- Your Voice
A group of students at Copper Creek Elementary School gave the OK sign letting everyone know they were ready, then, within a few seconds, they were transported underwater with a scuba diver at the Great Barrier Reef Aquarium in Australia.The students stayed dry, though, as they embarked on a virtual field trip – a first of its kind.For the following hour, the motionless students watched a scuba diver tell them about the Great Barrier Reef. The students and the scuba diver each could listen and speak to each other.Lisa Hopper, founder and CEO of World Care, and her colleague Andrew Foley, worked together to create and develop an infrastructure that provides an independent portal for educators to access new, different and relevant curriculum content. The project is called STEM Learning.“The evolution of education is changing,” Hopper said. “We have to change with it. We looked in many different areas in identifying what was missing. And it was this portal of getting great content and bringing the world to the United States.” World Care’s STEM Learning is not a school and is not a product provider; it is simply the gateway to connect students with information about science, technology, engineering and math with the hopes of trying to ignite an interest in education.
The Oro Valley Town Council will vote tonight (Dec. 17) on whether to purchase the golf and other recreational amenities of the El Conquistador resort, spending $1 million to acquire the property and committing to a half-cent sales tax increase for improvements and its continued operations.Mayor Satish Hiremath has touted the property as a turnkey operation that gives locals the community center they’ve long wanted. But Councilman Mike Zinkin is doubtful. He said it’s clear that residents want a community center. But he said he would rather have them specifically define what they want in such a center, which should be built new. Then he would want the town to determine where to put it and how much to spend before taking a temporary secondary property tax to the ballot.But as it is, the process is rushed and opaque, he said: “This thing smells.”For $1 million – spread over an interest-free, three-year payment plan – the town would get 45 holes of golf, 31 tennis courts, two pools, a fitness center, and a restaurant and café, allowing residents to have a community center by early 2015. Local apartment and hotel developer HSL Properties is purchasing the entire distressed El Conquistador property but with plans to keep only the hotel and convention center, spinning off the recreation components. HSL plans to close on the property on Dec. 18.The country club and golf courses need renovations, as town staff detailed earlier this month, and the venture would take some time to become profitable. In its first year, the community center would operate at about a $1.2 million loss, almost entirely on the golf side, the town estimates—“however, it is anticipated that this deficit lowers each year and turns positive by (fiscal year) 2018/19 as a result of increased capital investment, marketing of the facility and programs, and quality management,” according to a memo attached to the meeting’s agenda.
In a vote on Dec. 11, the Greater Oro Valley Chamber of Commerce board of directors voted to support the town council’s plan to increase sales taxes and purchase the Hilton El Conquistador country club building, golf course, tennis courts and facilities for $1 million.The controversial proposal was officially released to the public on Dec. 3, with the council planning to vote on Dec. 17. HSL Properties is planning to close a deal on buying the resort part of the Hilton El Conquistador on Dec. 18. HSL Properties did not want the golf portion of the resort, offering it to the town for $1 million. Dave Perry, president/CEO of the chamber, said while he officially heard the news with the rest of the community on Dec. 3, he had heard rumors of the ongoing negotiations earlier. The Oro Valley Town Council held three executive sessions (not open to the public) prior to making the measure public on Dec. 3.In the press release, provided to The Explorer on Dec. 15, Perry said the venture brings the community more recreational and youth services.In a phone interview on Monday, Perry said the current proposal to increase sales taxes is the “least objectionable” option.
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 Oro Valley Marketplace was set alight with the bright faces of hundreds of children and their parents, each anticipating the arrival of the big man in red himself.While Santa and Mrs. Clause’s arrival on a Golder Ranch Fire Department truck, as well as the concurrent tree lighting itself, were yet again the highlight of Oro Valley’s 15th Annual Tree Lighting Ceremony, there was still much to enjoy at the 3 hour long festival. Families gathered out at a dirt lot adjacent to the towering Christmas tree’s location beside Tuesday Morning, where KOLD chief meteorologist Kevin Jeanes cheerfully co-hosted alongside Mayor Satish Hiremath. Local violinist and singer Stacy Marie Scheckel also gave a splendid performance of the National Anthem early on into the event. Accompanied by the Oro Valley Color Guard and Mayor Hiremath onto the stage, Scheckle delivered a powerful, emotion-driven rendition of our country’s song. Near the end of her performance, she was overcome with tears as she remembered her grandfather, whom she had specifically dedicated the performance to.After OVPD Commander Jason Larter and Chamber of Commerce President Dave Perry had a word with the audience about the local Shop-with-a-Cop event and OV Dollars gift cards, respectively, Mayor Hiremath took the stage again. He continued to engage in some jolly banter with the lively crowd before seguing into the announcement that they were all waiting for – Saint Nick himself had arrived.Santa and his beloved arrived, as aforementioned, on a decked out Golder Ranch fire truck, waving to the kids whilst offering a few healthy “ho ho hos!” At this same moment, Hiremath and Jeanes had the audience countdown from 10, the gargantuan tree lighting up all at once just as the Clauses pulled up beside Best Buy. Santa would then situate himself at the popular electronics center to ask the kids what they wanted for Christmas and to take pictures with them and their families.Even after Santa’s arrival, a good amount of onlookers still remained behind at the lot so that they could be entertained by 10 different choirs, each from an Oro Valley educational program. Canyon Del Oro High School’s Vocal Velocity and Canyon Singers kicked off the night’s main musical event right, as was organized by Oro Valley Parks and Recreation manager Lynanne Dellerman and the Southern Arizona Arts and Cultural Alliance’s (SAACA) Jonas Hunter and company.
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.
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.”
Fiscal hawks on the Oro Valley Town Council gave another presentation about the police department’s spending, but without visual aids to show the audience.Councilmen Mike Zinkin and Bill Garner had prepared an item for the Dec. 3 meeting questioning why the Oro Valley Police Department’s had spent about $86,000 more out of its general fund allotment for overtime last year than budgeted. When he cued up a PowerPoint slideshow, Mayor Satish Hiremath stepped in.Because the full council had not been given a copy of the slideshow in advance of the meeting, he would not allow the slides to be displayed for the entire room. He cited his standing as the council’s presiding officer, confirming with Town Attorney Kelly Schwab that he had the executive authority.Zinkin argued that there was nothing in code to disallow his slideshow, and although Schwab agreed that nothing in the rules bars PowerPoint presentations by council members, the mayor is the presiding officer.Zinkin made a motion to allow it anyway, which Schwab replied to Hiremath’s questioning that as the top officer, he didn’t have to allow a vote. And so Hiremath went ahead with his veto power: “I do not allow that motion to be voted on.”Councilman Brendan Burns then noted that parliamentary rules allow the council to suspend the rules by majority vote, which Schwab confirmed was a valid point. But Burns’ motion failed 4-3, with himself, Zinkin and Garner the three voting in favor.
Pima County has terminated its contract with Select Development and Construction, who was tasked with the widening of Magee Road between La Cañada Drive and Oracle Road. County Administrator Chuck Huckelberry says the contractor did not perform in accordance with the contract terms, provisions, and requirements in the timeframe allotted. New options are being explored in order to complete the project.“Options include the surety selecting a contractor to complete the project or the county re-bidding the contract and charging any additional costs that might be incurred because of the termination to the surety or terminated contractor,” said Huckelberry.Discussions continue between the county’s Department of Transportation and Select.There is no estimated completion date.
Town of Oro Valley Procurement Administrator Brian Garrity has been appointed to the National Procurement Institute (NPI) Board of Directors.NPI was founded in 1968 to establish cooperative relationships among its members and to develop efficient purchasing methods and practices in areas of governmental, education and institutional procurement. It is the official Public Sector Affiliate of the Institute for Supply Management (ISM).In 1995, NPI established a program designed to recognize organization excellence in Public Procurement. The Achievement of Excellence in Procurement (AEP) Award is earned by public and non-profit organizations that obtain a high application score based on standardized criteria.This program encourages the development of excellence as well as continued organizational improvement to earn the award annually and is the benchmark for organizational excellence in procurement. The Town of Oro Valley earned its seventh AEP Award in 2014.The Town of Oro Valley is one of only 16 government agencies in Arizona, and one of only 58 cities in the United States to receive this award.
Chabad of Oro Valley will ignite a public menorah erected at the Oro Valley Public Library followed by a community-wide celebration on the 2nd night of Chanukah, which falls out on December 17. The ceremony will feature greetings from Mayor Hiremath, a fantastic fire show, hot latkes, fresh donuts, lively music, and crafts for kids.The public menorah lighting was organized by Rabbi Zimmerman, director, Chabad of Oro Valley who remarked, “The Menorah serves as a symbol of Oro Valley's dedication to preserve and encourage the right and liberty of all its citizens to worship G-d freely, openly, and with pride. Specifically in America, a nation that was founded upon and vigorously protects the right of every person to practice his or her religion free from restraint and persecution, the Menorah takes on profound significance, embodying both religious and constitutional principles.”Leah T, Oro Valley, who is looking forward to attending the public menorah lighting commented, "I want my kids to grow up with pride in their Jewish heritage and a feeling of equality and self-confidence as an American. Chabad’s Chanukah Menorah lightings are a very important element in my child’s education.”Oro Valley’s menorah is one of thousands of large public menorahs sponsored by Chabad throughout the world, helping children and adults of all walks of life discover and enjoy the holiday message.Throughout the state of Arizona, Chabad will be presenting scores of Chanukah events and celebrations, including public menorah lightings, giant menorahs made out of ice and Legos, Menorah Parades, Latkes parties, and more. To find a local event in Arizona or practically anywhere throughout the world, visit www.jewishorovalley.com/ChanukahEvents. For more information about Chanukah and a local schedule of events visit www.jewishorovalley.com/Chanukah.###
The town of Oro Valley wants to spend $1 million to buy the Hilton El Conquistador’s golf courses and other country club facilities for a recreation center.And it wants to move on an aggressive timeline: the town council, which unveiled the plan at Wednesday night’s meeting, plans to vote Dec. 17 on whether or not to authorize a half-cent sales tax hike the town would need to make the project happen.It would pick up the bargain-priced complex from Tucson-based apartment and hotel developer HSL Properties, which is buying the entire distressed El Conquistador property but with plans to keep only the hotel and convention center and flip the golf courses – 45 holes between three courses – and the other recreational amenities, including 31 tennis courts, two pools, a fitness center, and a restaurant. If the town goes through with the purchase, it would open the community center to local residents early next year.HSL would secure third-party management of the golf course and some of the other facilities, a contract that would transfer to the town should it go ahead with the purchase. The town would use its own staff for about half of the tennis facilities and the fitness center.City staff say town residents have made it clear they want an indoor recreation center. But Mayor Satish Hiremath said building new would be cost-prohibitive, and with another buyer for the El Conquistador in the wings this is a rare opportunity that the town can’t pass up. HSL would put the town on a three-year payment plan, with the first $300,000 due in July.The venture would take some time to become profitable – in its first year, the golf course would operate at a $1 million to $1.3 million loss, while the recreation center would run about $25,000 in the red, according to estimates shown at Wednesday’s meeting. Town Manager Greg Caton said the losses should ease a little over the following two years, then improve dramatically after four or five years.
The wait-all-year-for-them Thanksgiving weekend spending sprees were weaker this year nationwide, thanks to early promotions, online shopping and an improving economy that means consumers aren’t as reliant on the deep discounts of Black Friday.According to the National Retail Federation, 55.1 percent of holiday shoppers were in stores and online over Thanksgiving weekend, down from 58.7 percent last year. Overall shopper traffic from Thanksgiving Day through Sunday, Nov. 30 dropped 5.2 percent from 2013 (133.7 million unique holiday shoppers versus 141.1 million in 2013), and the average holiday weekend buyer was expected to spend $380.95, down 6.4 percent from $407.02 last year. Total spending is expected to reach $50.9 billion, down from last year’s estimated $57.4 billion.Still, Black Friday is the star of the four-day weekend. According to the survey, 86.9 million shoppers were in stores and online on Black Friday. At the Target at Ina and Thornydale roads on the day after Thanksgiving, Samantha McMasters and Hannah Jackson were engaged in their annual shopping event. The pair had also hit Kohl’s, Toys R Us and Walmart that day, McMasters in search of movies and Jackson hunting video games. They had some ups and downs. “Walmart advertised a lot of stuff that wasn’t even there. Like different movies they said they’d have but weren’t there last night,” McMasters said. “We went to Target instead and got some of those movies.”
When Dr. Alan Meyers isn’t practicing psychology or authoring books on wellness, he might be found at Transcend Massage and Wellness Spa at 7435 N. Oracle Road.For Meyers, advocating healing and wellbeing has been an essential part of his career, so when the chance to take over Transcend presented itself in June, Meyers was all about it.“One thing that interested me was the ability to bring more services, and more diverse services, and that’s something that sets us apart,” said Meyers.There’s certainly no shortage of services at Transcend, which offers dozens of different massage types, skin care services, spa packages, and a variety of wellness services like craniosacral therapy, Reiki sessions, and private yoga.But even more important than the services is having the staff qualified to perform them, says Meyers.“The quality of our therapists is great,” he said. “They are very educated and experienced and we only select therapists that we think are the right fit for us.”
Catalina Mountain Elks Lodge #2815 donated two tandem bikes valued at $3,000 to the Southwestern Blind Rehabilitation Center of the Tucson VA medical facility. The presentation was made at a luncheon hosted by the Lodge for 17 disabled veterans and five staff members. Catalina Mountain and San Manuel lodges sold raffle tickets for a gift generously donated by Catalina Marina to help raise funds to purchase the bikes at a discount from Trek Bicycles of Tucson – Oro Valley.Catalina Mountain Elks also visited the VA medical facility and personally delivered 65 handmade lap blankets that were generously donated by SaddleBrooke resident, Yolanda Niemann. The lodge supports the Tucson VA medical facility by donating clothing, shoes, toiletries, and books on a monthly basis and has donated $20,000 worth of items so far this year. Alan’s Shoe House on Oracle Road donated 95 pairs of shoes, which will be distributed to homeless veterans.In addition, a free breakfast was served to approximately 60 veterans and their families to show appreciation for their service to our country.