- Your Voice
Pima County Administrator Chuck Huckelberry is asking the Board of Supervisors to delay a vote on a controversial Tobacco/Nicotine-Free Healthy Workplace Initiative that was slated for a decision yesterday.Now requesting a Feb. 10 vote, Huckelberry has touted the measure as an effective way to increase employee productivity while creating a healthier workplace.If passed, the initiative would require current county employees and those seeking employment to submit to nicotine tests.Those who refuse to test or who test positive for nicotine would be subject to higher health premiums; a 30 percent surcharge for nicotine users in the first year, 40 percent increase in 2015-16, and 50 percent increase in 2016-17. Would-be employees are also subject to testing. Anyone refusing testing, or testing positive for nicotine would be denied a county position. Approximately 32 percent of county employees are nicotine users.
The incoming arrival of a Fisher House means out-of-state families can stay closer to their injured veterans – and for Tucson mother Libby Mannel that’s a subject that’s very close to home. Libby’s son and Flowing Wells graduate Cpl. Delvin Jones was wounded in action while serving overseas in Operation Enduring Freedom. On a mission to collect supplies, Delvin and three soldiers were riding in a Humvee when they struck an improvised explosive device, badly injuring all aboard.Delvin was transferred to the Walter Reed Hospital in Washington D.C., where he underwent care for numerous broken bones in his face and spinal injuries that altered his memory and affected his ability to walk. “As a parent, it was the hardest thing to see,” said Libby, who along with her husband Tom adopted Delvin when he was four years old. “It has been a long haul, but we thank God he’s alive.”Delvin’s care continued at an area Fisher House, and he was ultimately awarded a Purple Heart for valor in the line of duty and medically discharged from the Army. During that time, Libby traveled back and forth to the Walter Reed/Fisher House in Washington D.C. where Delvin was receiving care – a task she was happy to undertake, but one that was time consuming and mentally exhausting.
MaranaTCC, the largest Verizon Premium Wireless Retailer in the U.S., announces today the opening of its first store in Marana, Ariz. Located at 12060 N. Thornydale Rd., in the Fry’s Plaza, the new store offers guests the ultimate experience in interactivity while shopping for wireless devices and accessories. Featuring TCC’s “Rockstar” layout, the new store is designed as a destination for guests to get hands-on with the latest wireless devices. The back half of the store is a lounge area with couches and chairs, giving guests a comfortable place to play with devices and accessories.On Dec. 19, TCC will hold a ribbon cutting ceremony at noon for the new store, followed by a grand opening event for the Marana community on Dec. 20. Local radio station KIIM (99.5 FM) will host a live remote from 11 a.m.-1 p.m. TCC will be giving away gift bags to the first 25 guests who attend the event. They can also register to win a free Bluetooth headset among a variety of other prizes and promotional items.Members from the University of Arizona Pom Line & Dance Team will be on-site from 5-7 p.m. to sign autographs, mingle and take photos with guests. In celebration of the new store, TCC will make a charitable donation to StandUp for Kids, a national nonprofit charity that strives to provide life-saving and outreach services to homeless, street kids and at-risk youth.From Dec. 19-24, TCC has exclusive prices on accessories for the holiday season. When customers sign up for PlayAway, they will leave with up to $250 worth of accessories for only $10 per month with no interest. Restrictions apply.
Two Marana area youth football teams advanced to the AYF National Championship games on Friday. The Marana Broncos Pee Wee and Jr. Midget teams both won their games in Kissimmee, Florida on Wednesday morning.The Jr. Midget team battled to a 35-34 win over Manalapa (NJ) Braves, while the Pee Wee Division team cruised to a 44-0 win over Seminol Edgewood (TX).“Today both team left it all the field,” said Clarrissa Marquez, a Marana Bronco parent on hand at the games.
Marana will become designated as a Purple Heart Town during next Tuesday’s Council meeting. The honor recognizes cities and towns that go above and beyond to support veterans.Only two other Arizona communities (Scottsdale and Sierra Vista) and one county (Coconino) share the distinction. Marana is also the future home of a veterans’ cemetery.“The Town of Marana is proud to receive this designation,” said Mayor Ed Honea, a U.S. Navy veteran. “The military plays a vital role in our community and the Town is always willing to support these men and women in every way possible.”The Purple Heart is the oldest military decoration in use, created as a badge of military merit by George Washington in 1782. It honors the brave men and women who are wounded or killed in combat.The Council meeting starts at 7 p.m. at the Marana Municipal Complex (11555 W. Civic Center Dr.).
Maintenance repair work will require closures on the east- and westbound I-10 frontage roads at Orange Grove Road and on eastbound Orange Grove Road on Monday, Dec. 15, through Friday, Dec. 19, from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily, according to the Arizona Department of Transportation. The left-turn lane from the eastbound I-10 frontage road onto eastbound Orange Grove Road will be reduced to one lane. Eastbound Orange Grove Road underneath I-10 will be reduced to one lane. The right-turn lane from the westbound I-10 frontage road onto eastbound Orange Grove Road will be reduced to one lane. Drivers should expect delays of up to 15 minutes and should slow down and use caution when driving in the work zone. DETOUR: Drivers may use the Ina Road exits.
The Marana Police Department is investigating four recent reports of vehicles being stripped of tires and rims from residential areas, leaving the vehicles on blocks.Three of the incidents occurred in residential neighborhoods north of Cortaro Rd and Arizona Pavilions Dr. The fourth incident occurred in a residential neighborhood near Twin Peaks Rd and Oasis Rd. The thefts all occurred late at night. The dates of the reports were September 26, October 16, December 4 and 5.Detective are now investigating and conducting additional follow-up.The public is being asked to be watchful and report any suspicious vehicles or people they see in residential neighborhoods.We are asking the community to please contact us if they have any information that can assist with this investigation. Citizens can call the Marana Police at (520) 382-2000 or they can call 88-CRIME.
The Marana Town Council approved use of funds for the Marana Heritage Park and changed some of the town’s policies on background checks during their meeting last Tuesday. The council also honored a longtime employee and heard feedback from the citizens’ forums. The council approved the transfer of up to $800,000 for use in the Marana Heritage Park. The funds would go for improvements to the farm portion of the park, as well as to complete construction on the splash pad.The $800,000 will come from a fund of $2 million that was already set aside for Heritage Park. When completed the 4,500 square-foot splash pad will be the largest in Southern Arizona. “It will be substantially bigger than the pad at Brandi Fenton (Park),” said Jennifer Christelman of the Marana Planners Office. The project will cost more than originally planned, due mostly to sewer and water issues. The cost of the project could be as high as $1.5 million, with over $1 million of it going to the construction of the splash pad itself, restrooms and a mechanical building to run the pad. Nearly $300,000 would be used to for site improvements, sewer and water.
The Town of Marana expanded their annual Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony, providing an event with a number of different attractions for families.The highlight was the lighting of the tree itself, which provided a 10-minute lightshow that synchronized the lights of the Christmas tree, as well as all of the trees in the Marana Municipal Complex courtyard, to popular Christmas Music. The light show drew a positive reaction from the crowd with a number of people breaking out cell phones to shoot video and photos. A number of people, mostly children, were dancing to the music selection, which included Jingle Bell Rock, All I Want for Christmas Is You, Rocking Around the Christmas Tree and several instrumentals from Tran Siberian Orchestra.“We really liked the lighting of the Christmas Tree,” said Tara Leinen. “The music was fun, the kids were dancing.”During the lightshow “snow” was dropped onto the crowd. The flakes made of soap attracted kids of all ages, including a huddle of high school age kids who chanted “snow, snow, snow” as it fell on them. The light show will continue, with nightly shows until January 5. The complex will host four shows a night at 6, 7, 8 and 9 p.m.There was plenty to do for the whole family, with all of it except the food trucks and vendors, free of charge.“I thought it was fantastic,” said Marana Mayor Ed Honea. “It is part of our Your Town concept. We think it is great for families with children to come out for a free event.”
Nominations for BBB Serving Southern Arizona’s 2015 Torch Awards will be accepted from Thursday, Jan. 2 through Feb. 1. The awards program recognizes businesses in Southern Arizona in three award categories:Ethics Award: Honors a business for its trustworthy and honorable business practices in four primary categories. The nominated business maintains a solid commitment to ethical business practices. This award is open to any for-profit company in Southern Arizona that is in good standing with BBB. Good Neighbor Award: Recognizes a company that has shown a commitment to making Southern Arizona a better place through community service. The nominated business and employees play a significant role in support of local charities. This award is open to all businesses in Southern Arizona that are in good standing with BBB. Customer Excellence Award: The nominated business has an outstanding customer service program and a history of exceeding customers’ expectations. This award is open only to BBB Accredited Businesses in Southern Arizona.The 2015 Torch Awards program will take place on May 7, at the Marriot Starr Pass Resort in Tucson. Businesses of all sizes in Pima, Cochise, Graham, Greenlee and Santa Cruz counties are encouraged to apply. 2014 Torch Award winners aren’t eligible for nomination until 2016. Sponsorships for the awards program are still available.
Oro Valley’s top officials know the town’s recently unveiled plans to raise sales taxes and to purchase the El Conquistador golf and recreation facilities seem rushed and unorthodox – but it’s a rare opportunity that may never come around again, they say.For $1 million – a relative song – the town would get 45 holes of golf, 31 tennis courts, two pools, a fitness center, and a restaurant, allowing residents to have their long-desired community center by early 2015. The complex would be spun off by local apartment and hotel developer HSL Properties, which is purchasing the entire distressed El Conquistador property but with plans to keep only the hotel and convention center.The town plans to pay for the golf course in three separate payments, starting with one this year.The town’s projections show that the property’s three golf courses will need significant capital improvement and will be the source of major operational deficits for years; golf, as an industry, has struggled around Pima County.But Mayor Satish Hiremath said the town needs to move quickly to accommodate HSL – which has another buyer who is willing to pay more lined up if Oro Valley doesn’t buy the facilities – and although people want to focus on the golf courses, the package is about more than that. “The Town of Oro Valley is looking to purchase a turnkey community-slash-recreation center and the golf course happens to comes with it,” he said.
Need flood insurance? Pima County is the place to live.When it finally rains here, there are areas that are prone to flooding. Property owners in federally designated floodprone areas–Federal Emergency Management Agency floodplains–are required to have flood insurance if there is a federally backed loan on the property.Because Pima County Regional Flood Control District continues to exceed National Flood Insurance Program requirements, residents who live in a FEMA floodplain are eligible for up to a 25 percent discount on their insurance.The district was recently notified that Pima County continues to be a Class 5 community, which places it among the top communities in the national insurance program’s Community Rating System (CRS).In the recent national review, the district and the county received high scores for:Open Space Preservation, which preserves 58,327 acres of regulatory floodplains as open space, protecting open space land with deed restrictions and preserving open space land in a natural state; and also providing regulations and incentives that minimize development in those areas. “CRS has placed greater emphasis on natural floodplain protection, which is something we do quite well,” said Greg Saxe, Environmental Planning Manager in the District’s Floodplain Management Division.
Legal experts dismissed as groundless a lawsuit that 18 states, including Arizona, brought last week against President Barack Obama’s executive actions on immigration.The suit filed in federal court in Texas claims that deferred deportation of illegal immigrants and other initiatives Obama announced last month “amounted to a unilateral suspension of the nation’s immigration laws.”But a top immigration lawyer Friday derided the suit as “a factually challenged press release,” and said the president is on solid legal ground.“The precedent has been set, this was nothing new, and it’s statutorily based,” said David Leopold. “The president is well grounded in the Constitution and in the law.”The lawsuit was one of several Republican actions this week aimed at derailing the president’s Nov. 20 announcement that he would no longer wait for Congress but would take immigration reform actions on his own.They included proposals to toughen the border, streamline the work visa process and extend a deferred deportation program so that it would protect more than 4 million immigrants who are in this country illegally. That would be done in part by focusing deportation efforts on “felons” rather than “families,” the president said.
In the end the Marana Town Council voted 6-1 to move forward with the implementation of a half-cent sales tax to fund the construction of a new police station, but it wasn’t without a lot of debate, verbal jousting and some tense moments.Roxanne Ziegler was the only dissenting vote, stating that she felt the council needed a better accounting on what the money was going for. She made a prior motion to hold off on a decision until more information could be presented, but that vote failed.After Marana Police Chief Terry Rozema made a brief presentation to re-cap his departments outreach efforts and Finance Directro Erik Montague went over some of the numbers, including some various scenarios involving three different sales tax amounts, all of which would be temporary until the new facility is fully funded. “We do have some experience in temporary sales tax measures,” explained Montague, referring to a sales tax increase initially approved for the Twin Peaks Interchange that were not implemented after enough federal funds became available. Montague noted they could fully fund the police station in as soon as three years with a half-cent sales tax, but that using impact fees could take up to 24 years.Rozema reiterated that 96 percent of those polled approved a small sales tax increase to fund the station and that local businesses, and the Marana Chamber of Commerce supported the plan, which would also exempt single item purchases over $5,000.
A number of major streets in Pima County’s District 1 will receive road repair work after the Board of Supervisors approved the release of a $5 million pavement rehabilitation appropriation from the county’s general fund. Of that money, which is permitted for use only in unincorporated areas of Pima County, District 1 will see $1.968 million – money that will be used on some of the area’s most traveled roads.These include First Avenue between River and Ina, River Road between La Cholla and La Canada, Thornydale Road between Rudolfo and Daphne, La Cholla between River and Magee and Silverbell between El Camino del Cerro and Ina, as well as near the intersection of Sabino Canyon and Kolb. In a memo to the supervisors, County Administrator Chuck Huckelberry suggested that all monies appropriated to each of the five districts be used toward arterial and collector highway “in order to preserve the already significant investment made by Pima County highway taxpayers.”That means neighborhoods with deteriorating roads could have a long wait ahead of them.“One of the facts of life we need to get used to is there simply isn’t enough money for transportation funding,” he said. “Until we reach that conclusion, the state of our local residential streets are going to stay in the situation they’re in today.”