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  • Oro Valley candidates speak up on golf and community center

    On Dec. 17, 2014, the Oro Valley town council voted 4-3 in favor of purchasing the former El Conquistador Country Club and associated amenities to create the Oro Valley Community and Recreation Center. Mayor Satish Hiremath, Vice Mayor Lou Water and Councilmembers Mary Snider and Joe Hornat voted in favor, while current incumbent Councilmembers Brendan Burns, Bill Garner and Mike Zinkin—who are all up for reelection—voted in opposition. For $1 million paid over three years, the town acquired the former El Conquistador Country Club and amenities and began operation May 1, 2015. To fund the operation, the council also approved—by the same voting spread—to institute a half-cent sales tax increase without sunset to dedicate to the community and recreation center fund, with projected yearly revenue of $2 million.The purchase of the course and country club led to political turmoil in Oro Valley, with opponents first trying to force referendum on the decision that was tossed out on technical grounds. That was followed by unsuccessful 2015 recall of the four members of council who voted in favor of the deal.Since the town took over the property, the golf courses operations—managed by Troon Golf—have regularly underperformed in terms of revenues generated, and Zinkin, Garner and Burns have remained vocal critics at every opportunity. Each has presented several of what they deem “alternative” proposals for the property—selling courses, rezoning for a possible future sale, installing solar panels, changing management companies—all without gaining traction. While the town can sell and alter some of the courses, part of the purchase contract requires that as part of the consideration for the sale, the town must maintain “the Resort Course and the La Canada Course in its current configuration… plus the pro shop, cart barn, driving range and other golf facilities utilized by the La Canada Course” and used for golf recreation or resort open space purposes.The associated golf courses include The Canada Course, the Conquistador course and the newer, rebranded nine-hole Pusch X-9.

  • Lawsuit filed against Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol

    Opponents of a ballot initiative that seeks to ask voters to legalize recreational marijuana for adults filed a lawsuit on July 11 to keep the measure off the November ballot, citing that the would-be law misleads voters in its petition summaries concerning how many of Arizona’s laws it would affect.The lawsuit mainly takes issue with a number of statutes that would be affected with its passage, stating “the Initiative’s operative provisions embrace far too many subjects than allowed for a single ballot initiative.”If the Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol initiative passes, it would allow people over the age of 21 to use and possess marijuana bought from dispensaries, while maintaining the illegality of use by minors and driving under the influence.According to Barrett Marson, communications director for the campaign, there is no “limit to changing the law for an initiative.”The campaign’s chair, JP Holyoak, said that opponents of the initiative “have demonstrated that they are willing to do and say just about anything to maintain the failed policy of marijuana prohibition. This lawsuit is simply a desperate attempt to deprive Arizona voters of the right to vote on this ballot question.”Two of the major opponents of the initiative are Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery and Yavapai County Attorney Sheila Polk, both of whom have been critical of recreational legalization in the past. 

  • Mountain View principal looks for successful second year

    Todd Garelick goes into his second year as principal of Mountain View having learned a lot from year one. It was not only Garelick’s first year as the school’s principal, but his first experience as a head principal anywhere. He was formerly the school’s athletic director and assistant principal and has held administrative roles previous to moving to Mountain View. His main goal the first year was to find ways to better serve his teachers, giving them an even bigger voice when it comes to how things are done at the school. Prior to last year, he gave department heads a bigger role in crafting the master schedules for the teachers and has tried make the lives of his teachers easier. “I think last year went great in a lot of ways,” Garelick said. “We spent a lot of time and energy in building the community. I want the administration to be servants to the needs of the teachers. In turn the teachers can focus on being successful in the classroom. If we help focus on the teachers’ needs, then in turn the teachers can focus on the students.”Garelick noted that referrals were down 30 percent from the year before and he feels the administration has done a good job changing the culture of the school, although there’s more work to be done. He admited he is still learning. Some of the ideas implemented by the administration to help the staff were not as valuable as they had believed, while teachers often presented ideas that benefitted them more. “Things we thought they needed, they actually didn’t,” Garelick said. “Then they would present us with things they actually needed, that we did not foresee. I believe in having an open door and got great feedback. They would tell me ‘we need more here’ or ‘you need to back off there.’”

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  • High-speed thrills at Tucson’s own Autobahn

    Buckle in and slap on that helmet. Tucson now has its very own indoor, high-speed go-kart racetrack.The go-karts started roaring around downtown’s Autobahn Indoor Speedway earlier this month after much anticipation from gear-heads and motoring enthusiasts throughout the region. The cavernous 63,000-square-foot space features two tracks, each one-eighth of a mile.Tucson’s Autobahn is the national company’s first steps in the Western United States. General manager Joel Lipp said the next-closest location is in Birmingham, Ala., making Tucson the ideal place to begin expanding.“We were looking for a location out west with a good college demographic,” Lipp said. “Our target demographic is the 18 to 40 working professionals. We have the UA, we have Raytheon, we have Davis-Monthan, so we have a lot of those pieces in Tucson that are a good fit in for us. … This was a good place for us to get a hold on the western market, and then branch out from there.”Opening earlier in July, Lipp said the response within the community has been extremely supportive and positive, with more than 600 racers showing up on Saturdays. Autobahn Indoor Speedway has 44 full-sized adult cars which are easy to operate and can achieve speeds up to 50 miles-per-hour with a limited-slip differential and four YELLOWTOP® Optima batteries under the hood. Add in the chain-driven drive train, and the track sounds more like an Indianapolis 500 race than go-karting. 

  • Town Council candidates are running low-budget campaigns, so far

    The six candidates for Oro Valley Town Council are bucking the trend of big money in political campaigns.As they gear up for the Aug. 30 primary, the most any of the candidates have raised is $3,060, according to reports filed at the end of June.The council seats up for grabs this year belong to the three incumbent candidates, councilmembers Brendan Burns, Bill Garner and Mike Zinkin. Hoping to claim a spot on the town’s ruling body are residents Rhonda Pina, Bill Rodman and Steve Solomon. Generally speaking, the challengers were more active than their incumbent counterparts, as incumbents Burns, Garner and Zinkin have all openly stated their opposition to being beholden to what they call “special interests.” Both Burns and Garner filed statements saying they had done no fundraising activity.Pina has raised the most money, pulling in $3,060 in contributions. Major contributors to her campaign include CAID Industries President William Assenmacher ($1,000), Pina’s husband Raul ($600), former Pima County supervisor Dan Eckstrom ($300) and Pima County Administrator Chuck Huckelberry ($200).Behind Pina is Rodman, whose major campaign contributions come in the form of funds he loaned himself, totaling $2,050 over three installments. Rodman’s total fundraising came in at $2,100. 

  • New heads of school at BASIS Oro Valley hope to impress in first year

    In the coming weeks, countless students will be making a return to the halls of their elementary, middle or high school for the first time since leaving behind the books and the study sessions back in May. While the hustle and bustle of the back to school season is felt by everyone from students and families to teachers and staff, Elizabeth Thies and Eileen Finnerty-Rae at BASIS Oro Valley will be looking to make a good first impression on their students as the new heads of school for the 6-12 and K-5 schools, respectively.  Taking over for former head of school Michelle Mason, who moved on within the BASIS family to develop programs at a more regional level, Thies and Finnerty-Rae both expressed an overwhelming sense of excitement at the opportunity to play leading roles in one of the most highly successful programs not only within the state, but the entire country. Most recently, BASIS Oro Valley was named “America’s Most Challenging High School” by The Washington Post, out of nearly 2,300 other institutions. BASIS Oro Valley also placed third in the state and sixth in the country according to the most recent U.S. News & World Report “Best High School” rankings.Though the two women have spent the summer getting settled and planning out their futures in Oro Valley, both are veterans of the BASIS program and proud parents of BASIS students of their own.Prior to taking over at the upper school, Thies was the dean of students, athletic director and a physical education teacher at BASIS Tucson North. She holds a BS in sociology and is currently beginning work on her masters in educational psychology from Northern Arizona University, Before her time as an educator, Thies was a member of the Tucson Police Department as a patrol officer on the city’s south side of town. She also served the country as a signal corps specialist in the United States Army. Despite serving in the world of criminal justice, Thies said she became interested in education after volunteering the classroom of her oldest daughter.


  • Gaslight Music Hall be-bopping through the summer

    Gaslight Music Hall Producer and Artistic Director Robert Shaw said that he and the staff aim to learn something new every day and to constantly improve. That’s not to say anything is going awry at the music hall, but quite the opposite.“It’s going really well,” Shaw said. “I don’t think anyone thought it would go poorly but I think that we were prepared for a rough summer, and the summer has been a lot more gracious than we would have expected her to be.”Now rocking, rolling, singing and performing past its first six months of operation, the music hall has been a runaway success, even with expectations set at Gaslight standards, according to Shaw. While the original offerings were limited to music shows, the hall now hosts its own musical revue, a 90-minute performance akin to the olio found at the end of melodramatic shows at The Gaslight Theater.The first revue to hit the music hall stage is the “Beach Blanket Be-Bop,” a beach-themed, musical comedy that will appeal to any fan of surf hits and beach culture classics.Set in the 1960s, the loose narrative tying together the “Be-Bop” tells the tale of two summertime lovebirds and the beaches hottest couple, Rhonda (Brittany Mazur) and Mickey (Jeremy Vega), who finds themselves at the end of their perfect relationship. Alongside their friends Bonnie (Samantha Cormier) Glen (Brian Paradis) and The Big Kahuna (Jesus Limon), Rhonda and Mickey hope to work through their differences and find the waves of love.Hosted by The Big Kahuna, the “Beach Blanket Band” put on a background performance which creates the musical foundation for the entire show. With Rob Boone on piano, Fred Hayes on drums, Ed Delucia playing guitar, Stewart Oliver playing bass and Brian Hicks on saxophone, the band often steals the show from the all-star cast.

  • Saturday Puzzles 7-23-16

  • Remake of the 1984 original answers the call

    When the teaser trailer for this 2016 makeover of the original “Ghostbusters” debuted earlier this year, I wasn’t impressed with what I saw. After all, what could this new group of all-female ghost-catchers dial-up on their proton packs that hasn’t already been covered by the paranormal tracking legends Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, Harold Ramis and Ernie Hudson? A lot, we find out. Thirty-two years after the comedy box-office hit “Ghostbusters” sparked a catchy Oscar-nominated theme song and the brilliant marketing slogan “Who you gonna call?,” this reboot was placed in the clever hands of director Paul Feig. Immediately tapping into his razor-tongued comedic talents from Feig’s “Bridesmaids” (2011) and “Spy” (2015) films, Melissa McCarthy and Kristen Wiig reunite in this better-than-expected, girl-power ghost story.“Ghostbusters” delivers one of this summer’s funniest films. It works because it doesn’t try too hard to rebrand a proven winner. In fact, this is a stand-alone, female version of the mega-successful “Ghostbusters.” This film smartly keeps a blistering pace—quickly introducing us to the new quartet of heroines (McCarthy, Wiig, Kate McKinnon and Leslie Jones) while stringing together near-continuous wisecracks using short, Saturday Night Live-type scenes. A character-driven comedy, “Ghostbusters” exaggerates each ghost-fighter’s outlandish personality and hang-ups in hilarious fashion. This ensemble cast oozes, slimes and blends charisma with chemistry, without ever throwing shade on the original foursome. In fact, director Feig and these modern “Ghostbusters” offer several big-screen tributes to their predecessors throughout the movie—although not openly acknowledging their existence from either the 1984 film or its sequel in 1989. Adding to the complete comedy madness is the scene-stealing performance by lady-killer Chris Hemsworth. Taking a deserved break from the Marvel Comics’ superhero role of Thor, Hemsworth confidently squeezes out every ounce of humor from his over-the-top receptionist gig. All superpowers, however, are duly reserved for the girl power in “Ghostbusters,” from ghost shredders to enough mobile scientific equipment to make Christopher Lloyd’s eccentric physicist character in 1985’s “Back to the Future” proud.Generating laughs while giving a respectful nod to the original ghost-chasers, this remake of “Ghostbusters” is both enjoyable and fresh. It shines brightest when it focuses on the star-power interpersonal relationships and moves quickly through the ghostly plot setup and action scenes. Overall, a film that was better than I had expected. 


  • OV Aquatic Center hosts state swim championship

    Twelve-year-old Richardson Elementary School student Paige Housman said she loves to watch the Olympic swimmers on television.She imagines how hard the athletes must have to work. She wonders what goes through their mind on the world’s biggest stage (or biggest pool, as it may). And she dreams of one day wearing Olympic gold around her own neck.Housman practices six days a week with her friend and teammate—12-year old BASIS Oro Valley student Sofia Prevatt—and the rest of Oro Valley’s Flying Fish Arizona Swim Team (FAST). Housman put her training to work as a participant in the 2016 Arizona Swimming Long Course Age Group State Championships, held last week from July 14-17 at the Oro Valley Aquatic Center.Housman and Prevatt were just two of more than 700 youth athletes, ages 7 to 14, who came to town from across Arizona to compete in the four-day meet. Aside from local Tucson clubs, teams from the Phoenix region, Flagstaff, Sedona, Lake Havasu and other places were in attendance.FAST Head Senior Coach Matt Brauer said that the Olympic-style meet in Oro

  • Sports Update: Marana Little League has short stay in Western Regionals

    Marana was the host team in the All-Star Junior Softball Western Regional, but did not survive the first day of the competition. Marana lost their first two games in the double elimination tournament.Marana was eliminated by Oregon’s Parkside Little League 8-5.Down 3-2 Parkside scored four runs in the fourth and never looked back. Marana scored two in the bottom half of the inning to get within one but could not reclaim the lead. Parkside sealed the win with two runs in the top of the seventh. Marana lost the first game of the tournament earlier that morning falling to Cedar American of Utah 11-1. Cedar American pounded out 10 hits and took advantage of five Marana errors.The second inning proved to be Marana’s undoing as Cedar American scored six runs. Down 7-0, Marana scored their lone run of the game in the fourth. Emilia Stueck drove in the lone Marana run.The tournament continues this week at Arthur Pack Park, with the championship game being played on Thursday. 

  • State softball tournaments underway, CDO team honored

    Thornydale’s stay in the Arizona State Junior Softball All-Star Tournament was not a long one as they dropped both of their games in the event at Arthur Pack Park.Flagstaff jumped out to a huge 7-0 lead and never looked back in a 13-5 win over Thornydale. The teams both hit the ball well, but Flagstaff took better advantage of their opportunities and Thornydale mistakes. The teams combined for 20 hits and nine errors. Flagstaff opened the game with six runs in the first inning and added another in the second.Thornydale finally scored in the fourth inning and added three more in the fifth, but still trailed 9-4. Leading 10-5 heading into the seventh, Flagstaff added three more runs in the inning to cap the scoring. 

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