The Explorer: The Voice of Marana, Oro Valley and Northwest Tucson

  • Hiremath proud of town accomplishments, delivers Oro Valley State of the Town

    In his fifth State of the Town address on Sept. 12, Oro Valley Mayor Satish Hiremath said he is proud of what continues to be accomplished in the community located six miles north of Tucson.“I am pleased to tell you that in 2014, our house is in order, and that is not by accident,” he said. “It is by design. It’s been through the deliberate building of relationships with residents, businesses and employees that the Town of Oro Valley had been able to meet and exceed the community’s expectations.”Earlier this year, the town council approved a $107 million budget. The town currently has 342 employees.Hiremath, recently elected to a second term in office, touted what the town is accomplishing when it comes to a balanced budget, and responsible fiscal management that started with tough decisions three years ago, and has resulted in a surplus that has allowed more than $5 million in special projects in the last year.Some of those investments include the construction of the multi-million around aquatics center, the $1-million project to improve Naranja Park and the costly project to put the town’s power lines underground is costing the town more than $2 million.“We have done all of this while also growing our cash reserves above where they were three years ago, and stable cash revenues contribute to the town’s strong bond rations,” Hiremath said. “In February of this year, Stanard & Poor’s Rating Services raised the town’s long-term rating on the Oro Valley Oracle Road Improvement’s District’s special assessment revenue bonds two notches from A- to A+. This investment rating will allow the town to access future capital on the bond market at much lower interest rates, saving taxpayer dollars on the town’s debt payments. Additionally, the town of Oro Valley earned four national awards in the areas of financial reporting, budgeting and procurement.”

  • Monsoon season wrapping up, big storm still possible

    When it rains, it pours – and in Tucson’s case it floods. On Sept. 8, the city received a downpour of rain from the post-tropical cyclone, Norbert.Gov. Jan Brewer issued a statewide emergency and the National Weather Service issued a Flash Flood Watch to southeast Arizona. The rainfall, from Norbert, was born on Sept. 2 in southwest Mexico. The tropical storm traveled along the coast of Mexico where it turned into a Category 3 hurricane, which is a storm that carries winds between 111 and 130 miles per hour and can cause flooding, strong winds, and damage to residential and utility buildings. By Sept. 7, flash flooding began to occur in California, southern Nevada and Arizona. On Sept. 8, Southern Arizona was hit the hardest.The Pima County Sheriff’s Department reported that from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Sept. 8 they received 1,000 calls. On average, they receive about 1,400 emergency calls within 24 hours. Of the 1,000 calls, the department responded to 279 incidents that involved traffic hazards, river rescues, vehicle collisions, public hazards and search and rescue. The death of a 53-year-old woman also took place on Sept. 8. The woman’s car was swept down by water as deep as 12 feet near the Alamo Wash and 22nd Street. Tucson Fire responded to a call about a car being in the wash around 9:30 a.m. Upon arrival, a person pointed to where the car was pinned up against a bridge. The crew started to get ready to rescue the woman, but the car was swept downstream and was found about a half an hour later. The woman was later identified as Debra Annette Williams.Those from the Golder Ranch Fire District also received numerous calls, according to Anne Braswell, the community relations manager.“It was an exceptional day for everyone in the county,” said Braswell. “The dispatch center was overwhelmed and resources were working overtime for the amount of calls they were responding to. They’d dispatch from one call, rescue and then dispatch to another.”

  • Oro Valley Police Department trains officers on new motorcycles

    The Oro Valley Police Department has switched from its BMW motorcycles to Victory Commander. Last week, the motor unit spent two days at the Marana Regional Airport getting familiar with their new wheels.The department now has eight 1,400-cc V-Twin engine motorcycles. Seven of the motorcycles are leased at a cost of $45,453.18 per year for five years, and the eighth was purchased through a grant for $31,849.

Local News

  • PCC career, job fair Sept. 19 to help jobseekers 50 and older

    Pima Community College organizers of the Plus 50 Career and Job Fair for mature workers say the event will have resources and opportunities geared to jobseekers age 50 and older, who face unique challenges in their search. What: Plus 50 Career and Job Fair for mature workers When: 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., Friday, Sept. 19, 2014 Where: Aztec Gymnasium, PCC West Campus, 2202 West Anklam Road Details: Open to all jobseekers 50 and older; free parking; on Sun Tran bus routes Info: 520-206-7430 or Hundreds of people age 50 and older are expected to attend the Sept. 19 event at PCC West Campus. There they will be able to promote themselves to more than 50 local employers, including The University of Arizona, Carondelet Health Network, Tucson Unified School District and Desert Diamond Casinos and Entertainment. Job seekers attending are encouraged to wear appropriate job interview attire as employers will have access to a private job interview area. PCC staff also will present information and offer assistance on PCC education programs and career resources.“On average, it takes a mature worker much longer to find employment than it does a younger applicant,” says Roger Forrester, Plus 50 Encore Completion Program program coordinator for PCC.Due to the aging baby-boom generation, workers ages 55 and older are expected to make up over one-quarter of the labor force in 2022, according to the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics. But, a recent article on Forbes pointed out that it takes mature workers nearly twice as long to find work as those who are younger.PCC has two programs that are part of national initiatives to help people age 50 and older complete certificates and degrees in high demand occupations, improve their job search skills and provide job placement assistance. Plus 50 is supported by the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC). The Back To Work 50+ initiative is supported by AARP Foundation.

  • Pima County prepares for tropical storm Odile

    The Pima County Office of Emergency Management continues to monitor the weather situation associated with the remnants of Hurricane Odile, now Tropical Storm Odile.PCOEM is responsible for coordinating Pima County’s response to emergencies and other events such as flooding. And its Emergency Operations Center serves as a communications hub and coordination center for dozens of regional government agencies, first responders and nongovernmental organizations. The PCOEM has been working with all of these agencies and organizations in preparation of this week’s expected heavy rainfall as a result of Odile.The EOC will activate at 8 a.m., Sept. 17 and remain activated 24 hours a day until potential threats subside. Among the agencies that will staff the EOC are Pima County Flood Control, the National Weather Service, the Red Cross, Pima County Public Works and representatives from the city of Tucson and other jurisdictions and utility companies. All will be maintaining situational awareness and be prepared to support first responders. No media are allowed in the EOC during activation but Pima County Communications will have a staff member there sending out confirmed information to the media via email and social media. The county also will open a Joint Information Center in the first floor of the County Administration building, 130 W. Congress St., to provide timely updates to the media. Any media requests will be handled through the County Communications Office, 520-724-9999.Odile Information WebpageThe county will have a temporary webpage,, active at 8 a.m. Wednesday to provide the public information about the county’s response to any emergencies that may be associated with the expected rainfall this week.Sandbags

  • Marana graduate beats the odds, comes back from injury

    Blood dripped from his face and lacerations covered his arms. Dallin Wengert lay unconscious as his body jerked around in a fit of seizures. Amy Wengert sat by her husband in the helicopter praying – praying that he would live.“I did not think he was going to make it. It was surreal – like something you’d see in a movie,” said Amy. “It was pretty much my worst nightmare.”---Dallin, a 2008 Marana graduate, first met Amy in 2007. Amy lived in Wisconsin and Dallin lived in Arizona. Though miles apart, the two met through Tara, Dallin’s sister—who suggested that the two get to know each other. The two hit it off and what started as just a few text messages led to phone conversations, letters and packages being sent back and forth. After graduating high school Dallin and Amy both took separate mission trips that resulted in them not seeing each other for three years and three months. Even with the distance, they wrote each other letters every week and in November 2012 were married. Life was bliss. Dallin was pursuing a degree in animal science at Utah State University, Amy was working and about five months into their marriage they found out Amy was pregnant. But what started out as a season of happiness quickly made a turn for the worst on the night of May 30, 2013.It was 9:15 p.m. when it happened. Both were driving their separate cars to Dallin’s work, the Animal Science Farm, which is located directly off of Highway 89/91 in Wellsville, Utah. Dallin was taking a left turn into his work when a SUV, traveling 60 miles per hour, t-boned him. 

Today's Top Headlines

  • (Sept. 18) Today's Top Headlines - Military leaders urge Obama to explore additional options

    Fox News:While President Obama seeks to take the fight to the Islamic State, he’s got a battle brewing with his own brain trust over whether to leave the door open to committing American troops to combat roles.Obama and his top advisers stressed Wednesday that a “combat role” for U.S. troops has been ruled out.But current and former military officials have at least pressed the president to keep his options open.The latest voice to weigh in was retired Gen. James Mattis, former commander of U.S. Central Command, who at a House Intelligence Committee hearing on Thursday said the U.S. should not tell its enemy “what you're not going to do.”For the full story, visit

  • (Sept. 18) Today's Top Headlines - Australian police detain 15 to prevent attack plot

    Counterterrorism raids in Sydney on Thursday were sparked by security intelligence that the Islamic State movement was planning a random, violent attack in Australia as a demonstration of its reach, the prime minister said.Australian police detained 15 people and raided more than a dozen properties across Sydney in the country's largest counterterrorism operation, saying intelligence indicated an attack was being planned on Australian soil.Prime Minister Tony Abbott said he had been briefed on Wednesday night about the operation that was prompted by information that an Islamic State movement leader in the Middle East was calling on Australian supporters to kill.For the full story, visit

  • (Sept. 18) Today's Top Headlines - California wildfire shows explosive growth

    An out-of-control wildfire that was threatening more than 2,000 homes in Northern California showed explosive growth, consuming tens of thousands of additional acres, fire officials said Thursday.The fire east of Sacramento had burned through 111 square miles, up from 44 square miles on Wednesday when it forced additional evacuations, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection. It was only 5 percent contained.Most of the threatened homes were in Pollock Pines, 60 miles east of Sacramento. Hundreds of them were under evacuation orders, but it wasn't immediately clear exactly how many.


  • Born & brewed: Tucson beer cup at Hotel Congress

    September 19, 2014Event Location: 311 E. Congress St., Tucson, AZ 85701 Venue: Hotel Congress Time: From: 7:00 PM to 10:00 PM Admission: Cost is $30/person ($35 day of). Phone: 520-622-8848 

  • ‘Calvary’ results in average showing on the big screen

    A couple of times every year a movie will come out that completely surprises me  where I find the plot cleverly disguised and 180 degrees from what I was expecting after the first 20 minutes.  Like most everyone else, I detest movie trailers for the simple fact that they’ve become too long and too specific for my taste.  Trailers today spoil our movie experience by connecting too many dots in the storyline and test driving all the laugh lines on us viewers-- all before we’ve even settled into our theater seats.  The interesting part of the film “Calvary” is that not only did I have no idea what the story was about ahead of time, but that once I started watching the movie my perception of it changed dramatically with how I felt afterwards.The “Calvary” is about Father James (played splendidly by Brenden Gleeson), a priest in a small Irish town having to face parishioners who display little, if any, moral character or reverence for the man of the cloth and the Catholic church.  The stakes are high for Father James, personally and professionally, as he must continue to stay true to his faith while answering difficult questions about past Catholic priests’ behavior.   Gleeson’s exceptional performance captivates audiences with his earnestness and likeability in what is easily his best role to date.The beginning of the movie was extremely slow and nondescript, making me seriously contemplate getting up and leaving the theater by the 20-minute mark.  The film’s middle and ending, however, generated interest with the stark contrasts it draws between a society that openly rejects religion and those servants attempting to preach God’s word.  Gleeson convincingly does his best to chart a corrective course for the sinning souls at the remote outpost while nearing his own personal threshold in tolerating others.  It was due to Gleeson’s endearing role of Father James that viewers not only see right from wrong, but more importantly, are left asking how and why our world has become so mean and nasty?This film painstakingly builds its case for society’s mean-streak and how that lost moral compass may be due to the irrelevance placed upon religion.  Rather than forgive and understand, we tend to discard and dismiss others and their feelings.  Withstanding Gleeson’s moving performance, the “Calvary” is just an average showing on the big screen. Its message, however, resonates and intensifies upon further reflection afterwards.  That introspect is the film’s best message and one that makes it worthy seeing. Grade: B-

  • Prime Time Review: Shakespeare in the Park returns with ‘King Lear’

    One of the primary allures of the Tucson climate is the seemingly endless amount of outdoor entertainment that can take place nearly year round. Games of golf, family picnics, hiking expeditions, and films underneath the stars have become community favorites in years past, but one local theater group is quietly bringing a much more educational twist to the list.The El Rio Theater Project is gearing up for their 8th annual production of Shakespeare in the park with the classic tale “King Lear”. The series of performances began in 2006 as part of a vision experienced by long time Tucson theater staple Michael Givens. Givens had a dream of making quality theater more accessible to people who do not usually purchase tickets to expensive productions. By performing for a fee in a public space, El Rio Theater has become a community theater that places more emphasis on the importance of exposing community members to classic plays rather than seeking monetary profits. Givens and his team of top-notch players are true to their word and true to their vision, as there is no price for admission (though a small donation is welcome).Following last year’s comedic park performance of “The Merry Wives of Windsor”, “King Lear” promises to be a much more dark and gritty spectacle in the night. The tragedy focuses on a waning leader who decides to forfeit his estate, electing to divide it among his three daughters, Regan, Goneril, and Cordelia. But there is a catch. King Lear, blinded by hubris, wishes to be showered with flattery from his daughters before they receive a portion of the kingdom. When two of the daughters deceive the Lear by lying about the extent of their love for him, a series of tragic events unfold that bring about devastating consequences for the entire kingdom.  Providing the perfect opportunity for a night out with the family, a cozy date under the stars, or a class outing, the Shakespeare in the park performances are sure to deliver something special for all groups of entertainment seekers, outdoor enthusiasts, and literature buffs alike. The team of performers remind those attending to bring a blanket and a picnic basket, and prepare to become lost in a timeless allegory written over 400 years ago, yet still captures constant and universal nuances of the human condition that speak to audiences in the 21st Century. The play will take place at Himmel Park at 1000 N. Tucson Blvd. at 7 p.m. on Sept. 19-21, Sept. 25-28, and Oct. 2-5, and yes, the weather should be lovely.


  • Women’s Soccer and Cross Country Notes

     The Pima Community College women’s soccer game at Cochise College today in Douglas has been cancelled. A make-up date will be determined at a later time. The No. 13 Aztecs will host Mesa Community College on Saturday at the Kino North Grandstand at 7:00 p.m. The NJCAA Division I cross country rankings for Week 3 came out. The Aztecs men’s team remained at No. 8 while the women’s team jumped to the No. 5 spot. They were No. 10 in the Week 2 listings. The cross country teams will be part of the Dave Murray Invitational at Dell Urich Golf Course on Friday. The women’s race will be at 5:00 p.m. and the men’s race follows at 5:45 p.m. See the complete NJCAA rankings at:

  • Media Football Rankings

    The latest media rankings for high school football are out and there is starting to be a lot of moving going on as the season gets into its fourth week.In Division 2 Ironwood Ridge moves up a spot after their last second win over CDO. With their loss to Mesquite, Mountain View is no longer receiving votes.In Division III CDO was not hurt much by the loss, dropping just one place and still being ranked over some undefeated teams. Catalina Foothills also fell out of thei D3 top 10, but had the most votes of any team not cracking the top-10. After their win over Scottsdale Christian, Pusch Ridge moves back into the ratings at No. 9 in Division 5.Divisions with Northwest Area teams:Division 21 Salpointe Catholic (1)

  • Nighthawks rally to down rival Dorados

    Moments after Nathan Farmer split the uprights on a 30-yard field goal to give Ironwood Ridge a 24-21 win against rival Canyon Del Oro, the Nighthawks’ Head Coach Matt Johnson admitted that the better team may not have won the game, but the team that was better on special teams got the win. “I think their coaches out-coached us,” said Johnson. “Their kids deserved to win and it was just a hard-fought battle.”The Nighthawks made more special teams plays, and took advantage of a pair of special teams mistakes to win a come from behind game that stretched over two days due to weather issues on Friday night. Down 21-14, the Nighthawks took advantage of two bad CDO punts and scored the final 10 points of the game. “It’s tough because we played a pretty good game,” said CDO Head Coach Dusty Peace.With 4:40 left in the game the Nighthawks took over at the CDO 35 after the first short punt. Michael Franzese gained 18 yards on first down and with Dalton Pakkala playing quarterback, he carried four straight times and got Ironwood Ridge down to the five-yard line. Franzese took the sweep and found the endzone to tie the game at 21.

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