The Explorer: Marana


Recent Headlines

  • Rattlesnake fire

    Elementary students with Rattlesnake Ridge had the opportunity to partner with Northwest Fire District as part of the department's Mini Muster's program, which helps celebrate Fire Prevention Month. Students were educated on basic fire drills, such as operating a real fire hose and wearing full fire gear. The department also spoke on the importance of taking measures to prevent fires.

  • Motions fails for Lazy K Bar development in Marana

    The motion to approve a specific plan that would allow for denser developments at the Lazy K Bar Guest Ranch failed to pass in the Marana town council meeting. Mattamy Homes approached the Lazy K Bar owners, Jim Shiner and Peter Evans, with the request to develop on the 138 acres of land. The property is currently zoned RR (Resort and Recreation), which would result in a single-family residential development with 0.1 to 0.5 residences per acre. Lazy K Bar Guest Ranch is west of Scenic Drive and is located at the west terminus of Pima Farms Road.The proposal requests a rezoning for the property. Those representing the applicants, Racy Associates, Inc. and The Planning Center, propose a rezoning from RR to F Specific Plan, a minor amendment to the Marana General Plan, and an approval and authorization from the town to agree to the owner’s Lazy K Bar Ranch Development Agreement, which would provide the necessary requirements, restrictions and conditions for development in the area.The rezoning request to the Lazy K Bar specific plan would allow for single-family residential homes and would permit 1.29 residences per acre – resulting in about 178 single-family lots. About 45 percent of the property would be residential lots and 55 percent would be allocated for open space – 25 percent of that would remain natural undisturbed open space. During the meeting, Mike Racy, the representative for the property owners said that the request protects the wildlife through limited drainage systems and would ensure an efficient flow of traffic if Scenic Drive were re-opened.A neighborhood meeting was held on June 2 and Aug. 19 where residents voiced their concerns. A number of those residents also attended the town meeting on Tuesday, Oct. 7 to express their opposition to the project. The primary concern was how a denser development would endanger wildlife and landscape in Saguaro National Park.Peter Chesson, who serves on the Tucson Mountains Association board, Scott Stonum, from Saguaro National Park, and Carolyn Campbell, from Coalition for Sonoran Desert Protection spoke on the importance of preserving the national park’s surrounding areas. Campbell spoke on how the area “has been identified for decades as a regional and significant long life lineage” to the city of Tucson. Stonum echoed those thoughts and added his concern of losing the natural undisturbed open space.

  • Police Chief Terry Rozema trying to drum up support for new police station

    Marana Police Chief Terry Rozema believes that the department needs a new police station and so far the public seems to agree. “It has been fantastic,” Rozema said of his public meetings to discuss the need for a new police station. “I have been a little bit surprised that it has been as positive as it has been.”The town council has asked Rozema to go out into the community and explain the department’s need for a new facility. Over the next few weeks Rozema will have upwards of 20 public presentations and the town will host two open houses and two public hearings on the proposal. Rozema knows it will take strong public support for the council to move forward with the plan, but so far the public has responded favorably. “We’ve gotten a couple ‘maybes’ or ‘unsures’, but no flat out ‘no’s’, the rest have been ‘yes’ with extremely positive comments. Once they kind of see what we are working with, and they really demonstrate the need they say ‘wow this is really necessary.’ That has been very encouraging.”If the plan moves forward the new station would be built adjacent to the municipal complex on land already owned by the town and that is mostly “site ready.” The location was chosen over two others, one existing substation on Ina and another near Twin Peaks, because of affordability and the ability to better service the growing community. “The reason we ended up building up here is our future growth is to the north, plus they own it,” Rozema said. “It made the most sense to build it up here knowing that our future growth is in this area moving north.”

  • Pima County introduces Conviction Integrity Unit

    A Conviction Integrity Unit that has seen dozens of exonerations across the nation is now in effect in Pima County.Established locally on Oct. 1 under Pima County Attorney Barbara LaWall, the unit is designed to prevent wrongful convictions from occurring, and also to reinvestigate cases that present with meaningful claims of innocence. In similar programs run across the country, a unit in Dallas has seen 33 exonerations, one in Santa Clara County, Calif. has seen five, and a unit in Manhattan has vacated three convictions.Units also exist in Baltimore, Chicago, and Brooklyn, and Philadelphia. Rick Unklesbay, deputy county attorney, will head the program. Unklesbay said the mission of the program is to “seek justice in every case that is prosecuted.”“We started it because for years, decades really, we’ve looked at cases when someone has asked but the cases would just be randomly assigned around the office. We decided to establish the unit so these inquiries can be handled in a central unit,” he said.

  • Annual Marana Pumpkin Patch and Farm Festival returns

    Marana residents need look no further than their own backyard for this year’s fall festivities and fun. Coming back with delicious food, pumpkin picking, a corn maze and more is the Annual Marana Pumpkin Patch and Farm Festival.This is the fourth year in a row that town of Marana councilmember Jon Post has hosted the event. The festival, which will run from Oct. 4 to Nov. 2, has enough fun, food and activities for the entire family. Admission is $10 per person, Monday-Thursday, and $12 per person, Friday-Sunday. Children who are less than 30 inches can get in for free.Returning from last year is the corn maze, straw slide, train and peddle cart rides, kid’s zone, petting zoo and the jumping pillows, which serves as a trampoline for children. Not included in the admission are a zip line ride, pony ride and pumpkin cannon shooting. Also included is a variety of food such as pizza, nachos, cheeseburgers, pork sandwiches and more. Nightly food specials will also be available for families. Weekends, which include Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, will offer breakfast at 9 a.m. Later on into the evening, families can enjoy a spaghetti meal on Monday nights or a steak dinner on Friday nights. Food is not free.Initially, Post wanted to put together a fall festival because he thought it would be a “fun thing for families to be able to come to”. The first year had a good turnout and over the next few years, the festival attracted more families far and wide throughout Tucson.“Sounded like something really fun to do. I thought I could do a good job so I tried it,” said Post. “It’s been a very popular event. The event gives people the fall festival feeling. The feeling of going to a farm that is fun and where a family can enjoy spending time together.”

  • Ducey, Duval share priorities, differences for approaching immigration in governor race

    The two major-party candidates for Arizona governor agree on a few things when it comes to the contentious issue of immigration:• The federal government hasn’t done enough to deal with challenges such as cross-border crime.• Arizona must work with the federal government on solutions.• Voters care about the issue.One key area where Republican Doug Ducey and Democrat Fred DuVal differ is issuing driver’s licenses to young immigrants with work permits under the Obama administration’s deferred-action program.A 2012 executive order from Gov. Jan Brewer denied driver’s licenses, saying that employment authorization permits don’t constitute proof of legal U.S. residency needed to obtain an Arizona driver’s license. Forty-eight states issue driver’s licenses to deferred-action recipients.

  • Marana Harvest Festival brings live entertainment and fall festivities

    Partnering with the Gladden Farms Community to provide a day full of fall festivities, live entertainment and food, the town of Marana will be hosting, for the first time, the Marana Harvest Festival on Oct. 25.For almost 10 years, Gladden Farms has put on a yearly fall festival that has drawn as many as 2,500 people per year. Knowing the demand for the festival and wanting to involve itself more directly in the community, the town of Marana decided to approach the Gladden Farms Community with hopes of partnering with them in this year’s fall festival. “We approached them a few months ago,” said Rodney Campbell, public information officer for Marana. “This is a way for us to work with a very significant master plan community in the town. Gladden Farms means a lot to the future of Marana.”The festival will run from 3 to 10 p.m. and offer limitless activities, ranging from a Halloween costume contest, rock climbing, slide, hay rides, jumping castles, horse rides and a petting zoo to live entertainment and rodeo demonstrations. Admission is free and everything will take place within the Heritage River Park and Gladden Farms Community Park.  “It’s a good way to expose the Gladden Farms product to a large audience and people to come out and get a look at the Heritage Park and what’s planned in the coming years,” said Campbell.The Marana Heritage River Park is projected to finish by summer 2015. So far, the demonstration garden is complete and a newly paved parking lot is expected to be done by the time of the festival. 

  • Marana teachers reaches four decades of service

    Call it luck, call it fate, call it whatever you want, but when Coyote Trail educator Sue Richey was honored for 40-years of service in the Marana Unified School District last week and number of different things had to happen to get her to that point.Initially, Sue Richey did not want to be a teacher. Initially, Richey did not want to teach first or second grade. Initially, Richey was hesitant to start at a new school. Now, she wouldn’t have it any other way.Richey has been a second grade teacher at Coyote Trail Elementary School since the building opened in 1996. She and principal Dan Johnson are the only two original staffers left.“Sue is wonderful,” said Coyote Trail Principal Dan Johnson. “She is a mixture of experience, but has the enthusiasm of a new teacher. If you were to walk into her classroom you would see no apathy, there is no lack of energy. There is just this woman who wants to put out the best product for her kids.”Richey came from a family of teachers, bother her mother and grandmother were teachers, but had no intention of following in their footsteps when she left for the University of Arizona. Her plans were to major in business.“I always knew I didn’t want to teach because my mother was a teacher,” Richey explained. “I used to help her in class. I wanted to have a job where I can wear nice clothes and make a lot of money.

  • “Rocky’s Fall Round-Up” carnival at Rattlesnake Ridge

     The public is invited to an evening of fun-filled affordable community fun—where there’s something for everyone! Rattlesnake Ridge Elementary Parent Teacher Organization will sponsor their annual “Rocky’s Fall Round-Up” carnival on Friday Oct. 17, from 5 to 9 p.m.  The carnival will be held at Rattlesnake Ridge Elementary School, 8500 W. Continental Reserve Loop. Shuttle available from Continental Reserve Urgent Care – 8333 N. Silverbell RoadOpen to the public - no entrance fee.  Game tickets are 50 cents each. A wristband may be purchased for unlimited rides/inflatables for $9 that evening.Family fun activities include train ride, various inflatables including jumping castle, bouncing ponies, hamster balls, and multiple exciting game booths. Enjoy free music. Tucson Food Trucks and other food concessions available for purchase (cash only). “Rocky’s Fall Round-Up” annual fall carnival will be held on Friday Oct. 17, 5 p.m. to 9 p.m., atRattlesnake Ridge Elementary School, 8500 W. Continental Reserve Loop.A Shuttle available from Continental Reserve Urgent Care – 8333 N. Silverbell Road

  • Oro Valley, Marana to pay more for Pima Animal Care Center

    Pima County Administrator Chuck Huckelberry is giving an ultimatum to municipalities that are seeing rising costs related to the Pima Animal Care Center (PACC): pay for the increases or see animals taken or received from that jurisdiction euthanized.In a Sept. 23 memo, Huckelberry said some area governments have complained of spiking costs that have come as a result of the county’s continued efforts to move toward a non-euthanasia policy and to increase spay and neutering.As an option to reduce costs, Huckelberry’s memo says such municipalities should be given the option of adopting a euthanasia policy, though he recommended to the Board of Supervisors that such a practice not be employed in the county.“Choosing a euthanasia policy would allow the municipality to avoid the spay/neuter fees embedded in our operating costs,” Huckelberry wrote. “In addition, kennel space requirements would be reduced, as would medical care expenses, thereby reducing their costs.”Huckelberry added that, “If the municipality chooses this option, I would ask they train one or more of their staff in euthanasia practices, as I do not desire to place on our staff the increased emotional burden of carrying out additional euthanasia.”Huckelberry goes on to suggest a third option in which municipalities operate their own independent animal care facilities.

  • AIA rules against Mountain View in complex case

    The Arizona Interscholastic Association has ruled against the Mountain View High School football program after a special session of the AIA executive board. Mountain View was deemed to have committed two violations stemming from the enrollment of three former Tucson High players.“The findings of the independent investigation, that has been ongoing since early in this school year, were presented to the Executive Board,” the AIA said in a statement. “Based on these findings, the AIA Executive Board unanimously voted that a recruiting violation occurred with a single student and prior contact violation occurred with three students. Due to these violations, three students are ineligible for play according to Article 15.12.”Although not specifically mentioned by the AIA, the players in question are Demetrious and Deshaun Flanningan and Bryce Coleman. Demetrious is believed to be the player involved in the recruiting violation, while all three were involved in the prior contact violations. Demetrious will be in elgible to play at any AIA school until he receives reinstatement by the AIA Executive Board.Deshaun Flannigan and Coleman will automatically be reinstated prior to next season. “The players found to have had prior contact will be eligible one year after their transfer,” said AIA Executive Director Chuck Schmidt. He additionally said that he would not “speak to specifics” on the case, but added that sanctions had not yet been levied. Mountain View has 10 days from receipt of the notice of violation to respond to the executive board, and may provide additional information, corrective actions or examples of in-house discipline. After that, the AIA will rule on sanctions, which can be a little as advisement or a warning, or as strict as probation. In extreme cases a team can be removed from the AIA altogether but this does not seem to be that severe of an infraction.  

  • Candidates to meet in Picture Rocks ahead of election

    Candidates for Legislative District 11 State Senate and House of Representatives will appear at the second 2014 Election Forum sponsored by Citizens for Picture Rocks (C4PR) on Tuesday, Oct. 21, at 6:30 p.m. at Picture Rocks Community Center, 5615 N. Sanders Road.  Former State Representative from Picture Rocks Jennifer Burns will again moderate as invited Senate candidates Jo Holt (D) and Steve Smith (R) respond to questions submitted from the community.  They will be followed by invited State Representative candidates Mark Finchem (R), Vince Leach (R), Holly Lyon (D) and Barry McCain (D-Write-in).  The event is open to the public, and a social hour with face time with candidates will begin at 6 p.m.Fire District candidatesThe candidates met in September at a forum that featured candidates for the Picture Rocks Fire District Governing Board (PRFD).  Two of those, recently-appointed incumbent Sandra Watson and former board member David Putnam, will appear on the ballot; Sherryn “Vicki” Marshall is running as a write-in candidate. The forum was moderated by former state Rep. Jennifer Burns, who posed questions developed by the community.  

  • MUSD asking voters for $125 million in bonds

    Marana Unified School District is going to the voters in November to ask for $125 million in bonds.The money, if approved by voters, would be spent on two new elementary schools, a performing arts center, a centralized transportation and maintenance facility, and replacement of portable classrooms with permanent brick-and-mortar expansions, along with building and stadium renovations, buses and furniture. “As our district is growing we need to be able to meet those obligations, such as in the form of construction and the ability to build new elementary schools and equip those schools, in addition to those necessary renovations and capital projects that are needed in order to maintain buildings and keep infrastructure operational,” said district spokeswoman Tamara Crawley.State funding cuts in recent years have eliminated monies for building renewal, new-school construction, and soft capital – which is used for textbooks, computers and classroom supplies – across Arizona. This leaves school districts to turn to voters to approve tax increases in the form of bonds and budget overrides for building and maintenance projects and purchase of vehicles, equipment and supplies. This loss comes out to about $4.7 million a year for MUSD.

  • Hiking group explores Arizona history, plans next outing

    Hikers from the Picture Rocks Community Center Hiking Club (PRCCHC) started their season with a Sept. 25 stroll around the SASCO smelter, which closed in 1919.Their next hike, Thursday, Oct. 23, is a flat 1.5-mile round-trip stroll from the Community Center, 5615 N. Sanders Road, to the ruins of the Civilian Conservation Corps’ Camp Pima.  Bring water and a light lunch, wear sturdy shoes and a hat, and a walking stick is always useful.  No dogs.   Free; reservations recommended: 682-7166.  Civilian Conservation Corps Camp Pima, which contained 32 frame and adobe buildings, was open from December 1933 to June 1941. The CCC was set up early in Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s “New Deal” to help rescue the nation from the deep economic depression that followed the collapse of the stock market. With more than 25 percent of the workforce unemployed, the government became the employer of last resort to provide jobs and get wages circulating in the economy.The Civilian Conservation Corps put three million young men and thousands of young women to work on environmental conservation jobs, not in competition with the private sector.  That included fighting fires, reforestation, erosion control, trail and dam building, and building the ramadas and picnic areas at many national parks, including Saguaro National Monument, as it was then called.  CCC workers also built the scenic overlook and parking areas at Gates Pass. Camp Papago was established briefly at what is now the Gilbert Ray Campground, putting Native American youth to work.  It shut down after one year due to lack of water.Charles Sanders was one of the first 95 recruits who were put up at a temporary tent camp while a well was dug at the new camp.  Clarence George Lundquist and Red Wills were sent to the site to monitor the flow from the new well. During this time the camp sent food over to them. “Peanut butter and jam sandwiches. That’s all we got, morning, noon and night. Oh, and apples. For two weeks.” Lundquist later remembered.  Later, enrollee Francisco “Chico” Bejerano, who was at Camp Pima in 1938, was asked if he could recall any particularly memorable meals he had had in the CCC. He replied, “Yeah. Breakfast, lunch, and dinner.”Rudasill Road had not yet been built, and a dirt road ran from Mile Wide to the CCC camp.  There is a circle of saguaros that marked Camp Pima’s entrance.  Saguaro National Park plans to build an interpretive trail in the future.  Please remember that anything over 50 years old is legally considered to be an artifact and is protected by law. What looks like old trash is part of an archaeological record that should not be disturbed.

  • Richey is first to reach 40 years in Marana

    The Marana Unified School District senior leadership and Marana Schools’ 2340 Foundation recognized Sue Richey for her 40 years of teaching during a surprise celebration on Sept. 30 at Coyote Trail Elementary School. At the celebration, district superintendent Doug Wilson presented Richey with her 40-year longevity pin. She is the first employee in the Marana district to receive this recognition.Richey began teaching in the Marana Unified School District in 1975 and the 2014-15 school year marks her 40th year of teaching. She is currently a second-grade teacher at Coyote Trail Elementary School.“Ms. Richey and I began working together 19 years ago when the school opened. We are the only two from the original staff that opened Coyote Trail in 1996,” said Dan Johnson, principal of Coyote Trail Elementary. “We have seen so many changes in public education over the years with curriculum and test requirements, yet Ms. Richey’s dedication to student learning and her love of teaching has never waned.She truly loves what she does and is so committed to seeing her students succeed. She gives her heart and soul to our students. I remember how she initially had reservations about leaving her students and colleagues at Thornydale to open a new school; yet she is often heard saying how she has loved every minute at Coyote Trail. It has been a true pleasure knowing her and working with her all of these years.She is loved by students, parents, and staff alike. It is my hope she continues doing the wonderful work she does for the next 40 years.”

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