January is a month that has several personal anniversaries for me that have greatly impacted my life.

It was on Jan. 19, 1970, that I first set foot in what is now Fountain Hills. It was a Wednesday. I was a newly-hired copywriter in an advertising agency in Old Town Scottsdale. To get oriented with the agency’s major account, McCulloch Properties, I attended the sales school with about 10 other guys, also in Old Town Scottsdale. The history of the company was what I was most interested in learning. After all, I would be writing about this new community of Fountain HiIls for years to come. At least, I hoped that would be the case.

I never dreamed I would be writing about it for the next 50 years!

I left the ad agency after working there four years. Then I started The Fountain Hills Times on June 27, 1974.

Another January event that took place was my retirement. Never in my wildest dreams did I ever think that I would reach retirement. I just thought I would work until the day I dropped dead at my key-board and someone would have to drag me out of our building.

Well, it was Parkinson’s Disease that got me to retire on Jan. 1, 2017. It was on doctor’s orders that I retire. I first noticed symptoms of the disease in 1995. Actually, I was fortunate to have worked these past 25 years.

As I mentioned last time in my column on the early history of our community, there was a cluster of saguaro cacti just east of Saguaro Boulevard and south of El Lago Boulevard.

Project Manager Bill Fisher told me in an interview for The Fountain Hills Times monthly that in Fountain Hills “the single most valuable asset of the property, in addition to its location, is its scenic terrain.”

He noted that there is an abundance of saguaro cacti.

Fisher continued, “At the beginning of development, a saguaro sanctuary was established, whereby these massive plants were transplanted and saved for landscaping in the civic center and throughout the community.”

A method for moving the cacti had to be devised so starting with a cherry picker equipped with a steel ring, a nylon cargo net was attached. The device, looking much like an old-fashioned shower ring with curtain attached, was slipped over the saguaro.

The net was tied at the base of the cactus, which was then lifted and carried to the sanctuary. There was no damage to the saguaro this way. They also learned that the giant cacti had two different thicknesses of skin. The side facing the sun was thick and the side in the shade was thinner. When replanting, workers had to be careful the same side would to face the sun.

Also, in the March edition, there was a front-page story about the start of construction on the first subdivision of new homes. Fontana proved to be a successful project in the northeast area of town.

The builder was Dell Trailor Construction Co., of Phoenix. There would be three sections of the project: 40 townhouses, 60 patio homes and 120 “quadrominiums.”