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

  • 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 anchor, Town of Marana embrace each other

    Chances are if you have been to an event in Marana that requires a host or emcee, then you have seen KOLD news anchor Dan Marries. Since he first moved here in 1999, Marries has tried to be involved in a wide variety of functions. “I love being out and about I love talking to folks,” Marries said. “Wherever I go I have fun, it is part of my outlook.”Marries moved to Tucson in 1999 to become KOLD TV’s weekend news anchor and assumed the nightly news anchor spot in 2006. He quickly took to southern Arizona and eventually moved to Marana. Since both he and the station are based in Marana, he has become a fixture in many of the events including State of the Town, Marana Unified School District awards events and the Star Spangled Spectacular. “To me it is an honor and a privilege to give back to the community you live in,” Marries explained. “It also makes me feel like I have roots here, even though I am not from here. I feel like the more involved you are, the more established you are, the more friends that you make and the more you make it feel like home.”While he enjoys many of the events he is a part of, his three years of emceeing the State of the Town is one of his favorites. “I like politics, so I really enjoy the State of the Town,” he said. 

  • Mayor Rothschild speaks on approaching storm

    Stay alert. Stay aware. Stay alive.Tucson Mayor Jonathan Rothschild repeated these words in today's co-joint press conference for Tucson and the county regarding the heavy rainfall that is expected to start tonight and last into Thursday.The press conference occurred at 4 p.m. today and included police and fire department officials, some town and country officials, a representative from the Tucson National Weather Service, the county director of flood control and others.Due to the post-tropical storm of Odile, the Emergency Operations Center (EOC) will activate tonight at 8 p.m. and remain for 24 hours. Agencies that will be assisting include: the Red Cross, Pima County Public Works, Pima County Flood Control, the National Weather Service and other companies from the city.The Tucson National Weather Service will issue a flash flood warning that will go into affect tonight and end on Thursday at 6 p.m. An estimated 3-5 inches of rainfall is expected to occur throughout Tucson. This amount is more than the average amount of rain that Tucson would normally receive in one month. Rothschild and Pima County Board of Supervisors Vice Chairman Richard Elias both advise that residents take caution by avoiding being outside the next few days, avoid washes, and if traveling be careful. They also recommend to have a 72 hour emergency kit that has supplies such as clothes, food, flashlights, first aid and other necessary items.Ken Drews a meteorologist from the NWS says that rainfall could be as high as 6-7 inches as he also advises that residents take caution and avoid flooded areas.

Local News

  • 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. 

  • Amphi override plan would not increase tax levy

    Amphitheater School District wants to hold on to the budget override that it has used to maintain lower class sizes, keep physical education and the arts in elementary schools, and boost teacher pay.Because the 10 percent override to the district’s maintenance and operations budget would be an extension to an existing override, voting to renew the levy would not increase the current tax rate. A defeat of the override would mean tax rates would go down, but approval means they wouldn’t change.If the vote fails, taxpayers would completely cease funding an override after fiscal year 2017.The override would be good for about $6.8 million in annual funding for the maintenance and operations, or M&O budget. This is the lion’s share of any school district’s budget, the portion that pays for people and programming.Todd Jaeger, associate to the superintendent for Amphi, said this essentially preserves what the district has already been spending its override money on.“We still have sthose same needs we had back then and even more of course now with all these cuts we’ve experienced,” he said.

Today's Top Headlines


  • ‘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.

  • Organ concert by Dennis Grannan

    Dennis Grannan, Associate Director of Music at Catalina United Methodist Church in Tucson, will present a special concert on Friday, Sept. 26, at 7 p.m. in the church sanctuary, 2700 E. Speedway Blvd.  The concert is part of the Catalina Organ Festival, a year-long series of concerts, recitals, and other events.A reception with the organist will follow the concert.The program, “Kaleidoscope, A Spectrum of Color and Sound”, will feature a variety of music to illustrate the large range of sounds available on the organ.  Catalina’s instrument is the newest pipe organ in Tucson.  It has fifty-seven ranks (sets of pipes) on four keyboards and pedal.Dennis Grannan, a Juilliard-trained organist, is also Dean of the Southern Arizona Chapter, AGO (American Guild of Organists).A $15.00 donation is requested for the Kaleidoscope concert.  For more information go to   Or call 327-4296.


  • 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.

  • AIA opts to continue investigation

    Three Mountain View football players have been held out of action while the Arizona Interscholastic Association continues to investigate allegations of improper conduct. The case was discussed during an executive session of the regularly scheduled AIA meeting last week. “We continue to work with the AIA and hope the process will work itself out in a timely manner,” said Mountain View Athletic Director Todd Garelick. “We have done everything we can to cooperate with the AIA and are confident that it will work out for our student athletes.”At the center of the controversy are three former Tucson High players who moved into the Mountain View boundaries over the summer. Senior Demetrious Flannigan, his younger brother Deshaun Flannigan and Bryce Coleman are voluntarily being held out of action after the AIA advised Mountain View to not play them until the matter is resolved. Although the players have not been ruled ineligible, the team would have to forfeit any games the players participated in if they are found to be ineligible at the conclusion of the investigation. The case is a convoluted one, but stems from the boys’ transfer to Mountain View after Harold Coleman, Bryce’s father and the Flannigans’ guardian, was dismissed from the football staff at Tucson High. They moved to the Mountain View area, but the debate seems to be whether or not they did so before or after talking to the Mountain View football staff. AIA General Council Mark Mignella said the investigation could look at both recruiting and improper prior contact. Recruiting is using “undue influence” to attract a player to a particular program before they change domicile. Improper contact could stem from a student athlete receiving private coaching, whether paid for or not, prior to changing enrollment, even if the player has changed domiciles. Mignella did indicate that there were special circumstances and that waivers could be granted in the case of improper contact.Part of the transfer process included filling out a 520 form, which is a request for transfer students seeking eligibility. On the form the previous school must give a reason for leaving and initially Tucson High officials put “recruiting” as the reason, though a source close to the situation has indicated that new forms without the recruiting allegation were submitted on behalf of Coleman and Deshaun Flannigan. Despite these new documents, the AIA is still looking at their eligibility. 

  • Storms wreak havoc with weekend sports

    Storms affected every football game in Southern Arizona last Friday. There was not a single game in the area that was not delayed or postponed. Two games, CDO/Ironwood Ridge and Pusch Ridge/ Scottsdale Christian did not resume that night. Oddly enough, those two host teams were the only area teams to win their games. Pusch Ridge led Phoenix Christian 27-7 when the storms came and the game was not resumed. Ironwood Ridge downed CDO the next morning. Catalina Foothills and Marana finished playing later on Friday night. The Falcons made a valiant comeback, but fell to Cienega 24-21. Marana went back and forth with visiting Poston Butte, in a game that was already delayed due to the visiting Broncos’ bus trouble. Poston Butte pulled away and beat the Tigers 32-21Mountain View also fell on the road, losing 33-21 to Mesquite.Both Marana and Mountain View need wins. Neither team can risk falling to 1-3. The Tigers get a Catalina team that has also had their issues this season. Mountain View catches no breaks with a solid Desert Vista squad coming to the “Black Hole.” Things do not get much easier, the Mountain Lions have two straight road games, one against top-ranked Salpointe. Nothing gets easier for the Dorados. They next face a Cienega team that has won two straight against good teams and played tough against Ironwood Ridge. 

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