The Explorer: Pima Pinal

Pima Pinal

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  • Northwest sixth-grader donates all of her hair to Locks of Love

    The minimum requirement for a hair donation to Locks of Love is 10 inches. But when 11-year-old Jazzmin Juerta saw a picture of a bald 3-year-old in a St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital advertisement, she decided to donate a bit more than the minimum.“I said, ‘Mom, I’m going to donate my hair,’” Jazzmin recounted. “She started telling me I could cut it to my shoulders, my ears, or like really short. I said, ‘Nope, I am going to do it all the way, all the way. Because mine will grow back.’”Feeling it was going to be an impulsive act, Jazzmin’s mom Michelle decided to let her daughter think about it for a few days, all the while thinking she would either forget about it or decide to cut her hair to a longer length. She also made note to Jazzmin that kids don’t always understand what is happening or why someone would shave their head.She warned her daughter that kids could be mean, make fun of her and tease her. But that didn’t deter the Coronado K-8 School sixth-grader.“She said, Mom, if they make fun of me, they can make fun of me. They don’t need to be my friends or stand by me. I am going to do this for somebody,’” Michelle explained.

  • 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.

  • CD2 candidates differ on education

    As he attempts to keep the Congressional District 2 seat in the Democratic column, Congressman Ron Barber has charged that Republican opponent Martha McSally will cut federal funding for education.But McSally, a retired A-10 pilot and squadron leader who narrowly lost to Barber in 2012, said Team Barber is distorting her position on education and taking her words “out of context.”At issue are comments that McSally made during a 2012 debate in Vail when asked about what kind of federal legislation she’d introduce to deal with soaring tuition costs.“As a conservative, the federal government needs to be doing less legislation, not more legislation, especially when it comes to these local issues,” McSally said. “So I would propose no legislation to deal with these rising costs. Instead of having federal loans that keep piling up and raise the cost of tuition … what we need to do is make sure that we have the best education in the world, we’ve got good competition between those colleges, and students get to pick, and they’re able to compete for those dollars that they’re spending on their college education, and get the federal government out of the way.”Based on those comments (as well as McSally’s stated support for a 2012 GOP budget plan crafted by Paul Ryan that would have slashed funding for Pell Grants and other higher-ed support), Team Barber has charged that McSally’s preferred policies would make life harder for families that are already struggling to afford college.McSally says she made a “misstatement” at the 2012 debate and mistakenly offered a position that’s the exact opposite of what she really wants to do with higher ed.

  • 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.  

  • Oro Valley elementary school to be completed in 2016

    The final venture on Amphitheater Public Schools’ bond project list is a new Oro Valley elementary school.It won’t be ready for students  until 2016, but district officials are headlong into preparations.Curriculum planning will continue throughout this school year for the as-yet unnamed school, which will focus on science, technology, engineering and mathematics (or STEM) disciplines, said Associate Superintendent Monica Nelson. The school will be all-open enrollment, meaning it will have no neighborhood attendance boundaries. It is open to students from within and outside Amphi school district. Nelson said the reasons for a STEM-focused school are numerous: many Amphi parents work in the local technology sector, STEM courses at the middle and high schools are popular, and educators know that there’s a surfeit of high-tech jobs going unfilled right now for lack of qualified applicants.“And we know that as we’re looking ahead into the future that more and more of the jobs that are being created will require students to have a strong background in science, technology engineering and math activities that will prepare them for those kind of jobs,” she said. “So that’s the emphasis that we’re putting into this.”Currently, committees made up of district administrators and educators, along with residents of the future school’s neighborhood and representatives from the Pima County School Superintendent’s Office, Ventana and Honeywell are collaborating on what the school will teach and how it will look. The district is also considering a transportation plan that will have students gathering at specific stops for busing into the school to mitigate traffic around the campus, which will be situated in a residential area.

  • 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.

  • Amphi looks to have building project at every school site

    Kristy Brower has a bright, open space for children to sit on the floor with their xylophones and a roomy niche to store her class set of violins— space that was once something of a luxury in a school that, until recently, just wasn’t big enough for all the enrichment educators wanted to provide at Harleson Elementary School.Until this summer, Brower, an encouraging, quick to smile music teacher, was demonstrating rhythm, pitch and beat in a tightly packed portable. Along with cafeteria stages, such cramped quarters were once typical for music programs around Amphitheater Public Schools. But thanks to a bond package that district voters approved in 2007, there’s now a place for everything and everything in its place.“It seems to have made things like five times easier,” Brower said. “Everything has a place.”The music room at Harelson is just one of dozens of completed projects paid for with the proceeds of the bond sales. Building projects are now winding down but the district still has plenty of developments ready to come off the drawing board, culminating in an all-new elementary school in Oro Valley expected to open in two years (see accompanying story).So far, Amphi has encumbered about $110 million, and will finish all of its planned renovations and build-outs having spent between about $130 million and $135 million, said Chris Louth, district bond projects manager.Voters approved the sale of up to $180 million in bonds for capital improvements, but the district shrunk the grand total after scrapping a proposed middle school when the housing bust slowed projected enrollment growth. Contractors keen to make the most attractive bids during the worst of the recession also allowed Amphi to realize some savings in labor and commodities, Louth said.

  • Oro Valley Police Reports

    Oro Valley Police DepartmentOn Saturday, Sept. 13, at 12:21 p.m., Oro Valley police responded to a house on the 9000 block of N. Calle Loma Linda after receiving a call about a violation of a court order. The woman told police that her son had come to her house and damaged her garage door. The son and his wife had recently moved out, but left some of their belongings at the house. The woman left the items outside and told the two to come pick up their items. After month, the rain ruined the items because they were left outside. The son and his mother got into a verbal argument, left and hit her garage door with a shovel. She said it would cost about $500 to repair the door.  On Monday, Sept. 8, at about 7:50 a.m., an Oro Valley police officer working as student resource officer at Canyon Del Oro High School responded to a fight that had recently occurred between two female students. A verbal argument took place between two students after one student was accused of writing on the other student’s cellphone case. The two exchanged words and separated, and then a short while later one student returned, threw her backpack on the ground and struck the other student in the head. The two exchanged strikes, hair pulling and kicking in front of about 10 to 20 students until a teacher broke up the fight. One student was arrested for disorderly conduct and the other was arrested for assault. Both were released to their respective parents and suspended for three days. On Sunday, Sept. 7, at about 3:39 p.m., Oro Valley police responded to a report of shoplifting at the Kohl’s at 7785 N. Oracle Road. The shoplifting was taking place when police arrived. On security cameras, police watched as the man made his way around the store concealing items on his person and in his backpack. After detaining and questioning the man, police found $290.98 worth of stolen merchandise on him. He had also broken a watch by trying to remove the security tag. He was arrested for shoplifting and criminal damage and transported to the Pima County Jail.

  • 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.”

  • Resource fair at Picture Rocks

    Hundreds of neighbors visited Picture Rocks Community Center on Sept. 20 for a Community Resource Fair.  Over 30 displays brought information on local resources and issues along with flu shots, popcorn and sno-cones and useful take-aways.  Scouts, 4H Clubs, United Way’s Elder Alliance, Sheriff’s Auxiliary, Abbett Library, Marana Health Center and Food Bank, Citizens for Picture Rocks, Neighbors Helping Neighbors and others spoke to community needs.  Arts and crafts were represented, along with recreation opportunities in Saguaro National Park and Arizona State Parks.  The Avra Valley Coalition opposed an I-11 Canamex Highway through the valley, while state legislature candidates Jo Holt and Holly Lyon introduced themselves to potential voters.  Trico Electric and Avra Water Co-ops were available for customer queries, and the Picture Rocks Fire Department provided red helmets to young potential firefighters.  Picture Rocks Community Center Coordinator Adam Bernal put it all together with help from community organizations and Teen Club volunteers.  At the end of the morning participants said they felt a stronger sense of community, and there were a lot of “thank yous” all around.

  • Flood Control one of Pima County’s greatest success stories

    After devastating floods in Arizona in 1976, 1977 and 1978, the Arizona State Legislature established county flood control districts as special taxing districts to provide floodplain management and flood control improvements. In Pima County, the Board of Supervisors created the Pima County Flood Control District in 1978 with the board serving as the district’s decision-making body.The district has been an overwhelming success. Last month, a tropical storm funneled thick gulf moisture into Arizona and up to four inches of rain fell across parts of the metropolitan area. Streets flooded, washes raged and streams ran bank-to-bank.Two unfortunate souls lost their lives trying to cross flooded streams in their cars and another six motorists had to be rescued for trying to do likewise. But the heavy rain, which in decades past would have caused devastating flooding, caused little property damage. That wasn’t luck. It was by design.

  • Golder Ranch Fire opens new facility

    Last week, the Golder Ranch Fire District hosted a special ceremony to celebrate the new fire facility in a partnership between Robson Communities and Golder Ranch Fire District. This collaborative effort is what made the station the community possible.

  • Gardening With Soule: Fall and Winter — Vegetables and herbs

    If you are new to the area, you may not know a wide variety of herbs and vegetables grow well here in the winter months ahead.  The only secret to growing a great winter garden is to plant the right kinds at the right time.  And the time is now!Vegetable gardening does not need to take a great deal of space or time — unless you want it to.  Vegetables can easily be grown in large pots on the patio.  An advantage to large pots is that you can grow your vegetables in nice rich potting soil, and never have to dig a garden.  Pots also lift the vegetables out of reach of most vegetarian critters that may squeeze under the gate.If you want to turn over the earth rather than use potting soil, great!  Go for it.  Start small, you can always add more garden next season.  You will be surprised the amount of fun you can have with a strip only two feet wide and ten feet long.  Wherever you grow, try to find a spot with six or more hours of full winter sun.  What to plant?  For the shorter cooler days ahead, it is best to plant green vegetables.  Plants with fruits, like tomatoes and peppers, usually do not survive the winter cold, and will not set fruit in the winter months.  Thus the fall and winter garden in Tucson has mostly leaf, stem, and root produce.  The notable exception is peas.Garden peas come in a vast array of types, but they all want something to climb on.  The fence between your townhouse and the next is one option for small spaces.  A length of chicken wire hooked on the wall or a chain link fence work equally well.  Edible pod peas are the most fun to have in the garden, because you can munch them straight off the vine.  Start now for longest availability of snacks.   Root crops will do best with a soil that is a little more sandy than most normal garden soil.  I have a patch of the garden with extra sand for carrots especially.  Even with this aid, the short varieties, called “half-long” or “thumbelina” do best in Tucson.   Along with carrots consider radish, beets and parsnips.  These last two take longer to reach a decent size.  All of these root crops are good candidates for growing in a giant pot on the patio.  Interplant with annual flowers like pansies for color if you wish.   

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