a seven to 10 second moment of silence during each of these moments on Sept. 11, 2011:

  • 8:46 a.m. EDT (5:46 a.m. Arizona time) – the first plane strikes the World Trade Center.
  • 9:03 a.m. EDT (6:03 a.m. Arizona time) – the second plane strikes the World Trade Center.
  • 9:43 a.m. EDT (6:43 a.m. Arizona time) – plane crashes into the Pentagon.
  • 9:59 a.m. EDT (6:59 a.m. Arizona time) – South Tower collapses.
  • 10:10 a.m. EDT ( 7:10 a.m. Arizona time) – Flight 93 crashes in Shanksville, Penn.
  • 10:28 a.m. EDT (7:28 a.m. Arizona time) – North Tower collapses.

–          Collin DeWitt, Town Manager

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My Story

Before we bought Buffalo Wild Wings, we owned a dental practice in Northern California.  On the morning of 9/11 we were getting ready for work and had the TV on to listen to the news as we did every morning.  When we saw the plane fly into Tower 1 of the Trade Center we thought, what a terrible accident.  How could this happen?  But when the second plane flew into Tower 2 we knew this was no accident.  We sat glued to the TV in disbelief.  This kind of thing just doesn’t happen in the United States.

Then the phone rang.  It was our dental receptionist who said that she didn’t think she could come in to work this morning because she was worried about her daughter  (Nicole, 21 years old) who was on her way home from Boston that morning.  She was worried because they stopped all air traffic. I tried to assure her not to worry, that Nicole was far enough away from this activity.

Turns out, that Nicole was on that plane that went down in Pennsylvania – United Airlines Flight 93.  We were all shocked.  When you see tragedy on the TV and you actually know someone at the scene, you are living the horrific event alive in person.  Yes, we lost someone very dear to our hearts that day.  We’ve created a memorial bench at a nearby lake to think of her often.  She will never be forgotten.

Now, that we’re in Arizona, the next door neighbor to my daughter’s house, lost her husband in the Towers that morning.  We now see a 12 year old boy, who was two at the time, grow up without his father.

We saw the country unite and wave their flags in front of their houses.  They even decorated their cars red, white, and blue –  Patriotism at its highest!  We realized that we were vulnerable, but believed that we were strong enough to find Bin Laden and see justice met.  It was this year with his assassination.  However, we are still left behind without our loved ones.  So 9/11 will always be alive in our hearts and the people who lost their lives that day will always be in our memory.

The wonderful 9/11 Memorial will be a great place to sit on a bench one day and stare at the beam, to reflect back and say a prayer for our missing friends.  Thank you Collin DeWitt and the generous citizens of the Town of Gilbert to think highly enough of our town to be a place that will NEVER FORGET the tragedy that took place and what we’ve learned from it to make our country an even safer place to live. (Especially Gilbert, being the 17th safest place to live in the country!)

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Rachel Lopez-Delgado’s story

Wow, what can we say about that date? Used to be that I remembered it for my grandfather’s birthday. But that one morning, I decided to come to work early and I did not have the want or need to turn on the TV since all the news is so depressing. Right? So I am sitting at work and I get an email from my sister and she’s asking me, “So what do you think our brothers will do?” In oblivion I respond, “probably nothing, you know.” She returns an email “No, do you think they will be deployed?” I respond, “Nah, they are too old, even though they have that capability since they are in the guard after serving the Marines.” I hit send, my phone rings and it’s my sister.

I cheerfully respond to her “good morning!” She says to me, “did you crawl out from under a rock? Go turn on a T.V. or radio!” The World Trade Center’s just got hit by two planes!” I was so shocked at this point I don’t think I even hung up. I ran to the break room turned on the T.V. and what I saw took my breath away! I thought about my brothers in FULL memory at this point. That day had everyone glued to T.V.’s, radios, and the internet.

The days following were so somber, everyone was walking and working in a dazed, confused state. I cannot remember a day when no planes flew in the sky until this happened. Since then my brothers have been on what they call “tours”, I call “torture” to Iraq & Afghanistan twice. One is getting ready for deployment again the end of the year. I have a niece who also has answered the call to serve and will be deployed shortly for parts unknown. My heart still cries for all the innocent lives lost because of the fanatical, psychopathic, thoughts someone attempted to force on the world. I age about 20 years when my brothers go away. I always ask, “will this be the last time?” September 11, 2001 changed the lives of Americans forever. I am glad that we have brave men and women willing to stand up in front of us and our country for our freedom and safety. There is no way to thank them because saying “thank you,” does not measure up for the atrocities they experience and anguish their families feel.

Rachel Lopez-Delgado

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Gilbert 9/11 Memorial Blog

Remembrance as we approach 10 years Sept. 11, 2001 was a date in history that has impacted us all. As Gilbert moves forward with a community effort to construct a regional 9/11 Memorial using a real 8-foot beam from the World Trade Center, in an effort to pay respect and remember those lost as well as the togetherness that resulted from those acts, we want to hear from you. Submit your stories about 9/11, and what that date and this memorial means to you. Photos are also welcome. All ages are encouraged to submit. The Town will post submittal remembrances on this section. Send to Follow the Steel and support the fundraising effort (Bricks need to be purchased by August 8th to guarantee them being part of the Memorial Dedication on September 11, 2011) at

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