Author Archives: Clarice Wziatek

Clarice Wziatek

About Clarice Wziatek

Clarice Wziatek has a degree in International Journalism from Dublin City University, Ireland. She enjoys traveling and has visited 10 different countries, but no matter where she goes, she always comes back to her hometown of Phoenix, Arizona. She believes there is always a story to tell and that is just one reason why she enjoys writing.

Arizona Solar Center, Solar Lecture Series and Building Tour

Arizona Solar Center Hosts Solar Lecture Series

Making your home energy efficient and sustainable will help the environment and your pocketbook in the long run. But, knowing how and where to begin can be a daunting task with the different types of green technology. You may ask, what is the difference between passive solar and active solar? Should I build or remodel with earthen plaster or straw bales? How much can I save by using these sustainable adaptations in my home? To help you out, the Arizona Solar Center is hosting a solar lecture series on home improvement that is free and open to the public.

These questions will be answered during the Arizona Solar Center’s Solar Lecture Series: Solar and Sustainability on October 20 and the Solar and Sustainable Buildings Tours October 22 & 23.

Arizona Solar Center Solar Lecture Series and Building Tour

President of the Arizona Solar Center, Dan Aiello, is excited to have Mick Dalrymple, from the Global Institute of Sustainability at Arizona State University, host the Solar and Sustainability lecture on October 20. Dalrymple will discuss sustainable modifications and renovations that he implemented on his own home, such as the incorporating green building materials, equipment and lighting. Dalrymple’s goal is to attain zero energy dependency, Aiello says.

“[Dalrymple] has a bunch of examples that people can relate to because we all live in something,” Aiello says. “His presentation will be, ‘this is what I did, this is why I did this, and this worked and this didn’t work.’ [The lecture] is something people can come to and take information away on what’s appropriate for the desert, energy efficient and environmentally appropriate.”

The lecture will lead into the Solar and Sustainable Buildings Tours that weekend. The tour’s downloadable guide will be available on the Arizona Solar Center website. The sites on the tour will include:

  • An artist’s studio/residence in Mesa created from recycled materials,
  • The upper part of the loft is constructed from an old Volkswagen bus,
  • Scottsdale homes that include passive/active solar technologies,
  • Water catchment,
  • Straw bale constructions, and
  • Green architecture, as well as homes in Mesa, Chandler and Tempe.

“If we plan our buildings right we get enough sun [in Arizona], even in the winter, to warm our houses,” Aiello says. “We can use the sun to heat water; generate electricity or any number of things.”

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Solar Lecture Series: Solar and Sustainability – My Way – with Mick Dalrymple

Thursday, October 20, 2011
7 p.m. – 8:30 p.m.

2011 Valley of the Sun – Tour of Solar and Sustainable Buildings

Saturday & Sunday, October 22 & 23, 2011
8 a.m.

City of Scottsdale Granite Reef Facility
Granite Reef Rd., just north of the intersection of Granite Reef and McDowell roads

Free and open to the public.


Check out the Arizona Solar Center events calendar for more information on the upcoming solar lecture series and solar tour as well as other events.


Binary Office

Binary Office Software Helps Businesses Lower Costs

Saving money and becoming more efficient is every company’s goal — important to its survival, especially in the current economic scope. Binary Office has been helping its customers achieve those goals since 2000.

Binary Office provides automated software to its customers in addition to the technological set up and transition to eliminate the lengthy manual tasks of data entry, invoice payment or searching for a file through mounds of paper work. It has helped businesses, government agencies, legal firms and a health care clinic save hundreds of thousands of dollars.

John Bergquist, vice president of sales & marketing of Binary Office, looks for three things when applying the Binary Office services to a company. One, does the office have a lot of paper files that can be scanned for storage or retrieval? Two, is there a need to route paper around the office to get a task done that can be scanned and electronically routed and approved? Lastly, is a lot of data entered manually by workers that can instead be scanned using the automated input software?

Binary Office Saves Time And Money

Bergquist has incredible accounts of what Binary Office has achieved since its establishment.

“[When using] the automated capture software, we typically see a labor savings of 80 percent,” Bergquist says. “If somebody has 10 data entry clerks keying in data manually from invoices, it’s a very labor intensive process and is just a pure expense with no revenue generation. We could reduce that to two or three data entry clerks, and most times our customers don’t wish to reduce staff but handle planned growth without adding additional staff.”

One of the first contracts for Binary Office was automating the credit applications for one of the major banks, and aside from the the manual entry and labor savings was the savings from the exorbitant overnight costs.

“The bank was overnighting the applications from the field to the home office on a regular basis,” Bergquist says. “The savings alone when not having to overnight the paper applications was about, if I remember right, $80,000 a month.”

But the savings doesn’t always have to be purely financial; Binary Office also participated in automating all the individual income tax form processing out of the state of North Dakota. Tax season is time crunched as is, so any way to cut corners on time is desperately needed.

“In their case, they had to hire an army of part-time workers; [Binary Office] eliminated the need to hire so many part-timers and, at the same time, cut the time in the back log of tax return processing,” Bergquist says. “The average time was 10 to 12 days; we cut that down to two hours in terms of processing time.”

Binary Office has undertaken new projects and is excited about utilizing new software to save companies more money and time.

The current excitement for Bergquist is the application of EMC’s “Kazeon” eDiscovery software for legal customers. It can cost a law firm or a company’s legal department approximately $1.5 million for every case to take the time to find the files pertinent to a matter and send out all the paper documents and files to an outside service to perform the legal review process, Bergquist says.  Bringing eDiscovery software in-house to automate parts of the legal review process can wipe these recurring costs away.

It can be difficult to find copies of files even if they are stored electronically. The problem is that the files can be stored in different places and multiple times, such as in emails, personal desktop computers and laptop computers.

“There is no search engine either in IT or a legal office that lets you search all these different repositories, but eDiscovery has the Google-type search interface to look across all areas no matter where it’s stored, whether it is in an email, in a Microsoft exchange server or Microsoft SharePoint, as well as desktop computers and laptops,” Bergquist says. “In the case of eDiscovery software, the cost of the software can range anywhere from $150,000 to $400,000, which is 30 percent of the cost of sending it all out and having it done.”

Binary Office is unique in the service it provides, in addition to the software product it sells.

Mollen Immunization Clinic administers flu shots every season and the numbers for this fall season are expected to double. For every flu shot administered, a number of forms must be filled out by the recipient, including a consent form and an insurance form. The insurance forms need to be processed in a short amount of time if the insurance is to be involved in the payment process.

“Binary Office stepped in, took over the project and became the internal IT resource both working on-site and off-site,” Bergqist says. “During the months of August and September, we had only a two-month period where we had to get all the changes ready, changes to the forms, changes to the process and ramp up the system to accommodate the influx of forms.”

These success stories are Bergquist’s favorite part of working for Binary Office.

“My favorite aspect is to look at a company’s manual processes and the high cost that they are struggling with and the slow nature of those manual processes, and being able to virtually eliminate the slowness and the cost in one fell swoop by simply using our software,” Bergquist says.

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For more information about Binary Office, visit



APS Shade Tree Program

APS Shade Tree Program For Customers

Planting shade trees around your home can save you up to $50 per year on your energy bill, and with the APS Shade Tree program, “shaded walls can be 9° to 36° cooler at peak times,” according to its website.

“In addition to energy savings, shade trees also add value to your property, produce oxygen to help clean the air, capture rainwater, provide a wildlife habitat and reduce storm water runoff.”

The APS Shade Tree Program will supply free shade trees to APS customers who meet the requirements and attend a free shade tree workshop that will cover the planting and care of your shade trees.

The requirements for the APS Shade Tree program:

  • Must be a current APS residential customer living in Maricopa County
  • Must be able to plant the trees approximately 15 feet away from the western, eastern or southern side of your home
  • Must have the legal right to plant the trees on the property
  • Must have the ability to care for the tree as needed
  • Must attend an APS Shade Tree workshop

Each APS Shade Tree Program workshop is approximately an hour long and curriculum materials will be provided on how to plant and care for your shade tree. Once approved for your trees at the workshop, APS customers must wait to pick up their trees once they have matured.

Two trees will be provided to each APS customer who qualifies for the workshop. Unless the APS customer’s home was built prior to 1980, then the customer qualifies for three trees.

To register for an APS Shade Tree Program Workshop, visit

The workshops are running until the end of October. But if you miss out this year, more workshops are planned for 2012.  You can send an e-mail to to receive notification when the next APS Shade Tree program will be held.


The Rose and Crown Pub

Make Your Way Downtown To The Rose And Crown Pub

It’s finally cooling off in the Valley — this means comfortable weather to enjoy the Downtown Phoenix night life. Slip on your trousers, grab your mates and head to The Rose and Crown Pub for a pint and a chin wag.

The Rose and Crown Pub

The Rose and Crown Pub is located in a historic house in Heritage Square, downtown Phoenix. As soon as you walk in the door at The Rose and Crown, you are walking up to the bar. After you have your pint in hand, you can either go left to hunker down in one of the comfortable leather chairs by the billiards table, or you can go to the right and find a table to get some grub.

Adorning the walls is pop art portraits of British icons, including Her Majesty the Queen, Winston Churchill and others. The paintings were commissioned for the Rose and Crown and created by local artist Alexander Scott Hughes.

The pub has high definition TVs (so you won’t miss out on the game), dartboards, a billiards table, and a spacious outdoor patio.

And don’t forget the free Wi-Fi!

But as a pub, it’s all about the food and drinks. The Rose and Crown offers more than 50 beers, local and imported. The bar offers 10 beers on tap with four rotating taps to keep things fresh. Like any British public house, food is served from 11 a.m. until 10 p.m., and the menu offers traditional British dishes to American pub grub.

The Rose and Crown PubMy dining companions and I had the pleasure of sampling the Bangers and Mash, the Sheppard’s Pie and the Fisherman’s Pie. Each dish was delicious and distinct in flavor (or shall I write flavour?).

The Bangers and Mash was served with a side of gravy and perfectly cooked asparagus. The sausages were seasoned with rosemary and onion, piled on top of homemade redskin mashed potatoes.
My beer recommendation: Guinness

The Fisherman’s Pie is a delicious alternative to the Sheppard’s Pie for all the pescatarians out there or for those wishing to be different while staying in their comfort food zone. The pie is a combination of halibut, salmon and haddock in a white sauce, potato and onion. It is served identically to the Sheppard’s Pie, piled high with mashed potatoes and vegetables on the side, but the taste is its own. My beer recommendation: Boddington’s

The Sheppard’s Pie was, hands down, the best I’ve ever had. The Rose and Crown PubInstead of using what seems as the traditional ground beef in the pie, a slow-cooked roast beef was used. Mixed in were green beans, carrots, thick gravy, and piled with more homemade mashed potatoes, smothered in cheddar cheese. My beer recommendation: Smithwicks

The Rose and Crown, though English in name, ale and appearance, embraces the American lifestyle; and with football season approaching (I’m talking Super Bowl football here, not World Cup), The Rose and Crown Pub will have plenty of events from pub trivia to game viewing specials.

Visit the Rose and Crown’s website for more information.

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If You Go:

The Rose and Crown Pub
628 E. Adams St.
Phoenix, AZ 85004
(602) 256-0223

Parking validation is available for 5th St. and Monroe parking garage.

Hours: Mon – Sat, 11 a.m. – 2 a.m.
Sun – 9 a.m. – 2 a.m.



Arizona Multihousing Association Career and Job Fair

Arizona Multihousing Association Career And Job Fair

The Arizona Multihousing Association is hosting its first property management career and job fair on Tuesday, October 11th at the Phoenix Convention Center.

Twenty of the largest apartment management companies are coming together with approximately a thousand job openings for this career and job fair, and are looking to recruit new talent for their companies in this growing industry.  No previous experience is necessary; apartment management companies invest time and money into professional training and development of their staff.

“There are 54 apartment companies in the Valley that each represent approximately 20 apartment communities; each apartment community has the need to fill five to 10 positions,” says Pam Shelton, principal with Allison-Shelton Real Estate Services. “Greystar alone manages 50 apartment communities, and they have 200 positions in their south regional office.”

The job fair will promote openings available span across the Valley with apartment properties in every area. Employers are mainly looking to fill positions in leasing and maintenance for the apartment industry.

“We are always looking for bright, hardworking individuals,” Shelton says. “We find that many people outside of our industry don’t know about all of the opportunities we have.  There are always new positions being created at our properties, and we are looking for dynamic people we can train for a lifetime career opportunity.”

There is room for growth and even possible relocation as some positions aren’t located in the Phoenix-Metro area. The management companies span the entire Southwest, and this job fair will offer opportunities to relocate around the state of Arizona, southern Utah, Denver and Las Vegas.

The companies will train the hired with an introduction into property management and the real estate industry. It takes transferable skills such as experience in retail and customer service to work in the property management industry. Maintenance persons and knowledgeable construction workers are encouraged to apply as the demand for apartment upkeep is high.

“What potential employees should hope to find is a career in property management,” Shelton says. “They can start out in leasing and in a year’s time they can manage an apartment community.”

The apartment market is very strong right now; new communities are coming on board across the Valley.

“The people who lost their homes or their loans defaulted don’t qualify to buy a new home, so there is more demand for rental housing, and that demand for apartments is increasing along with the people who will manage and maintain them,” Shelton says.

Advice For Job Fair Candidates

Because training is provided and no experience is necessary, it’s important to have a clean resume that plays up the skills of customer service, sales or construction certification.

“Look at the resume, and point out all the experience skills they have in CS sales skill, HBAC certification, training they have in plumbing or electrical; voice those strengths,” Shelton says. “We are anticipating hundreds of applicants. To be noticed, candidates need to highlight the strengths that they can bring to the property management companies.”

Job Fair applicants are invited to go to the Phoenix Convention Center to apply and interview for all open and future positions from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. on October 11. More than 20 of the largest management companies in Arizona will be gathering at the Phoenix Convention Center to conduct personal interviews with applicants. This growing industry needs new talent at every level in their organizations – from leasing/sales to maintenance team members.

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What: Arizona Multihousing Association Property Management Career Fair

When: Tuesday, October 11, 2011; 7 a.m. – 2 p.m.

Where: Phoenix Convention Center; West Building; Room 101 A-C, 100 N. 3rd St.

Applicants are encouraged to use the light rail. Parking is also available on the street and in the parking structures near the convention center.  Parking will not be validated.

Who: Applicants who are interested in a dynamic career in the apartment industry. No property management experience necessary for positions in leasing, operations and maintenance. Job seekers should bring at least 15 copies of their resumes.

More: More information about the AzMA career and job fair can be found at

Facebook: Arizona Multihousing Association

Participating Employers (to date): Greystar, Fairfield Residential, Sullens & Euchner, HSL Residential, P.B. Bell Companies, Mark-Taylor Residential, Allison-Shelton Real Estate Services, Alliance Residential Company, MC Companies, ARC Southwest, Camden, MEB Management Services, Weidner, Lincoln Property Company and Equity Residential will be recruiting at this career fair.



Water Conservation, City of Phoenix

Water Conservation Tips For your Business

In the desert, water is scarce, and water and sewer charges can really add up. The City of Phoenix has partnered with numerous water conservation associations to stay in the know and help its customers conserve water and save money.

Upgrading to low-water appliances and equipment will eventually have the equipment paying for itself. But the quickest and most immediate return is changing employee and customer behavior. Communicate your conservation message to your customers and suppliers, and be proud of the change your business can have on the Arizona ecology.

Water conservation doesn’t just save your business money. The City of Phoenix’s website lists four more reasons to participate in water conservation:

  • Reduced wastewater costs and less spending on water treatment chemicals
  • Energy savings from using less energy to heat, pump and treat water
  • Environmental benefits
  • Positive publicity resulting from your conservation efforts


The City of Phoenix provides these tips to help your business reap the benefits of water conservation as listed above:

  • Make water efficiency a factor when choosing new equipment. Take into account the cost savings that can accrue over the lifetime of a unit. Look for industry-specific opportunities to save water.
  • Use waterless technologies where available. This could range from switching to waterless urinals in men’s rooms to using waterless woks in your kitchen to replacing old photo-development or x-ray equipment with modern digital technologies.
  • Eliminate all technology operating with “once-through” (continuous water flow) systems such as once-through cooling.
  • Reuse and recycle water wherever possible; wastewater from some indoor sources can be used outdoors for irrigation.
  • Install automatic devices to turn water off when equipment is not in use.
  • Restrict water pressure and flow rates where possible (install pressure-restricting valves, add aerators to existing faucets).
  • Consider installing sub-meters on major water-using units to track water use.


Water Conservation Outdoors: Knowing How and Where to Look for Leaks

If your business has a separate outdoor water meter you can check for leaks by shutting off outdoor water use and monitoring the meter. This is called sub-metering, and sub-meters (point-of-use meters) can be used for indoor fixtures, pools, sprinkler systems and large heating or cooling equipment.

However, if you feel that the leak maybe underground, a leak detection specialist will use echo correlation to find the source of the leak.

Water Conservation Landscaping

Growing plants that are accustom to an arid climate will aid in water conservation and save money on high water bills.

The City of Phoenix has four tips to conserve water when landscaping for your business:

  • Harvesting Rainwater is a practical (and free) form of irrigating both large and small landscapes. This is done by using the right type of plants and creating a simple system of berms (mounds) and swales (ditches). If done right, this system can reduce or even eliminated the need of using metered, potable water.
  • Another way to harvest rainwater is collecting and storing roof water runoff. Contact an expert to ensure you are safely storing the water and not creating a breeding ground for mosquitoes, which can be hazardous.
  • Hydrozoning is simple; you will save water by planting the hardiest, most heat-tolerant plants right next to walkways, which are generally hotter, and by grouping plants that have similar water requirements together to reduce superfluous watering.
  • Nearly every business in Arizona has an irrigation system, and the best way to conserve water is to keep the irrigation system well maintained. The City of Phoenix recommends getting regular inspections of sprinklers and irrigation systems to spot leaks or misaligned heads.


Water Conservation Remodeling

When it comes to saving money and conserving water on the inside of your business, water smart remodeling is the way to go. When deciding on interior upgrades, the City of Phoenix recommends tankless water heaters, pressure reducers, aerators, and high-efficiency fixtures and appliances to reduce water use.

  • Tankless water heaters: When replacing water heaters, a “tankless” heater that heats water instantly can reduce use from hot water taps by up to 20 percent.
  • Pressure reducers: Adding or retrofitting existing technologies with pressure regulators that keep pressure to all fixtures below 70 psi can reduce water use and offer quick return on investment.
  • Aerators: For only a few dollars, retrofitting faucets with aerators increases water-efficiency instantly.
  • Install high-efficiency fixtures and appliances: Water-efficient fixtures and appliances include low-flow shower heads, faucets, toilets and urinals. High-performance dishwashers, clothes washers and a wide range of industry-specific technologies are also available for your business.


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Alcantara Vineyard and Winery

Northern Arizona Wineries: Alcantara Vineyard & Winery

Alcantara Vineyard & Winery is nestled in the hills outside of Cottonwood. The warm days and cooler nights allow for the creation of delicious wines and the perfect atmosphere to go on the vineyard tour.

Alcantara Vineyard & WineryBefore you even step inside the modern stucco house that serves as Alcantara’s tasting room and gift shop, you will hear the crooning of Frank Sinatra. The foyer of the house is bustling as is the sitting room and the kitchen. It feels more like a casual cocktail party where you can make yourself at home.

I pulled up a seat at the tasting bar and acquainted myself with the wine tasting list. With 16 wines to choose from, I read the descriptions carefully. It was difficult as the majority of the wine list catered to reds, and I love reds. Check out the wine list by visiting Alcantara’s website.

I tasted the 2010 Sauvignon Blanc, and for a white wine I enjoyed it. It was a crisp, medium-bodied wine with hints of nectarine and pears.

Alcantara Vineyard & Winery

But I couldn’t wait to taste the reds! I tasted nearly the whole list, so I’ll just list my favorites.

The 2008 Syrah was clean with a taste of black berry and rose hips, a hint of violet and pepper. It was soft, yet weighty and definitely delicious.

The 2007 Meritage, a Bordeaux blend, was very dark, bold and spicy. A blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot and Malbec grapes create a wine that exhibits dark cassis and currant flavors with hints of baking spices, lavender and soft tannins. This wine is blended beautifully.

But now I introduce you to the 2008 Petite Sirah, this wine was absolutely perfect to my palate. It was opaque, almost like ink. It was weighty and consumed the tongue in flavors of lavender, blackberry and spice combined with big tannins. All I wrote in the note box next to this wine on my tasting sheet was, “AMAZING!”

It had been quite a tour for my palette, but I still had the dessert wines to try. Normally dessert wines are not my favorite. They usually end up being too much like semi-sweetened white wine, but I fell in love with a dessert wine at Alcantara vineyards. The 2006 Late Harvest Semillon was sweet liquid gold as it flowed down my throat. It was sweet, but it was balanced with a crisp acidity and the flavors of orange blossom, honeycomb, honeysuckle and peach. It was a wonderful finish to a superb day of wine tasting.

Alcantara Vineyard & Winery

It is $10 for five tastings, including a souvenir wine glass, $15 for the VIP tasting that comes with a crystal goblet, and if you are lucky enough to make it to Alcantara Vineyard on Friday or Saturday you can opt to go on the vineyard tour for $18 which includes the tasting.

After the tasting, I spent some time on the outdoor patio enjoying the cool Cottonwood air and then walked around the vineyard looking at the bunches of grapes on the vine ripening for this year’s harvest. I happened to visit on a Sunday, so I missed out on the wine tour, but Alcantara Vineyard has a list of events coming up this fall and both at the vineyard and in Northern Arizona.

If You Go:

Alcantara Vineyard
7500 Alcantara Way, Verde Valley
(928) 649-8463
Daily: 11 a.m. – 5 p.m.


Saint-Gobain Solar Mirrors

Saint-Gobain Opens Solar Mirror Manufacturing Plant in Goodyear

Saint-Gobain is opening its first North American solar mirror manufacturing plant in Goodyear, Ariz. The manufacturing plant will benefit both the Arizona environment as well as the economy — expecting to create approximately 50 new jobs.

Saint-Gobain’s manufacturing plant will offer the same quality solar mirror thermal products in North America as it does in Europe, while reducing the carbon footprint of transporting the product over long distances.

“Saint-Gobain Solar is a welcome addition to Greater Phoenix’s growing solar supply chain and further enhances our reputation as the nation’s hotspot for solar and renewable energy,” says Barry Broome, Greater Phoenix Economic Council president and CEO. “Investments from major international corporations like Saint-Gobain exemplify how the Renewable Energy Tax Incentive Program is creating quality jobs and building a sustainable economic platform for the region’s future.”

Saint Gobain Solar Mirror

According to Alain Garnier, director of Saint-Gobain Solar North America, local production of solar mirrors in Arizona accelerates the company’s plans for growth in the North American solar market.

“Goodyear offers great local access to the solar concentrator market in the southwest region of the U.S.; it is close to our customers,” Garnier says. “Goodyear also offers a good infrastructure, easy access to highways, and an educated workforce.

“In terms of benefits for Arizona, Saint-Gobain’s expansion to Goodyear means more jobs for Arizonans and helps solidify Arizona as the solar capital of the world.”

What’s unique about this solar mirror manufacturing plant is the testimony it will make about the products it creates. It is going to utilize Saint-Gobain solar mirrors in the building process to produce energy for the manufacturing process.

“We are proud to help lead the drive to save energy not only through responsible manufacturing practices, but also through the development of sustainable, energy-efficient building products and solutions for communities around the world,” Garnier says. “Leading by example, the company will be installing solar photovoltaic systems to offset the site’s energy needs.”

The plant’s projected production capacity corresponds to an annual thermal power output of 300MW, or the equivalent annual energy requirements for an American town of 150,000 inhabitants. It is estimated that each year it will save approximately 320,000 tons of carbon dioxide that would have been generated if using a coal fire method. This is the equivalent of replanting approximately 62,000 acres of forest.

“We are grateful to the state of Arizona, which has adopted a proactive policy to encourage companies from the solar sector to establish manufacturing plants,” adds Garnier. “The Arizona Renewable Energy Tax Incentive Program helped to encourage us to select the state for our new plant. Following a tough selection process, we chose to set up our plant in the Phoenix area, in Goodyear, where we are pleased to have been very positively received.”

The facility will supply the domestic solar mirror market and will eventually produce millions of square feet of solar mirrors for thermal power station technologies including, but not limited to, concentration towers and linear Fresnel lenses.

The solar mirror plant is expected to launch in the last quarter of this year and will compliment Saint-Gobain’s current solar mirror production base, which includes a parabolic mirrors plant in Portugal and a flat mirrors facility in Germany.

For more information about Saint-Gobain’s solar mirror manufacturing plant, visit

San Dominique Winery

Northern Arizona Wineries: San Dominique Winery

Napa, Napa, Napa! It’s all about Napa right? Not anymore. Napa Valley still has seniority in the wine game, but you won’t hear wine-ing laments from younger wineries in Northern Arizona. They stand very well on their own and have something a little bit different to bring to the wine enthusiast.

Recently, I took a trip to Northern Arizona to visit two of the 13 wineries on the Northern Arizona Wine Tour Map near Camp Verde and Cottonwood.

San Dominique Winery

My first stop was the San Dominique Winery also known as Garlic Paradise. Aside from my enjoyment of wine, I love garlic. I put it in or on just about everything I cook. I’ve even had the opportunity to taste garlic ice cream which was delicious, but sadly, is one of the only things not offered at Garlic Paradise.

San Dominique Winery is run out of a small shop by owner and cellar master, Bill Staltari. San Dominique Winery has the feel of an Italian general store with the products of Garlic Paradise lining the shelves and bottles of wine behind a big wooden counter.

The Wine
The wine tasting list offers 17 wines to taste, reds, whites and the specialty wines. There is also a separate list of “Specialty Private Reserves” that states “Serious Inquiries Only.” It’s only $10 for four tastings, and you get a souvenir glass. I am not sure if this includes wines off the private reserve list, but I doubt it.San Dominique Winery

I tried the 1998 Cabernet, 2005 Cabernet and Black Cherry reds, the Arizona Blush, the Muscato of Alexandria whites, and the three specialty wines, Hot Pepper wine, Amerita, and Almondino.

My favorite red was the 2005 Cabernet Sauvignon; it had a light spice, a hearty bouquet and a smooth finish — no wonder it is a Silver Medal winner. The Black Cherry wine was another favorite, it is a sweet summer wine made purely from black cherries — very fruity and rich.

But what really excited me was the list of specialty wines. The Amrita is an orange marsala dessert wine. It has flavors of honey and orange, and it’s not as sweet as expected. The Almondino was a rich and smooth almond-flavored, sherry-based wine. And lastly there was the hot pepper wine. This is not a dessert wine and even following the recommendation to “serve chilled” won’t cool it off! It’s a blend of Chenin Blanc and French Colombard grapes infused with hot pepper. If you buy a bottle, you get a complimentary recipe card that suggests how to use the wine to spice up your favorite dishes or that happy hour margarita.

San Dominique Winery

The Garlic
The amount of items that include garlic are incredible — BBQ rubs and sauces, pasta sauces, salad dressings, dipping oils, sandwich spreads and meat glazes. And even if you or someone you know doesn’t love garlic, there are a few items sans garlic worth a try. And if you can’t make it to San Dominique you can always order your favorites online at

The Dinners
Staltari cooks up dinner’s right in his shop, and every three to five weeks on a Sunday afternoon at 1:30 p.m. he hosts dinner for a group. The dinner is seven courses for a reasonable price.

“Don’t expect to rush away,” Staltari says. “It’s at least a three hour affair where you can relax and enjoy yourself.”

He has been doing these dinners for 18 years and enjoys hosting as much as the guests enjoy eating. If you are interested in the Sunday dinner, give your email address to San Dominique Winery, and you will be emailed a menu and date of the next dinner.

San Dominique Winery

Bill Staltari in his kitchen preparing to serve guests.

If You Go:

San Dominique Winery
I-17 & Cherry Road (Highway 169), Camp Verde
(602) 549-9787
Open Daily: 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.


National Bank of Arizona, APS Energy Efficiency Partnership

APS Home Performance Program Provides Loans For Homeowners Energy Efficient Improvements

National Bank of Arizona has partnered with APS to provide an affordable financial incentive for APS customers to renovate their homes with energy efficient improvements. It’s called the APS Home Performance with ENERGY STAR® program.

The program was started more than a year ago and at the time was only available to schools and small businesses. But now, the partnership has  opened up so all APS residential customers have the ability to benefit not only the environment, but their wallet as well.

“We’re pleased to continue our partnership with a company like APS that views environmental sustainability as a top priority for our community,” says Craig Robb, executive vice president of National Bank of Arizona. “Our business energy financing program has been incredibly successful and, we’ve recognized the need to offer the same initiatives in the residential sector, as well.”


The APS Home Performance with ENERGY STAR® program allows homeowners to receive loan amounts ranging with a standard rate of financing, from $1,000-$15,000 for qualifying energy efficiency improvements. Loans that include improvements for solar water heaters are available up to $20,000. The energy efficient improvements included in the partnership program range from duct sealing and shade screens to heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) replacements, solar water heaters and more.

To get started, customers need to schedule their $99 (regularly $400) APS Home Performance with ENERGY STAR® Checkup with a participating contractor. Customers can locate a contractor by calling (877) 850-8358 or visiting

Learn more about the APS Home Performance with ENERGY STAR® program and financing details by visiting any one of National Bank of Arizona’s 76 branches statewide or calling (866) 277-5605 for more information. Customers can also log on to or

Solar Energy Arizona Western College,

Solar Energy Builds on Arizona Western College Campus

The current economic situation has spurred a lot of talk, advertisements and encouragement to buy local and use local to sustain our economy. The Guinness Book of World Records named Yuma, AZ the sunniest city on earth, so where better to utilize innovative solar energy technology on Yuma’s Arizona Western College campus?

The Project

The Arizona Western College in Yuma is in the process of installing solar panels to cover close to 100 percent of its daytime electricity needs and cut its costs, all of which are planned to happen by October 2011. However, this project is doing more than just generating solar energy; it is utilizing five new types of photovoltaic technology from six different companies.

Arizona Western College plans to use the solar panels to teach classes on solar technology, installation and environmental engineering. This three-year solar project, from vision to completion, was partially funded by APS and will be managed by Main Street Power for 30 years and after the contract expires, the equipment will become part of the college and continue producing energy, says Lori Stofft, the director of public relations and marketing at Arizona Western College.

It is unique to apply five different technologies to a single institution, but that is one of the projects innovative angles.

The five photovoltaic technologies and the companies behind them include:

(c)2011 Arizona Western College by Ernest Yates

1. CPV (concentrator photovoltaic) from SolFocus, including their dual-axis trackers and GreenVolts fully integrated system including two-axis trackers and inverter
2. Thin Film panels from Sharp Solar
3. Monocrystalline panels from Solar World
4. Poly Crystalline panels from Suntech
5. Single-axis trackers from O Solar

Another unique aspect of this project is that the building process is streamed live over the internet to allow the community and the solar technology companies to check in on the progress.

“A lot of our partners are in Northern California, Germany, Spain… we wanted those people to feel like they were connected to our campus and that they could check in seven days a week and find out what was going on,” Stofft says. “It’s a way to include our partners in the building process.

The ground breaking was in May 2011 and the “Flip the Switch” completion ceremony is slated for October 2011. Only six months were allotted to cover 23 acres of land with solar arrays. The tight deadline was set in order to meet APS’s guidelines for the funding.

The Educational Advantage

It would make more sense to use one solar technology instead of five if it was just about energy generation, but it’s not, Stofft says. It’s about allowing the companies to measure their technologies against one another in one of the harshest climates on earth. Another educational aspect of the project will be the incubation area and the demonstration garden.

“The demonstration garden will have nine different technologies that students and the public will have access to,” Stofft  says. “They can see how [the technologies] measure against each other and what measures against the five major arrays.”

The incubation area is based on rental, and for a fee, technology companies can rent a private and secure area for a small array where they can test their equipment against the solar arrays already in place. The estimated savings for Arizona Western College with the solar array in place will be $3.5 million in the first 10 years, $15.4 million in 20 years and a projected $40 million over 30 years, including incubation rental fees.

“It’s more than just saving our tax payers money; it can be a road map for other colleges around the country who want to educate their own students,” Stofft  says. “There are all sorts of certificate and training programs and we could be educating people who work in solar industry at all levels.”

Arizona Western College graduated their first solar installer class of 19 in spring 2011 and are in the process of embedding solar technology into new and existing programs, developing 2-year degrees that can be transferred to four-year institutions.

(c)2011 Arizona Western College by Ernest Yates

It seems as though everyone wins.

Arizona Western College saves money; the solar companies get to test and monitor their technology in a large scale setting; the students reap the benefits, and the community creates jobs. The only thing left is getting a White House representative, or the president himself to the “Flip the Switch” ceremony.

A Presidential Approval

“The goal is to attract national attention to the array,” Stofft  says. “I really feel this is about energy independence for our country.”

Arizona Western College sent a formal invitation to the White house, but there has been no response yet. They are keeping their fingers crossed, and if the White House plans to respond, it still has time.

“The students, faculty and community are so proud that this solar array is being installed,” Stofft  says. “And if we can get the White House to visit, that will just be the cherry on top.”

For more information about Arizona Western College’s solar panels and its progress, visit

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Watch: AWC Solar Array Presidential Invite

Watch: AWC Solar Array Groundbreaking May 2011