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

  • Oro Valley mothers to host blood drive for childhood cancer awareness

    It rained. But the sun came back out.Oro Valley residents Sarah Bechman and Barbara Anderson watched their children enjoy the steady downfall at James Kreigh Park last Friday afternoon. A little bit of water didn’t stop Sarah’s daughter, 5-year-old Brooke, from riding the swing with an ear-to-ear smile.And it didn’t stop Jude, Barbara’s 2-year-old son, from running around the playground in his new shoes – though he did trip once or twice while adjusting to them.He got back up though. He didn’t cry. Instead, he wiped his hands off and continued life. At one point, Brooke offered her hand and led him back to the playground.The moms watched on. They watched their children exude strength, optimism and kindness. They watched them enjoy themselves while others may have fled the park to dodge the rain.But to Sarah and Barbara, rain wasn’t something to be afraid of. And it certainly wasn’t to Brooke and Jude. 

  • Methods change, but focus remains for Marana-based non profit

    Although their methods and locations have changed, the focus of A.C.M.E.stuDio has remained constant. To provide opportunities to people with special needs and to bring art to might not otherwise be exposed to it. In 1993, Sharon Harrington was working for the only daycare in Tucson that cared for special needs students as well as their siblings, and she created an afterschool program for the students to experience art.“It was a place for the whole family to go,” explained Harrington, who was a special education teacher. “One location, one interactive location.”The school/daycare eventually closed, but Harrington opened up an art studio that would not only service special needs students but become an art center for all ages and abilities.A.C.M.E., or Artisans Crafters Masters and Educators, all had a common bond in that they knew someone with a disability and had a desire to share their experience, time and talents with those who want to learn more about art. She had a great deal with the landlord, but eventually a new tenant was slated to move in and A.C.M.E was on the move, eventually settling in Marana. The non-profit could not afford a brick and mortar location, so Harrington and her volunteers converted to a mobile arts studio that that travels to local schools, organizations and community settings. In addition to working with local school districts, A.C.M.E. would go to town events and host art camps through Marana Parks and Recreation. 

  • Mountain View requests special session

    Mountain View has made a request to the Arizona Interscholastic Association to convene a special Executive Board Meeting next week in hopes that they can make a final determination on the eligibility of three transfer football players.Former Tucson High players Bryce Coleman, Demetrious Flannigan and Deshaun Flannigan have yet to play this season, although they have not been ruled ineligible. Mountain View has voluntarily held them out of action at the recommendation of the AIA. The three played for the Badgers last season, but transferred to Mountain View after moving into the school’s boundaries. Allegations of recruiting or improper contact has been levied at the school.Mountain View coaches and administrators have denied the allegations. A source close to the situation said the school will provide extensive documentation on why there should be no case against the players.The school hopes to have a decision one way or another before next Friday’s road game against Poston Butte.

Local News

  • CD2 candidates differ on education

    As he attempts to keep the Congressional District 2 seat in the Democratic column, Congressman Ron Barber has charged that Republican opponent Martha McSally will cut federal funding for education.But McSally, a retired A-10 pilot and squadron leader who narrowly lost to Barber in 2012, said Team Barber is distorting her position on education and taking her words “out of context.”At issue are comments that McSally made during a 2012 debate in Vail when asked about what kind of federal legislation she’d introduce to deal with soaring tuition costs.“As a conservative, the federal government needs to be doing less legislation, not more legislation, especially when it comes to these local issues,” McSally said. “So I would propose no legislation to deal with these rising costs. Instead of having federal loans that keep piling up and raise the cost of tuition … what we need to do is make sure that we have the best education in the world, we’ve got good competition between those colleges, and students get to pick, and they’re able to compete for those dollars that they’re spending on their college education, and get the federal government out of the way.”Based on those comments (as well as McSally’s stated support for a 2012 GOP budget plan crafted by Paul Ryan that would have slashed funding for Pell Grants and other higher-ed support), Team Barber has charged that McSally’s preferred policies would make life harder for families that are already struggling to afford college.McSally says she made a “misstatement” at the 2012 debate and mistakenly offered a position that’s the exact opposite of what she really wants to do with higher ed.

  • Oro Valley elementary school to be completed in 2016

    The final venture on Amphitheater Public Schools’ bond project list is a new Oro Valley elementary school.It won’t be ready for students  until 2016, but district officials are headlong into preparations.Curriculum planning will continue throughout this school year for the as-yet unnamed school, which will focus on science, technology, engineering and mathematics (or STEM) disciplines, said Associate Superintendent Monica Nelson. The school will be all-open enrollment, meaning it will have no neighborhood attendance boundaries. It is open to students from within and outside Amphi school district. Nelson said the reasons for a STEM-focused school are numerous: many Amphi parents work in the local technology sector, STEM courses at the middle and high schools are popular, and educators know that there’s a surfeit of high-tech jobs going unfilled right now for lack of qualified applicants.“And we know that as we’re looking ahead into the future that more and more of the jobs that are being created will require students to have a strong background in science, technology engineering and math activities that will prepare them for those kind of jobs,” she said. “So that’s the emphasis that we’re putting into this.”Currently, committees made up of district administrators and educators, along with residents of the future school’s neighborhood and representatives from the Pima County School Superintendent’s Office, Ventana and Honeywell are collaborating on what the school will teach and how it will look. The district is also considering a transportation plan that will have students gathering at specific stops for busing into the school to mitigate traffic around the campus, which will be situated in a residential area.

  • Candidates to meet in Picture Rocks ahead of election

    Candidates for Legislative District 11 State Senate and House of Representatives will appear at the second 2014 Election Forum sponsored by Citizens for Picture Rocks (C4PR) on Tuesday, Oct. 21, at 6:30 p.m. at Picture Rocks Community Center, 5615 N. Sanders Road.  Former State Representative from Picture Rocks Jennifer Burns will again moderate as invited Senate candidates Jo Holt (D) and Steve Smith (R) respond to questions submitted from the community.  They will be followed by invited State Representative candidates Mark Finchem (R), Vince Leach (R), Holly Lyon (D) and Barry McCain (D-Write-in).  The event is open to the public, and a social hour with face time with candidates will begin at 6 p.m.Fire District candidatesThe candidates met in September at a forum that featured candidates for the Picture Rocks Fire District Governing Board (PRFD).  Two of those, recently-appointed incumbent Sandra Watson and former board member David Putnam, will appear on the ballot; Sherryn “Vicki” Marshall is running as a write-in candidate. The forum was moderated by former state Rep. Jennifer Burns, who posed questions developed by the community.  

Today's Top Headlines


  • ‘This Is Where I Leave You’ - Handles life’s difficulties with humor and family

    In this family comedy-drama, Jason Bateman (from TV’s “Arrested Development) plays Judd Altman, a guy who sees his life seemingly fall apart right before his eyes—and ours.  With the unexpected death of his father, Judd must head to his parents’ home in the New York suburbs to rally his mother (two-time Oscar winner Jane Fonda) and siblings, led by strong-willed sister Wendy (aptly portrayed by Golden Globe and Emmy Award winning actress Tina Fey).  Unfortunately, his father’s death is only the beginning of several difficulties about to face Judd, as one serious life-changing moment strikes after another.  It’s from these unfortunate circumstances that viewers will find entertainment value—similar to how motorists rubberneck a traffic accident, passing the victim off to the side of the road and eyes fixed upon the how and why.Judd’s difficult life becomes even more complicated as the family mourns together during a “sitting Shiva” ritual, a week-long Jewish custom in which the family receives visitors to the house following the father’s burial.  Under the same roof for seven days, the movie’s storyline expands to include the extended family members, all carrying their own personal problems for everyone to comment upon and capitalize for laughs.Director Shawn Levy (“Night at the Museum” collection) deserves credit for nicely balancing a rather large ensemble cast around Bateman’s Judd, while keeping all the focus and family dynamics squarely on the son and brother whose life is being turned upside down.  Levy strides for and succeeds at making the film part funny and part serious, skillfully combining our vulnerable human nature with our resiliency to bounce back from adversity.  The fact we can laugh at, and find entertainment in, Judd Altman’s life is proof that our problems pale in comparison to his.  It’s also indicative of how useful humor is in coping with life’s hurdles.  Although the film is far from a slapstick comedy, it does provide enough smiles throughout to earn an above-average grade.“This Is Where I Leave You” achieves laughs and entertainment from others’ misfortunes, due mostly to a strong, supportive family with funny and endearing characters.  Director Shawn Levy smartly makes no attempt to correct or solve every problem for Judd or the other family members by the film’s end.  This allows the audience to reconcile their own conclusions to the story. A diverse cast manages to stand apart at times, and yet, come together at other moments to shine bright.  Judd Altman faces personal, professional and family adversity with humor and resolve. Together they make this movie more believable along the way and watchable in the end.Grade: B-

  • Prime Time Review: University of Arizona and Fox Theatre team up for new downtown lecture series

    Last month the Arizona Daily Wildcat reported that the University of Arizona had been ranked among the nation’s most healthy campuses by It should be no surprise, then, that the university is teaming up with The Fox Theater to bring a new and informative lecture series on nutrition to the local community.Beginning this month, The Fox Theater will open up its doors to “Food”, the second installment of the annual U of A Downtown Lecture Series provided by the College of Social & Behavioral Sciences. Though not a traditional date night event that would normally be held in the theater, the lecture series should provide an offbeat opportunity to head downtown, and could even teach theatergoers a thing or two that may better their lives in the long term. In fact, this is exactly what the goals of the lecture series are. The College of Social and Behavioral Sciences aims not only to share new research from University faculty, but also to support the community’s investment in a vibrant city center by drawing commercial business to downtown merchants.The lectures will take place weekly on Wednesday nights at 6:30 p.m, with the first beginning on Oct. 15. The kick-off lecture is titled “Changing Geographies of Food”, and will be presented by Dr. Diana Liverman of the School of Geography and Development and Institute of the Environment. The lecture will explore how our food choices bring about changes to the planet, and will also look into the present state and geography of the global food system.  The goal of this lecture is to trace trends and identify choices that promote a more sustainable future worldwide.The second lecture will be called “Tucson: City of Gastronomy, Hub for Food Diversity”, and will be presented by Dr. Gary Nabhan of the UofA Southwest Center. This lecture will take a local approach, highlighting the ways in which Tucson has become a model for re-diversifying the American diet.The third lecture will be called “We Eat What We Are” and will be given by Dr. Maribel Alvarez from the school of anthropology. Alvarez, who is also the director of Tucson Meet Yourself, intends to take a more anthropological approach to the food discussion, describing how our nutritional choices reflect our definition of our habits, our traditions, our practices, and ourselves.The fourth lecture will be “Edible Roman Empire” and will be led by Dr. Emma Blake of the U of A’s School of Anthropology Mass production, agribusiness, unsustainable harvests. Blake’s lecture will explore recent archaeological discoveries about the Roman Empire’s food practices, how they impacted the historical society, and what we can learn from this example.

  • RA Sushi supports the American Heart Association

    From Feb. 1 to Feb. 28, all 25 RA Sushi locations nationwide will be helping to increase awareness and raise funds for the number one cause of death in women: heart disease. RA Sushi has created a special “Go Red” menu that will benefit the American Heart Association’s Go Red for Women initiative.  For every Go Red item purchased throughout the month of February, $3 will benefit the American Heart Association. The Red Dress Martini, offered for $9, is a blush-worthy blend of Absolut Citron vodka, Pama liqueur and fresh lemon and grapefruit juices. The slightly spicy Red Heart Roll, available for $12, is made with kani kami crab mix, cucumber, and avocado, rolled and topped with spicy tuna mix.   Support the American Heart Association fundraiser at any RA Sushi location in the United States Visit


  • Pusch Ridge dominates overmatched Warriors

    For Pusch Ridge the challenge this week was not winning their game against Baboquivari, but doing so with good sportsmanship and humility. The Lions beat an overmatched Baboquivari squad 48-0 and had the challenge of playing hard, but not upstaging an opponent that does not have the depth to compete.With an early 6 p.m. start time the game was out of hand before the rest of the Tucson’s games had even kicked off. The Lions led 42-0 after the first quarter and had their reserves and junior varsity players in the game from the second quarter on.Baboquivari, from Sells, Arizona on the Tohono O’Odham Reservation has struggled with participation numbers and had less than 10 reserves on the bench, forcing most of their players to play both ways. The program has struggled in recent years, and has not won a game in six years.Despite being overmatched, the Warriors lived up to their nickname and battled until the final whistle. Their attitude impressed the Pusch Ridge players and staff.“They come out and always play hard,” said Pusch Ridge Head Coach Troy Cropp. “My hat’s off to those guys, they play for love of the game.”The Lion coaches stressed two things to the team during the week, execution and good sportsmanship. They realized the game could get away from Baboquivari and wanted their players to show good sportsmanship until the end. In fact, Cropp had few concerns about his team’s play during the game, but told his charges that late in the game they were slow to offer a hand to a downed opponent.

  • Fowler back at CDO, Meyers wins at Pebble Beach

    The Canyon Del Oro softball team has gone back to the past for their new coach. Two-time state champion Kelly Fowler returns to lead the Dorados for the third time.“A lot of people called me and urged me to apply,” Fowler said, adding that at first she was not interested. “I thought about it and knew exactly what I was getting into. Once I decided to do it I was excited.”Fowler won state titles in 2005 and 2011 and set the table for the success of Amy Swiderski and Stephanie Nicholson who won four titles between them.The Dorados advanced to the state title game last year, but saw Nicholson resigned after the season.Fowler confirmed that she will be joined by longtime assistants Gale Bundrick and Kevin Glynn.CDO golfer Chris Meyers had a dramatic finish on one of golf’s most storied holes. Trailing by one stroke on the 18th hole of the Nature Valley First Tee Open at Pebble Beach, Meyers not only won the hold, but did so with an Albatross. Meyers sunk his second shot on the par-5 hole overlooking the Pacific Ocean.

  • Park Scores Two Goals, Shields Has Three Assists in Win

    The Pima Community College women’s soccer team (8-2-1, 8-2-1 in ACCAC conference) scored three goals in the second half to break away on Tuesday as the Aztecs defeated Glendale Community College 5-1 in Glendale. Shannon Shields (Sabino HS) scored the first goal of the game for the Aztecs and had three assists while Brandi Park (Sabino HS) scored two of the three goals for Pima in the second half. Kathy Fisher (Sahuaro HS) scored a goal and had an assist and Prescilla Gonzalez (Buena HS) scored her goal in the first half. The Aztecs held a 2-1 lead at halftime and Mason Howard (Marana HS) finished the game with four saves. The Aztecs will play at Phoenix College on Thursday at 7:00 p.m. Pima goals: PCC – Shields (Ridlinghafer); PCC – P. Gonzalez (Shields); PCC – Park (Shields); PCC – Fisher (Shields); PCC – Park (Fisher).

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