Tucson Local Media: Home of The Explorer, Marana News, Foothills News, Desert Times, and Inside Tucson Business

  • Manzanita Elementary opening new pathways at Community Kindness event

    On Saturday, Feb. 13, Manzanita Elementary School is hosting Manzanita Community Kindness Day from 12:30 until 3:00 p.m., kicking off with a grand opening of Manzanita’s new Safe Routes to School pathways.“The Manzanita Community Kindness Day exemplifies two important values of our school: kindness and community,” says Kimberly Boling, Manzanita Elementary School principal. “The new pathways will allow for safe passage to and from school for our students and families, and serve as a reminder of what can be accomplished when members of a community work together toward a common goal.”The ribbon cutting will take place at 12:30 p.m. in the northeast corner of the parking lot behind Firebirds. As part of the ribbon cutting Manzanita will be honoring Ann Wilson, a longtime neighbor and community member. Her late husband, Ted, was instrumental in working with the community and Pima County to turn this project into a reality.All community members are welcome to attend. Families are encouraged to park behind Firebirds at La Encantada, and then walk or ride bikes on the pathway to Manzanita.Once at the school, families may participate in a number of kindness activities: planting flowers in the school garden, making family kindness bells for their homes, and creating Valentine’s Day cards for community helpers like firefighters and police officers. In addition to "being kind to their bodies" by walking or biking on the new pathways, families will have an opportunity to participate in "be kind to your body" fitness stations at the school.

  • Dinosaurs on the prowl in Tucson

    The gem and mineral show has become one of the staple events in the Tucson region. Multiple times a year, vendors, collectors and tens of thousands of visitors flock to Tucson to peruse through thousands of rock samples, gems, stones, fossils and other interesting specimens. For those interested in paleontological displays, the 22nd Street location is hosting an impressive collection of various dinosaurs, courtesy of Triebold Paleontology.Whether a vicious looking Pliosaur or a menacing Albertosaurus, dino-fans will find something to sate their curiosity. Mike Triebold, founder and president of Triebold Paleontology, said he began his paleontological work more as a hobby, though it quickly turned into a    passion and career.Triebold will be displaying one of his most recent finds, a new species, at the pavilion this year. The specimen is a Ceratopsian discovered in the Upper Judith River region in Montana. Nicknamed “Äva,” the dinosaur roamed the Earth about 75 million years ago.Ava is similar to the Triceratops, though the horns are much closer together than its more well-known relative. Most of the dinosaurs Triebold displays originated from the late cretaceous period, around 100 million years ago. While the displays are complete skeletal structures, they are not found in such pristine condition and take a lot of work to reach a presentable state. More often than not, the fossils are found crushed and partially destroyed. Triebold paleontologists work with crews at the company’s base in Colorado to process, reassemble and mold the remains, and then produce the molds for events like the gem and mineral show. Triebold also sells specimens privately.

  • Pro Flight Gear — a unique service at Marana airport

    Robert Munoz spent 21 years in the U.S. Air Force, retiring with the rank of master sergeant, capping his military career in aviation maintenance and flight operations. He knows how important safety and survival are when it comes to aircraft, so three years ago he and a partner in Cunningham, Tenn., started Pro Flight Gear, LLC, dedicated to aviation life support equipment. Their first facility here was in a Tucson warehouse park, but as the business grew, the desire to be located at an airport increased. With an airport location, equipment could be quickly repaired and returned to the pilots and aircrew members — so Munoz chose Marana Regional Airport.The company is a unique business, providing sales and service on flight helmets used by pilots and crew of rotary and fixed-wing aircraft. They customize, refurbish and upgrade the helmets by improving head padding and retention strap systems, installing new visors, providing anti-laser lenses and mounts for night vision equipment, and redesigning audio receivers — eliminating the old-fashioned ear muff type of headphones, and replacing them with in-the-ear, custom molded ear pieces. Pro Flight Gear has designed and developed this new system, which can dramatically reduce human fatigue and increase situational awareness by providing protection and enhanced speech recognition.In addition, their technicians use testing equipment, also designed entirely by the company, that can test all aspects of the helmet electronics, including the ear pieces and the cables that connect to the aircraft’s radio system.Robert, the CEO of the company, noted there are only helmet standards set for the military — nothing defining the commercial or civilian standards for this equipment. Pro Flight Gear maintains their goal to be identical to the comprehensive rules set by the military for proper functioning equipment. They encourage routine inspection and maintenance schedules.The company has an international clientele not only in the military and government spheres, but also airborne law enforcement and air medical rescue services. As safety becomes a bigger issue in the field of general aviation (small planes and other recreational aircraft), more interest is being focused on the use of helmets and more efficient audio equipment for pilots, crew and passengers.

Local News

  • States now have more time to get ‘REAL’

    For years, Arizona hasn’t complied with the REAL ID Act of 2005, which was passed by the federal government to standardize state IDs across the country following the 9/11 attacks. People eventually will need a REAL ID to travel by commercial airplane or enter a federal building.On Jan. 8, the Department of Homeland Security announced a new deadline for states to comply with the driver licensing security standards mandated in the REAL ID Act. Effective Jan. 22, 2018, air travelers with state driver licenses that are identified as non-compliant by DHS will need an alternative form of personal identification — usually a passport — to board a commercial domestic flight.  Arizona residents will get even longer to comply. Though Arizona does not yet have REAL IDs, our state was granted an extension, meaning an Arizona driver license can serve as a valid form of identification to board a commercial aircraft until Oct. 1, 2020. Arizona also was granted an extension to allow residents access to federal facilities through Oct. 16, 2016, but after that date another form of ID may be necessary. DHS notes that once Arizona has a REAL ID available, Arizona non-compliant credentials (like your current Arizona driver license or state ID) still will be accepted for entering federal buildings and airports until Oct. 1, 2020.Last spring, Gov. Doug Ducey signed a bill that included REAL ID legislation, thus starting the process of having Arizona move in line with federal regulations. The regulations include how the cards are put together and the addition of an encrypted gold star that will identify it as a REAL ID license. While a driver license is the most common identification used for traveling by air, other documentation accepted by TSA includes a U.S. passport or passport card, U.S. military ID, (active duty or retired military and their dependents and DoD civilians), trusted traveler cards (e.g. Global Entry, NEXUS, SENTRI) and Canadian provincial driver’s license or Indian and Northern Affairs Canada card.  

  • Marana Chamber endorses education proposition

    The Marana Chamber of Commerce has come out in favor of Proposition 123, the Educational Finance Amendment. Chamber President and CEO Ed Stollmaker, on behalf of the chamber board of directors, sent out a statement for their support of the proposition.“The Marana Chamber of Commerce supports a quality education system,” the chamber said in a statement.  “It is critical for a robust and vibrant business environment and key to a strong economy in Arizona. The foundation for a quality education system is the K-12 system.”Last month, the Marana Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors voted to support Proposition 123, which provides additional funding for education, without raising taxes. Proposition 123 would allocate $3.5 billion for education funding, with about $1.4 billion would come from general fund money and $2 billion would come from increasing annual distributions of the state trust land permanent funds to education. The plan would raise the distributions from 2.5 percent of the average value of the funds to 6.9 percent for the next 10 fiscal years.“A strong education system is critical for small and large businesses in our organization,” said the chamber statement. 

  • Pig sanctuary fighting the ‘mini pig craze’

    About eight miles east of I-10, just inside Pinal County, sits the Ironwood Pig Sanctuary, a non-profit pot bellied pig sanctuary. Over 500 pigs reside on just over 120 acres, and while they can be very cute, founder Mary Schanz is quick to point out that this is no feel good story.  Much like in the mid-’90s a recent “mini pig craze” is seeing people adopting pot bellied pigs without doing any research or homework in just what kind of commitment they are getting into. “The demand is outpacing us because the mini pig craze in this country,” said Schanz. “I just want to say that it’s a fraud and even the pigs that are small are not healthy and people are breeding these pigs to make a buck.”She likened the breeding of pigs to puppy mills. While pot bellied pigs are small and cute when they are babies, they can grow to be upwards of 100 pounds. Those that remain small are often so inbred they are ill or breeders misinform customers about their dietary needs and the pigs are underfed and malnourished. The sanctuary has taken in a number of underfed pigs and the path to getting them back to health is not an easy one. Schanz has long been an animal rights activist, and she and her husband Ben Watkins learned of a pig sanctuary in Picture Rocks in the late 1990s and began volunteering there. They became enamored with the pigs, and in 2000 they bought land and in 2001 Ironwood opened. Today, they also run the facility in Picture Rocks as well as a satellite facility in Maricopa Country. 


  • Hollywood A-Listers can’t save nostalgic production

    Four-time Academy Award-winning screenwriters Ethan and Joel Coen share director and script-writing duties in this new release about a day in the life of a Hollywood studio executive (Josh Brolin). As an influential mover and shaker in the entertainment industry, Eddie Mannix (Brolin) must delicately solve random movie star and on-set problems in order to keep Capital Pictures’ filmmaking machine churning out box office hits. Nominated for 13 Oscars for their collaborative efforts on blockbuster films, the Coen brothers (“Bridge of Spies”) are easily two of the most distinguished and renowned screenplay writers in Hollywood history.  Unfortunately, as evidenced in this latest endeavor, the duo’s champion wordsmithing talents don’t automatically transform into successful directing skillsets. “Hail, Caesar!” takes viewers back to the Golden Age of Hollywood, the 30-year run in classic films beginning in the 1930s that offered audiences an iconic staple of Westerns, Gene Kelly dance musicals and historic Biblical dramas like “Ben-Hur.” The premise is that one of show business’ top actors, Baird Whitlock (played by George Clooney), goes missing from a movie set production. That disappearance becomes Brolin’s studio exec character’s most pressing problem to solve. Despite this interesting plotline, the film runs aground when it drifts off-course into several smaller, unrelated subplots.  The film’s most glaring flaw is its constant fallback position of teeing up short and wacky scenes without a common storyline thread, relinquishing Clooney’s missing artist angle to nearly an afterthought. Several funny lines and moments are written into the movie by the Coen brothers, but very few of them actually further the main Clooney MIA plot. In fact, “Hail, Caesar!” feels like one “Saturday Night Live” skit after another, rather than a major motion picture.  A star-studded cast surrounds the Brolin and Clooney characters, led by the superb Ralph Fiennes, funnyman Jonah Hill, an underrated Channing Tatum and the always sexy Scarlett Johansson. These A-Listers — each giving intriguing and watchable performances — can’t keep “Hail, Caesar!” from derailing on its stroll down Hollywood’s Memory Lane. Between the dilemma of a pregnant actress, a legendary cowboy’s crossover to a dramatic role and a polished dance routine, “Hail, Caesar!” provides entertainment. But on a whole, this Coen production screams “Hail, Rental!” at best.

  • Seth Rogen, Zach Galifianakis and Bill Hader team up for scifi comedy

    It’s been hard not to notice how many movies have recently taken advantage of humanity’s fascination with space and the endless science fiction possibilities offered by the great black expanse of the universe. Whether trapped on Mars, or fighting interstellar wars against the dark side, cinema goers have turned out in full force to explore space on the big screen.As is Hollywood tradition, it was only a matter of time before a comedy project was announced taking advantage of all the scifi hype. Such a film is in the works, titled “The Something,” and is set to have an impressive cast of comedic A-listers.The film will be the directorial debut of writer Rodney Rothman. Rothman’s previous work includes “22 Jump Street” and more notably, several years as both staff and head writer for “The Late Show with David Letterman.”On the other side of the camera will be comedy veterans Seth Rogen, Zach Galifianakis and Bill Hader. All three men have a slew of acting and voice work credentials, mainly in comedies, and are primed to a deliver rib-aching performance.Actor, writer and producer, Rogen is most recognizable from his roles in “Pineapple Express,” “Superbad,” “Knocked up” and “The Interview.” While fans most often recognize him as an actor, Rogen also penned most of the films he has been in over the years and has worked behind the camera before.Another actor which movie goers will quickly recognize is Galifianakis, who is possibly most well-known for his role in the “Hangover” trilogy, though he more recently impressed with his varied acting ability in last year’s award-winning “Birdman.”

  • ‘Tres Artistas’ exhibit opens Feb. 18

    Jane Hamilton Fine Art will present “Tres Artistas” from Feb. 18-29. “Tres Artistas” features the artwork of three Hispanic gallery artists whose work and style of painting is uniquely their own. Friends Of Western Art’s 2016 Artist Of The Year Santos Barbosa is a self taught painter who’s work captures the historic flavor and drama of the old west. Zulia Gotay de Anderson uses her oils to create a romantic mood for her women on canvas, and Juan Carlos Breceda from Mexico City uses tempera and mixed media for a whimsical look at life.Jane Hamilton Fine Art is open daily. Art Walk is every Thursday from 5-7p.m. and they are open for extended hours on Friday & Saturday.The gallery is located at the southwest corner of Skyline and Campbell in Plaza Colonial next to the “copper dome.”


  • Area athletes sign LOI’s

    The first Wednesday of February is one of National Signing Days for college athletes and the first time football players can sign. A number of Northwest high school athletes signed last week.Marana had three football players sign, which is a significant step in the evolution of the program under Andy Litton. Even more important is this is the first class to play their entire careers under Litten. “This is kind of a culmination of a lot of hard work,” said Litten. Garrett Turnbull will play at Adams State in Colorado. The 6-4, 225 pounder has played tight end, offensive line and defensive end at Marana, but will focus on the defensive side of the ball in college. Last season, Turnbull had 36 tackles, eight for loss, with two sacks.Turnbull will play for former NFL quarterback Timm Rosenbach and the former Arizona Cardinal had good things to say about Turnbull.“This is a strong young man that will continue to grow and be a force for a long time,” said Rosenbach.

  • Showtime brings boxing to Tucson

    “ShoBox: The New Generation” kicked off its 15th consecutive year of bringing together the world’s greatest boxing prospects by bringing nonstop action to the Tucson region. The series held a three fight broadcast card, with four fights leading to the televised matches. During the main event, undefeated St. Paul, Minn. native Robert Brant (19-0-1, 12 KO) scored a stunning flash knockout victory over relentless competitor, Decarlo Perez (15-4-1, 5 KO) in the fourth round of their 10-round fight. “I was shocked to see him go down like that,” said Brant. “Even when you hit someone really well, you don’t expect them to go out like that. I was watching him and thinking, ‘I don’t think he’s going to get up.’”Brant defeated his opponent with a pristine straight right, sending Perez between the ropes and onto the canvas. He had dropped Perez in the previous round, though he quickly regained his feet. Once Perez went down in the fourth, referee Rocky Burke immediately put a stop to the fight.With another notch on his belt, Brant said he is already looking forward to advancing his career.“My purpose is to become a champion,” he said, “so now I’m on to the next goal.”

  • Falcons QB commits to Arizona

    Catalina Foothills quarterback Rhett Rodriguez committed to the first school that offered a scholarship. It was also the school he was most familiar with. The junior signal caller committed to the home town University of Arizona, the program coached by his father Rich. Rodriguez was offered a scholarship by the school and committed shortly thereafter. One of the big reasons that he chose to accept the spot was that he could now begin trying to lure other recruits to the program. Currently Arizona has two players committed in the class, Rodriguez and 4-star quarterback Braxton Burmeister. The common misconception is that Rodriguez only received the scholarship because he is the son of the Head Coach, while that is certainly part of it, the younger Rodriguez already has a firm grasp of the Arizona offense, it is not all of it. Unlike many players, Rodriguez has not gone through all the recruiting camps and combines. He has camped with Arizona, but Jeff Scurran, his coach at Catalina Foothills, is wary of his players going to individual camps and picking up “bad habits.”A lot of schools create their initial recruiting lists based upon performances and evaluations at camps and combines. This is especially true for players from Tucson, who do not always get a lot of attention. Most players receive their first scholarship offers beginning the spring of their senior years. Although a handful of players get offers prior to the February signing day, most of those are either elite prospects who have already made a name for themselves or players at schools with older players who are being recruited. Rodriguez did not fit either category. It is likely that had he not accepted the early offer from the Wildcats, that Rodriguez would start getting offers as the school year concluded. Scurran scoffs at the notion that Rodriguez is only the product of nepotism. Scurran has been coaching in Tucson high schools and college for decades and Rodriguez will be his first 4-year starter. Rodriguez did not win the starting job because of his last name. He was competing for the spot over the summer and got his opportunity because of injury. Scurran stresses he wasn’t “given” the reigns because of his pedigree. 


Online poll

The Marana capital improvements improvements are expected to take years to complete as Marana finds the best plan of action to complete the projects and fund the improvements. Do you think this is a good idea?

The town of Marana is looking at ways to do capital improvements to the oldest neighborhoods in Marana. Over the next few months the town will survey older neighborhoods and see what amenities they need and form a plan to make sure neighborhoods have paved roads, sidewalks, adequate drainage, lighting and even pocket parks. “We want to make sure that every neighborhood has a base standard for infrastructure,” said Marana Town Manager Gilbert Davidson. The improvements are expected to take years to complete as Marana finds the best plan of action to complete the projects and fund the improvements. Do you think this is a good idea?

Total Votes: 21


How do you feel about a potential memorial art project to honor our community’s bravest men and women?

During the Jan. 20 town council meeting, a vote was unanimously passed to look into the feasibility of a “Memorial Public Art Project,” at the request of Oro Valley resident Dick Eggerding to potentially be placed somewhere in the town to honor military veterans and first responders. Though no concrete plans were then ready to act on, there was a show of overwhelming support for such project from residents and staff alike during the council meeting. In an effort to poll to community at-large, The Explorer would like to know how you feel about a potential memorial art project to honor our community’s bravest men and women.

Total Votes: 39


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