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Updated Aug 6, 2014 - 7:36 am

Prescott Valley woman wins grand prize for dog park idea

PHOENIX -- An Arizona woman collects her first prize winnings on Wednesday.

A dog food company will give Linda Nichols $10,000, while also donating a half a million dollars for a project that will have dogs in the northern part of the state wagging their tails.

Nichols is this year's winner of an annual contest held by Beneful Dog Food.

"Each year, we invite our consumers to answer the question, 'If you had $500,000 to create a dream dog park where you and your best buddy can play together, what would you do?'" asked Moronke Tyler, spokeswoman for Beneful.

Nichols won for her fire station-themed idea for the Willow Creek Dog Park in Prescott Valley.

"It will have a fire truck play area, fire hose-shaped tunnels and a covered firehouse lounge area with tables for owners to enjoy," Tyler said.

It will also have a fire hydrant.

"There will be some misting elements in the park that meet all of the guidelines that are set by the city that will have a hydrant theme," she laughed. "We're hoping that the dogs will enjoy the water and not some of the other 'benefits.'"

The groundbreaking and unveiling of the park's design will be revealed Wednesday during ceremonies that are only open to certain Prescott Valley dignitaries.

The park is expected to be open to the public by Thanksgiving.

About the Author

Years with the company: I started on January 2, 2006.

Education: I was born in San Antonio, Texas, but we moved to Phoenix when I was one-year-old in 1957. I grew up here and graduated from Alhambra High School and attended Phoenix College.

Family: I live in north Phoenix with my wife Rene' and my son Devin.

Favorite food: Lots of favorite food, but our favorite restaurant is Fajitas.

Favorite spot in Arizona: The Little America Hotel in Flagstaff.

Favorite news memory: We have to go back to October 15, 1979. I was a country music air personality at KROP Radio in Brawley, California, when we had a 6.7 earthquake. Thankfully, there were no deaths and only minor injuries, but the entire community was pretty freaked out and listening to the station on their transistor radios. I would not want to go through an earthquake again, but it sure was a great night to work in radio and see how it can make a difference in people's lives.

First job: Working as a stringer for 'The Arizona Republic' at high school football games. My first real job was flipping burgers at the old Sandy's Hamburgers at 51st Avenue and Indian School Road. My first radio job was as announcer at KALJ radio in Yuma in 1977.

First concert: My Dad took me to see Jimmy Dean at the Arizona State Fairgrounds in the 1960's. It was before the Coliseum was built. The only thing I remember is Jimmy Dean singing his big hit "Big Bad John."

Favorite sports team: Phoenix Roadrunners minor league hockey. My dad took me to a game when I was in grade school, and I was hooked. I wanted to be a radio hockey play-by-play man. I used to take my cassette recorder and sit up in the rafters of the Coliseum and do play-by-play. It was great later in life to also take my son to Roadrunners games. Too bad the team just folded, I'll miss them. (Going to the Coyotes is fun, but they're not "my" team.)

Outside interests: My family and I are active in our church - Shiloh Community Church in Phoenix. Devin is a high school student at Scottsdale Christian Academy. He plays on the baseball, football, and basketball teams and sings in the choir. Obviously, we keep busy trying to go to all his events! We enjoy going to movies, sporting events, and long road trips. We like to vacation at the Beach Cottages in the Pacific Beach area of San Diego. And I love to play catch, basketball, football with my son.


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