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  • Sippin' Social: Blanco Tacos + Tequila hosts busy Happy Hour

    It’s no surprise that Blanco Tacos + Tequila in the Foothills’ La Encantada Shopping Center is packed in the hours between 4 and 6 p.m. given reasonable Happy Hour prices for drinks, and a wide variety of appetizers.Whether it’s a meeting with a friend, a break after shopping or a pit stop with co-workers before heading home, Blanco Tacos + Tequila has something for everyone.Mexican beers are half off during Happy Hour, a lengthy cocktail menu also includes a discount.A few popular drinks to choose from include the  summertime favorite Cucumber Fresca, which includes Don Julio Blanco, Triple Sec and fresh mint. While the drink has a lot going on in terms of floating fruit and mint, it does work well in the monsoon humidity Southern Arizona experiences the this time of year.Other cocktails include mojitos, bloody marys and a variety of margarita choices.The White Peach Hibiscus Margarita is also a hit, consisting of Jose Cuervo Silver, white peach, and hibiscus syrup. The drink is said to be refreshing in the summer heat, and has the taste and feeling of a light lemonade.

  • Nursery preserving region’s biodiversity

    When the Pima County Board of Supervisors created the Sonoran Desert Conservation Plan in 1999 the perception of the plan was that it was for the protection of natural lands outside of or bordering metropolitan Tucson. That perception was amplified in 2004 when county voters ratified the plan through the approval of $165 million in bond funds for environmentally sensitive land acquisition.However, a little-known yet significant part of the plan includes conservation and replenishment of the natural environment within the urban metropolitan area, when feasible. A key component of that urban-area conservation is the county’s Native Plant Nursery.The normally low profile nursery made the news last fall when a vandal used herbicide to kill nearly 3,000 plants. Since then, the nursery has moved to a new location near the county parks department headquarters and has made a remarkable recovery.The nursery used insurance money from the vandalism claim to purchase new plants and used existing seed stocks to rebuild its inventory and now boasts more than 17,000 plants representing almost 300 species native to the Sonoran Desert.The Native Plant Nursery serves many roles for the county’s conservation efforts.

  • Pima County Health: Watch for the signs, seek help for depression

    Once again we share in the sadness of losing one of our most beloved entertainers, Robin Williams. He was someone I grew up seeing on television and in the movies. He seemed real, kind and so very funny. Many were shocked to learn that he had taken his life after struggling with substance abuse and mental health issues for many years. I mean, how can someone so talented be so troubled? How does someone who spent years making us laugh, cry, think and feel be someone who we could not collectively save with our appreciation and adoration? How did fame and fortune not create a ‘cure’ for whatever was ailing him? Mental illness is not a definition of a person; it’s a manageable condition like diabetes, arthritis, and high blood pressure. So why do we think of mental illness differently than medical illness? How many times have you heard, “oh just snap out of it,” or “it’s all in your head.” Society reinforces messages that depression and other mental health issues mean weakness. We tell men in many ways that emotions are wrong, bad and anti-masculine. We tell women that they are “high maintenance” or “drama queens.” These messages perpetuate the stigmatization people feel. Given the messaging, who then wants to admit to the world they suffer from depression, alcoholism, anxiety, or bipolar disorder?Depression is an equal opportunity illness. It crosses all socio-economic, racial and cultural lines. Many times a history of trauma in childhood or young adulthood contributes to mental health issues later in life, especially depression. Add in alcohol and drug use and mental illness gets worse. Pile on the stigma that exists for people trying to cope with mental health issues and soon a person may end up living in isolation, hiding their problems and suffering in silence.If someone you love expresses hopelessness, lack of motivation, excessive sleeping, insomnia, lack of interest in activities once loved, numbing with drugs and/or alcohol, it may be due to depression. One in 10 people who suffer from depression commit suicide. We can change this statistic with education and community commitment to destroy the boundaries created by stigma.If you suspect someone you love suffers from a mental health issue, talk to the person. Offer to help. Offer to listen.  Seek help. Depression can be successfully treated. Recovery from depression and substance abuse is not necessarily a straight line. Sometimes it’s a step or two backwards and then a struggle to move forward again. If a person relapses, they usually feel far more disappointed in themselves than anyone else feels towards them. Encourage them to get back into treatment and remind them that we all stumble from time to time.Truth is we all have problems. In the movie, JACK, Robin Williams said “when a shooting star streaks through the blackness, turning night into day, make a wish. Think of me. Make your life spectacular. I know I did.” Thank you, Robin, for the gift of your talent and humor. And also for reminding us that we all struggle from time to time and that struggle is part of the human condition.

  • LD 9 candidate Victoria Steele

    Like many Tucsonans, Victoria Steele was moved by the events on January 8, 2011. Unlike most, Steele saw it as a call to action and ran for the State House of Representative, winning a seat in District 9.“I decided to run on the day that I learned that Gabrielle Giffords was shot,” Steele said. “I really knew, I believed in my heart of hearts that I could make a difference and I needed to try.” As a mental health counselor, Steele knew the damages that mental illness caused that day and it has become one of the causes that she has championed. She helped get half a million dollars in funding for Mental Health First Aid, a program that teaches skills to identify and help people having a mental illness crisis or developing a mental health issue. “I worked with everybody. It never would have happened if I did not have almost near total support from my colleagues,” Steele said. “It was a true bipartisan effort.”If re-elected, Steele would like to work on Mental Health First Aid training for veterans, their families and active duty personnel. Specific training that is focused just on the unusual demands of those who have served in the armed forces. Steele has a background as not only a mental health professional, but also as a broadcast journalist and believes those very different set of skills have helped her in the state house. 

  • What's Up UA? - UA Fall Enrollment Sets Record for Diversity, Number of Freshmen

    The University of Arizona will have another record-setting year with the greatest number of incoming freshmen, the highest overall enrollment and greater student diversity, preliminary figures indicate.New enrollment data shows that the UA will welcome more than 10,000 freshman, transfer and returning undergraduate students – with more than 7,800 of those being incoming freshmen – when classes begin Monday. For fall 2013, there were about 9,600 new students, of which nearly 7,200 were new freshmen.Also, a projected 41.4 percent of new freshmen are ethnically or racially diverse. Last year, that number was 41.3 percent, marking the first time it had surpassed 40 percent. "We are going against the national trend; our enrollment is increasing during a time that the number of high school graduates has just begun to rebound from one of the lowest points in many years," said Kasey Urquidez, the UA's associate vice president and dean of admissions.The preliminary enrollment figures also indicate strong academic quality among students. The estimated freshman SAT is 1114 with an average 3.4 high school grade-point average. The Honors College is expecting about 1,300 incoming freshman and transfer students. Their average freshman SAT is 1353 with an average high school GPA of 3.85, both increases over last year.

  • Tucson's Birthday Ceremony

    Join us for a celebration of Tucson's 239th birthday at the Tucson Presidio museum. There will be birthday cake and refreshments, the annual flag-raising ceremony, cannon fire, and live music.  Costumed Presidio soldiers and others will present living history demonstrations. The Tucson Presidio was founded on August 20, 1775.August 20, 2014Event Location: 133 W. Washington St., Tucson, AZ 85701 Venue: Presidio San Agustín del Tucson Time: From: 6:00 PM to 8:00 PM Admission: Free. 

  • Pima County wins two awards

    Pima County has won two statewide 2014 Project of the Year awards from the Arizona Chapter of the American Public Works Association.The Tres Rios Water Reclamation Facility won in the category of environment, more than $75 million. The Robles Ranch improvements project won in the structures category for small cities/rural communities. The awards were presented at the 2014 APWA Arizona Chapter Statewide Conference on Tuesday, July 29, at the Hilton Tucson El Conquistador Hotel in Oro Valley.The $242 million Tres Rios Water Reclamation Facility is the largest construction project completed in Pima County history. Through a close partnership between the Regional Wastewater Reclamation Department, Jacobs Engineering, CH2M HILL and MWH Constructors, the team completed this challenging, complex project on time and within budget while maintaining wastewater service.The former Ina Road Wastewater Reclamation Facility was a 1970s wastewater treatment plant that required significant upgrades to meet current effluent standards, expand its capacity to 50 million gallons per day, from 37.5 million, and implement modern technology.Principals of sustainability were employed to reuse and repurpose old facilities while lowering the facilities’ overall energy use and carbon footprint for future generations.

  • Polling shows governor race is wide open

    A statewide survey of high efficacy primary voters conducted July 10-12 shows that, despite heavy ad buys in the gubernatorial primary, Republicans in Arizona are still overwhelmingly undecided on who will be their party’s nominee to succeed Gov. Jan Brewer. The survey shows that 44.8 percent of voters who participated in at least two of the last three Republican primary elections in Arizona are undecided on the race with another 5 percent that didn’t know or refused to answer.The live telephone survey was conducted by HighGround Inc. of 400 high efficacy Republican primary voters with a 4.9 percent margin of error at a 95 percent confidence interval.  If the Republican primary election for Governor were held at the time of the survey, who would you vote for: 17.3 percent said    Doug Ducey,15.3 percent for    Christine Jones,

  • League of Women Voters announces political forums

    Continuing their long tradition of informing voters, the League of Women Voters of Greater Tucson and Arizona Public Media (AZPM) announce they are partnering to produce six political forums in 2014.All six, hour-long forums will be free and open to the public, and will be held at the Proscenium Theatre at the Center for the Arts on the west campus of Pima Community College, 2202 W. Anklam Road in Tucson.   Pima Community College is a co-sponsor of all six forums. Tickets will be required.Schedule of forums:• Monday, Oct. 6 - Attorney General - 6:30 p.m.• Monday, Oct. 6 - Arizona Corporation Commission - Approximately 7:45 p.m.• Wednesday, Oct. 8 - Superintendent of Public Instruction - 6:30 p.m.

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