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  • Secret project stems tax talk

    The Oro Valley council on Dec. 17 is tentatively slated to revisit an October agenda item related to exploring additional revenue options.In the Oct. 15 meeting, council voted in favor of initiating the required 60-day public notice necessary before discussing new or increased fees or taxes.Councilwoman Mary Snider said in the meeting that the exploration of additional revenue streams relates to a potential project in the town.“We have a specific project to consider… in order to consider that project fully we need the opportunity to examine whether or not there could be any additional revenue,” she said.Communications Administrator Misti Nowak said the town hopes to announce the project in the next three to four weeks, but adds that should the project not come to fruition, “there won’t be any need to discuss additional revenue streams.”Mayor Satish Hiremath also called for there to be a posted notice related to sales tax revenue discussions in what appeared to be related to the same project.

  • Marana Middle School teacher finalist for superhero award

    If you step into Krisha Leyva’s class be prepared for a lot of energy, a lot of hands-on activities and not a lot of handholding. Leyva believes in being upbeat and animated, but she also believes in letting kids make their own discoveries. This philosophy has led her to being a finalist for STEM Superhero Awards for Most Dedicated STEM teacher, which is sponsored by the Arizona Super Bowl committee.“When one walks into Ms. Leyva’s classroom, they enter a living Learning Lab,” explained Marana Middle School principal Kristin Reidy. “Ms. Leyva recycles resources on campus and encourages her students to use them during their investigations. Students are encouraged to think outside the box when solving problems and as long as their proposed ‘solution’ fits within the parameters of the project and it is “safe” anything goes.”Leyva believes that the best way for students to learn science is for them to discover science by exploration, note memorization. “I don’t give them the recipe to do these things, I let them explore and guide them through these things,” Leyva explained. Leyva got into teaching nine years ago after making a career change. “Before I went into teaching I was a banker and that was not a good fit,” said Leyva. “I wanted to get into something where I could actually make a difference, make a difference with children.

  • Running the marathon – Doucet beats anorexia, wins state championship

    Canyon Del Oro High School senior Bridget Doucet finished her final season in cross country on top of the podium, winning the Division II State Championship. However, for any other runner, it may have been just the final race of her high school career, but for Doucet it capped off a marathon of not only becoming the best in her favorite sport, but also in defeating a yearlong battle against anorexia.Doucet came back to compete in her senior year after missing her entire junior season to battle a disease that according to the National Association of Eating Disorders affects one third of all adolescents. In total, more than 24 million people of all ages suffer from an eating disorder every year.For Doucet, the characteristics that made her such a successful runner, also contributed to her suffering from anorexia. Anorexia is the specter that looms over Doucet. It is an “insidious” force that she and her family have to be constantly aware of, but as she has stressed time and again, it does not define her. “It was hard coming out of the cross country season,” said Doucet. “It was one of the pivotal moments of my recovery process. It was time to either be at the crossroads and go full bore into the disorder or turn around and say ‘I don’t want to keep living this way.’”Doucet was state champion in her sophomore year in 2012, and was favored to win again in 2013, but to run at Doucet’s level, having proper nutrition is key.Even though Doucet appeared healthy, and she was still running at a high level, more and more food was becoming an issue, one that had to be more aggressively dealt with.  

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Local News

  • It’s no secret: Gaslight’s “Secret Santa” a hit

    Someone once asked me what my favorite thing about Gaslight Theatre is.I asked them how much time they had.That couldn’t be truer than of the playhouse’s newest comedic gem, “The Secret Santa,” which debuted last week and runs through Jan. 4.Set in the 1960s, the play revamps the age-old tale of Santa Claus with a modern twist – his sleigh has broken down in the Town of Merryville – but that’s not the real dilemma.The Cogsworth Toy Factory is under siege by its owner, CC Cogsworth (Brian Hale) and manager, Barkely Simpson (Todd Thompson), who together plot to halt toy production in order to launch a potentially more lucrative lawnmower factory. Initially unaware of the devious plan, the spirited toymakers are caught off-guard when they discover management’s true motives, and things look grim for the factory workers and Merryville alike. The potential shutdown could mean Christmas passes by as just another day.

  • Local high school athletes sign on

    A large number of local northwest area athletes will continue their athletic careers at the college level. In total 21 area high school athletes signed National Letters of Intent to accept athletic scholarships, with at least five more signing this week. More athletes, including football and soccer players will sign in the February signing period. There is also a spring signing period in April. CDO had the most athletes sign, with 14 getting an opportunity to sign with four-year schools. Chris Meyers signed with Stanford, a week after winning the Division II state golf championship. That concluded a standout senior season for Meyers, who also won the Gary Durrenberger award for the lowest average. “Its really awesome,” Meyers said of signing day. “We had 14 sign yesterday. We just have a great school. I am just glad that I chose to go to CDO where all the kids are so great. I have made friends that I will be friends with for a really long time.  I feel fortunate.”Girls golfer Morgan Messick signed with Northern Arizona, but after verbally committing to the school she decided to take the season off from high school golf and focus on her academics. 

  • Surgeon performs assisted robotic cardiac surgery at NWMC

    Nationally acclaimed for his research and procedures with the robotic-assisted cardiac surgery, Dr. Robert Poston now brings his 12 years of experience to Northwest Medical Center.Poston graduated from John Hopkins University School of Medicine, completed his general-surgery residency at the San Francisco Medical Center and his research fellowship at Stanford University Medical Center. In 2002, under the guidance of Dr. Bartley Griffith, Poston had his first clinical appointment, and in 2004 was asked to conduct further research on the cardiac robot – a request that did not appeal to him.Two years prior, the cardiac robot was approved for use. Initially it was used by heart surgeons at prestigious centers, but eventually faded out due to a lack of management, according to Poston. Coalitions didn’t support the product and few programs kept the robot for cardiac surgery. Due to the lack of success and disinterest in the robot, Poston wasn’t quick to accept the request. “I resisted, but they kept coming back. I agreed to sit down with the robot,” said Poston. “You see the power of that tool and as soon as I sat down, within 10 minutes I was like, ‘This is not a difficult machine.’ It’s such an elegant machine.”The cardiac robot provides three-dimensional viewing and consists of multiple arms that mimic the surgeon’s normal hand, wrist, arm and finger movements. Each arm also provides a small range of motion, scaled movements and no tremor, which allows for more precision. There are about 2,000 robots nationwide, but only 20 hospitals use them for heart surgery.The biggest advantage in using the cardiac robot is that the procedure is minimally invasive in comparison to open-heart surgery. The smaller incision also results in a quicker recovery. Though the robot isn’t the best option for every heart surgery, it has proven effective in the following surgeries: valve surgery, cardiac tissue ablation, heart defect repair, bypass, tumor removal and coronary artery, according to John Hopkins Medicine Health Library.

Entertainment

  • ‘Birdman’ likely to land several Oscar nominations

    Most of us remember Michael Keaton’s successful string of comedies in the early 1980s that started off with “Night Shift” and “Mr. Mom”.  Afterwards, he starred in Tim Burton’s highly anticipated “Batman” in 1989. By 1992, he once again played the caped crusader in “Batman Returns”, earning Keaton widespread acclaim. Then something happened; Keaton’s movies were more “misses” than “hits” until he seemed to disappear from cinema screens overnight. Keaton’s career had fallen into the category of insignificance.  He missed out on meatier roles and blockbuster box office winners. Years later, even as he found himself providing voices to successful animated films (“Cars”, “Toy Story 3”), Keaton was never handed that potential Academy Award acting part or movie. Until now.Keaton’s enthralling performance completely dominates this film from start to finish. As the character Riggan Thomson, Keaton plays a once famous actor still revered by his fans for his superhero movie persona Birdman from years ago. Riggan, perhaps similar to Keaton following his Batman days, doesn’t want history to only remember him for wearing the crime-fighting costume. Unwilling to reprise the Birdman gig for a fourth movie installment, Keaton’s character leaves Hollywood for the world of Broadway plays. Now, struggling to gain acceptance from critics, fans and his family, Keaton’s Riggan becomes despondent. Keaton’s intensity shines throughout the movie like a laser in a dark theater.  But by no means does he carry this remarkable film solely. The film’s edgy behind-the-scenes look at a Broadway production reveals a combative storyline from its entire cast and crew.Just as impressive as Keaton’s acting gem in this movie is the extraordinary job two-time Academy Award nominee Edward Norton (“Primal Fear”, 1996) does to keep the plot and film moving along effortlessly. Norton’s character, Mike, is hired as a last-minute replacement actor to co-star opposite Keaton’s delusional Riggan in the Broadway play. Together, Keaton and Norton give movie audiences a volatile mix of personalities so convincingly testy that viewers will be left cringing at times and shaking their heads. Likewise, Naomi Watts (2-time Academy Award nominee) perfectly stars as the uncertain female lead in the play’s production.  Rounding out the splendid cast are Zach Galifianakis (“The Hangover” trilogy) and Emma Stone (“Amazing Spider-Man”).“Birdman” marks such a powerful, riveting masterpiece by Keaton and his co-stars, that this film should garner several Oscar nominations. It’s almost certain to make the list for Best Picture while Keaton is a heavy favorite to get a nod for Best Actor. “Birdman” also makes a strong case for Academy Award nominations in the Best Supporting Actor (Edward Norton) and Best Directing (Mexican director Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu) categories.Aside from the exceptionally strong acting performances, the movie also excels in the cinematography department. Despite being filmed almost entirely within the confines of their Broadway theater, the terrific camera angles and shots deserve separate mention. Director Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu gallantly captures the long, maze-like hallways containing the brisk-paced walk of Keaton and others in single, continuous shots.  Viewers become transfixed on the theater set itself; both the happenings in front of the stage and behind it--never missing a step with the characters.  At other times, the film holds a shot an extra few seconds for effect and audience reflection. It’s that unique showcase of the film’s storyline on camera, combined with brilliant leading and supporting acting, that makes “Birdman” one of the best films in 2014.“Birdman” provides Michael Keaton the opportunity to remold his film legacy.  While Keaton has attempted for years to rekindle his 1990s popularly at the box office, fictional superhero Riggan Thomson has refused to be typecast as Birdman--despite the insecurity that his decision costs him.  It’s only fitting that Keaton’s character in “Birdman” desires relevancy and acceptance while taking on a new direction. After all, it’s the movie “Birdman” that stands to help return Keaton to the top of the entertainment business. And in return, look for this film to gain massive Oscar buzz come this January--thanks to the dynamic duo of Keaton and Norton.

  • Happenings - Week of Nov. 19

    THEATERThursday to Friday,Nov. 20-21• Enjoy a performance of the Aquila Theatre production of Shakespeare’s magical tale of forgiveness and enlightenment The Tempest hosted by Pima Community College Theatre Arts Proscenium Theatre and UAPresents. Details: 7:30 p.m.; Proscenium Theatre, 2202 W. Anklam Road; $45; 206-6986.Thursday to Saturday, Nov. 20-Jan. 3• Celebrate the holidays with a hilarious, heartwarming tale for one and all We’re No Angels as three lovable hustlers outwit a nefarious gangster and save a family business from financial ruin. Details: 7 p.m. Thursday, 6 p.m. Friday-Saturday, 3 p.m. Sunday; Great American Playhouse, 13005 N. Oracle Road; $15.95-$17.95, $7.95 children; 512-5145.

  • It’s no secret: Gaslight’s “Secret Santa” a hit

    Someone once asked me what my favorite thing about Gaslight Theatre is.I asked them how much time they had.That couldn’t be truer than of the playhouse’s newest comedic gem, “The Secret Santa,” which debuted last week and runs through Jan. 4.Set in the 1960s, the play revamps the age-old tale of Santa Claus with a modern twist – his sleigh has broken down in the Town of Merryville – but that’s not the real dilemma.The Cogsworth Toy Factory is under siege by its owner, CC Cogsworth (Brian Hale) and manager, Barkely Simpson (Todd Thompson), who together plot to halt toy production in order to launch a potentially more lucrative lawnmower factory. Initially unaware of the devious plan, the spirited toymakers are caught off-guard when they discover management’s true motives, and things look grim for the factory workers and Merryville alike. The potential shutdown could mean Christmas passes by as just another day.

Sports

  • Former MV star scores 20 in win

    Former Mountain View standout Melody McLaughlin scored a team-high 20 points and grabbed eight rebounds to lead the Pima College women’s basketball tema to a 72-58 win over Chandler-Gilbert CC.The Aztecs out-rebounded CGCC by 19, gobbling up 25 offensive rebounds.Shalise Fernander (Flowing Wells) had seven offensive boards, helping her to 12 points.PCC improves to 2-1, 1-0 in the ACCAC, and will host their first ACCAC conference game at the West Campus on Saturday. They will play Phoenix College at 2:00 p.m.

  • Preseason Tournaments

    The winter sports season begins next week with a number of pre-season holiday tournaments. Here is a list of the tournaments that will feature NW area teams. BOYS BASKETBALLSalpointe Tip Off Classic - Nov. 24-29 (CFHS, Ironwood Ridge)Buena Safeway Classic - Nov. 28-29 (Marana, Mountain View, CDO)Boyd Baker Small School Invitational – Nov. 24-26 (Pusch Ridge)GIRLS BASKETBALL

  • Meyers signs with Stanford to cap a crazy two weeks

    When Canyon Del Oro senior golfer Chris Meyers signed a national Letter of Intent to accept a golf scholarship from Stanford, he completed a lifelong dream to go to the school. Even a year ago signing with the Cardinal seemed unlikely. Meyers fell in love with Stanford when he was just eight years old. He and his family visited the campus during a family trip to Northern California and it was love at first sight. “It (Stanford) has been on my mind a long time,” said Meyers. “We went and I said I want to go on this school and it has been on my mind since then.”Although Meyers has been a very good golfer since he got serious about the sport when he was 12, it has been in the last year that his game has really evolved to the point that he could attract top Division I programs. “When I started my recruiting process I was looking at them but I never really heard that much because I didn’t develop and start playing good golf until this year, really good golf that would put me in their league,” Meyers explained. Over the past year or so his game has gotten that good and Meyers was able to choose the Cardinal over Arizona and Texas Christian.  Last Wednesday he made it official by signing with Stanford. 

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