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

  • Marana Council approve controversial development

    Despite vocal opposition, the Marana Town Council approved the rezoning of a 103.2 acre portion the Lazy K Bar Ranch property opening the way for a 178 unit housing development.The council approved the plan 4-2, with some caveats, including added protection of the open space to ensure that no further development is done on the property. Council members Carol McGorray and Patti Comerford voted against the plan. Council member Herb Kai was not present.The lengthy meeting included 49 speakers, with 40 speaking in opposition to the plan. Of the nine who spoke in favor of the plan, just one identified themselves as a Marana resident, while several others were either Marana area business owners or owned property within the town.The biggest complaint about the proposal was its proximity to Saguaro National Park and Sanctuary Cove. That area is a major wildlife corridor and the fear is the housing will disrupt animal migration.Linda Morales of the Planning Center, who represents the landowners, said the move to smaller lots was made to provide more open space. She said larger, spread out lots, would actually make things more confusing for animals travelling through the area.Lot size was another concern. Currently all of the adjacent properties sit on big lots, with many having three acres of property. The new design would average 1.29 homes per acre, but would actually have smaller lots because the design calls for the homes to be close together to preserve large uninterrupted open spaces.

  • Sunshine Schools saying goodbye to founder after three decades of love

    When Cross Middle School eighth-grader, Dakota Broughton, and his mother, Sherri, walked on to the campus of the Sunshine School earlier this month, it was the first time the young man had returned in the better part of a decade.  A former student at the preschool, Dakota said a curious thought struck him when he walked out onto the back patio.Wasn’t the tire on which he used to climb a lot bigger?“I used to think it was big, but when I was smaller it looked big to me,” he said. “Now, it’s just tiny.”The observation drew a bit of laughter from his mother, though Dakota was not the only person taking a walk down memory lane when dozens of Sunshine families and former students came together on May 4 to celebrate the retirement of the school’s founder, Sue Trinacty. Founded in 1984 after family friends, local doctors and property owners John Haymore and Eric Hartvigsen wanted to develop the plaza surrounding their practice, Sunshine School began as the desire of Trinacty—a self-proclaimed born educator—to create a positive learning environment for the community’s youngest learners. Far removed from the days of a dozen students and three educators, Sunshine School now staffs 15 and handles a student body of nearly 60. Though her one-room schoolhouse may have grown over the years, Trinacty said the mission has remained the same, to prepare preschoolers for the rest of their lives by instilling a sense of self-confidence, decision- making ability and social skills in each child.

  • Summer Safari Nights returning to Reid Park Zoo

    Cool summer evenings in Tucson will soon receive an infusion of roars, growls, squawks and a medley of other animal sounds at the Reid Park Zoo, which kicks off its annual Summer Safari Nights this Friday. A weekly shindig, the animal attractions at the zoo will be joined by live musical performances, special dining menus and discounts at the gift shop.Every Friday will feature a different theme, and the zoo has chosen its two resident bear populations, the Andean and grizzlies, as its representatives of the safari’s first night: The Bear Necessities.The zoo’s two grizzlies, Ronan and Finley, were rescued from Yellowstone National Park four years ago, when the siblings were roughly 18 months old. As cubs the two bears were taught several problem-causing and dangerous behaviors by their mother, and the decision was made to relocate the duo.Ronan and Finley (now well-trained) live in Grizzly Crossing at the zoo, which was originally built to house the polar bear population. With some modifications, however, the furred siblings have found a new home and a new life.“These aren’t your average bears, but they do like picnic baskets,” joked zookeeper Chelsea Barber.The zoo’s Andean bears, Worf and Lucy, have been a part of the Reid Park family since 1996, and have long entertained Tucsonans and visitors alike with their penchant for climbing trees. Also known as “spectacled bears” for the white ring of fur around their eyes, Worf and Lucy have had two cubs of their own over the years, which have been sent to other zoos to help propagate the vulnerable species. 

Local News

  • Notes before council finalizes next year's budget

    The Oro Valley town council is one step closer to finalizing its budget for the coming fiscal year, which will begin in July. While the seven-member body discusses last minute alterations to the recently approved tentative budget, here are a few things to keep in mind from the May 19 council meeting:1. For now, higher than the current fiscal year: The 2017-18 budget was first brought before the council in the form of the town manager’s recommended budget during the April 19 session, at which time the spending plan was set at $123.2 million, down from the current year’s $125.8 adopted budget. The tentative budget adopted by council on May 19 is set at $128.4 million.2. The change is primarily due to the Naranja Park plan: During the May 3 session a unanimous seal of approval was given by council to place a $17 million bond question on the November ballot for improvements at Naranja Park. Of the difference between the recommended and tentative budgets, $5 million is attributed to added capacity for the possible issuance and expenditure of general obligation bonds should special bond election pass public vote. If the measure is not approved the town would not use the additional budget capacity. The rest of the increase is linked to the energy efficiency project currently underway at the community center, which was increased $249,000 after the project’s contractor – Trane – updated its estimates.3. Change is expected: Alterations between stages in the budget process are why the approval of each stage is set apart several weeks. The council sits through several budget study sessions in April and May to listen to overviews from department heads, ask questions and request alterations in the budget. Though the local expenditure limit is now set at $128 million for the coming fiscal year, the council does have the authority to make changes to the budget prior to final adoption, though the total amount must stay under the expenditure limit.4. Still includes repayment from Community Center to General Fund: When the previous town council voted to acquire the community center and associated amenities in 2015, $1.2 million was withdrawn from the General Fund contingency reserve to front the first few months of operations and improvements, under the assumption of repaying $120,000 every year to the general fund. Last summer town council voted to delay its first repayment of that cash infusion, though the current tentative budget does list the payment in the community center fund, which has yet to be made.5. The entire document is available online: Much like the information given to council during its meetings and recordings of those meetings, the town manager’s recommended budget and other finance information is available via the town’s website, or by clicking here.

  • Marana tentative budget approved

    The Marana Town Council approved the tentative budget for the fiscal year 2018 during on May 16.The Town Council will still need to take one more vote to formally approve the budget, but barring any last second changes, the budget for the fiscal year that begins July 1 is set.“We just have to do the final budget,” said Marana Town Manager Gilbert Davidson. “There is not going to be any major modifications to what we laid out there.”Town Finance Manager Erik Montague said the budget plan fits the town’s goal of of maintaining fiscal responsibility while investing in the community.“Strategic initiatives are balanced against existing priorities, resulting in a robust, yet efficient, financial plan for the coming year,” wrote Montague in a letter accompanying a draft of the proposed budget to the Marana Town Council."In developing this plan, town staff were guided by the priority initiatives identified by the Council and the community in the recently adopted Strategic Plan III.”As Marana continues to grow, so do revenues. The general fund revenues are expected to increase by approximately 5.7 percent to $43.6 million, according to Montague. Ninety percent of the general fund revenues come from sales taxes, intergovernmental revenues and development-related revenues. Montague noted that revenues can fluctuate, but all town projections show more dollars will be available in the year ahead because of new development.

  • Mountain Vista and Golder Ranch Fire Districts exploring consolidation

    The Golder Ranch and Mountain Vista Fire Districts have begun the process of working through a consolidation after both fire district boards met and unanimously voted to explore the process.“Our organizations have been working collaboratively for over a year in the areas of fleet services, technical support, training and fire prevention,” said Mountain Vista Fire Chief Cheryl Horvath. “Additionally, the districts are now responding under an automatic aid agreement which allows the closest most appropriate resources to respond to an emergency call, regardless of jurisdictional boundaries.”Golder Ranch Fire Chief Randy Karrer said both departments “are committed to providing information to our communities and allowing an informed dialogue to take place.”“We are hopeful that as we move through this dynamic and time-sensitive process, we will be successful in reaching each important commitment outlined in statute,” said Karrer.The public is encouraged to attend public meetings in order to learn more about this process. The following meetings are open to the public:• Thursday, June 8, at 6 p.m.; Mountain Vista Fire District administrative office, 1175 W. Magee Road.

Entertainment

  • "Alien: Covenant" strikes fear back into audiences

    With the unexpected but widely applauded 2015 sci-fi  thriller “Ex Machina,” film-goers saw how intriguing and tricky the evolution of artificial intelligence (AI) can be for humanity. These synthetic lifeforms, built to accomplish tasks faster and more efficiently than us, quickly turned the lab tables on their human creators in an epic battle for survival. Computers and android’s have always malfunctioned in movies to create pandemonium for space crews—but rarely with such malice as we find in this latest prequel to Ridley Scott’s 1979 “Alien.”In director Scott’s third “Alien” installment, “Covenant” marks the sequel to “Prometheus” (2012), taking place a decade after that spaceship’s demise. We find Covenant and her small crew carrying 2,000 sleeping pods filled with colonists and 1,000 frozen embryos to a far-away planet named Origae-6.Along for the ride is Walter, an artificial intelligence crew member who helms The Covenant for the crew while they remain in deep sleep and until danger looms.Give Ridley Scott credit for infusing desperately needed thrills and chills back into the “Alien” legacy. The boring mythology time stamp from “Prometheus” is nowhere to be found in this faster-paced and shocking death match. Within the Within the film's first  30 minutes, the Covenant colony mission is thoroughly explained to viewers and the space crew is left fighting for their lives on a planet’s surface.“Alien: Covenant” presents terrific tie-ins to “Prometheus” and her crew, especially archaeologist Elizabeth Shaw and her AI crew member David, earning this chapter serious style points. The is movie, however, smartly moves away from the doldrums of God-like creators of man-kind and instead focuses on the creation of robotic life by man.At the core of this philosophical question resides trust issues between the synthetic lifeforms and humans.

  • Cobtail Hour

    I take my food seriously, so it should come as no surprise that preparations for National Elote Day have begun in earnest at the Russell residence.Yes, elote. Those exquisite ears of sweet corn that are grilled to a light char over an open flame, brushed with butter, sprinkled with spices and crumbled cheese, squirted with lime juice and served up hot, wet and wonderful.There’s just something about fire-roasted corn that gets me all aquiver, and on June 11, the day set aside for elote enthusiasts to celebrate our shared passion, I’ll be making my rounds all over town to experience some of Tucson’s best.Elote in its traditional form (on the cob ) or the version known as esquites (when the charred kernels are shaved from the cob and served separately) is what you’ll see at most restaurants that feature it on their menus. But some local creatives on the culinary and cocktail scene are doing fascinating variations on this theme.Local mixologist Eric Harding has loved roasted street corn for as long as he can remember and often thought about bringing the avors of the elote into a cra cocktail.“It just doesn’t get any better than when the flavors in elote all come together,” Harding said, bar manager at Elvira’s Restaurant, 256 E. Congress St. “So I wanted to come up with a cocktail that evoked all of those tastes and traditions and ended up with the street corn-inspired Elote de la Calle."

  • “The Wall” hits the mark as psychological thriller

    Few modern war films give a voice to the enemy. Speaking parts are usually reserved for the battlefield’s victor, with only short glimpses of the losing opponent scrambling through a thick jungle or getting shot down in the sky from behind. In this latest movie from “Jason Bourne” series director Doug Liman, we find ourselves watching a deadly game of cat and mouse take place between a pair of overmatched U.S. soldiers and a single Iraqi sharpshooter in a post-Saddam Hussein timeline.Given the mission to find out who is repeatedly taking out an American contractor supply route, last year’s Golden Globe winner Aaron Taylor-Johnson (“Nocturnal Animals”) teams up with professional wrestler John Cena to scope out the source of the convoy trouble. As spotter and sniper, both make costly mistakes that jeopardize their position and lives.“The Wall” refers to the dilapidated and war-torn rock remains of an Iraqi school that serves as a source of cover from an enemy well-hidden and versed in American military tactics. Despite a couple of camouflaged political statements, “The Wall” asserts itself as psychological thriller with several suspenseful moments. Highlighting the film’s success is the established communications between opposing sides of this duel. The isolation of counter-sniper operations and both stars morphing, from being the hunter to the hunted, jumps out at shocked viewers.With less than a handful of characters in the entire 81-minute movie, this quagmire instills a deep sense of survival on the battlefield. Most interesting is the notion that misery loves company. Having a battle-buddy elevates one’s spirits and helps push them through intense adversity. Suffering alone, though, has the opposite coping effect upon a soldier’s mindset.

Sports

  • Northwest Track and Field All-Stars

    The Northwest High School teams had some great performances this year in track and field. There were a number of state champions and both individuals and teams who capped off great seasons at state.One problem in trying to determine all-star teams is that what might be a state title time at Division III might not even crack the Top 5 at a higher level. Conversely, some athletes had their best showing at state, while others were more consistent during the regular season. In the end the best times and distances were used in most cases, though some-one winning a state title automatically got a first-team nod. Those qualifying for state were automatically considered for at least an honorable mention, as well as those with team best times and distances.This week feature includes Boys Track and Field All-Stars. Next week will feature the top girls.Boy's Track and Field All Stars•100 Meter Dash: Edwin Lovett (PRCA)• 200 Meters: Sebastian Spencer (MVHS)

  • Sports update: Alday says goodbye to IRHS, hello to Pima CC

    Veteran coach returns to PCCPima Community College’s gain is Ironwood Ridge’s loss as Rich Alday has accepted the head coaching job for the Aztec baseball program. Alday has agreed to come back to lead the Aztecs, leaving the Nighthawk softball program. Alday started the Pima baseball program and racked up a record of 496-220 in his 16-year career from 1974-1989. He took the Aztecs to the NJCAA National Championship game in 1985 and was named Coach of the Year on three occasions in 1981, 1983 and 1985.He has spent the past four seasons coaching the Ironwood Ridge softball team, winning two state titles and winning 107 games.After his initial sting at Pima, he went on to coach the University of New Mexico for 18 seasons where he became their winningest head coach with 515 wins. He has a total of 1,011 wins in his collegiate career.Alday also coached the Olympic U.S. National team in 1988, where they won the tournament as an exhibition sport. He took them back in 1996 when they won a bronze medal.

  • CDO softball wins title

    The Canyon del Oro softball team has advanced to the state title game 12 times in their history and with a 4-2 win over Sunrise Mountain the Dorados, won their ninth state championship Tuesday, May 9.The Dorados survived a late Mustang rally and a 30-minute lightning delay to win the title at ASU’s Farrington Stadium in Tempe. CDO struck first with a three-spot in the first inning. Hope Banales reached on single, then after the weather delay, Ellessa Bonstrom tripled to score Banales and put the Dorados up 1-0. Ari Acedo singled home Bonstrom, and she eventually scored on a Nene Campos single. The Dorado defense made several big plays to keep the Mustangs off the board, but the offense could not come up with key hits, and the game remained 3-0 until the fifth inning. A.J. Kaiser led off the fifth with a single and was moved over by an Anya Gonzales bunt. Stephanie Cota came in to run for Kaiser and scored CDO’s fourth run on an errant throw by the Sunrise Mountain catcher.

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