Tucson Local Media: Desert Times

Desert Times

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  • Discount admissions at Old Tucson

    Celebrate Valentine’s and Presidents’ Day weekend with us and SAVE!  Buy one admission and get a second admission of equal or lesser value free!  Kids ages 3 and under are always admitted free.Families will enjoy a great day together with special activities  including:Meet Loop Rawlins!  The Western sensation who made it to the Quarterfinals in “America’s Got Talent” Season 9.  See this handsome cowboy demonstrate his amazing gun spinning, whip cracking and roping skills.A Petting Zoo for the Kids on Saturday and Sunday. Kids love animals!Take in Old Tucson’s signature live stunt, comedy, and musical shows along with living history presentations that describe life in the real Old West.  Take a film history tour with Old Tucson historians who will highlight movies that were made on the historic sets over the last 75 years.Old Tucson rides for the young and young-at-heart include the train, antique cars, and vintage carousel.  Stagecoach, pony ring and trail rides also are available (additional charge).

  • County reviews state budget, has concerns

    Pima County residents could see another spike in their property tax rates – the blame for which County Administrator Chuck Huckelberry is placing on the structure of Gov. Doug Ducey’s recently released state budget.In his running campaign and State of the State Address, Ducey vowed to balance the state’s budget by cutting unnecessary expenditures rather than hiking taxes, but Huckelberry says new and continuing state-mandated transfer payments supporting state programs means a tax boost might be the only solution at the local level.The county’s current tax rate is $4.2779 per $100 of assessed value.In a Jan. 23 memorandum, Huckelberry detailed the state programs toward which the county must continue contributing funding.Those programs include, among others, the Arizona Long Term Care System ($39.7 million), State Behavioral Health System ($5.4 million), Superior and Juvenile Court Salaries and Benefits ($17.1 million), and Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System ($17.4 million).Newly mandated contributions, such as funding toward State Juvenile Corrections, operation of the Arizona Department of Revenue, and changes in homeowner tax rebates, will add another $9.14 million in cost shifts from the state to the county, equivalent to $.1185 of the county’s primary property tax rate.

  • Getting the full academy experience

    Several times a year the Marana Police Department hosts a citizen’s academy, which allows residents and business owners to gain a greater understanding of police operations through classroom instruction and hands-on experiences.Myself and the other students are heading into the third week of the 12-week program and the experience is like no other. Citizen’s academy students are given an opportunity to do a ride-along with the patrol officers to see first-hand what their day-to-day operations look like. Last week started out with a demonstration of the patrol cars along with Motorcycle Officer Lucas Wilkinson explaining the seriousness of DUI’s and how officers identify and seek out intoxicated drivers. Wilkinson helps train the department’s officers on Standard Field Sobriety testing, as well as the Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus (HGN) and Drug Recognition Experts (DRE) training that helps the officers identify drivers that are under the influence. The seemingly never ending amount of paperwork was laid out on my desk to show what forms and reports have to be filed for each DUI case. For that very reason many officers will avoid DUI training, but that isn’t the case in Marana. Students were given some of the same tests to show how they test drivers, including the walk-and-turn and the one-leg stand with a video demonstration of HGN which is involuntary eye movements in an individual when they are under the influence.After the class ended, I started my ride-along. It was unique in the fact that after learning about DUI’s in the classroom, I was able to go out on patrol with Officer Keith Storms and we encountered a vehicle with expired insurance. This warranted a traffic stop and once pulled over, Storms could smell alcohol on the driver’s breath and noticed other signs of impairment.

  • Empire Ranch now on historic place register

    The Empire Ranch is still a working cattle ranch, although with far fewer than the 40,000 head munching grass in its heyday.  The ranch headquarters is now on the Register of Historic Places and administered by the federal Bureau of Land Management.  A nonprofit Empire Ranch Foundation helps and offers events, and the entire area is now part of the Las Cienegas National Conservation Area.The ranch was founded by Edward Fish in 1871 and sold to Walter Vail and Herbert Hislip in 1876.  They expanded the ranch from 160 acres to 180 square miles, raising mostly Herefords, and later adding some sheep.The main structure is a 22-room adobe and wood house whose construction began in 1870 with just four rooms.  In addition to the living areas, there are canning rooms, a freezer, and other rooms dedicated to living and working miles from any town.  There are numerous outbuildings.  Most rooms are open to the public, but visitors are asked to close doors behind them to keep critters out.critters out.The Empire Ranch is about 50 miles from Tucson and open to visitors for self-guided tours every day of the year.  There are docent-guided tours on the second and fourth Saturdays, and groups of less than 10 do not need to pre-register.  More information at 1-888-264-2829.  Drinking water and toilet facilities are available.  Admission is free.

  • Guest Column: Scalds, A burning issue

    Scald injuries are painful and require prolonged treatment. They may result in lifelong scarring and even death. Prevention of scalds is always preferable to treatment and can be accomplished through simple changes in behavior and the home environment.In conjunction with 2015 Burn Awareness Week, the American Burn Association and the Drexel Heights Fire District is providing information relating to scald burns for use in your own communities.“Although anyone can sustain a scald burn, certain people are more likely to be scalded: infants, young children, older adults and people with disabilities. These high-risk groups are also more likely to require hospitalization, suffer complications and experience a difficult recovery” says Tracy Koslowski, Public Information Manager with Drexel Heights Fire District. “Most burn injuries occur in the person’s own home and the vast majority of these injuries could have easily been prevented.”Tap water scalds are often more severe than cooking-related scalds. The American Burn Association recommends the following simple safety tips to decrease the risk to yourself and those you love from tap water scalds:• Set home water heater thermostats to deliver water at a temperature no higher than 120 degrees Fahrenheit. An easy method to test this is to allow hot water to run for three to five minutes, then test with a candy, meat or water thermometer. Adjust the water heater and wait a day to let the temperature drop. Re-test and re-adjust as necessary.• Provide constant adult supervision of young children or anyone who may experience difficulty removing themselves from hot water on their own. Gather all necessary supplies before placing a child in the tub, and keep them within easy reach.

  • County works to simplify flood plain solutions

    Eric Shepp and Andy Seiger from Pima County’s Flood Control District attended the Jan. 20 Citizens for Picture Rocks meeting to discuss floodplain issues, sparking a lively discussion with the 40 people present.  Seiger explained that they were working on standard designs that would allow property owners to fix road flooding problems without hiring expensive engineers to meet the strict regulations in effect.  Seiger said it was “up to the community to come together to solve the problems.”  The law, he noted, “prevents the county spending any money for private property.”  Most of Picture Rocks’ unmaintained dirt roads are legally private roads, many of which began as utility easements.Permits are needed in flood or erosion hazard areas to fix, create or change drainages, but road maintenance does not require a permit.  In 2007 a Sheet Flood Mapping Project was completed, with new HUD rules for manufactured homes in floodplains the following year.  In 2009 Picture Rocks’ concerns were discussed with the community and Supervisor Sharon Bronson and more precise mapping was initiated.  That reduced the original 3,600 properties considered to be in a floodplain to 2,600, with 1,000 in a “minimal hazard area.”  Property owners can go to the Regional Flood Control District website at http://webcms.pima.gov/government/flood_control. The website also has information for those planning work under the regulations. 

  • Community conversation unites Picture Rocks

    Several years ago Citizens for Picture Rocks, a nonprofit community advocacy group, convened a gathering of other active community groups, including seniors, schools and churches.  Out of that came the Picture Rocks Community Conversation where representatives of the various constituencies in the community of 10,000 people meet to share information and work together for the benefit of the entire community.  A regular attendee is Kiki Navarro from Pima County Supervisor Sharon Bronson’s office.A major need identified by the Community Conversation was the lack of public transportation linking Picture Rocks to shopping, medical services and connections to town.  Their efforts led to an Arizona Department of Transportation study supporting their needs, and getting it on the list for consideration.  The group has now shifted from monthly to quarterly meetings.At the Jan. 27 gathering, 14 people representing eight groups came to hear from Pima County Community Development staff about Community Block Development Grant and other opportunities.  Pima County Community Development Program Manager Daniel Tylutki said that the “Community Conversation deserves a lot of credit for bringing improvements” to Picture Rocks.Those efforts have brought Picture Rocks a BMX/skate Park, computer lab, children’s playground shade, equipment for the fire department and Avra Water Co-op, and the electronic sign on Sandario near Picture Rocks Road.  That sign has been a source of discord between the Picture Rocks Fire District and the community, and Tylutki told the Conversation that a formal letter is being sent to the fire district to either allow community access, as originally intended, or repay $38,000 to Pima County.

  • Volunteers, firefighters awarded service pins

    Drexel Heights Fire District employees and volunteers achieved longevity milestones in 2014. Employees meeting those milestones were recognized by the district’s leadership team in January.Achieving the 25-year service mark were Battalion Chief Mark Fiems, Firefighter David Cole and Telecommunications Supervisor Diana Washburn. Reaching 20 years of service were Cpt. John McCaffrey, Firefighter William Schlenker and Firefighter Hector Munoz. For 15 years of service, pins were awarded to firefighters Maria Hawkes, Mark Cowan, John Ford and Chris Patronski. For 10 years of service, a pin was awarded to Firefighter Richard Lane. For five years of service, pins were awarded to firefighters Charles Higgins, Jason Lowe, Andrew Sepulveda, Erica Alvarado, Justin Alvarez and Robert Santoro.

  • They got your number

    Family Math Night was hosted on Jan. 22 at Picture Rocks Intermediate School. Dozens of parents and students came to sharpen skills and try winning prizes.  While math may not be everyone’s favorite subject, parents were happily engaged with their children and learning.  Math Specialist Larry Truesdale provided an overview, and then all present began working problems, including the sixth grade fraction: Carol makes 9-1/3 cups of snack mix.  She puts 2/3 cup of the snack mix into each plastic bag.  How many bags does Carol need? Okay- stop reading and figure it out.

  • Call to artists for Agua Caliente Park Ranch House Art Gallery

    Pima County’s Agua Caliente Park Ranch House Art Gallery is accepting applications from artists for consideration to display their work during a four-week exhibition period in 2016. Original artwork must reflect nature, wildlife, landscapes, southwestern themes, or local cultures that are in keeping with the park setting. To be considered for a session during the January - December 2016 exhibition period artists must submit the following by (postal mail or email by email) March 14:Cover sheet with your name or name of organization, contact information: phone number, email address, and mailing address. A brief resume or biography.An artist’s statement and description of work. .Send entry to Agua Caliente Park Ranch House Art Gallery Pima County Natural Resources, Parks and Recreation 3500 W. River Road, Tucson, AZ  85741

  • Fire Academy for senior citizens

    Senior citizens 55 and older will get an insider’s view of the Drexel Heights Fire District through their Senior Citizen’s Fire Academy. This free educational program provides citizens with safety classes plus an exclusive look at Drexel’s emergency operations. Participants will learn more about the organization while refreshing their fire and life safety skills.During the "Get Fire Safe" session, participants will practice using a real fire extinguisher. "It's always surprising to hear how many older adults have had fire extinguishers in their homes throughout their lives but never learned how to use one", said Public Information Manager Tracy Koslowski with Drexel Heights FD. The next session is all about getting balanced and the Pima Council on Aging instructor is amazing. She actually has the participants conduct self balance exercises during class.The Drexel Heights Fire District’s Senior Citizen Fire Academy will be held in the districts training classroom (5030 S. Camino Verde). There is no fee to participants. The media is invited to check out what the program is all about and see how seniors in the community are benefitting from it.Senior Academy 2015-02 - Tuesdays 9-11:30 a.m. 2/3 Get To Know Us= Tracy Koslowski, DHFD 2/10 Get Fire Safe= Firefighter Da Cruz, DHFD 2/17 Get Balanced= Pima Council on Aging 2/24 Get Connected= PCSO Scam Squad (9-10am) & Pima County Health (10-11am)

  • Saguaro National Park February Program Schedule

    Saguaro National Park is offering a variety of hikes and talks this winter that explore the park’s wonderful natural and cultural histories. Program listings also are available on the park’s website, www.nps.gov/sagu, or on Facebook. Interpretive programs are free, but park entrance fees apply. Program schedules are subject to change; call the visitor centers for updates or reservations.Naturalist Programs at Tucson Mountain District  (West, 2700 N. Kinney Road):February 1     3:45  p.m.     Sunset Hike      Hike: 3 ½ hours, 3 ½ milesThe route gains 700 feet (with some switchbacks near the top) before reaching a ridgeline for sunset; the descent is by the light of the moon. Ages 10 and above, please.   Reservations required; 733-5158February 2     4:30  p.m.     Moon Take Night, Make Day     Hike: 3 hours, 2 ½ milesThis 3-hour, 2.5-mile hike follows a desert wash and then ascends an easy hill during the transition from day to night, with a return down the hill and a dirt roadway in the moonlight. This hike is considered easy but does have a few rock outcroppings in the wash.  Ages 10 and above, please. Reservations required: 733-5158

  • Three People Injured in Southside Collision

    On January 17, 2015, at approximately 8:30 p.m., San Xavier District deputies responded to a collision at West Valencia Road and Vahalla Road. When deputies arrived, they learned a passenger car, eastbound on Valencia Road, collided with a northbound passenger car on Vahalla Road that failed to stop at a stop sign.The three occupants in the vehicle travelling on Vahalla Road were transported to the trauma center. One had life threatening injuries and two had non-life threatening injuries. The driver of the vehicle travelling on Valencia Road was not injured.The Sheriff’s Department Traffic Unit responded to investigate the incident. Alcohol did not appear to be a factor in the collision.

  • Beat Back Bufflegrass day

    Buffelgrass continues to threaten Sonoran Desert wildlands and urban areas. To combat this invasive weed and encourage public involvement, the Southern Arizona Buffelgrass Coordination Center will hold its eighth annual Beat Back Buffelgrass Day on Saturday, Jan. 24. From Sahuarita to the Catalina Foothills, volunteer sites are located throughout Pima County and a site in Phoenix. To see all the volunteer sites on Beat Back Buffelgrass Day and sign up to help, visit: http://www.buffelgrass.org/In recognition of the importance of combating this invasive weed, Tucson Mayor Jonathan Rothschild and other local officials will gather at the A Mountain Community site at 8:30 a.m. where the Mayor will officially proclaim Jan. 24 as Beat Back Buffelgrass Day. The public is invited to join in for a morning dedicated to helping our friends and neighbors reduce the threat of buffelgrass where we live and play.Buffelgrass spreads rapidly and burns hot enough to melt aluminum at 1400 degrees Fahrenheit. Buffelgrass fires move at a rate of three feet per second, fast enough to burn a football field in three minutes. Native vegetation, unaccustomed to fire, is permanently destroyed while buffelgrass recovers quickly.  As buffelgrass colonizes more areas, native plants and animals are displaced and the threat of fire increases across the landscape.Come do your part.  Help out for a few hours on Beat Back Buffelgrass Day, get great exercise and have fun with your friends.  Sign up now at www.buffelgrass.org

  • Ducey promises budget cuts, fresh ideas in State of the State

    Doug Ducey delivered the State of the State in Phoenix today, starting his run as governor by touting the advantages of new faces in office.“These next few weeks, we could all use the fresh outlook of newcomers, not trapped in the old ways of thinking about state spending, taxes, public education and the role of government in general,” Ducey said in his address. “In government, just as in business, settled assumptions are not always correct assumptions. Conventional wisdom is not always wisdom. And the political parties do not have to be hostile parties, set against one another in every case.”Ducey will release his plan for the state budget on Friday, and it looks like the state is in for some cuts.“To balance the books, we’re going to institute a state government hiring freeze – with protections for vital areas, like public safety and child safety. However, when it comes to bureaucracy, we’re cutting back,” Ducey said. “The government can’t take on any new expenses when we can’t afford the ones we already have.”Ducey also announced he would also be cutting lobbyist office the state has in Washington, D.C.“Our budget does what budgets are supposed to do. It prioritizes vital commitments that Arizonans value the most – public safety, justice, classrooms, and aid to the needy and vulnerable,” Ducey said. “My budget doesn’t just give the appearance of spending discipline. It offers the reality of spending discipline – with decisions that are timely, real and permanent.”

  • 75-cent kids admission at Old Tucson

    Join Old Tucson over the Martin Luther King weekend as we conclude our 75th Anniversary celebration with a 75¢ Kids Weekend!Families will enjoy a great day together with Old Tucson's signature live stunt, comedy, and musical shows along with living history presentations that describe life in the real Old West. Old Tucson historians will lead guests on film history tours highlighting movies that were made on the historic sets over the last 75 years.Fun for the whole family! Kids will love riding the train, antique cars, and vintage carousel. Stagecoach and trail rides also are available (additional charge). It's a great day of Western family fun at a great anniversary price!Children ages 4-11 are just 75¢!Children 3 and under are always free!

  • Such the Spot - When are electronics going too far?

    Q. I see more and more children with electronic devices everywhere - They use them to be entertained at restaurants, they use them in vehicles. When is it too much? Should we as parents do a better job at having our children behave without some form of electronic entertainment?A. Your point is well-received. I once witnessed a mom and her child eating lunch together at a sit-down restaurant in Walt Disney World. I am not exaggerating when I tell you that not one word was exchanged between them throughout the course of the meal because the child was preoccupied with an iPad. I couldn’t help but feel so sad for them that even in the Happiest Place on Earth they couldn’t engage in conversation. I do believe that we as parents could do a better job at limiting screen time and encouraging face time (and not the iPhone variety). To that end, I believe we need to take Michael Jackson’s advice and start with the man (or woman) in the mirror. When our kids see us so consumed with our phones and various devices, they take cues from us. I know I’m guilty of burying my face in my phone when I should be actively engaged with the people in my presence. When my kids were little, I used to set a microwave timer for fifteen minutes at random intervals throughout the day and set that time aside strictly for playing with them. Whether it was Barbie dolls or Matchbox cars, that time was theirs and theirs alone; the phone went unanswered and laundry was put off. Now that they’re older, I think I need to revisit that same concept, only this time designate it at as screen-free time and spend it simply by being engaged. The new year seems like the perfect time to jump back in to that effort!Q. We have a neighborhood child that invites himself over to our house every day when I pick my kids up from the bus stop. This child isn’t particularly well-behaved and I would rather limit the time he spends with my kids, but I feel badly always saying no. Should I give in and allow him to come for playtime?I’ve been there many a time myself so I know just how sticky a situation that can be. Here’s the thing though: you should not be made to feel guilty when someone else is in the wrong. In this case, it’s a child who is acting rudely by inviting himself to your home. More than likely, his behavior is the result of never having been taught proper manners. In that situation, I think you are being completely reasonable by correcting him. You could say something like, “My kids have a lot of fun playing with you, Johnnie, but it’s not polite to invite yourself to our house. You should wait to be invited. Maybe you can come over one afternoon next week and play LEGOS with Adam. I’ll talk to your mom about it.” In doing so, you are gently directing the neighbor boy to respect not only your parameters but appropriate social behaviors as well. I think it’s a win-win response.Q. My daughter’s best friend has invited my daughter on a weekend trip to Disneyland to celebrate the best friend’s birthday. Her mother offered to cover the cost of the trip for my daughter completely but I feel awkward accepting and allowing my daughter to go. What do you think is the appropriate response?A. Is sending me in her place an option? Just kidding. My general stance on accepting gifts (even the most generous ones) is to do so graciously. I believe that when someone gives a gift or extends a generous offer, he or she is doing so with the best of intentions. In light of that, I think you are well within reason by accepting the offer gratefully. If it were me, I would allow my daughter to go and I’d send her along with some spending money. As a follow-up, I’d be sure to have my daughter write a genuine thank you letter to the best friend’s parents once they returned from the trip.  

  • County Health - Simple steps to improving your heart health

    Every year, people all across the country participate in a time-honored tradition and make bold New Year’s resolutions. Many of these resolutions have to do with improving our health and, sadly, many of them are broken by the end of January. It isn’t that we give up so much as we are overwhelmed. We have the best of intentions, but sometimes our resolutions are a bit too super-sized. Running a marathon might sound great on January 1, but thirty days later it can feel impossible. So this year, let me help you be a success at your resolution by suggestion you choose a life-saving resolution – improving your heart health – and then breaking it down into four manageable steps.First, let’s consider these facts:In 2013, heart disease was the leading cause of death for adults in Pima County and was responsible for one in every five deaths.According to the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, the factors that lead to heart disease are similar for both men and women but women, on average, develop heart disease seven to ten years later than men.Your heart works 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year, and mostly, you don’t realize the amazing work this vital organ is doing. In fact, most of us don’t pay any attention to our hearts until something goes wrong. When that happens we go into high-gear trying to fix what is wrong. 

  • AMVETS Post 770 – Important January dates

    Starting in November AMVETS Post 770 collected new, unwrapped toys and monetary donations for Toy For Tots.  On Monday, Dec. 15, Past Commandant Manny Munguia of the Marine Corps League, Tucson Detachment 007, came to the AMVETS Post to pick up the toys and the check.The AMVETS Post and Clubroom are open from 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. or earlier/later (bartender’s discretion) Monday through Saturday.  On Sundays when breakfast is served the Post and Clubroom open at 9 a.m.  Happy Hour is Monday to Friday 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. and 7 p.m. to 9 p.m.  There is no Happy Hour on weekends or federal holidays.  Be sure to check the bulletin board on the front of the Post for the weekly menu and activities.  Then come on in and join us for food, fun, and your favorite beverage.The AMVETS Post meets the first Sunday of each month at 10 a.m. The next meeting will be Jan. 11.  The Sons’ Of AMVETS meets at 6 p.m.  Official days to fly the flag in January are: Monday, Jan. 19 – Martin Luther King Day.January dates of interest: Saturday, Jan. 17 to Jan. 24 anniversary of the start of Desert Storm; Tuesday, Jan. 27 – 42nd anniversary of the Vietnam cease fire; Wednesday, Jan. 28 – 70th anniversary of the end of the Battle of the Bulge; and Friday, Jan. 30 – 47th anniversary of the 1968 Tet Offensive.

  • Wounded veteran now helping others

    Two fortunate occurrences helped save Mary Jessie Herrera’s arm, and possibly her life, after being hit by two rounds from an AK-47 during an ambush in Iraq. Today, Herrera and the Coalition to Salute America’s Heroes organization try to come in to aid combat-wounded veterans when they need it most.Herrera is a field rep for the Coalition to Salute Heroes, a non-profit organization dedicated to assisting combat wounded veterans from the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan. Much of their support is financial, helping those who are discharged make ends meet until their veteran benefits can kick in. Once the group identifies qualifying veterans, they step in to work with bill collectors to get things paid until the benefits arrive. “It does fill in those gaps,” Herrera said. “We act as a buffer until the benefits begin. We want to help them get on their feet.”According to Herrera if things go well, it only takes a month or two after discharge for the benefits to start. Although the financial relief is a one-time thing, the group has additional resources to help veterans in their acclimation to life after the military.Herrera, who grew up near Yuma, decided to join the National Guard in 2000, but had her enlistment delayed after breaking her shoulder riding dirt bikes. Because of the delay, she ended up going to basic training after the attacks on Sept. 11.“I think it was probably the best time for anybody to go to basic training. The patriotism was just wonderful. There was such a mixture of people. Usually everybody is younger, but there were a lot of people in their 30’s. It was great to see such a mixture at basic training.”

  • Sahuarita wins road project award

    The Town of Sahuarita was recently recognized at the Metropolitan Pima Alliance’s (MPA) 10th annual Common Ground Awards Ceremony for the successful Sahuarita Road Improvement Project.The project on the heavily traveled Sahuarita Road was aimed at better accommodating the town’s increasing population, which grew 700 percent between 2000 and 2010.Town officials say as the primary east-west regional corridor between interstates 10 and 19, the project further helped balance mobility needs of regional traffic with the access needs of local traffic, existing businesses, schools, churches, and residential neighborhoods. The voter-approved project received funding from the 2006 Regional Transportation Authority half-cent sales tax, Highway User Revenue Funds (HURF), and town capital funds. At the award ceremony, the MPA recognized Town Mayor Duane Blumberg and Assistant Town Engineer Joel Harris for their collaboration and ability to overcome obstacles that came with the project. A town press release says the project “realized partnerships from a wide variety of funding partners, local stakeholders, land developers, regional agencies, utility providers, consultants, and contractors.


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