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

  • Marana students take a stand against bullying

    October is National Bullying Prevention Month, and the students at Marana High School take the month very seriously. Last week the school held its third annual Stand Up Against Bullying event. The entire student body and its clubs participated in the lunch-time event where students pledged, vowed, tweeted and popped balloons to physically demonstrate that they will take an active role in preventing bullying. Student Body President Levi Morse was pleased to see all of the different clubs within the school had created different booths that helped promote an anti-bullying agenda. “It’s a nice event to be a stand on the preventative aspect of bullying,” Morse said. “We just want to make sure everyone knows that it is something that could happen and that there’s a structured way to solve the issue.”Student body Vice President Bridgett Saxton echoed Morse’s remarks.“This is an event that brings our school together a lot,” Saxton said. “It really makes us united on the fact that everybody can get behind the same cause.”

  • Two-year study on I-11 complete

    A two-year study to determine the feasibility of Interstate 11 – a corridor connecting Phoenix to Las Vegas and potentially Mexico to Canada – has been completed, according to officials with the Arizona Department of Transportation (ADOT).The final step in the review process came after the State Transportation Board reviewed and accepted recommendations made in the Corridor Concept Report, which establishes the corridor’s vision, develops a justification for the interstate, and defines an implementation program to move the project forward.According to a recent release from ADOT, the completed study “points to the need for a new multimodal freight corridor and manufacturing belt that will drive trade, commerce, job growth and economic development for the two states (Arizona and Nevada) and facilitate strong connections to other major regional marketplaces.”As it is recommended and detailed by ADOT, the I-11 corridor would follow the US 93 from the Hoover Dam Bypass Bridge southward to Wickenburg, running west of the Phoenix metropolitan area, and then loosely following interstates 10 and 19 to the border of Mexico.Officials with ADOT say the corridor could serve as a high-capacity trade corridor, benefitting several manufacturing operations that are located along the suggested route, and would likely make use of a high concentrate of freight traffic.“Interstate 11 represents one of those major corridors that would provide access to international markets to the north and south of Arizona and to the east and west of us,” said ADOT Director John Halikowski. 

  • Water, developments on the agenda for Marana Council

    Development at the Ina and Silverbell intersection and town water agreements got most of the attention at the Oct. 21 Marana Council meeting. The council hosted four separate public hearings to discuss the issues.The council held a pair of public hearings for two separate projects near the Ina and Silverbell intersection. In both cases, representatives from the planner’s cffice came to get areas rezoned for specific development. Cynthia Ross of the town planning department discussed the Silverbell Gateway Specific Plan and said rezoning for the area was needed because current zoning “does not allow the property to be developed in a cohesive way.”The plan for the 92 acres near the northeast and northwest corners of Ina and Silverbell roads is to be broken up into four distinct areas with different usage. One area would be for the use and enjoyment of both the Santa Cruz River path and the Silverbell Park, one would be a retail area, one would combine retail, commercial and even residential options, while a fourth was deemed a “transition area.” Although each is planned to have a different purpose, part of the re-zoning was to allow for the same uses from area to area in the case that they are needed. “Silverbell Gateway has tremendous potential to be the southwest gateway to the town,” said Ross.Ross did suggest that the council consider raising the height limit of buildings in the development from 75 feet to 100 feet.  Normal protocol of approving the height limit would be for the council to have the option to audit the plan but Mayor Ed Honea asked that any proposed building over 75 feet be brought in front of the council. 

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  • Westward Look offers dining and amenities for Thanksgiving

    Thanksgiving is a delicious, relaxing affair this year at Westward Look Wyndham Grand Resort & Spa. While the resort is offering Thanksgiving fare all day, the Sonoran Spa is also offering delightful dessert specials to entice your appetite for well-being.Westward Look is offering delicious choices from breakfast through dinner, with the resort’s popular Thanksgiving Day Grand Brunch Buffet in the Sonoran Ballroom as the highlight:· Breakfast Buffet: A relaxed start to a full day, perfect for guests visiting family, in the ambient GOLD restaurant. Only $20 per person, 6:30 a.m. to 12 p.m.· Lookout: Enjoy the views or watch the day’s football games with simple, classic Thanksgiving specials.· Thanksgiving Grand Brunch Buffet: A fuss-free gourmet feast, served in the Sonoran Ballroom. $59 for adults, $25 for children 5 to 12 years old, free for children ages 4 and under. From 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.Indulge yourself with one of the all-new delectable Sonoran Spa holiday offerings. Select from these enticing treatments to top off your day of thanks:

  • Trick or Treat: Avoiding Halloween rip-offs

    While Halloween is usually reserved for pint-sized ghouls and goblins, some of the biggest scares associated with the holiday can come from fly-by-night businesses looking to spook consumers and their bank accounts.Projected spending this Halloween is expected to reach upwards of $11.3 billion this year, with the average family projected to spend $125 each on costumes, candy, decorations and other Halloween related products, according to a study released by the International Council of Shopping Centers.BBB offers consumers these tips when looking to buy Halloween merchandise:Browse around and check pricing.  Comparison shop, online and offline, before you buy. The costume’s advertised price may differ from the final cost; certain states have sales tax, and if ordering online, shipping fees usually apply.Check out the company. Many Halloween-themed stores take advantage of short-term leases, setting up shop in vacant space for just a few weeks in cities across the country. Some businesses will even change their name from year to year as a way of hiding a poor track record. Always check out a company’s BBB Business Review before making a purchase.Research Halloween costume websites. While there are plenty of legitimate e-commerce websites selling Halloween costumes, make sure that a site is legitimate before handing over your credit card or debit card number, and be extra wary of websites that only accept PayPal.

  • Tomb Town

    Keith and Jenny Stewart have been hosting “Tomb Town” at their residence for 13 years.The Stewart’s spend the latter half of September and much of October setting up the attraction with the goal of raising money for the Arizona Food Bank.Tomb Town has become an increasingly popular option for trick or treaters, usually attracting about 1,000 visitors each Halloween. Tomb Town features store-bought props that have been personalized – anything from grave markers to spooky mannequins to coffins – which are placed in the couple’s front yard to create an eerie atmosphere.Admission to Tomb Town is $1. This is the Stewarts 14th year hosting the event and fourth year in Tucson. The event runs on Oct. 31, from 6 to 10 p.m. at 8343 N. Wanda, near La Cañada and Magee roads.


  • Jeff Azersky schools Matt Russell in the science of shucking

    It’s long been surmised that Jeff Azersky has the most beautiful bivalves in Southern Arizona.Lest your imaginations run wild, let me be clear. We’re talking oysters, people, and Azersky indeed has every reason to take pride in helping to pioneer Tucson’s raw bar culture, a culture that will be celebrated at the annual Kingfisher Oyster Festival on November 8.Azersky spent nearly 30 years on the South Shore of Massachusetts, what some consider to be the nation's oyster capital, halfway between Boston and Cape Cod. When he relocated to Tucson more than 20 years ago, he started shipping fresh oysters here, and today they’re among the top sellers at both of his local restaurants – Kingfisher Bar and Grill, 2564 E. Grant Road, and Bluefin Seafood Bistro, 7053 N. Oracle Road.In preparation for the Oyster Festival, I sat down with Azersky last week to learn more about our squishy little friend.He started the lesson by describing the significant number of oyster varietals currently being harvested across the globe, and that he expects to feature nearly 20 different types at the festival.“We’ll be serving oysters from Washington, Oregon, British Columbia, California, New England, the Mid-Atlantic, Gulf of Mexico and other regions that produce great oysters,” he said.

  • Join TLM Staff for happy hour review at fox and hound

    Join staff of Tucson Local Media for the monthly Sippin’ Social on Thursday, Nov. 20, at Fox and Hound Smokehouse & Tavern, located at 7625 N. La Cholla Blvd. from 4 to 6 p.m.Pitch story ideas, discuss current news, or relax and enjoy food or drink.Tucson Local Media does not pay for food or drink.

  • Bill Murray delivers his finest performance in the lastest Box Office hit ‘St. Vincent’

    Thirty-seven years ago, a young comedian named Bill Murray debuted on the second season of the TV show “Saturday Night Live” to replace original cast member Chevy Chase.  Three short years later and with an Emmy Award clutched in his hand, the 30-year-old Murray followed Chase’s lead and also departed “SNL” for the big-screen.  As quickly as Murray had succeeded in television, his success in movies was even more staggering by comparison.  Less than five years after making his transition from award-winning TV to a film career, he landed a trio of iconic ‘80s comedies that people can still quote Murray’s money lines from: “Caddyshack” (1980), “Stripes” (1981) and “Ghostbusters” (1984).  Bill Murray showed us how the world of comedy worked and made it look effortless.Fast-forward 30 years and we find Bill Murray’s character in “St. Vincent” proclaiming to the mother of a 12-year old boy named Oliver; “I’m showing him how the world works” as he smokes, drinks and gambles his life and money away.  Murray plays the cranky old neighbor Vincent McKenna, who is asked by the single mom (Melissa McCarthy) living next door if he’ll babysit the youngster while she desperately works long hours trying to make ends meet.  Murray admirably attempts to fill the parenting and mentorship void in the sixth grader’s life (brilliantly portrayed by newcomer Jaeden Lieberher) leading to hilarious scenes and one-liners throughout the film.  The same trademarks we’ve become accustomed to getting from the comedian.During his nearly four decades of entertaining us—the smirking and wisecracking comic has provided audiences with laughs over and over again, like he did in the mega-hit “Groundhog Day” in 1993.  That’s the Bill Murray we’ve grown to love and expect since his days of chasing paranormal activity and busting ghosts as Doctor Peter Venkman.  What I didn’t expect in this film, though, was the phenomenal and touching performance given by Murray.  First-time director Theodore Melfi wisely allowed Murray to be the face and voice of the movie, resulting in the “SNL” veteran nailing every debauchery scene and lewd line perfectly.  But more importantly, Melfi didn’t settle for a movie only filled with gag lines to bring smiles to viewers’ faces.  Instead, he added several compassionate, heartwarming aspects to Murray’s cat-loving Vincent persona.  The film combines comedy and drama, often within the same conversation.  Murray and McCarthy are both equally remarkable as they put their serious acting prowess on display, enduring each bump from along their characters’ difficult road in a believable story. “St. Vincent” shows everyone’s personal warts, unabashedly, through a constant mix of anxiety, humor, strength and vulnerability.  That combination of feelings, coupled with Murray’s creative talent to pull them off, easily makes this his finest performance ever in film.


  • Oro Valley Dolphins honored for academics

    Earlier this month 13 Oro Valley Dolphin football players were honored at a scholarship luncheon for the Tucson Youth Football and Spirit Federation.The luncheon was held at the UA Student Union, where the young men and women were recognized for their excellence in academics. Bios of the 13 players provided by the Oro Valley Dolphins:Carl Mencke is a 7th grader at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Catholic School.His favorite subject is math. When he's not on the football field, Carl enjoys swimming and music.  He plays the baritone and the piano. Having just moved to Tucson from Virginia, Carl has enjoyed getting to know hisDolphin teammates.

  • Mountain Lions win in final seconds

    Austin Perkins’ pass dropped into the arms of Jorge Flores and the celebration was on. Tucson High took a 21-17 lead with 26 seconds left and the Badger players, coaches and fans were in full celebration mode. However, 23 seconds later, it was the Mountain View faithful who were celebrating a 24-21 win. Down 17-14 the Badgers went to work at their own 20. Nine plays later they faced a fourth and long from the Mountain View 46. The Badger punter rolled to his right then tossed the ball to a teammate running behind him on the reverse who raced the opposite direction, only to be met by several Mountain Lion defenders. Although perfectly defended, no one actually brought him down and he was able to change direction and race 15 yards for the first down. The Badgers moved down to the 19 and appeared to be content to try for the field goal. They ran two plays up the middle for three yards before calling timeout. It seemed to be a curious call, playing for the field goal, as the Badgers missed two kicks earlier in the game, but it proved to be an act of misdirection. The Badgers handed off to Austin, who took two strides then lofted the pass to Flores, who got behind the Mountain Lion defense, and put the Badgers up.It appeared as if it was going to be a sweet victory for the Badgers and a bitter defeat for Mountain View as the game has quietly become one of the best, and bitterest rivalries in town. Badger Head Coach Justin Argraves was coach of the Mountain Lions, his first head coaching job, for one year but left to take the Tucson High job. Both sides have their own version of the events that led to his departure, but neither was happy with how the relationship ended. If losing a coach after one season was not tough enough, Argraves took several assistants, and a few players with him to Tucson High. With all of the players who actually played for Argraves on the varsity having moved on, it looked as if the rivalry was going to die out, but that all changed after several players left Tucson High for Mountain View over the summer. To make matters worse, it was Tucson High that brought the recruiting allegations against the Mountain Lions, that led to Mountain View being placed on probation and a trio of players being ruled ineligible. One of those players, running back Bryce Coleman, was cleared this week and played against the Badgers. 

  • Playoff spots being locked up

    Two local football teams clinched sectional titles and the automatic playoff bids that come with them. Ironwood Ridge served notice that they are the best team in Southern Arizona. The Nighthawks beat Salpointe 48-17. Although the Lancers were without their top two quarterbacks, it seems clear that the Nighthawks were the superior team. They rushed for over 400 yards, including 171 from Michael Franzese who also had three rushing touchdowns. Assuming they beat Vista Grande next week, they seem destined for a top-four finish in bracket and two sure home games. CDO beat Flowing Wells 42-14 in a game that was close for three quarters. Both teams were missing key players. The Cabs’ Deonte Flores was out for a concussion, while running back Max Smith continues to be hampered with an injury. Although the Cabs opened the season 6-0, they may be in a fight for their playoff lives, needing a victory over Marana next week to feel safe. Pusch Ridge clinched a playoff bid the week before, but cruised to an easy 49-12 win over Canyon State. The Lions have won seven straight and hope to host their opening round playoff game in two weeks. 

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