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  • Annual Old Glory endurance relay visits Oro Valley

    Last Wednesday afternoon just before the end of classes, hundreds of students from Copper Creek Elementary School lined the driveway near the school’s field to fill the air with cheers of “U-S-A” and waive American flags with great fervor. The Old Glory Relay was coming to visit.An annual endurance event completed by the nonprofit organization Team Red, White & Blue, The Old Glory Relay consists of 62 teams carrying an American flag 4,216 miles from Redmond, Wash. to Tampa, Flor. The relay was created with the goal of honoring military veterans and started on Patriot’s Day on Sept. 11 and will come to a close on Veteran’s day, Nov. 11 in Florida.The team entered the Tucson region for a two-day stay and toured through Oro Valley with an impressive escort from local first responder organizations tomake stops at several locations around town: Ironwood Ridge High School, the Oro Valley Police Department main office, the Oro Valley Library, Copper Creek Elementary School, BASIS Oro Valley and Golder Ranch Fire District Station 377.Just before school let out at Copper Creek, students and staff were asked by principal Tanya Wall to make their way to the field to welcome their expected guests.

  • Oro Valley PD shows what to what to do during an active shooter incident

    Gun violence and instances of mass shootings have established a position of macabre familiarity within the nation’s dinner tables, meeting rooms, school halls and media headlines for some time. While the lion’s share of attention may currently lie in acts of violence involving police officers, instances of active shooters – like that of the Orlando nightclub shooting in June – also shock and frighten the world.While the threat of an active shooter may not always be present, Oro Valley Police Department Lieutenant Curt Hicks said that not taking the time to acknowledge the possibility of a threat and considering what to do if such a scenario were to occur is a critical mistake.Alongside OVPD Officer Dan Horetski, the two men instructed a session of the Citizens’ Academy: a twelve-week course giving community residents a comprehensive education of the department and its practices.If the unthinkable does happen and you find yourself in a situation in which an individual is killing without regard, Horetski said there are three choices: run, hide or fight.“What we can’t have and what we don’t want to have anymore is the ‘sheep.’ The sheep are those people that just wait to die,” he said. “If you watch security footage for almost every active shooter event with security footage you see people just sitting in chairs or under tables getting killed one after another. We can’t have that anymore.”Even though deciding which of those three choices to make will depend on the situation and the environment, the option with the highest chance of survival is to flee. With that fact in mind, Hicks said the first step is to think about the environment in which you work or spend most of your time – and plan a potential escape route. If the opportunity does arise to take flight, do so immediately, regardless of whether or not others choose to follow and help those who do. 

  • Estes Elementary students greet “Old Glory”

    Students at Marana’s Estes Elementary School got to play a small part in the Old Glory 62-Day Flag Relay as the flag made its way across northwest Tucson on its way to the University of Arizona’s Old Main. The flag will eventually make its way to Tampa Bay, Fla., as part of a 62-day trek across the United States. The relay began on Sept. 11 in Seattle. Tucson’s chapter of Team Red, White & Blue took possession of the flag at Picacho Peak at sunrise from the Phoenix chapter and made their way down I-10. They stopped at Estes Elementary School shortly after 8:15 a.m. and were greeted by students, staff and parents on the school’s playground for a brief ceremony that included the singing of the national anthem by the school’s choir and a honoring of local veterans and servicemen. “It was such a feel good moment,” said Estes Principal Colleen Frederick. “It was short and sweet. It was beautiful.”School officials had very littlewarning about the event, but once they learned Estes Elementary would be a stop for the relay, teachers were able to use the Team RWB website to learn more about the relay and incorporate the event into their lessons. 

Local News

  • National synchronized swimming championship held in Oro Valley

    The hypnotic pool performances of synchronized swimming at the national level will soon find a four-day home in Oro Valley when the 2016 U.S. Masters Synchronized Swimming Championships begin this Thursday, Oct. 20, at the Oro Valley Aquatic Center.Synchronized swimming has mesmerized fans and challenges athletes for more than a century and has been an Olympic sport since 1984. U.S. Synchronized Swimming, which also goes by the moniker USA Synchro, organizes events across the nation with a wide range of ages, from kids as young as 12 to adult competitors. As the name implies, the event will be a pinnacle moment for many of the participating athletes.“Athletes from across the world, including Japan, China and Canada will have the opportunity to experience our recreational amenities, stay in our hotels, and shop and dine in our restaurants, which has a significant impact on Oro Valley’s local economy,” said Oro Valley economic development manager Amanda Jacobs.For those interested in attending, spectator tickets are available for purchase at the aquatic center, 23 W. Calle Concordia, for $8 per day for ages 18 to 55 or $25 for an event pass. Children ages 6 to 18 and seniors aged 55-and-older are eligible for a discounted $5-per-day ticket or $15 for an event pass. It’s free for children 5 years and younger. Advance tickets may be purchased through the Oro Valley Aquatic Center at 209-2472. The event will begin on Thursday at 7 a.m. with registration and 

  • Recent road repairs just one part of Pavement Preservation Program

    Since 2014 the Town of Marana has been fixing streets through its Pavement Prevention Program, which was designed to ensure that every road in Marana remained in good condition by them all treated or repaired every six years. Marana Public Works Director Ryan Benavides said the preservation program’s specific goals “follow a proactive maintenance philosophy to improve pavement conditions over time, reduce overall maintenance costs and delay the rate of deterioration due to weather, chemicals and wear and tear over time.”Holbrook Asphalt recently repaired at least 16 roads and  20 cul de sacs in Continental Ranch, Ironwood Reserve, and Silverbell Place with a seal coat. “Making sure we have good roads is a benefit to everyone,” said Marana Town Manager Gilbert Davidson. “We hear it all the time that people appreciate we have good roads and they certainly expect that we maintain our roads.”As of January  the town had 511 miles of road, roughly the same distance between Marana and Malibu.In 2014 and 2015 the program treated 41 miles of road each year. This year, town officials hope to to treat 62 lane miles, at an estimated cost of $1.5 million.

  • Public asked to review new Marana Airport Master Plan

    A year-long master plan update for the Marana Regional Airport is nearly finished but still needs public input.The Town of Marana will host an Airport Master Plan Open House for airport users and community members from 5 to 7 p.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 26 at the airport’s Tucson Aeroservice Center, 11700 W. Avra Valley Road. Residents will have a chance to review and comment on the Airport Master Plan update. Airport and consultant staff will be on hand to answer questions.“I encourage our town residents and airport users to attend the open house in order to see some of the exciting planned future development for the Airport,” said Steve Miller, the airport director. “This is an opportunity for the public to also participate in the master plan process as it nears completion.”Attendees at the open house can learn about the recommended development for the airport, including a terminal building with a corporate development complex, an aircraft parking apron, an extension and taxiway for the main runway, more hangars, a new fuel facility and additional parking. Airport officials are also hoping to find funding for an aircraft control tower. Currently, flights into both Marana and the Pinal Airpark are routed by the tower at Tucson International Airport. The open house will give “the citizens of the town an opportunity to see the future of this very important economic asset,” said  Mary Ortega-Itsell of the Genesis Consulting Group. 


  • “The Girl on the Train” derails NYT’s best-seller

    Not every successful chart-topper on the New York Times’ Best Seller list translates into movie magic.  In 2014, avid readers watched author Cheryl Strayed’s true life adventure along the Pacific Coast Trail get mixed reactions after its theater release of “Wild”.  That same year, however, Gillian Flynn’s faithful book legions found her screenplay adaption for the dark, disturbing “Gone Girl” a big-screen pleaser.  But as 2014 proved, a must-read page turner doesn’t necessarily foreshadow a must-see movie thriller.    Based on British author Paula Hawkins’ massively successful novel by the same name, “The Girl on the Train” stars Emily Blunt in a psychological whodunit comprised of cheating, self-sabotage and, oh yeah, murder.  “The Girl on the Train” starts with a slow roll-out of first names (Anna, Megan, Rachel, Scott and Tom), leaving us to sort out current relationships from old marriages and steamy affairs.  Assigning the “Who’s Who” of characters feels like assembling IKEA furniture with mismarked parts.  A nanny, a mistress, a roommate, a volatile hot head, and a few cheaters later, we find ourselves caring for no one and wanting to jump off this train at the next stop.This movie was supposed to be Emily Blunt’s breakout act.  She physically outperformed Tom Cruise two years ago in “Live. Die. Repeat: Edge of Tomorrow” and gained well-deserved applause.  Unfortunately, she followed up that groundbreaking role with an overshadowed part in last year’s border war “Sicario”, never getting outside the shadow cast from the always brilliant Benicio del Toro.  Now, as the consummate drunk girl on the train in this sleeper coach, Blunt gets let down by a dry, monotone script that lacks any empathy and excitement.A few problems emerge quickly in this non-shocker…even before Blunt’s first blackout from alcohol.  The slow, rambling introduction to ex-spouses and inappropriate doctor-client relationships grinds to screeching halt on the railroad as Blunt over-narrates this yawner.  Easily the film’s best feature, “The Magnificent Seven” cowgirl Haley Bennett departs the movie too soon, her character—and the storyline—left to decompose in the woods. Two underutilized roles are provided by The West Wing’s Allison Janney (as the homicide detective) and grown up Friends sitcom star Lisa Kudrow, who plays the wife of Tom’s old boss.

  • Saturday Puzzles 10-15-16

  • A great investment: Ben Affleck’s “The Accountant”

    Academy Award-winner Ben Affleck packs a powerful punch in this year’s most spirited action-thriller. “The Accountant” unflinchingly takes on autism, the brain disorder we find Affleck’s character diagnosed with at a young age.  This film passionately walks viewers through the difficult burdens that the disease places upon parents and families with autistic children.  Using a splendid mix of education and humor, “The Accountant” offers audiences a roller coaster suspense ride through the eyes of an extraordinary and vastly talented certified public accountant.As the socially challenged CPA Christian Wolff, Affleck gives a masterful performance as a lethal wrecking ball, willing to help the average tax filer or even “the scariest people on the planet”. Despite autism holding the math genius back on verbal and nonverbal communication skills, Affleck’s Wolff unleashes his unique numbers game on miscalculated business ledgers. The accountant Affleck plays may balk at personal interaction, but for one who needs repetitive behavior and tidiness in his life, identifying those hiding or skimming funds by dishonest means is as easy as solving a jigsaw puzzle.The film’s most impressive accomplishment is found in its storytelling.  The mysterious background on two very different lives and how they merge, gains steady momentum over the span of the movie’s two hours and eight minutes.  A deeply rich ensemble is anchored by Academy Award-winner J.K. Simmons (“Whiplash”) and Oscar-nominated Anna Kendrick (“Up in the Air”), both attempting to find out more about Affleck’s fondness for tracking money.  Kendrick effortlessly portrays a company accountant who smells trouble rising from her employer’s cooked books. She singlehandedly offsets this edgy, intense movie with a humorous and softer answer to all the math quotients and violent deaths.It’s J.K. Simmons’ skillful supporting role as the retiring head of the U.S. Treasury’s Crime Enforcement Division, though, that really shapes this plot to expose Affleck’s path of destruction.  In a tenacious game of cat and mouse, Simmons and Affleck shed light on who they are and why.  With a bold, fast-paced and engrossing script these two relate their life’s judgements using wholly different approaches. Affleck, with nary the eye contact or verbal combat prowess, defers to physical confrontation for his conflict resolution.  Whereas, Simmons argues his case through a law enforcement career of lucky tips and short statements.“The Accountant” is a fascinating, heartfelt case study into one’s autism and his attempt to live independently.  An exceptional cast reveals several sharp twists with exhilarating action scenes while navigating tax codes and the corporate bottom line.  This film is an adrenaline rush of discrepancies and irregularities in people’s lives that culminates in a touching conclusion. The movie ledger’s bottom line: “The Accountant” gives viewers a wise investment with a huge profit margin!Grade: A


  • Volleyball and football update

    The Sahuaro volleyball team won all six games at Mountain View’s Lion’s Den Invitational over the weekend, winning the championship match 2-0 over Thatcher.The host Mountain Lions went 4-1 in the event, winning their first four games before falling in the semi-finals to runner-up Thatcher. Despite being 6-7 in regular season games, the Mountain Lions enter the week at No. 16 and are still competing for a spot in the 5A state tournament. 24 teams qualify for the postseason.CDO was also playing in a weekend tournament. The Dorados ventured to San Diego for the SoCal Invitational. Full results were not available at press time but the Dorados did earn a win over Poway and lost a 2-1 battle with Fallbrook. Just as important as the action on the court was the chance for the team to further bond. Part of the trip included a visit to Disney Land. The Dorados are 10-2 in regular season games and are currently ranked No. 6 in the state in 4A.They also lead the 4A Kino Region with a 5-0 record in regional games but still have big game looming with second place Salpointe on Oct. 26.

  • In a week of tragedy, Marana’s Leavens shines

    During the worst week of his life, Marana quarterback Connor Leavens played the best game of his career. Less than 72 hours after his father passed away, the senior was leading his team to their sixth consecutive win and a likely postseason berth. In a week the Marana High School community rallied around Leavens and his family, the quarterback helped lead the team to a win over Poston Butte and set up a chance to play for their first regional title since 1974.The football field became a haven for Connor, who had to deal with the emotions of losing his father, his coach and his best friend. Likewise, many of his teammates grew up playing for Todd Leavens with the Marana Broncos or knew him through his involvement with Marana High School athletics. Emotions ran high through the school and the community. Leavens was well liked and was active within the Marana athletic community. Connor and sister McKenna are both student athletes at the school and Todd was always in attendance, either on the sideline or looking down from the stands.“Football is the one thing that made us inseparable,” Leavens said. Connor normally splits time at quarterback with sophomore Trenton Bourguet, forming the strongest passing duo in Southern Arizona, but Friday night the reigns were handed over solely to Connor. It was his night. His night to honor his father who had coached him since he was four. Connor said he knew his dad had “the best seat in the house” and he gave him something to see in the Tigers’ 52-14 win over Poston Butte.

  • Offense the name of the game in Mountain View’s win over Desert View

    After a one-sided loss to Ironwood Ridge the week before, the Mountain View football team regained a lot of their confidence with a 60-37 win over previously unbeaten Desert View. The win not only boosts the Mountain Lions to 5-2 on the season, but by handing the No. 6 ranked Jaguars their first loss the Lions not only get a big win, but should get a boost in the rankings which take into account schedule strength.“Desert View is a good team, they are undefeated for a reason,” said Mountain View Head Coach Bam McRae. “They made us really work for some things tonight.”The Jaguars took an early 7-0 lead before the Mountain Lion offense found their footing. Mountain View quarterback Caleb Ryden had the ball fake on the zone read working all night and used it for the first time to gain 34 yards and get the Lions down to the Jaguar nine. Three plays later he ran the same play and found the end zone from 2-yard out. Ryden had a fantastic game both on the ground and through the air. He rushed for 182 yards on just 11 carries and went 17-23 for 285 yards and three scores. Ryden completed his final 12 passes on the night. 

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