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  • Neighborhood Whole Foods store reopens on northwest side

    After a year and a half, northwest-siders will have their neighborhood Whole Foods back.The upscale grocer, which closed its location at 7133 N. Oracle Road in January 2013 for a complete rebuild, re-opened on Aug. 27. The new store is twice as large as its predecessor, covering about 31,000 square feet in the Casa Adobes Plaza and employing about 180 people, more than half of them full time.About a week and a half before the grand opening, the aisles were already stocked with dry goods and frozen foods as construction workers put finishing touches in the departments. Along with the standard grocery offerings, Whole Foods will have a juice bar, an olive bar, a non-GMO wine selection, a taqueria, a pizzeria, a charcuterie case and an attached corner pub, among other specialties. As Whole Foods likes to do in its stores, this location will also stock local and regional products, such as fresh herbs from a Willcox farm.Store team lead Scott Holmes said the goal is to make the store a neighborhood hub with its own character. With the fencing down, passersby are wandering into the not-quite-finished lobby already, he said.Richard Shenkarow, co-owner of the 1940s-era Casas Adobes Plaza, said the old space was antiquated and not designed for Whole Foods, having previously been a Wild Oats and a Reay’s Ranch Market. The ground-up rebuild, which keeps the architectural integrity of the distinctive, Spanish Colonial-style complex, is “fantastic” and completes the repositioning Shenkarow set out to do when he bought the plaza 18 years ago, he said.

  • Young Falcons looking to build on last season

    Last year Catalina Foothills had a dramatic turnaround and they look to continue that this season. The Falcons were winless in 2012 and were a playoff team last year. Second year Head Coach Jeff Scurran hopes to continue the trend, but knows that it won’t be easy.“We’re just very, very young,” said Scurran. “It is just the hand I was dealt when I came here. The depth had gone away for a variety of reason. We’re in the process of change. We’ve got really good numbers in the younger grades. Going to have to be patient while our pups grow up.”The Falcons lost 22 seniors after last season and will have less than 10 this season. The team will rely heavily on young players, though their seniors will have key leadership roles. “We’re counting on some of our seniors to be very good leaders,” Scurran explained. “We have a very unique but small group of seniors. These as the guys who stuck it out after so many quit.” After a winless season, participation was down among older students when Scurran took over last year. He has bolstered the program with a lot of underclassmen, but the age and experience is not there. Scurran is fine with that, as he loves the character of the team. 

  • Supervisors set rate, property taxes increase for most

    An Aug. 18 Board of Supervisors decision means the majority of homeowners in Pima County will see an increase in their property taxes in the new fiscal year. In a 3-2 vote, with District 1 Supervisor Ally Miller and District 4 Supervisor Ray Carroll voting no, a measure was approved to set the county tax rate at $5.76 per $100 of the assessed property valuation – a near-12 percent increase year over year.County Administrator Chuck Huckelberry said the county will levy $428 million in primary and secondary property taxes in the 2014-15 fiscal year. This is the first time the county has increased its property tax since 2010-11, when total taxes levied amounted to $418 million, or about 2 percent less than what is expected this fiscal year. Huckelberry said the additional primary property tax revenues ($44 million) will be used primarily to sustain all of Pima County’s existing services ($20.2 million), and to address additional funding requirements to include: $5 million for debt service, $2.6 million for the Pima County Sheriff’s Department, $1.8 million for indigent defense, $2.2 million for the stadium district, $6.1 million for county-wide information technology costs, $1.3 million for facilities management and $245,000 toward the Wildcat Dumping enforcement. Huckelberry said since 2008, demands for services in Pima County have remained high, and while the county has worked to increase efficiencies and reduce wasteful spending, the time has come to find additional revenue sources to avoid cutting essential core services.

  • 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. 

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