Tucson Local Media: Home of The Explorer, Marana News, Foothills News, Desert Times, and Inside Tucson Business

  • OV council set to vote on tax increase, $1M acquisition

    The Oro Valley Town Council will vote tonight (Dec. 17) on whether to purchase the golf and other recreational amenities of the El Conquistador resort, spending $1 million to acquire the property and committing to a half-cent sales tax increase for improvements and its continued operations.Mayor Satish Hiremath has touted the property as a turnkey operation that gives locals the community center they’ve long wanted. But Councilman Mike Zinkin is doubtful. He said it’s clear that residents want a community center. But he said he would rather have them specifically define what they want in such a center, which should be built new. Then he would want the town to determine where to put it and how much to spend before taking a temporary secondary property tax to the ballot.But as it is, the process is rushed and opaque, he said: “This thing smells.”For $1 million – spread over an interest-free, three-year payment plan – the town would get 45 holes of golf, 31 tennis courts, two pools, a fitness center, and a restaurant and café, allowing residents to have a community center by early 2015. Local apartment and hotel developer HSL Properties is purchasing the entire distressed El Conquistador property but with plans to keep only the hotel and convention center, spinning off the recreation components. HSL plans to close on the property on Dec. 18.The country club and golf courses need renovations, as town staff detailed earlier this month, and the venture would take some time to become profitable. In its first year, the community center would operate at about a $1.2 million loss, almost entirely on the golf side, the town estimates—“however, it is anticipated that this deficit lowers each year and turns positive by (fiscal year) 2018/19 as a result of increased capital investment, marketing of the facility and programs, and quality management,” according to a memo attached to the meeting’s agenda.

  • MUSD’s Dr. Doug Wilson wins administrator award

    The Arizona School Administrators has selected Dr. Doug Wilson, superintendent of the Marana Unified School District as the All Arizona Superintendent of the Year for Large Size District. “I am more honored by the fact that my staff thought to nominate me,” said Wilson. “It is an honor that my staff took the time to nominate me.”The award looks for administrators who are have outstanding relationships with their school board, the public and their communities. Leadership in curriculum and instruction, as well as management of student activities, including short and long term planning are looked at. “This recognition is indicative of the quality of leadership provided in the district as well as the overall respect and professional appreciation given by peers,” the ASA said in a release. Wilson was honored in the Large District category, which is for school districts with more than 5,000 students. For Wilson this is more of a team award, than an individual award. 

  • After 20 years Meaders says goodbye to department she helped build

    Ann Meaders was there when the Marana Utilities Department started in 1997 and has seen the department grow as the town has grown. Meaders retired last week after 20 years of service to the town. The brief history of the department is inextricably linked to Meaders.  When the Town of Marana started their water department in 1997, Meaders was named the administrative manager. At the time they opened in January there were two employees, a consultant and about 200 customers. “So we were a blank slate, we were starting from zero,” said Meaders.By May the town had purchased three more small water companies and saw their customer base rise to 500. In September, the town bought the domestic water system from CMID and that provided another 600 customers. “She was fundamental when the town started the Water Department,” said John Kmiec, Marana’s Utilities Director. “Her continual employment over the last several years has been important.” It was a busy year that saw them had to normalized the systems and billing, which meant public hearings. 

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Local News

  • County delays vote to ban smoking

    Pima County Administrator Chuck Huckelberry is asking the Board of Supervisors to delay a vote on a controversial Tobacco/Nicotine-Free Healthy Workplace Initiative that was slated for a decision yesterday.Now requesting a Feb. 10 vote, Huckelberry has touted the measure as an effective way to increase employee productivity while creating a healthier workplace.If passed, the initiative would require current county employees and those seeking employment to submit to nicotine tests.Those who refuse to test or who test positive for nicotine would be subject to higher health premiums; a 30 percent surcharge for nicotine users in the first year, 40 percent increase in 2015-16, and 50 percent increase in 2016-17. Would-be employees are also subject to testing. Anyone refusing testing, or testing positive for nicotine would be denied a county position. Approximately 32 percent of county employees are nicotine users. 

  • Community Food Bank “School Pantry Initiative” Food and Fund Drive

    The Corporation for National Community Service, Tucson Police Department, Arizona Serve, Prescott College and the Community Food Bank of Southern Arizona will partner to hold a special food and fund drive specifically benefiting the new “School Pantry Initiative.”The Food and Fund drive will run from Dec. 29 through Jan. 19. The goal is to provide a readily accessible source of food to children and their families who are in need of food assistance.  Distribution models and frequencies are determined according to the needs of each school.For more information about the food and fund drive, contact Sarah Smolowitiz at 800-950-8681 x 7232 or cell at 282-0697.

  • OV chamber calls tax-increase plan “least objectionable”, Visit Tucson supports facility acquistion

    In a vote on Dec. 11, the Greater Oro Valley Chamber of Commerce board of directors voted to support the town council’s plan to increase sales taxes and purchase the Hilton El Conquistador country club building, golf course, tennis courts and facilities for $1 million.The controversial proposal was officially released to the public on Dec. 3, with the council planning to vote on Dec. 17. HSL Properties is planning to close a deal on buying the resort part of the Hilton El Conquistador on Dec. 18. HSL Properties did not want the golf portion of the resort, offering it to the town for $1 million. Dave Perry, president/CEO of the chamber, said while he officially heard the news with the rest of the community on Dec. 3, he had heard rumors of the ongoing negotiations earlier. The Oro Valley Town Council held three executive sessions (not open to the public) prior to making the measure public on Dec. 3.In the press release, provided to The Explorer on Dec. 15, Perry said the venture brings the community more recreational and youth services.In a phone interview on Monday, Perry said the current proposal to increase sales taxes is the “least objectionable” option.

Entertainment

  • Chris Rock brings laughter, reality to ‘Top Five’

    Written, directed and starring Chris Rock, this romantic comedy delivers this holiday season’s funniest movie—albeit with shocking language and lewd behavior at times.  In only his third time sitting in the director’s chair, the famous comedian potently combines an unsettling, crude style of humor with a milder storyline centered on relationships.  The former cast member of Saturday Night Live takes moviegoers on a wild adventure involving strong sexual content and profanity-laced outbursts as we see his fallible character attempt to remain viable in the comedy business.In “Top Five”, Rock plays a comedian turned movie star about to marry the next Kim Kardashian in front of Bravo television cameras and the world. The media frenzy over his upcoming wedding overshadows Rock’s latest movie release and leaves him with serious trust issues as he’s about to begin a scheduled interview with a New York Times reporter—portrayed perfectly by Rosario Dawson.  This movie’s hilarious, yet always edgy, ride through New York City lambasts the stark differences between the media’s sensationalism of Hollywood stars and the deeply rooted insecurities often held by those in show business.  That’s why this film works so well—it breaks down all the walls surrounding a person’s alcoholism, fame, and mistrust issues and replaces them with honest feedback and self-reflection.  The movie’s realistic look at one’s personal difficulties despite stardom and wealth, gives the plot plenty of room to work in laughs.  The catalyst for Rock’s character is Dawson’s hard-nosed interview, where she very shrewdly returns targeted verbal fire in his direction after every personal attack and joke he attempts at her expense.  Chris Rock, as the director, makes very effective use of flashbacks in the film to vividly describe his character’s destructive behavior in the past.  Likewise, we see a rising comedy star currently surrounded by friends and family--all wanting to hear his ‘Top Five’ picks on hip hop artists, rappers and comics of all-time.  Lastly, we feel for this comedian who isn’t sure he’ll get another laugh if he remains sober.  It’s each of these situations that make this film so entertaining, real and watchable.  “Top Five” offers audiences nearly non-stop laughs with a flawless blend of nightclub comedy, mind-numbing sexual exploits and classic romance plot twists.  Chris Rock is magnificent in a role he was born to write, direct and star in.  Rosario Dawson’s strong performance both compliments and keeps pace with Rock’s genius work.  Together, they bring an eye-opening, funny, and romantic stand-up routine to the big-screen.Grade: B+

  • Happenings for Week of Dec. 17

    THEATERWednesday to Saturday through Dec. 20• Catch a performance of the Arizona Theatre Company’s hilarious production of Murder for Two with a perfect blend of music, mayhem and murder. Details: 7:30 p.m. Wednesday-Friday; 8 p.m. Saturday; Temple of Music and Art, 330 S. Scott Ave.; $37-$57; 622-2823. Friday to Sundaythrough Dec. 21

  • DVD Releases 12/16

    DVD releases for 12/16At the Devil’s Door - Not Yet Rated| 1 hr. 33 min.Leigh, an ambitious young real estate agent, is asked to sell a house with a dubious past. When she finds the runaway daughter of the couple trying to sell the home, Leigh becomes entangled with a supernatural force with sinister plans.Cast: Catalina Sandino Moreno , Naya Rivera , Ashley Rickards , Wyatt Russell , Ava Acres , Colin Egglesfield , Assaf Cohen , Tara BuckDirector: Nicholas McCarthyGenres: Horror

Sports

  • Annual program a success

    Prince Elementary School kindergartener Malaysia Tatum tries on one of the 200 pairs of shoes that was donated along side 450 hoodies during the Canyon Del Oro High School football team’s annual hoodie drive. TEP donated $2,500 along with numerous other goodies for the students.

  • Marana Cheer to perform at Holiday Bowl halftime

    Months of fundraising and planning are about to pay off for the Marana High School junior varsity and varsity cheer teams. The teams were invited to perform at the Holiday Bowl in San Diego later this month. “The girls are really excited,” said Marana Cheer Coach Andrea Burke. “It is the first time Marana has ever gotten this opportunity.”The Tigers will join a number of other teams in performing a seven and half minute routine choreographed by Mandy Moore. Moore is best known for her work choreagraphing duet and group numbers for “So You Think You Can Dance” but she has also worked with American Idol, America’s Got Talent, Dancing with the Stars and a number of Disney shows, as well as music videos and stage and screen productions. In addition to the halftime show, the teams will be involved in the National Anthem prior to the kickoff of the Dec. 27 bowl game. The Tigers will also march in the Big Bay Balloon Parade on Dec. 26 and participate in a comprehensive dance/cheer convention with Moore. The Tigers got the invitation based upon their performance at a cheer competition in California last year. 

  • 2014-15 girls soccer preview

    Hopes are high around the Ironwood Ridge girls soccer program. The Nighthawk girls are coming off a playoff appearance and are off to a great start this season after winning the Brandon Bean Kickoff Classic. The Nighthawks have gotten very balanced scoring this season, with 10 players finding the back of the net in the team’s first eight games and six players with multiple goals. Seniors Jessica Nelson and Valarie Cooper should be counted on heavily in the attacks, as will junior Alexis Hernandez. The offense is bolstered by the likes of Abbey Goodman, Sarah Bock and Kaylee Wallentine. Holly Ross joins Nelson as the team’s best playmakers. The two have assisted on almost 40 percent of the team’s early season goals. Megan Logue will get the bulk of the time in net this season, but sophomore Jasmyn McEwen is a very reliable back-up.Marana came a game short of winning their preseason tournament, falling in the finals of the Amphi Panther Invitational, but they know that the key to the season will be the second half of the season, as well as the second half of games. Last year the team started off 10-0, only to go 4-6 down the stretch. They were essentially one win from the playoffs and can look back to an overtime loss to Ironwood Ridge and a bad half against Maricopa for their season ending in January, instead of February. 

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