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  • Student-run play wins big at state

    Last year, Catalina Foothills High School students Griffin Johnston and Vaughn Sherman took a scene from the play “Boys Next Door” and acted it out during the annual Arizona State Thespian Festival. They didn’t win anything, but were happy with their performance.The duo tried to see if the school would put on the play in its entirety, but Johnston said due to the small amount of actors and the material, it probably would not happen.The dramatic comedy “Boys Next Door,” which is written by Tom Griffin, is centered around the life of a caretaker as she helps four mentally handicapped adults through their daily lives. Not to be deterred by the school not allowing the play, the two set out to convert the two-act play into a one-act play that they could take to this year’s competition. And that is just what they did. In between schoolwork and other school plays, Johnston and Sherman narrowed down elements, roles and scenes in the play to condense it to under an hour – the requirement for the competition. They held auditions and practiced each Saturday in preparation for the competition.“We did this just because we wanted to,” said Johnston, who co-directed the play with Sherman. “We wanted to make something great and then it ended up working out OK for us.”

  • 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. 

  • Just Ask Mom - 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 into 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?A. 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?

  • Reforma Cocina y Cantina: Fancy tacos and a lot of tequila are coming to the Foothills

    Listen up, Foothills folks—there’s a new dining option for you. The team behind Union Public House opened a Mexican joint near their other restaurant on Sunday, Dec. 14.Located at 4340 N. Campbell Avenue at St. Philip’s Plaza, the restaurant will try to bring the cosmopolitan vibe of Mexico City and Guadalajara to Tucson, according to owner Grant Krueger. “Think of it like a cross between Café Poca Cosa and Penca,” Krueger says. “But with a much better patio.” Chefs Patrick Malarchik and Edward Dick of Union Public House will be heading the kitchen, which aims to make literally everything from scratch. That means the team will be buying corn and grinding it down to make their own masa for corn tortillas. The restaurant will also feature front-of-house salsa and flour tortilla preparation for your viewing pleasure.Krueger says some of his favorite dishes on the menu include the pato ($22) with guajillo duck confit, chorizo, plantain, and housemade mole poblano as well as the carnitas ($19), which are braised with Mexican lager and paired with pickled jalapeños. He also says to expect more seafood than you might be used to with Sonoran cuisine.

  • Two Catalina Foothills robotics teams take home top awards

    Two Catalina Foothills robotics teams took home top awards at the 2014 Arizona First Lego League (FLL) Championship, held at Arizona State University on Dec. 13. Catalina Foothills robotics team, Local Legends, won the champions award, which recognizes the team that best embodies the First Lego League (FLL) experience by fully embracing the program’s core values while achieving excellence and innovation in both the robot game and the research project. This team will represent Arizona at the FLL World Festival tournament in April in St. Louis.They will compete in a field of the top national and international teams. For their research project, Local Legends developed a website and phone app to teach children about Tucson’s unique history by finding coded messages in true stories about famous people and events. The puzzles lead to Tucson landmarks, which can be visited for clues to a final secret message. Welcome to the Local Legends Challenge. Local Legends has students from two Foothills-area schools. Three members are from Esperero Canyon Middle School: Michael Gross, Jeremy Wang and Josh Tint, and two members are from BASIS North: brothers Alex and Wesley Chiu.The team’s coaches are Catalina Foothills School District (CFSD) teacher Charlotte Ackerman and Catalina Foothills Community Schools volunteer Nancy Hsiao. Mrs. Ackerman started the CFSD LEGO robotics program 15 years ago, and she has coached more than 50 teams for the Catalina Foothills Community Schools program in the 12 years of First Lego League competition in Arizona.

  • Gardening With Soule - Crown your month with color

    I have to confess, I love my job as a garden writer. I may work 60 or so hours a week, and my fingernails are always short and hands dry due to digging in the dirt, but market research is a blast. Walking into a nursery or garden center at any time of the year is a treat in my book, but in the winter it is especially wonderful. The sight, scent, and even subtle sounds of so many healthy growing and flowering plants in one small space is delightful. The idea that I get to take some home with me is dazzling. Flowers, flowers, and more flowers! And living flowers no less – they will last far longer than any bouquet.Right now our local nurseries offer an awesome array of colorful plants and flowers that prefer cooler weather. Most commonly you can select from: calendula, stock, pansy, poppy, ornamental cabbage, ornamental kale, snapdragon, Johnny-jump-up, violet, achillea, alyssum, feverfew, gypsophilia, and last - but not least - two sister species, dianthus and carnation. I call your attention to carnation and dianthus for a special reason: they are considered the “birth flower” for the month of January. Just like birthstones, birth flowers are there to help us celebrate. This concept has been around since at least the 1500’s in England, and is also found in a number of other cultures. Why not celebrate the anniversary of a birth with flowers?To plan your year ahead, here are the birth month flowers. January – carnation and dianthus, February – violet and pansy, March – daffodil and narcissus, April – daisy and sweet pea, May – lily of the valley and hawthorn, June – rose and honeysuckle, July – larkspur and water lily, August – gladiolus, September – aster, October – marigold and calendula, November – chrysanthemum, December – holly and poinsettia.Dianthus are also known as “pinks.”  In the wild they are pink, but brought into cultivation plant breeders have selected for colors and color blends ranging from almost purple through magenta to lavender and lilac, on to red and scarlet, orange, yellow, and even pure white. Note that these same flower colors can be found in a local carnation cousin - cacti. Like cacti, carnations are more tolerant of our alkaline soils than many other popular garden flowers.Along with their bright attractive colors, the shape of carnation and dianthus are quite charming. The petals have zig-zag outer edges. Altogether, the blooms look somewhat like little crowns, or coronets, which is derived from the Hebrew word “koren” meaning rays, as in rays of sunlight. How appropriate that a winter flower is crowned with color, bringing sunlight and good cheer into our hearts during this month of short days and long nights. The word definitions are courtesy of my well-worn, old-style, giant, printed edition of the Oxford English Dictionary. This same tome mentions that carnation was also known as “gillyflower,” which would come into modern English as Jill flower. 

  • A conversation with two American heroes

    Former astronaut James A. McDivitt and four-star general Earl T. O’Loughlin are special guests at the SaddleBrooke Troop Support (STS) luncheon on Wednesday, Feb. 4, at SaddleBrooke One clubhouse. Don’t miss this opportunity to listen in to the conversation between these two American heroes as they discuss their phenomenal Air Force and NASA careers and decades of service to our country. Following their conversation there will be an opportunity for Q&A with attendees.James A. McDivitt, Brig. General, USAF Ret. and former NASA astronaut, joined the Air Force in 1951. He flew 145 combat missions during the Korean conflict in F-80s and F-86s and has logged over 5,000 flying hours. He was selected as an astronaut in 1962 and was command pilot for Gemini 4, a 66-orbit four-day mission in 1965. He was commander of Apollo 9, a 10-day earth orbital flight in 1969 and became manager of the Lunar Landing Operations and then manager of the Apollo Spacecraft Program the same year. He was program manager for Apollo 12, 13, 14, 15 and 16. Following his retirement from the USAF and NASA in 1972, he held executive positions with a number of corporations.Earl T. O’Loughlin, a SaddleBrooke neighbor, joined the Air Force as an enlisted man and retired as a four-star general, the highest rank in the Air Force with the exception of the only five-star general, Hap Arnold. Early in his career, he flew 29 combat missions over North Korea. He went on to serve in Vietnam, where he logged 7,000 hours at the controls of 22 different types of aircraft. During his service, he managed a budget exceeding $5 billion a year and a workforce of 128,000 men and women.A color guard of active Marines will present and retire the American flag.Tickets for the luncheon program are $30 per person of which $10 is a tax-deductable donation. Doors to The Vistas at SaddleBrooke One clubhouse will open at 11:30 a.m. with plated lunch service at noon. The program will end at 2 p.m. To reserve your place and purchase tickets, go to www.saddlebrooke-troop-support.com/luncheon/ or send a check payable to “SaddleBrooke Troop Support” to Joe Rink, 38967 S. Serenity Ln., Tucson AZ 85739. For information, call 825-2211.For information about SaddleBrooke Troop Support, a 401(c)(3) organization, visit the website at www.saddlebrooke-troop-support.com.

  • Metzger keeps it local at La Paloma with Poppy Kitchen

    Brian Metzger plays with the big boys in a restaurant named for his little boy.The established local restaurateur’s Poppy Kitchen, which opened last year as part of the extensive renovations at the Westin La Paloma, is unusual among the many chic eateries at Tucson’s many chic, and nationally affiliated, resorts for being locally owned and operated.Metzger is, naturally, a big proponent of local business, restaurants and otherwise. It makes too much sense to buy local, he said. “We love being on the grounds of the La Paloma because it lets us play ball on a field that we’re not used to, and we can try and show our difference through our ability to think maybe quicker on our feet in terms of food and finding better deals in wine that people might react to— and I think the freedom of thought is something that is afforded to you as an independent business,” Metzger said. “I love that freedom of thought because it constantly makes us always look at our business— how are we doing it, what are we doing and can we do it better, and sometimes (in) the chain environment there’s so many layers of people that it makes change slow and hard.”Poppy is a younger concept but not in an unfamiliar part of town—a Metzger project called The Abbey, which closed last fall, served guests at Swan and Sunrise. Metzger has also worked as a general manager at North Italia at La Encantada, part of the locally birthed Sam Fox restaurant group.Metzger said the Foothills area is made up of longtime locals, or transplants who come from a large city or who split their time here. These diners know what they like.

  • Doug Ducey sworn in as Arizona's 23rd governor

    At a ceremony in Phoenix today, Doug Ducey was sworn into office as Arizona's 23rd governor. Starting out by enacting campaign promises, Ducey started his reign by issuing an executive order putting a moratorium on all new regulatory rulemaking by state agencies. Ducey says the order will increase job growth by keeping unnecessary rules away from private sector employers.“This moratorium underscores my steadfast commitment and pledge to create a pro-business environment that fosters long-term economic growth,” Ducey said. “As a state that has yet to fully recover from unprecedented job losses during the recession, it is imperative that we take every possible action to ease the burden on Arizona employers and continue to move our economy forward. This order is a significant first step toward achieving that mission.”During in his inaugural address, Ducey also listed the state budget among his primary concerns and focuses for his time in office."In resolving this year’s budget challenges, we have plenty of good examples to follow. Tightening the belt on spending is the common experience of every family and small business in our state.  They make tough choices and we are elected to do the same," Ducey said. "So I will say to the legislature: we can do this – we can get these fiscal troubles behind us.  Exactly as the Arizona constitution demands, we can put the Arizona budget in balance and we can keep it there."Congrats to @DougDucey on taking the oath & being sworn in as Arizona's 23rd governor today! #AZfuture pic.twitter.com/tTFlmSsMJF

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