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  • Marana School District and town partner to teach civics

    The Town of Marana believes that to have a town that runs well, citizens have to understand how the town operates. The Town of Marana has tried to streamline many of the things that they do and improve communication, with the newest project now aiming at educating local high school students.The new civics class’ timing couldn’t be better for the town as Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey recently pushed through legislation that will require high school students to pass a civics test similar to those taken by immigrants seeking U.S. citizenship. The new law will affect the class of 2017.Inspired by a program they saw working in other communities, recently town officials began working with the Marana Unified School District to bring an interactive civics lesson to high school students. The lesson is based on a Junior Achievement program called Biztown that had been adapted for high school students. “It is a really innovative, cool, dynamic way you get students to learn more about government, especially local government,” said Marana Town Manager Gilbert Davidson. Although local government is part of the state standards and district’s curriculum, not a lot of time is devoted to local government, especially some of the more detailed ins and outs. 

  • Police Beat

    Oro ValleyPolice Department On Thursday, Dec. 25, at about 1:40 a.m., Oro Valley police responded to a report of domestic violence at a house near Moore Road and Woodburne Way. While en route to the house, police were told that dispatch had received three phone calls from the house. The first was about an intoxicated woman who was hitting her family members. The second was a call saying the same thing, and the third was from a woman saying she had been pushed down the stairs by her brother and she might have broken her ankle. Police learned that the woman was playing music that the rest of the family did not want to listen to. After her brother turned the speakers off, an argument began. Eventually the woman, who had been drinking, tried to leave in her car. The family took her keys to prevent her from driving off, which only exacerbated her anger. While trying to get her to go down into the basement to sleep it off, she slipped on the stairs. The woman was transported to the Oro Valley Hospital to have her ankle evaluated. She was arrested, cited and released for domestic violence disorderly conduct  On Tuesday, Dec. 23, at 6:06 p.m., Oro Valley police responded to the Ulta at 11875 N. Oracle Road in response to a theft from a car. The caller said her laptop had been stolen from her car while she was in the store for about 10 minutes. After coming out of the store and seeing that the laptop was missing, the victim got in her car and drove to her work to make sure she didn’t leave it there. After realizing it was stolen, she drove back to the scene of the crime. The laptop was valued at about $800.  

  • It’s business as usual for local police despite tensions

    Local police departments say despite rising tensions following the nationally spotlighted cases of Eric Garner and Michael Brown – two black males killed during altercations with police – they have not employed any new training programs to deal with a potential increase of violence and racial tensions.In part, they say that’s because the places most affected by escalating violence have remained localized to the places in which they occurred – in the cases of Garner and Brown, those being Staten Island, N.Y and Ferguson, Mo., respectively. Furthermore, they say, officers are already trained to be ready for worst-case scenarios.“It’s business as usual,” said Tracy Suitt, public information officer for the Pima County Sheriff’s Department. “We’re staying vigilant and staying ready.”The same is true of the Oro Valley Police Department (OVPD), whose Lt. Kara Riley says despite the fact the protests and aggression seems largely localized to cities hundreds of miles away, officers are reminded of basic principles of self-protection.“We’re having those conversations about not becoming complacent,” she said.

  • Tax season is officially under way, officials talk 2015 issues

    Tax season is here, and that means like any year, Tax– particularly those filing without the help of a professional – will be exposed to a number of complexities when filing before the April 15 deadline. Of those, the Affordable Care Act will have one of the largest impacts on the way returns are filed, particularly for individual filers who opted into Affordable Care.For those individuals or families with existing health coverage this process is simple enough – they must only check a box acknowledging prior coverage (at least a year in length).Those who have signed up for affordable care through the Health Insurance Marketplace will receive and must return a 1095A form, or else claim an exemption from the requirement to carry health care coverage.According to IRS.gov, if you don’t qualify for an exemption, and do not have coverage, you could be forced to make an Individual Shared Responsibility payment when filing your return. For the 2014 year, the payment amount is the greater of one percent of your household income above the tax return filing threshold for the taxpayer’s filing status, or $95 per adult ($47.50 per child), limited to a family maximum of $285. Coverage, exemptions, or payment are to be reported on the federal income tax return.

  • Marana Police Department receives $53,604 in grants

    The Marana Police Department has received three grants they believe will help them make the streets safer. All three grants are from the Arizona Governor’s Office of Highway Safety (AZGOHS) with the intent of lessening traffic accidents. “The purpose of these grant funds is to reduce collisions,” said Jason Cann, the Marana Police Departments Lead Motor Officer and administer of grants for the department.The three grants total $53,604. The largest is a $35,000 to provide funding for Speed Enforcement, allowing officers to patrol the streets of Marana during the holiday weekends and throughout the year in a coordinated effort to deter speeding violations and reduce collisions.  A separate $15,000 grant will provide funding for Impaired Driver Enforcement, with the same goal of an increased patrol presence to deter impaired driving violations. The Marana Police Department will conduct these enforcement deployments in conjunction with the Southern Arizona DUI Taskforce. “Additional traffic enforcement officers increases our visibility,” said Cann. “Often this has the effect of getting people to voluntarily comply with traffic laws. Ultimately this leads to a reduction in collisions and having officers specifically dedicated to traffic enforcement and not having to sacrifice basic patrol services has made Marana one of the safest communities to live and work in.”By receiving grants from the GOHS and other sources, the department is able to go beyond their normal budget constraints. 

  • Town of Marana’s website key to improved citizen engagement

    As Marana continues to grow, the town has the challenge of keeping things working as smoothly as possible, to avoid the bureaucratic gridlock that hampers so many larger communities. They have looked at ways of making the experience of working with the town as easy as possible, streamlining things wherever they can. Some of these plans have been integrated into the latest edition of the strategic plan, where improved communication is a major theme. The town’s website is another key aspect to these goals. The town is working hard to improve the ways of citizen engagement through their website and it will be an ever-evolving process. The town launched a new website last year and not only does it work better, but it has a slightly altered purpose. “The town web site has evolved from being structured like the town government organization to being a more citizen-focused, service-oriented format,” explained Carl Drescher, Marana’s tech services director.Ease of use was the key, so not only is the site geared more towards the citizens, but it has been adapted so that citizens may use it in a variety of ways depending on their needs.“The latest revision also is a responsive design that is more easily able to view on tablets and smart phones,” said Drescher. Although the site was just revamped, changes are ongoing. Case in point, a new search feature was added in early December. 

  • Oro Valley tosses petition to take El Conquistador purchase to vote

    The Oro Valley Town Clerk has rejected the petition filed by opponents of the town council’s decision to purchase the El Conquistador country club and golf courses because the signature sheets did not bear a serial number.The town was following state law when it invalidated the signatures, said town spokeswoman Misti Nowak, and since the serial number provision is a matter of state law, the town does not have the authority to override that requirement.“The town didn’t have a decision to make,” she said. “We complied with state law.”According to state statute, signature sheets filed “shall... have printed in its lower right-hand corner, on each side of such sheet, the official serial number assigned to the petition by the secretary of state.” The law also states that it is unlawful to sign a petition before it has a serial number.This serial number requirement was outlined in the materials provided to the referendum committee, Nowak said.The sheets were instead erroneously appended with a resolution number.

  • Marana Police Department honors their best officers, volunteers

    The Marana Police Department took an afternoon to honor their own. The department held its 3rd Annual Awards Ceremony on Jan. 14, at The Highlands at Dove Mountain Conference Room. Marana Police Chief Terry Rozema handed out 13 awards to 24 recipients.“Your attitudes of humility and hearts of true servants make me proud to be a part of this noble profession in general, and this department specifically,” said Rozema. “Thank you all for doing a job that very few people are willing, qualified, and capable of doing and for doing it with excellence. Be safe out there.” The ceremony recognized officers, civilians, and volunteers for their outstanding performances over the past year. The idea of the ceremony is to honor those who exemplify the true meaning of the department’s mission statement, “To provide Unparalleled Service and Unwavering Protection to every person in the Town of Marana.”Chief Rozema presented the following 13 awards. 1. Chief’s Citation Medal: Ofc. Jason Cann, Ofc. Bradley Clifford, Ofc. Daniel Sample, Ofc. Robert Quackenbush, Ofc. Lucas Wilkinson 2. Chief’s Citation Medal: Ofc. Josh Corn 

  • Resolution versus serial numbers: Referendum questioned

    Organizers of the referendum petition drive that could reverse the Town of Oro Valley’s planned purchase of the El Conquistador country club and golf courses handed the town clerk more than 3,000 signatures Thursday.But there might be a hurdle for the opponents that comes down to resolution versus serial numbers.When referendum group leader Shirl Lamonna presented the forms to Town Clerk Julie Bower, Bower told her each petition sheet had a resolution number on it, but was supposed to be appended with a serial number. According to state statute (ARS 19-121), signature sheets filed “shall... have printed in its lower right-hand corner, on each side of such sheet, the official serial number assigned to the petition by the secretary of state.” The law also states that it is unlawful to sign a petition before it has a serial number.The town clerk’s office was still processing the batch as of the end of business on Friday, and the town would not make a public statement on the disposition of the petition until this week, said town spokeswoman Misti Nowak. The town had not issued a status on the petition as of the Explorer’s press time.While they awaited word, referendum group volunteers pulled another petition on Friday in case the 

  • Marana Council to hold two public hearings at meeting

    The Marana Town Council meeting set for Tuesday, Jan. 20 will have two public hearings on rezoning as well as a presentation to recommend amending the Town Code relating to utilities.The first public hearing will be whether or not to rezone approximately 3.2 acres of land located on the southeast corner of Twin Peaks Road and Tangerine. Currently the land is zoned for “C” (Large Lot Zone) and Steve Cheslak of the Planner’s office is expected to recommend that council change the zoning to “NC” (Neighborhood Commercial).The second public hearing will be whether or not to amend Marana Ordinance N. 2002.19, which rezoned 61.2 acres of land located on the west side of Silverbell Road, south of Ina. Cynthia Ross of the Planning office will discuss whether they should increase the maximum number of residential units from 41 to 56 and increasing the total site disturbance from 30% to 37%, as well as a few other modifications.Those who wish to address the council about either item are encouraged to do so.The final council action will be a presentation by Town Utilities Director John Kmiec about adding a section to the Town Code Title 14 (Utilities). He will present Chapter 14-10 which is an industrial wastewater ordinance.Also on the agenda are eight items for the consent agenda including the authorizing of the Marana Signature Event Series, which is just a name for events the town already presents like the Star Spangled Spectacular and the Christmas Tree Lighting. The other items would just give consent to agreements already made by various town departments and outside parties, such as the acceptance of a grant for the Marana Regional Airport, Marana Parks and Recreation working with a company to put on the Marana Bluegrass Festival and more.

  • PAG presents Tucson Water Festival

    Teachers who want to learn more about impacts of stormwater pollution and other facts about the water cycle to apply to their classroom curricula have the opportunity to learn more at events held by Arizona Project WET, a program of the University of Arizona’s Water Resources Research Center and supported by Pima Association of Governments and its Clean Water Starts With Me outreach campaign.PAG formed a partnership in 2014 with Arizona Project WET to help reach educators, children and their families about the importance of preventing stormwater pollution, which can adversely impact desert washes and wildlife.PAG’s sponsorship allows Arizona Project WET to offer additional teacher training and incentivize new water festivals throughout Pima County. Surveys conducted before and after APW events help measure community awareness of stormwater issues. These measurements help PAG members meet regulatory stormwater requirements.Upcoming events include:Tucson Water FestivalApril 2

  • Oro Valley releases updated crime statistics

    The town of Oro Valley has released the latest statistics on crime in the area. The statistics now include 2013 cases, totaling 54 more cases than in 2012.  Most of the increases are categorized as larceny/theft, which rose from 553 to 608. The number of aggravated assaults also went up from 12 in 2012 to 20 in 2013. However, there were 15 fewer cars stolen (including vehicles recovered from other areas) than in 2012.While the numbers did rise from 2012, there was less crime than in the two previous years, when 2011 saw 784 total cases and 2010 saw 821.See the chart on their website for the full list of statistics.

  • Celebrate Martin Luther King Day this weekend

    Tucson is celebrating Martin Luther King Day this weekend with two events put on by the Martin Luther King Day Festival Committee. On Saturday, Jan. 17 there will be a freedom bell ringing ceremony in honor of the life and work of Martin Luther King Jr. The committee says the event will celebrate nonviolence and the dignity of man kind, noting this is particularly relevant with "emotions running high over the recent deaths of African American citizens at the hands of law enforcement officers, and the deaths of law enforcement officers in retaliation of these deaths."The ceremony will be officiated by Pastor La Tresa Jester of Gideon Baptist Church. Mayor Pastor La Tresa Jester of Gideon Baptist Church and Reverend Otis Brown, president of the Interdenominational Ministerial Alliance will be among the bell-ringing dignitaries who will be asked to share their own feelings about freedom and nonviolence. Saturday's event will be held at El Presidio Park, 160 West Alameda Street, at 1 p.m. The 30th Annual Martin Luther King Day March and Festival will take place on MLK Day, Monday, Jan. 19. This year, marchers will meet at Santa Rita Park, 401 E. 22nd Street, at 8 a.m. on Monday. Participants will march to Armory Park, 220 S. 5th Ave, for the festival which will feature speakers, music, dancers, food booths and informational booths."The MLK Festival is a celebration of the progress that has been made and a call to action for continued progress in the area of civil rights," Clarence Boykins, festival chairperson said in a media release. "Many people in this community have spent numerous hours over the last 30 years planning these festivals and working for civil rights. Although Dr. King’s dream has not yet fully been realized, there is a strong commitment in our community to see his dream become a reality.”

  • Resolution versus serial numbers: El Conquistador purchase opponents await word on referendum petition

    UPDATEDOrganizers of the referendum petition drive that could reverse the Town of Oro Valley’s planned purchase of the El Conquistador country club and golf courses handed the town clerk more than 3,000 signatures Thursday.But there might be a hurdle for the opponents that comes down to resolution versus serial numbers.When referendum group leader Shirl Lamonna presented the forms to Town Clerk Julie Bower, Bower told her each petition sheet had a resolution number on it, but was supposed to be appended with a serial number. According to state statute, signature sheets filed "shall... have printed in its lower right-hand corner, on each side of such sheet, the official serial number assigned to the petition by the secretary of state." The law also states that it is unlawful to sign a petition before it has a serial number.The town clerk's office was still processing the batch as of the end of business on Friday, and the town would not make a public statement on the disposition of the petition until next week, said town spokeswoman Misti Nowak.

  • Update: Some cats from Pima Animal Care Center rescues available for adoption

    Update, Jan. 16, 12:30 p.m.:PACC have determined about half of the cats from yesterday's rescue are adoptable. The cats are being spayed or neutered today and will be available for adoption tomorrow. The PACC staff are still taking care of the other cats, who are too sick to be adopted. They are currently being treated at the shelter and will hopefully be up for adoption in a few weeks. Two kittens had to be euthanized.Original post:This morning, Pima Animal Care Center enforcement officers rescued 23 cats and kittens from a small, one-bedroom mobile home in Pima County. “The cats were living in unsanitary conditions with inadequate ventilation,” Animal Care Investigator Michael Eckelbarger said in a media release.

  • Approved driving schools to issue certificates to skip license exams at MVD offices

    Students who undergo training at state-approved driving schools will now be able to receive training completion certificates that may waive written and road tests at Motor Vehicle Division offices.However, there are requirements that driving-school students must meet, according to the Arizona Department of Transportation. 
In order to qualify, students must be Arizona residents and attend classes at an ADOT-contracted driving school. A minimum of 30 hours of classroom training is required to waive the written exam and at least 10 hours of behind-the-wheel training is required to skip the road exam.“Our top priority is safety,” said Motor Vehicle Division Director Stacey Stanton. “Through this program, we’re partnering with the private sector to encourage new drivers to get as much professional instruction as necessary until they can safely drive on their own. We hope more drivers will utilize these training opportunities.”While most students who present training completion certificates at Motor Vehicle Division offices will get their instructional permit or driver license at that time, some certificate holders will be randomly selected to take the written or road exam at the Motor Vehicle Division office.This random testing will be used to gauge the quality of instruction being given at the driving schools. Certificate holders should come to the Motor Vehicle Division office prepared to take the written or road exam in case they are selected.

  • Project Graduation to hold annual golf tournament

    ll three high schools in the Amphitheater School District are working to keep graduation night safe for our seniors, and the community. The Annual Oro Valley Cup Golf Tournament benefiting Project Graduation will be held Friday, February 6, 2014 at the Hilton El Conquistador Country Club in Oro Valley.100% of the proceeds from this tournament will go towards providing an alcohol and drug free all-night graduation celebration for high school seniors in Amphitheater School District.Over the past 12 years, we have kept some 11,000 graduating high school seniors off the streets in a safe and sober environment on graduation night. With this, we have also kept the communities that would be directly affected by these graduates safe as well.All media are invited to cover the event. Organizers are looking for players. The cost for one player is $150. There are several sponsorship levels. Contacts: Gregory Fitzgerald - 520-461-0941 or ovcup@yahoo.comJim Miller - 520-400-3498 or dad4audi@yahoo.com.

  • New project aims to improve ‘First Impressions’ at airport

    It’s no secret that the first impression is often the one that leaves the lasting impression. For Tucson, scenery around the airport has left many worried about the first impression the town is giving visitors who are coming to the region for business and pleasure.To address those concerns, the Tucson Metro Chamber of Commerce partnered with AAA Landscape and several local companies and organizations to improve the aesthetics of the gateway to and from Tucson International Airport (TIA).The “First Impressions” project transformed six-tenths of a mile of a mile on Tucson Boulevard between TIA and Valencia Road. The goal of the transformation is to change the landscape to become more positive with art sculptures created by local artists, and provide a cultural experience that will leave visitors with a good first impression and allow them to part ways with a positive lasting impression.Oro Valley Mayor Satish Hiremath said he couldn’t be more pleased with a project   that focuses on helping the entire region.“It’s human nature, you want to put your best foot forward,” he said. “It’s a big step with a public/private partnership. It’s very important for the community to rally together and address something as simple as this. If it’s good for Tucson – it’s good for Oro Valley. If it’s good for Marana – it’s good for Oro Valley. “While stressing the importance of improving the scenery around TIA, Hiremath said he doesn’t feel it would have ever come together had it not been for the recession. While Tucson’s economic numbers are on the rise, they are inching up slowly. Now, the region has to come together and partner to make improvements that go toward improving the region’s chances at more economic growth.

  • Mountain View High School students learn math through automotive class

    The problem was spelled out for the automotive students at Mountain View High School: Find the volumetric efficiency of a 10-cylinder Dodge Viper with a bore of 4 inches and a stroke of 3.88 inches when it is idling at 920 RPM with the throttle open 13 percent and an air flow of 8.85 g/s.Within a few minutes, the students solved this real-world problem along with three others during zero period – a class that takes place before the regularly scheduled start of classes around the school. Within this unique Career and Technical Education (CTE) class, students are taught by two teachers. One is an automotive teacher and the other is a math teacher.Of the CTE classes in Arizona, which range from biosciences and engineering sciences to culinary arts and cosmetology, there are 20 CTE courses within the state that give students dual credits in math, economics or science. The math-in-the-automotive-class process began in 2010 with the students in beginning auto. They were the first to be eligible to receive the math credit if they remained in the program for three years.“This is not an easy option for the kids,” Damiani said. “This is not an easy way to get your fourth-year math credit – it is a different way.”Wyatt Bowman, who is a senior at the school, explained that he didn’t understand math and was usually getting D’s in his math classes. That is, until he began taking the automotive math class.

  • Newest flu strain is ‘nothing new’

    A new strain of flu for which there is no complete vaccine has made national headlines and created murmured concern locally after Pima County saw its first pediatric flu death since 2009.But it was never confirmed that the child, who had underlying health issues, died from the new strain of flu, nor is the strain as big a concern as news outlets have made it, according to Pima County Health Director Dr. Francisco Garcia. Noting the child’s death as a “big deal,” Garcia hopes to defuse rumors that might have some quick to label the new A(H3) subtype strain as generally lethal – though he acknowledges its form is known historically to lead to more dramatic flu seasons that can result in higher mortality rates than other strains.“This is nothing new,” he said. “Every year there is a variation of the type of flu we see. It will make you miserable, make you miss work, and will take you a few days to recover from, but generally it won’t kill you. And when I worry about the flu is when we see excessive deaths, and currently the county isn’t experiencing that.”On the national scale, there have been 21 pediatric deaths this flu season, measured from Sept. 28, 2014 onward. According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) data, there were 105 pediatric deaths during the 2013-14 flu season, which peaked in late December and began a downward trend in January.The CDC reports the number of flu-associated pediatric deaths has ranged from 37 to 171 since 2004-2005, when pediatric flu deaths became nationally reportable.

  • Oro Valley Council on protocol and utility rates

    After a verbal kerfuffle between Mayor Satish Hiremath and Councilman Brendan Burns during the Jan. 7 council meeting, Hiremath called for a three-minute recess “until councilman Burns can actually control himself.”Burns did not return to the dais after the recess.The dialogue began on an agenda item requested by Hiremath and Councilwoman Mary Snider to have a discussion and possible direction regarding a council rule for presentations from councilmembers. Snider later alluded that it was in response to the way in which Councilman Mike Zinkin has attempted to give a presentation without the rest of the council having an opportunity to view it.  Both Hiremath and Snider spoke about how they are in favor of having a free exchange of ideas and all seven members of the council have the right to express their thoughts on any issue.Hiremath cautioned that a PowerPoint presentation presented during a council meeting could give the public the perception that a councilmember already had their mind made up about an issue, which could possibly be misconstrued as a violation of open meeting laws.Vice Mayor Lou Waters said the discussion on the issue was about presenting facts.

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