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

  • El Conquistador announces western riding adventures

    Local equestrians, riding enthusiasts and nature-lovers, rejoice! The Hilton Tucson El Conquistador Golf and Tennis Resort has opened its stables to begin trail rides, riding lessons, desert adventures and more within the resort’s 500-acre-plus property and the surrounding area.“Our plan is to make this resort uniquely southwest,” said El Conquistador general manager Ghee Alexander. “In this day and age, our guests and travelers really want much more than just a generic resort or hotel experience. They want it to be customized to the surrounding area. That way, they could possibly experience the entirety of the region.”To better tap into the heritage of Tucson and the southwest, Alexander said that the resort looked to both Mexican and Spanish cultural tradition for inspiration and found one aspect which fit perfectly: the use of horses in everyday life. So it only made sense to offer a riding experience to guests.The resort will offer locals and visitors the opportunity to embark on a desert adventure on an eight-acre plot of land within the property, as well as the nearby Linda Vista Trail. The tours will be led Pot A Gold Adventures, a company which Alexander said came highly recommended not only because of the Mather Saddle Horses and Pack Station in Yosemite, California, but also the company’s locations in both Phoenix and Flagstaff.Alexander said guests will be able to choose among themed dates, family hayrides, carriage rides, cowboy breakfasts or an evening group cookouts.The new options come as the resort looks to finish the largest renovation in its 34-year history, according to Alexander.

  • Supervisors postpone vote on Monsanto Foreign Trade Zone

    A controversial project slated for the Marana area has hit a roadblock in its pursuit of a tax break.Monsanto recently purchased 155 acres in the area for a greenhouse facility, but potential tax breaks are on hold for now as critics of the company are pushing the Pima County Board of Supervisors to oppose supporting a proposal that would provide a property-tax reduction.Last week, after nearly 60 people spoke out against the project during a meeting, the board unanimously decided to postpone a vote on a proposed federal Foreign Trade Zone expansion that would include Monsanto’s project.Three people, including Tucson Metro Chamber of Commerce President & CEO Mike Varney, spoke out in favor of the project.Environmental concerns were the most common complaint by those speaking out against Monsanto. Fears about GMOs and pesticides were frequently mentioned. Although the first phase of the project is going to be fully enclosed in the greenhouse, Monsanto has indicated two acres would be used for “seed processing.”The postponement will allow time for the county to convene the Pima County Agricultural Science Advisory Commission that, according to a press release, “will review four hours of public comments provided at the Nov. 22 meeting related to the Monsanto proposal.”

  • SaddleBrooke Troop Support announces death of President George Bidwell

    George Dawson Bidwell passed away Oct. 30 after year-long complications from a severe lung infection. He was born Oct.1, 1932 in Pittston, Pennsylvania to Ralph and Louisa Bidwell and grew up in West Pittston, just across the Susquehanna River. He served in the United States Army from 1950-1953 achieving the rank of Sergeant. George moved to Tucson in 1957 and, in 1962, started his career at Hughes Aircraft Company, taking early retirement in 1989. However, retirement was not really in George’s vocabulary. He started a one-person machine shop that quickly grew into G & L Enterprises and was known for its precision machining for both aerospace and commercial industries. He and his wife, Louise sold the business in 2008, and she finally convinced him to really retire at the age of 76. They chose Saddlebrooke for their next phase of life, moving here in 2009. George was active in two men’s nine-hole golf leagues while continuing to be an avid organic gardener in their back yard. He was most proud of his work with SaddleBrooke Troop Support (STS) and spent the last two years of his life as its President. He was predeceased by his parents and former wife, Marion, the mother of his children. He is survived by his wife of 34 years Louise; brother, Ralph Bidwell as well as three children, Cathy Bailey, George L. Bidwell and Eugene Bidwell (Heather) as well as two grandchildren, Catina Jordan and Katelynn Bidwell, and two great-grandchildren. A Celebration of Life was held Sunday, Nov. 20 at the Mesquite Grill and was standing room only with family and friends. If you would like to make a donation in George’s memory to Saddlebrooke Troop Support, do so via its website:  www.saddlebrooke-troop-support.com or send a check to Bob Sogn, STS Treasurer, 38873 S. Rock Wood Dr., Tucson, AZ 85739.

Local News

  • MUSD students use their photo skills to give back to those in need with Help-Portrait

    For the sixth straight year students in the Mountain View and Marana High School’s Photo and Video Club gave back to people in the community as a way to celebrate the holiday season providing printed portraits to people in difficult financial situations. As part of the Help-Portrait global initiative the portraits were of no cost.“MUSD students want to remind people of their value and beauty,” said Mountain View and Marana High School Film/TV Instructor Chris Klok, event organizer. “By working closely with community outreach providers we hope to spread the word about this special day to those experiencing foster care and financial hardships. This is just one small way that we can show kindness and bring smiles to faces.”The event, held at Desert Son Community Church, provided portraits for nearly 200 individuals. In 2012, Klok was a volunteer teacher at Mountain when he and Lisa Foote, another Mountain View teacher at the time learned of Help-Portrait and decided to put on their own event. Foote has since moved out of state, but Klok continued working on the project. “Since then I have carried the torch in organizing this event,” Klok explained. 

  • Holiday family fun in Marana at lighting

    I did not grow up in a small town, or even a part of town with a real sense of community. Nearly all traditions around eastside Tucson were family based. But for several hours on Saturday night, I got a feel of what a small-town Christmas might feel like when my children and I took in the Marana Holiday Festival and Christmas Tree Lighting.Everyone seemed to know someone. I ran into familiar faces from my work covering the town for the Marana News—town staffers, local high school coaches and citizens I’ve written stories about, as well as an acquaintance from pick-up basketball. My son ran into a friend from his school, which is not located in Marana. There were a lot of people from outside the town limits who made the trip to Marana to enjoy the evening. Not only did I see people I knew lived outside the town, but I overheard people commenting about how they came to town for the event and how this was one of the best holiday events of the year.As for our desert-dwelling family, the first stop was the snow. The town had what could only be described as a snow box—think a big sandbox with snow in the place of the sandy stuff most local kids are used to. The area was always crowded because, as one town official commented, “Tucson children never really get to see snow.”The snow was icy in places, which made footing tricky for those who are more used to traipsing through the desert than through a winter wonderland. But once they got a hang of it, the area was filled with kids throwing snowballs, building snowmen and sledding on plastic discs with artificial snow made from soap suds falling from the top of the enclosure to the delight of the children inside. The suds were fun, but wreaked havoc with my six-year-old son’s glasses. He stormed out of the snow box and exclaimed, “That was a really bad idea!” Then he handed me his glasses and rushed back inside. 

  • National Guardsmen and their families celebrate family day

    The American Legion Oro Valley Post 132 put on the annual family day for the 1-285th Arizona Army National Guard Unit this past Sunday. The event was held inside one of the apache helicopter maintenance hangers at the Silverbell Heliport at the Pinal Air Park in Marana.“The Post and Auxiliary Unit 132 are the primary community partners supporting the annual family day,” said Post Commander Ed Davis. Although an exact count was not made, event organizers believe around 1,200 people attended. There were many activities for the kids and families, including an appearance by Santa Claus, magicians, a juggler, an illusionist and several face painters and what Davis described as “an endless supply of Sonoran Hotdogs.”“We are the only community partners that support the event with volunteers,” Davis said, noting that this year they had 56 volunteers “performing every function necessary to ensure another successful event.”Davis said he and the other volunteers took care of everything including cleaning the restrooms, staffing all of the children activities, removing trash, judging the chili cook-off, staffing the drinks and dessert stations and operating the raffle.

Entertainment

  • “Lion” roars into Oscar “Best Picture” discussion

    Making his feature film directorial debut, Australian filmmaker Garth Davis has unexpectedly created this year’s most heartwarming and touching movie experience.  “Lion” is a fact-based movie that recounts the true story of Saroo Brierley and his 2014 non-fiction novel “A Long Way Home,” back when Saroo gets lost at a train station in his home country of India at the age of five.  “Lion” packs a powerful punch.  The exceptionally talented and charismatic Dev Patel (2008’s “Slumdog Millionaire”) delivers another on-screen gem, this time as Saroo after he’s been adopted by an Australian family.  But it’s the younger version of Saroo, portrayed by movie newcomer Sunny Pawar, that completely outshines everyone else in this tense, nail-biter.  Pawar’s 5-year-old Saroo character awakes on a moving train and is unable to place his home’s location in the vast country.  The perilous challenges he faces on the streets of India is perfectly combined with the enormous burden Saroo places upon himself for getting lost.  The terrible guilt and a mix of emotions felt by the boy is also palpable to the audience.Over 80,000 children disappear each year in India, culminating in 11 million kids living on the streets. “Lion” sharply keeps viewers guessing on how young Saroo survives this ordeal and how his adult future transpires as a result.  Nicole Kidman’s performance as the Australian mother who adopts Saroo is gaining positive reviews, but it’s really Rooney Mara’s role as his supportive girlfriend that grounds this film.  Both, along with spot-on casting throughout, combine to give “Lion” an above-average ensemble.  The most emotional film of 2016, “Lion” is a movie not to be missed. “Lion” dramatically rises from an impressive “A” grade film into one of 2016’s top movies with a poignant final act. This film quietly enters the Academy Award “Best Picture” race, joining “Hell or High Water” and “La Land” with its strong storytelling and convincing characters.  You can be assured that “Lion” won’t get lost on the minds of film critics scribbling out their list of Top 10 Movies from 2016.Grade: A+

  • Saturday Puzzles 12-3-16

  • Arizona Repertory Singers announce chorale holiday show

    Choral ensemble Arizona Repertory Singers announced its annual winter concerts with music director Elliot Jones.“Radiant Dawn,” a 90-minute program, will be performed Dec. 9, 11 and 16 at two venues in the Tucson area. The concert series ushers in a season of spiritual awakening as well as ARS’s fresh focus on new music. In “Radiant Dawn,” Jones balances the classics of repertory with brand new music never before heard in Tucson.Jones said  that in a typical choral concert the older work is placed at the beginning and the new work at the end, but in “Radiant Dawn” he breaks with tradition, juxtaposing the classic, “O nata lux” by Thomas Tallis with “O radiant dawn” by James MacMillan, two works separated by a span of 500 years.Jones, who was named music director in April, auditioned 16 people and accepted eight new members into what he calls, their “community of singers.”“The singers are really incredible,” Jones said. “About half of them have music degrees, which is not common.”“Radiant Dawn” is divided into four sets, starting with “Dawn” and “Mary,” which include spiritual works. After the intermission are “Yule” and “Christmas”—enjoyable, rhythmic, Christmas classics with dazzling arrangements.

Sports

  • Marana Broncos win national title at youth conference in Las Vegas

    Being a first-time participant in a national tournament, most people told the Marana Broncos 8U squad not to expect a championship. Luckily the Broncos did not listen to the so-called experts because after one week and two wins the Broncos took home the win in the national bracket of the National Youth Football Conference tournament in Las Vegas. The Broncos earned the title with wins over teams from Utah and California. They beat the team from Utah 37-7, despite giving up a lot of size. “They had us in size, but we had them on speed,” said Head Coach Jason Hawkins. “They were definitely bigger than us, but we had the speed advantage, our kids were the better athletes.”The Broncos’ biggest player weighs 97 pounds, while the team from Utah had five players who weighted 107 pounds. Hawkins credited his assistants with coming up with a great game plan to utilize his team’s speed and use Utah’s size against them.The core of this team, as well as the bulk of the coaching staff, have been together for three seasons, getting their start in flag football and moving on to tackle this season.

  • All-Northwest girls volleyball and boys and girls swim teams

    All-Northwest Teams are tough to pick, but none more than girls volleyball. With all five local schools making the play offs and 18 area players making first or second team in their respective coaches’ All-Region teams, there was a lot of talent to sift through. Quite frankly in many cases the difference between first and third team were miniscule.  First TeamHitter/Middle Blocker Zeleya Loop,  Canyon Del Oro  Hitter/Middle Blocker Mele Hala’ufia, MaranaHitter/Middle Blocker 

  • Track time: All-Northwest golf and cross country teams

    There were a lot of great performances on the links and on the road this year. The northwest had a number of the top golfers and cross country runners in the city performing for their teams. The All-Northwest teams were created based upon regular and postseason rankings, as well as other honors, with an emphasis on post season performances. Teams are listed alphabetically.  All-Northwest GirlsGolf TeamFirst TeamAllison Acosta, Ironwood Ridge

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