No project will have a bigger impact on Marana than the Ina Road Traffic Interchange Project. The project will build an overpass over I-10 and the Union Pacific Railroad and widen I-10, similar to recent projects at Prince Road and Miracle Mile. The project will shut down the Ina on and off ramps for nearly two years beginning Feb. 15.Having Ina go over the freeway and the railroad tracks is a key part of the project to help alleviate traffic congestion in an area where trains often block traffic.Other parts of the project include the widening of I-10 to to accommodate four lanes, although the traffic will be kept to three lanes until similar projects are completed in the future. The town of Marana is also piggybacking a second project in the area with improvements to Ina Road west of the freeway to Silverbell. The biggest portion of this project will be rebuilding the bridge over the Santa Cruz and widening Ina to two lanes in each direction between the freeway and Silverbell.The Tangerine Road Improvement Project also continues in 2017. The project, a partnership between Marana, Oro Valley, Pima County and the Regional Transportation Authority, will make improvements to Tangerine Road from Dove Mountain/Twin Peaks to La Cañada Drive.The project will widen the roadway to four lanes, provide pedestrian and bicycle facilities and install turn lanes, signals and wildlife crossings. There are several goals for the project; the biggest is to make the trek from Oracle to I-10 on Tangerine go much quicker, avoiding traffic delays.In addition to widening the road to four lanes, the project will flatten the road, removing the dips and giving it all weather access.
January 8, 2011, is a day that most Arizonans will never forget. The day that a senseless tragedy took six lives and injured 13 other individuals at a Congress on Your Corner Event led by Congresswoman Gabby Giffords. We lost so much that day, but also saw how our community rallied together. People who had never met before suddenly had an unexplainable connection. Everyone wanted to help and everyone needed their neighbors, families and friends to start the healing process. That spirit was inspiring to all.The concept of Tucson’s January 8th Memorial has gone from being a dream of some of the early supporters to being a reality now. The foundation that started with three board members has blossomed to 23. Congresswoman Giffords and Mr. Jim Click are the honorary co-chairs of the campaign.The memorial will be built in El Presidio Park in the heart of downtown Tucson. It is a partnership between Tucson’s January 8th Memorial Foundation, Pima County and the city of Tucson. This is truly a heartfelt partnership and we are all striving for the same goal for our community.In September, 33 members of Congress wrote a letter to President Obama asking for support for the memorial. The following week, Sens. Jeff Flake and John McCain wrote to the Department of Interior asking for assistance for the memorial as well as a National Memorial designation. Legislation currently is being written and we expect to hear great things from Washington, D.C., in the very near future.The foundation has obtained approval from Pima County for several naming opportunities to raise funds to build the memorial, ranging from $100 to $1,000,000. The first naming opportunity was sponsored by Tucson Medical Center, which graciously is donating $500,000 to lead this effort. There will be no naming opportunities in the memorial itself—sacred ground—but there are opportunities in the immediate area to show continued support from the community. For example, lanterns will light the pathways to represent the glow when people came together holding candles and light to support the survivors and victims during the tragedy. Outside the memorial, there will be six gardens, one for each victim. The gardens will be themed for each life lost. Nine-year-old Christina-Taylor Green loved butterflies, one of her last drawings. Christina’s will be a butterfly garden to represent this passion.
The Explorer recently sat down with Oro Valley Mayor Satish Hiremath to discuss his and the town’s plans and some possible changes to expect with the coming of the new year, as well as what he sees as key factors to finding success in 2017. Before delving into his goals for the rest of the year, Hiremath took a moment to set the scene with what he believed to be Oro Valley’s crowning achievement last year: the passage of the new general plan by the town’s residents.“The most notable highlight of 2016 was voter ratification of Your Voice, Our Future, the town’s general plan update,” he said. “This plan is the community-developed product of a three-year effort and reflects the values and goals of Oro Valley and its stakeholders. As such, this plan will be the springboard for some of 2017’s big projects, such the new Strategic Plan, financial year 17-18 budget and department work plans; all of these documents will be in alignment and guided by the general plan.”Some of the big developments Hiremath said would have a more noticeable impact on everyday life within the town included roadway improvements set to begin on East Tangerine Road, West Lambert Lane and North La Cholla Boulevard. While drivers will need to take caution while traveling on those roadways, Hiremath mentioned that all drivers within the town must also take heed to the distracted driving ordinance passed by town council at the end of the year restricting the use of all electronic devices to “hands-free” mode while driving. To make driver’s more aware of the changes, Hiremath said that the Oro Valley Police Department, alongside the town’s outreach efforts, will be conducting an education-focused campaign in order to make the town’s roadways even safer. Another upcoming concept for which Hiremath said the community should look is the Main Streets project, which is looking to create a communal space for dining and shopping and a town center. The community’s first chance to hear about and provide feedback to the concept will be at the “Walk the Block” event on Saturday, Jan. 21, starting at 4 p.m. at the intersection of West Lambert Lane and North La Canada Drive. Hiremath said that more updates will be made available through the “MainStreetsOV” Facebook page.
The Oro Valley Police Department (OVPD) is asking for the public’s help locating a 63 year-old woman.Sheryl Forte has not been seen by her friends or family since Jan. 9, 2017. She is described as a Caucasian female, with brown hair and brown eyes, 5’08” in height and weighs 130 Lbs. with blue eyes and brown hair. The associated vehicle is a 2007 blue Lincoln town car, Arizona plate 289-HMS. If anyone knows the whereabouts of Sheryl, you are asked to call 911 or 229-4900.
Pima County has scheduled five community meetings to provide information and receive comments on the proposed Monsanto greenhouse facility just outside Marana.Monsanto, a multinational agrochemical and agricultural biotechnology corporation, recently purchased 155 acres near Twin Peaks and Sanders roads for a greenhouse facility, but a vote on potential tax breaks were put on hold after critics of the company flooded a November Pima County Board of Supervisors meeting. Opponents of Monsanto are pushing the Board of Supervisors to oppose supporting a proposal that would provide a property-tax reduction and also took their opposition to the project to a public meeting with Arizona Superintendent of Public Instruction Diane Douglas. Initially the postponement was designed to 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.”County Administrator Chuck Huckleberry wrote in a memo to supervisors that he recommended the creation of the advisory commission to separate fact from fiction.“Given the far-reaching claims and controversial statements regarding Monsanto over their possible location in Pima County, it is important to address concerns that may arise both factually and scientifically,” Huckleberry wrote.
Twelve-year-old Jake Cardinal laced up his gloves, donned his shoulder, arm and elbow pads, threw on his mesh jersey and tightened his cleats. After going through some throwing and blocking drills, running a few laps to get the blood going and reviewing some strategies with his teammates and coaches - it was time to take to the field.Though Cardinal and more than a half dozen of his teammates wore equipment reminiscent of an American football uniform, Cardinal and his compatriots carried sticks of varying lengths made of titanium, aluminum or various metal alloys, all topped with netted heads.Cardinal and his friends were just one of several groups of young athletes who took to the fields of Oro Valley’s Naranja Park for the second annual Oro Valley Lacrosse Club Holiday Classic Tournament on Saturday. Drawing teams from Ahwatukee, Chandler, Mesa and elsewhere in Tucson, the tournament was an opportunity for teams of all ages to take to the fields and get in some fun, competitive play before the season starts later this month.While Cardinal is playing his second year and filling an often pivotal role as goalie, some of his teammates on the 14-and-under and 12-and-under teams were playing outside of practice for the first time.“This is a great opportunity for them to also get some game time before the season starts,” said youth coach Don McGann. “Interestingly enough for a lot of these kids, this may be the first game that they’ve seen - it’s not like football or basketball where you’ve seen a bunch of games on TV - they’ve probably never seen a game. So part of it is to give them that experience. For these kids, and some of them are brand new, to get out there and play because we practice and we practice and do drills, but it’s really not the same when you get into a game.”McGann’s teams were paired off against organizations from Tucson, Chandler and Mesa. Though there was a score being kept, McGann said that winners and losers were entirely secondary to the experience from which many of the youth athletes could learn.
Casey Affleck’s spectacular performance is this film earned him a Golden Globe on Sunday, and should end any further speculation as to which Affleck brother has the best acting chops. Sorry, Batman. Chatter from the Left Coast early last year told us film critics to expect a particularly stunning job from the younger Affleck in “Manchester by the Sea”. More times than not, these self-pronounced premerits of greatness by studio execs only translates into hyperbole and unmet expectations in the end. That’s not the case in this movie about grief and family relationships.Carrying significant guilt and apprehensive upon his shoulders, Affleck’s divorced Lee Chandler character returns to his hometown of Manchester after the death of his brother, Joe. Complicating matters for the blue-collar repairman is Lee’s startling reintroduction to his now teenage nephew, Patrick, and his first contact in years with an ex-wife (played by Michelle Williams). “Manchester by the Sea” is a slow storyline reveal that works by tossing in timely flashbacks of a better time and life for Affleck’s handyman Lee. As guardianship issues for his nephew must be legally worked out, Uncle Lee’s uncomfortableness returning to Manchester swings constantly between heartache and remorse. Equally entertaining is the job Lucas Hedges does portraying the role of the now fatherless Patrick. Together, Affleck and Hedges create a tension-filled relationship as neither wants to have their life completely upended because of the sudden death of their loved one.The movie does a lot right. It somehow makes a slow plot reveal work without losing viewers, mostly due to its believable acting and a mysterious storytelling rollout. The film poignantly explains the extended family dynamics and its unimaginable past, delving deeper into Casey’s relationships with not only his nephew, but others. It even injects a grown-up Ferris Bueller, aka Matthew Broderick, into a small scene. This realistic and exceptionally well-acted endeavor, though, has a few glaring problems. Joining an irritable rash of late 2016 films like “Moonlight” and “Nocturnal Animals”, this northeast narrative sports an interesting beginning only to culminate in an unremarkable and bland ending. When it’s all over and done, a memorable “Manchester by the Sea” journey by moviegoers never fully materializes. Casey Affleck’s character lets down his brother, and, ultimately us with a timid, lackluster finale.
Moviegoers’ first reactions to seeing “Hidden Figures” will be to ask themselves how did America not already know this incredible true story? This NASA film is an exhilarating and positive narrative deeply rooted to one of our nation’s greatest feats: Successfully launching a human into space to orbit the Earth and return safely. “Hidden Figures” is a feel-good history lesson that needs to be seen to believed.Director Ted Melfi (“St. Vincent”) gathers an extremely talented ensemble to tell the true NASA story of three brilliant African-American women who played major roles in our nation’s space program during the 1960s. The cast is led by Octavia Spencer, who gives a poignant portrayal as the computer whiz Dorothy Vaughan. But the mathematical genius and rocket fuel behind “Hidden Figures” resides in the purposeful and resilient talents of Taraji P. Henson as Katherine G. Johnson and Kevin Costner as NASA manager Al Harrison. Viewers will be enamored watching this trio of inspiring women fight prejudice in the male-dominated workplace through their skillful persistence and smarts. Each marvelously solving spacecraft launch and recovery math equations to earn the trust of viewers and astronaut John Glenn. Together, they helped our space program and country keep pace with the Soviet Union before charging ahead—ultimately accepting and answering President John F. Kennedy’s challenge to land a man on the moon by that decade’s end.Yes, it’s about time these pioneering women are no longer hidden from the history books. Their encouraging and remarkable story broke the glass ceiling of space. They overcame discrimination and social issues with expertise and talents that couldn’t be ignored or segregated any longer based on their gender or race. In each movie scene, these three women (and the audience) know they’re the smartest minds in the room. It’s how they handle and respond to that knowledge that makes “Hidden Figures” such a compelling and richly satisfying movie experience.Look for “Hidden Figures” to garner several Academy Award nominations come the morning of Jan. 24. Despite a strong field of leading and supporting actors and actresses in 2016, Octavia Spencer and Taraji P. Hanson have better than even odds to capture nominations. The film also deserves Best Ensemble and Best Picture considerations from all the end-of-the-year awards shows.
Here are the year’s best films in storytelling and performances:10. Sing Street Director John Carney, who gave us the 2007 romantic music trifecta of guitar, piano and vocals in the Irish movie “Once,” returns to Dublin for a stellar encore performance involving a teenage boy dealing with the pressures of school while starting up a rock band to get closer to a girl. Carney knows how to bring music and romance together better than anyone else and we find a heartfelt story that feels both charming and real at the same time. An above average cast and a 1980s soundtrack launch this movie into instant classic status and into the Top 10 list for 2016. 9. Captain FantasticThe vastly talented Viggo Mortensen (“Lord of the Rings”) stars as the earthy patriarch of the Cash family, living off-the-grid while raising his well-read children deep in the woods of the Pacific Northwest. A stirring drama on human interaction and one family’s attempt to cope with loss, individual beliefs, and real life. Every parent, at some point, wonders if they’re raising their child the best possible way. “Captain Fantastic” offers us one unmistakable, yet riveting, parenting route. 8. Hidden Figures
The Marana Boys Basketball team won the Eddie Martinez Invitational last weekend, concluding over two weeks of holiday tournaments for area teams.The Tigers went 6-0 in the event and helped improve their record to 8-9 overall.Marana cruised to the title with a 30-point win in the championship game, beating Empire 75-45. The Tigers outscored the Ravens 32-14 in the second half.Three Tigers scored in double figures, led by Etienne Guibert’s 15 points. Tyson Corner and Kyle Haase added 13 and 11.Although the championship game was relatively easy, the Tigers had a tough path to get their, including back to back overtime wins.The Tigers beat Florence 73-71 in overtime in the semi-finals. Marana had to rally in the fourth quarter to force overtime, outscoring the Gophers by 11 over the final eight minutes.
There were so many great sports moments in 2016 that one story could not contain them all. Last week we looked at stories No. 5-10(D). This week it is the Top 4 stories of the year. 1. Ironwood Ridge WrestlingThere were a lot of headlines for the Nighthawk grapplers. First and foremost, Ironwood Ridge wrestlers won three individual state titles and led the Nighthawks to a team title at the Division I state wrestling tournament in Prescott. Ten Nighthawk wrestlers reached the podium and helped their school edge Sunnyside and Mesa Mountain View for the team state title. The Nighthawks earned 194 points, 12.5 more than second-place Sunnyside and 27.5 more than Mesa Mountain View. Danny Vega concluded a remarkable high school career with his third state title, winning the 113-pound division. Josiah Kline capped off his senior season by winning the title at 132 and improving his record to 42-3 on the season. Jeremy Benson was the third Nighthawk to win an individual state title, taking first at 182
We’ve spent the last few weeks looking back at the past semester and past year in high school sports, but this week we turn our attention to the University of Arizona. 2016 was an interesting year for the various Wildcat teams. No team had a bigger year than the Wildcat baseball team. The Wildcats had a stellar season under first-year head coach Jay Johnson. Even those close to the team thought it would likely be a re-building season and just getting to the NCAA Tournament would be a great accomplishment. The Wildcats were not only in the postseason, but were just one win away from winning the College World Series, coming up a run short against Coastal Carolina in a winner-take-all final game. Despite coming up just short, it was a fantastic season and the start of something great as the Wildcats have added a terrific recruiting class to bolster the team in year two for Johnson. Another first year coach making a big impact is Adia Barnes. The former Wildcat standout returns to Tucson with a big rebuilding job ahead of her. Barnes inherits a program that has not only had just one winning record since 2009, but has won less than 15 games six times in eight seasons. Barnes saw her squad go 9-2 in the nonconference season, and while they will likely come back down to earth in conference play, the future is indeed bright for the women’s basketball program. The Wildcat football team had a terrible season, going just 3-9. There were a number of reasons for the team’s struggles. A rash of injuries took their toll on the Cats, though most in and outside of the program believed it was going to be a rebuilding season. Rich Rodriguez not only rebuilt his entire defensive staff, but the team lacked overall depth on that side of the ball.