Tucson Local Media: Desert Times

Desert Times

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  • Luncheon celebrates the best of Marana Unified School District

    Marana Unified School District students, teachers and staffers were honored last week as the Marana 2340 Foundation held their annual Celebration of Excellence luncheon at the Ritz-Carlton, Dove Mountain.The event serves as a fundraiser for the foundation but also honors top students and employees in the district. Twelve MUSD high school seniors, from Marana, Mountain View and MCAT High received scholarships. “The best part of this event is that we are changing lives,” said 2340 Foundation President Dan Post. “We are changing the lives of the young people who are receiving scholarships.”Almost 200 people attended the event with KOLD TV news anchor Dan Marries served as Master of Ceremonies.“We have great sponsors and great partners in being able to do this to show off what we are doing for our students,” said MUSD Superintendent Dr. Doug Wilson. In addition to handing out scholarships, the foundation honored three MUSD employees. Quail Run Elementary speech pathologist Beth Gapp was honored as Teacher of the Year, Thornydale crossing guard Johnnie Edmond and director of public relations Tamara Crawley were named the district’s employees of the year. 

  • Monster truck brings hope to Roadrunner student

    It is not everyday that you see a Monster truck at your school, so you can imagine the surprise as students at Roadrunner Elementary School ventured out to their basketball court to find a 10,000-pound truck, complete with spikes and a menacing face on the side. In reality, there was nothing menacing about the truck’s appearance as Monster Jam and Hope Kids teamed up to give one Roadrunner student a special day. Max-D, the truck also known as Maximum Destruction, was on hand to help surprise 5-year-old Gabe Gutierrez. The kindergarten student was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia at the beginning of 2016. He has completed a full year of chemotherapy and is now back in the classroom and continuing his recovery, but Hope Kids knew he loved big trucks and helped plan the special day for him. “Gabe came to mind,” said Kimberly Trichel of Hope Kids. “Based off of his treatment and what he was going through, we thought his family could use a little hope.”At first Gutierrez was all smiles, but after getting a small tour of the truck, the moment became a little too much for him and he showcased his shy side, burrowing his head into his mother’s shoulder. Max-D driver Jared Eichelberger then turned his attention to the rest of Gabe’s class and handed out Monster Jam postcards and autographs. Soon the whole school was out to check out the truck and when Gabe was more outgoing he, his family and Eichelberger got to interact some more. “He likes monster trucks, there is just a lot going on,” said Gabe’s father, Mike Gutierrez. “It has been a year and a half now of constant change for him. It is a lot for a kid like him to take in.”His father added that Gabe had always been a very independent kid, so having to rely on others during his treatment was not always easy for him to do. 

  • AMVETS Post 770: Breakfasts and anniversaries with area veterans

    ALL MEETINGS ARE HELD AT THE AMVETS POST Post Meeting: March 51st Sun 10:00am Ladies Auxiliary:March 122nd Sun 9:30 am Sons’ Of:

  • Turns out the magical mystery dam in Santa Cruz River was not much of a mystery afterall

    In terms of mysteries, the “Mystery of the Santa Cruz Dam” will never rival those tales crafted by Agatha Christie or Raymond Chandler, in fact it was no mystery at all, but for a few days last week a new dam in the river raised some questions. Marana residents who like to walk near the Santa Cruz noticed a dam that diverted a section of the Santa Cruz River between Cortaro and Twin Peaks roads had caused some problems. The project created small pools and puddles where fish became trapped and could not continue down the river. “I walked up the now dry channel north of the earthen dam, and found dozens of pockets of dead and dying fish,” said area resident Les Beard. Beard contacted the Town of Marana, but found that they had nothing to do with the project. A call to Pima County Flood Control initially yielded limited results, but he soon discovered the dam was put in place to help perform repairs on the cement embankment on the east side of the Santa Cruz. Beard was not the only area resident concerned about the dam and Pima County released a statement about the project explaining why it was necessary to make the repairs. “Erosion along the soil cement banks has caused the river to undercut the banks,” said the release. “The repairs are necessary to prevent a breach.”According to the county the repairs to the bank protection are due to substandard work by the developer and have to be made “on a regular basis.” The original developer did not ensure that the levee could “prevent or minimize subsurface water seepage into adjoining low-lying properties.” 

  • Marana Prepares for Growth with Major Infrastructure Projects

    The Town of Marana has enjoyed considerable growth in recent years. In order to manage that growth effectively, we are currently committed to a number of key projects that improve our infrastructure and aim to ensure a high quality of life for all Marana residents, including those who don’t even live here yet!One project which has generated quite of a bit of excitement is the Tangerine Sky Community Park, located along the Tangerine Corridor. This will be the first Town-managed park east of I-10, and as a result is filling a major need in our community. This 10-acre facility will include a dog park, basketball court, playground equipment, and walking paths that showcase the park’s beautiful Sonoran Desert setting. Nearby, the Town is also installing a new art installation that will add a creative element to Tangerine Road. As soon as this project is complete, we hope to see you out there enjoying a day in the park with your family.Along one side of this new park, Tangerine Road currently connects both Marana and Oro Valley to Interstate 10. As the population of this region has increased, the demands on this road have grown commensurately, and so Marana is currently collaborating with the Regional Transportation Authority, Oro Valley, and Pima County to widen Tangerine Road and to eliminate the dips that are vulnerable to flooding. Phase 1-A of this project, stretching from Dove Mountain to Thornydale, will finish this summer, and will include two lanes in each direction and a landscaped center median. There will also be widened shoulders on both sides of the road, as well as a car-free shared-use path on the north side of Tangerine. While Tangerine Sky Park becomes a reality in northeast Marana, we are also working on a major improvement in northwest Marana. The Town is working to realign the Marana Road intersection west of I-10. This new alignment will greatly improve the safety of this intersection and allow for improved access to the Downtown Marana district. The Town will add a new roadway that pushes eastbound traffic on Marana road to a roundabout south of the current intersection with Sandario. Eventually, this roadway will continue on the east side of Sandario and curve south to connect with Marana Main Street. The vision for this area is all part of the Downtown Marana plan, and this new roadway is a preliminary step toward achieving that vision. One consequence of Marana’s growth is the heightened demand that is placed on the Marana Police Department. Marana’s officers do a tremendous job of policing our community and developing strong relationships with residents. However, their current facilities simply do not provide adequate capacity if they are going to keep providing the same level of service. That’s why the Marana is building a new police headquarters. This summer, we are excited to break ground on this facility, and we expect to complete it by summer 2018. It will include a public community room, holding cells, shooting range, booking areas, and much more. During the design of the facility, Marana’s engineering team interviewed every police employee, including uniformed officers and support staff, to determine how they complete their jobs. This new facility will perfectly complement those processes. When it’s finished, the new Marana PD Headquarters will offer a beautiful and efficient space that will benefit the entire Town.One final project that we are particularly excited about is the extension of the shared-use path from El Rio Community Park to Avra Valley Road. This project coincides nicely with the closure of the path at Ina, as it provides 1.5 more miles of path to cyclists starting at Crossroads at Silverbell District Park. When the Ina section of the path reopens, the new segment will connect with the rest of the Loop system, offering cyclists well over 100 miles of car-free cycling throughout this region.

  • Town’s “Project Ina” app is live

    Since plans for the Ina Road Interchange project were announced several years ago, the town of Marana has been examining ways to help businesses with the impact of the construction. Ina Road’s closure on both ends of I-10 was going to cause a number of problems, including difficulty for cops and firefighters responding to calls in the area and traffic issues at neighboring interchanges. But the biggest concern was for the area businesses, whose customers are likely to avoid the congestion and hassles that come with a major road project.The town came up with a number of strategies to help those businesses, including the creation of an app to help promote businesses and inform residents about what was happening in the area. The town’s “Project Ina” app has gone live and is now available in the Apple App Store and on Google Play. The goal of the free app is to allow people to keep up with the traffic alerts in the area, as well as learn about any deals or promotions from those businesses affected by the construction. The app was first presented to the Marana Town Council back in October, when a beta version was available. The goal was to have everything someone heading to the area would need to know in one place. “It will really serve as a central hub of information about the program,” said Marana Assistant to the Town Manager Tony Hunter at the time.

  • High-Mile Club: Oil changes for older cars

    Your car has been a faithful steed for years, and you want to keep it running perfectly.So when you start hearing commercials about oil changes for cars with high mileage, you wonder. Because your car has logged at least 75,000 miles, you think this service might be warranted.While a high-mileage oil change certainly won’t hurt your car, it may not be necessary, said John Walter, director of automotive services for AAA Arizona. Expect to pay 25 to 40 percent more for a high-mileage oil change because of the increased levels of additives in the oil, he said.“Typically, high-mileage oil changes have higher levels of additives in them,” Walter said. “If you maintain your vehicle, high-mileage oil changes aren’t going to do much for you.” As a go-to source for automotive information, AAA’s Walter explained why this type of oil change usually isn’t that much better for your car. 

  • Monsanto withdraws from property tax break

    Less than a week before the Pima Board of Supervisors was to vote on whether or not it would endorse a controversial greenhouse project for a Foreign Trade Zone (FTZ) exception for Monsanto, the company announced they were withdrawing its FTZ proposal with the county. Monsanto announced the decision last week, though representatives said they are moving forward with several commitments to the area. The board of supervisors was set to vote this week on whether or not to recommend the 7-acre greenhouse project with the federal government. If granted, the trade zone would have given the company a lowered property tax rate, as per Arizona state law. Under the agreement the property tax rate would drop from 15 percent to 5 percent. Monsanto had already reached agreements with the Marana Unified School District (MUSD) and Pima County Joint Technical Education Districts (JTED), though Pima Community College declined to reach an agreement.  In 2016, Monsanto purchased the 115-acre site just outside of Marana, with plans of building a state of the art, fully enclosed greenhouse for “crossing” corn plants. Crossing involves taking pollen from one plant and putting it on another in an attempt to get desired characteristics from both plants. The company hopes to grow between 400,000 to 500,000 corn plants annually, and maintains all of it will be inside the greenhouse. Monsanto says there are no current plans to grow corn outside the greenhouse. In anticipation of the vote, the county held a series of public meetings, at which opposition towards the project was overwhelming, despite the efforts of Monsanto officials to try and alleviate fears of pesticide use and other environmental concerns. 

  • Marana High teacher honored before UA basketball game

    Marana High School teacher Alf Bergesen was honored prior to the University of Arizona men’s basketball game against Stanford as a finalist for the Arizona Department of Intercollegiate Athletics and the Circle K Corporation “Outstanding High School Faculty Awards Program.”Bergesen presented with a crystal trophy at midcourt to commemorate his status as a finalist.  The award honors outstanding high school teachers in Southern Arizona and all the finalists will be honored Feb 20 at a Hall of Champions/University of Arizona banquet.Bergesen, who has been with Marana High School since 2007, said he became a teacher to “have a positive enduring effect on the world.” Armed with a UA degree in history and anthropology, Bergesen taught middle school world history and geography before moving on to MHS.Currently he teaches both advanced placement and standard U.S. history. He likes his lessons to have the “right mix of humor, challenge, writing, relevance, listening, speaking, and support, all grounded in positive relationships with students.”In addition to his classes, he serves as a member of the Instructional Leadership Team, assisting new and returning teachers. He also serves as the social studies department’s U.S. History Professional Learning Community Lead, creating curriculum and planning instruction.

  • Cooking up Creole, Cajun traditions in Old Pueblo

    It’s more than just a few letters that distinguish the Cajuns from the Creoles in the Pelican State.While the terms are often used synonymously, the gulf between these two regional Louisiana styles of cooking is as wide as Lake Pontchartrain. So in preparation for Fat Tuesday, the one day of the year when that gulf is bridged, I caught up with two local chefs for a better understanding of these tasty traditions. Robert Iaccarino was born and raised in New Orleans and spent nearly 20 years in Europe as a self-described “journeyman chef.” He then worked in several New Orleans restaurants, including stints in the kitchen with legendary Louisiana chef Paul Prudhomme, an Iaccarino family friend, before his passing.Iaccarino tells me that creole cuisine is drawn from European influences, from what he calls the “top of the aristocracy.”“These were the people that had the means, the education and the money to purchase a lot of fresh foods, produce, meats, sausages and the like,” said Iaccarino, executive chef at Sazerac Creole Kitchen and Cocktails, 4340 N. Campbell Avenue, “and that’s what our food is based on at Sazerac; 19th century style cuisine with modern appliances.”In addition to classic creole dishes such as crawfish etoufee and jambalaya, Iaccarino’s menu also features some original selections, like the bronzed salmon filet with meuniere, a sauce made from a veal demi-glace that Iaccarino defines as “rich, decadent and complex.”

  • The Curtain is Rising

    So the wreaths are put away as are the menorahs, and everything you have now is less of everything you had, and is tidy and tucked away in those ubiquitous storage boxes every store in Tucson is hawking. Tucson Weekly-wise that means it’s time for the Spring Arts Preview (although, of course, spring is still months away; but what do I know?)So here is the spring listing of everything you need to know (well, maybe not everything) about the Tucson theater scene in the next few months:Of course, Live Theatre Workshop has a very funny Buyer and Cellar up and running already—very entertaining, and at Arizona Theatre Company an interesting La Esquinita, USA is already on the boards. (Both of these are reviewed online.) Also already taking flight is Roadrunner Theatre’s Becky’s New Car and Gaslight’s Dos Amigos. The Rogue Theatre’s visually alluring The White Snake is a happening thing over on University Boulevard, and Broadway in Tucson’s touring show Dirty Dancing is, well, dancing this very week on the Centennial Hall stage.ATC’s Ring of Fire sounds like it might have something to do with Johnny Cash. Surprise! It does! The Man in Black, who had the power to wow you by his mere presence, is celebrated in this musical/concert conceived by William Meade and created by Richard Maltby, Jr. This particular Ring will burn March 4 - 25. From April 15 - May 6, Jeffrey Hatcher, who has seen two Sherlock Holmes-centered plays presented by ATC in the not so distant past, brings yet another, Holmes and Watson. Holmes is supposed to be dead but three asylum inmates claim they are the master sleuth, and one knows something only Sherlock himself could know. How-oh-how will this be sorted out? ATC has a special short-run show called Men are From Mars Women are From Venus-Live based on—you guessed it—John Gray’s bestseller. This is a one-man show featuring Eric Coble and is guaranteed to make everyone blush at least a little. ATC sneaks this one in March 31-April 1.Arizona Repertory Theatre at the UA will likely be wowing us with David Auburn’s Proof, which won both a Pulitzer and Tony for Best Play and tests the equation of how a deceased brilliant mathematician, his daughter, her boyfriend and his other daughter create theatrical alchemy. It runs Feb. 8 – 26. Shakespeare’s own brand of brilliant will be celebrated with ART’s production of one of the Bard’s most magical of shows, Twelfth Night, March 5 – April 2. Then high notes will most surely be hit with their season finale, the musical, Evita, running April 9 through 30.The Rogue has a couple more shows this season. Penelope by Enda Walsh is to run March 2 – 19. It takes a contemporary, sideways glance at the suitors in the classic Odyssey tale. “Competitive courtship”? That’s what those rogues are promising us. Then—shhhh! They are taking on the Scottish play! For real! We won’t say it here, but those rowdy rogues are shamelessly shouting it to the world. That will run April 27 – May 14. There are also a couple of playreading events that look intriguing. Check the website.

  • Late concessions lead to development’s approval

    The Marana Town Council voted to approve a controversial rezoning for a 674-home development plan after the homebuilder negotiated with neighboring homeowners to make additional concessions. The Tapestry developer met with residents as late as the day of the council meeting and submitted an additional 20 revisions to the plan on the afternoon of the Jan. 17 meeting. Among the concessions were buffers between developments, limits on heights of homes adjacent to other developments and the amount of open space in the development.Area residents came out to multiple council meetings to use the call to the public to voice their initial displeasure to the project, but after a number of meetings with neighboring developments and residents that led to a number of concessions, just one of the seven speakers objected to the new proposal, though a few said they still had reservations about the project.“It is better to know what is going to happen rather than what could happen,” said Randy Shepherd, a resident of the Bluffs, the community to the west of the Tapestry development.  He asked that council “cautiously” approve this item but asked them to consider a slightly larger buffer between the Bluffs and Tapestry. One issue is that some of the homes in the Bluffs come right up to the property line, with no buffer of their own. While Tapestry’s plan for 10 foot buffers and 20-30 foot setbacks, going any further would greatly reduced the number of units that could be built in that portion of the property.The development team met with area residents as well as local environmental groups as late as the afternoon of the January 17 meeting and submitted an additional 20 amendments and concessions to the plan, which seemed to go a long way towards the council approving the deal. 

  • Highlands resident working to preserve after-school program

    A decade ago, Dot Santy decided to make Christmas a little brighter for the students enrolled in Project YES. Now Santy is trying to save the program. Santy, along with many of her neighbors in the Highlands on Dove Mountain, have supported Project YES, an after-school program for underprivileged children on the south side. “Project YES encourages the grade-school children of South Tucson to stay in school by teaching them self-confidence and academic success,” Santy said. Playing Santa for the students used to be enough, but when she found out the program was in real financial trouble, Santy rolled up her sleeves to help out. Project YES lost over a third of its grant funding and was forced to start charging parents $30 a week to enroll their children. For many this became too big of a burden, and enrollment dropped from more than 100 to just 19 students.Initially, her efforts were to donate what she could, and then she turned to her friends who helped with the Christmas program. She raised a few thousand dollars, but wants to do more. Her new goal is to raise $35,000 so that 85 students, which is full capacity for the school-age program, can attend. 

  • Sold Pueblo visions

    Michael Cajero has never been an artist of muted views. An expert at making desolate figures out of burnt papier-mâché and twisted wire, Cajero has created a scorched installation summing up his fears about America’s new political era. Displayed at Conrad Wilde Gallery in the aptly named show Resist! The Art of Disruption, Cajero’s nearly life-sized tableau features a scary brute wielding a club; below him a body lies beaten on the ground. Above, a blackened ladder has been severed in two, a farewell to a world where the 99 percent had some chance of climbing up to a better life. Invited to submit works pushing back against the “obscenely un-presidential and pathological,” 16 artists made “direct, heavy-hitting stuff,” says gallery director Miles Conrad, art that challenges the proposed policies of the new president. Crafted in media from video to photography to the scorched paper of Cajero, the pieces rage against economic inequality, racism, environmental destruction and curbs on reproductive freedom. The show continues through Feb. 25; reception is 6 to 9 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 4. Conradwildegallery.org. Resist is not the only show on the crowded spring arts calendar that touches on politically charged issues. Northern Triangle at the University of Arizona Museum of Art does a deep dive into the tragedy of woman and children fleeing the violence of Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras, and seeking refuge in the United States. The installation, by the Borderland Collective, opens with a reception from 4 to 6:30 p.m. Feb. 2. Opening at the same time is a solo exhibition for noted Tucson painter and muralist, David Tineo, whose vivid expressionist works champion Mexican-American culture and heritage. Both shows run through April 2. www.artmuseum.arizona.edu. And at the eastside Tucson Desert Art Museum, three exhibitions document the World War II-era internment camps that imprisoned men, women and children of Japanese descent—many of them U.S. citizens. One show zeroes in on the camps in Arizona, including the Prison Camp on Mount Lemmon. At a moment when some Americans have suggested interning Muslims, the shows are a welcome reminder that fear can subvert the Constitution. www.tucsondart.org.But art, as always, also offers solace and delight. Many of this season’s exhibitions honor beauty; some planned arts events are downright fun. The Center for Creative Photography is staging a birthday party for the late Ansel Adams from 1 to 4 p.m. on Feb. 18 (he would be 115 on Feb. 20 were he still among us). The free festivities include a print viewing of his lovely black-and-white landscape photos (the CCP owns the lauded photographer’s archive), a talk by chief curator Becky Senf, and, of course, a birthday cake. www.creativephotography.org.  Davis Dominguez Gallery’s Play of Light, opening Jan. 27, is all about beauty. Joanne Kerrihard delivers serene, color-filled paintings, Carrie Seid turns up with luminous sculptural boxes rendered in silk, and Andy Polk shows inkjet prints. Through March 11. www.davisdominguez.com.

  • Dance Away

    After opera singer Bernard Bermudez’s lush baritone vocals stole the show at a Ballet Tucson concert last year, he got a repeat invitation. This time he’ll sing with soprano Victoria Robinson in a Valentine-themed ballet concert Feb. 3 through Feb. 5 at Stevie Eller. The two singers will pair up on assorted opera favorites during the dance work Love Songs, choreographed by the ballet’s Daniel Precup. The concert, the last entry in the three-week-long Tucson Desert Song Festival, offers up two other dances, both performed without benefit of Bermudez: Mark Schneider’s In the Mood, set to big-band music, and Romantic Duets, a series of pas de deux culled by Mary Beth Cabana and Chieko Imada from the classic ballets Romeo and Juliet, Swan Lake and A Midsummer Night’s Dream.In Dance and Dessert 2017, March 17 to 19 at Stevie Eller, the pro troupe tackles La Bayadere, Act III, Petipa’s 1877 work, and its signature “Kingdom of the Shades” scene. Also on the menu: a series of short works by a variety of choreographers and tasty sweets served up by local restaurants. www.ballettucson.org. UA Presents brings in Dance Theatre of Harlem, the storied ballet company created in 1969 by Arthur Mitchell, the second African-American dancer to perform with Balanchine’s New York City Ballet. Forty-eight years in, the troupe—still based in Harlem—performs classic ballet as well as new contemporary works. Dance Theatre’s 14 dancers alight at Centennial Hall for one night only, Feb. 17. Steppin’ Out Live, starring Ben Vereen, is a three-night run of dancing and singing, at Stevie Eller, March 31 to April 2. www.uapresents.org. The UA School of Dance Ensemble dives into three works by three different noted choreographers, Feb. 15 to 19. The students take on “The American,” a 2001 ballet by acclaimed English choreographer Christopher Wheeldon, currently director of An American in Paris, the hit revival on Broadway. For Igor Stravinksy’s Les Noces, a ballet-cantata now in its centennial year, the UA dancers will be joined by a choir and a host of student musicians, including four pianists and 12 percussionists. The late Bella Lewitzky, a modern dance icon, is revisited in Recesses, a 1978 piece most notable for the dangerous back slam it requires of its female soloist.   The school’s professors showcase their own choreography in Spring Collections, April 21 to 30. Also on the boards will be a piece by guest artist Miguel Perez, a former member of L.A.’s dazzling BODYTRAFFIC troupe. Jump Start, April 20 to 29, puts the spotlight on student choreography. All UA Dance concerts are at Stevie Eller. www.tickets.arizona.edu

  • Manager’s Message: Ina Road is Open for Business

    As construction along I-10 at Ina Road progresses, the town of Marana is excited to partner with businesses in this district to keep our local economy thriving. In mid-February the Arizona Department of Transportation’s (ADOT) Ina Road Corridor project will enter its second phase. During this phase the on- and off-ramps of I-10 at Ina Road will close, and traffic on Ina Road will be unable to cross from one side of I-10 to the other. In order to support commerce in this area Marana is offering businesses several ways to increase their exposure. Most visibly, drivers along Ina will soon notice new signs emphasizing the wide variety of businesses located along this stretch. If you’re visiting your favorite donut shop, for example, you might learn from these signs that there is also a brewery nearby, as well as a bowling alley, a number of mechanics, restaurants, retail shops and much more. Commerce along Ina Road represents a range of sectors, and we hope that these signs will help keep customers coming back, despite all the orange cones.To help businesses on Ina increase their own exposure, the Marana Town Council has also modified the sign code. Now, businesses in construction zones anywhere in the town can set up temporary signs to attract customers. This provision enables businesses that may be obscured by machinery to maintain a visible presence.In our efforts to support Ina businesses, Marana has also undertaken a more innovative approach that leverages technology. Our Tech Services team has designed Project Ina, which soon you will find in the App Store and Google Play. This tool will allow businesses to post promotions and messages in a central location where frequenters of this area can easily find and take advantage of any deals. By creating a central source for this kind of information, we are hoping to mitigate the inconvenience of construction.Finally, the town of Marana has partnered with the Marana Chamber of Commerce to facilitate an open dialogue among business owners, town officials, and the ADOT construction team. In early February, staff from both the Chamber and the town will team up for a business walk along Ina Road. During our visits with these business owners, we will not only provide them with literature on business support opportunities, but also hear from them what we as a community can do to help them even more.Major construction projects are always a challenge for everyone, from businesses to the shoppers who want to support them. However, once this major infrastructure improvement is complete, drivers will enjoy a safer Ina Road interchange and better access to the businesses that now are more difficult to reach. When the project concludes, Marana will repave the entire stretch of Ina Road from Thornydale to Silverbell. And best of all, because Ina will now pass over the train tracks and I-10, you’ll never get stuck at the railroad crossing again! By making the effort to support local businesses during this project, we can all help them make it through construction, so that they’re still there for us to enjoy when the work is done.

  • Top Travel Trends for 2017

    The year 2017 brings a year of new beginnings and new destinations.According to a recent AAA survey 42 percent of Americans are planning to take a vacation in 2017 – with most planning trips to the warm weather destinations in the United States and abroad. All signs are pointing to a busy year for vacationers and the travel industry. And about 30 percent of U.S. adults say they are more likely to take a vacation this year compared to 2016. When they do, they’re looking for a new kind of travel experience.“Exploring places that are less traveled is the theme for 2017,” said Amy Moreno, senior travel manager for AAA Arizona. “Travelers are looking for unique experiences and want to be among the first to explore and share these up-and-coming destinations.” AAA Travel experts predict the top five travel trends for 2017:  

  • Snooze and don’ts: Less sleep causes more crashes

    Missing only one or two hours of sleep a night nearly doubles the chance of having a car crash, according to new research from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 35 percent of U.S. drivers sleep less than the recommended seven hours daily, and 12 percent report sleeping less than five hours each night. With drowsy driving involved in more than 1 in 5 fatal crashes on U.S. roadways each year, AAA warns drivers that getting less sleep may have deadly consequences.“This study is the first to quantify the relationship between specific measures of recent sleep and the risk of crash involvement among the general driving population,” said Lisa Fell, director of communications and public affairs for AAA Arizona. “Driving drowsy is essentially driving impaired.” Research by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety found that in a 24-hour period, crash risk for sleep-deprived drivers increased steadily when compared to well-rested drivers:Six to seven hours of sleep: 1.3 times the crash riskFive to six hours of sleep: 1.9 times the crash risk

  • Time to start thinking about taxes

    As the end of 2016 approaches thoughts of vacations, presents and time with family abound, but business owners and employees alike are also thinking about taxes. For working families sometimes the answer is the tax refund check. For business owners it’s the corporate tax rate, which will also be in flux in the new year. Currently, the U.S. Corporate Tax Rate stands at 38.9 percent, a number incorporating state and local taxes. The average Corporate Tax Rate from 2000-2016 averaged 39.21 percent, an all-time high, according to www.tradingeconomics.com. Darla Thompson, a tax senior manager at BeachFleischman in Tucson, advises that people take a look at some of the new tax rules that will change under the incoming Donald Trump administration. The extent of the change is still unknown, she says, but there are some hard and fast guidelines that one can employ to try to stay ahead of the curve when it comes to filing taxes.What the new administration has laid out is a plan on collapsing the current seven tax brackets into three: for married joint-filers, if your income is less than $75,000 annually, the tax rate is 12 percent; more than $75,000, but less than $225,000, is 25 percent; more than $225,000 and the rate is 33 percent. For brackets of single filers, the amount would approximately be half, according to www.donaldjtrump.com.“If tax rates are lowered and you expect to be in a lower bracket next year, we would encourage taxpayers to pay deductible expenditures in 2016 to take advantage of a deduction at a higher income tax rate,” Thompson said. “On the same note, if possible, defer taxable income until 2017.”She went on to explain that many people have different reasons for filing their taxes early or later in the year. She boiled it down to two categories: Those expecting a tax refund and those who are expected to owe taxes.

  • Sheep reintroduction project releases update on local population

    The Santa Catalina Bighorn Sheep Reintroduction Project recently released a summary of bighorn sheep reintroduction activities in the Coronado National Forest from Oct. 27 through Nov. 30.On Nov. 22 the Arizona Game and Fish Department accomplished the fourth translocation of its reintroduction effort when 20 bighorn sheep were released into the Santa Catalina Mountains. The group included 15 ewes and five rams that were captured the previous day in the Plomosa Mountains near Quartzsite, Arizona. The animals ranged in age from one to older than five years. Six of the animals, one ram and five ewes, were fitted with GPS collars. This is different from the previous three releases in the Catalinas in which nearly every animal was collared. There is no longer a need to have this population of bighorn sheep collared because the field research is coming to an end. It is standard practice for the Department to collar 30 percent of translocated animals.The goal of this reintroduction project was to establish a self-sustaining population of bighorn sheep in the Catalina Mountains that coexists with an equally healthy native predator population in a naturally functioning ecosystem. Predation by mountain lions has been shown to be a limiting factor in restoration efforts of bighorn sheep, so until now, mountain lions that have preyed on bighorn sheep have been pursued, and on some occasions removed. With the population of desert bighorn sheep in the Catalinas now at a level that has historically been sustainable, active predator management has ended. While the predator management plan was originally conceived to be a four-year undertaking, the success of the reintroduction program overall has allowed the curtailment of predator management early.

  • Oro Valley aims to stomp out distracted driving with hands-free ordinance

    Oro Valley drivers will soon have to put down their phones while driving, or risk a ticket.With a unanimous vote last Wednesday, Dec. 7, the town council voted to ban the use of cell phones and mobile electronic devices that are not in hands-free mode while driving.The ordinance is an effort to reduce the number of collisions related to distracted driving. Of the more than 29,000 collisions reported in Arizona last year, nearly 3,000 were caused by a distracted driver, according to the state Department of Public Safety. In the town of Oro Valley, 36 of the 600 collisions were due to someone not keeping their attention on the road. Brendan Lyons, the executive director of the national roadway safety nonprofit Look! Save a Life, called the creation and approval of a distracted driving ordinance in Oro Valley a huge victory that could create momentum for a statewide ban.“I think this sets a real precedence for Southern Arizona, and this sets precedence for the state of Arizona,” Lyons said. “It shows that our communities want this, that our constituent citizens want this. The City of Tucson has an ordinance, Pima County has an ordinance and now Oro Valley has an ordinance. It’s time for the state to jump on board.”Lyons alsoconsiders the ordinance a personal triumph. The former firefighter was riding his bicycle in October 2013 when he was struck from behind by a motorist traveling 45 miles per hour. Enduring six fractured vertebrae and a fractured pelvis, Lyons told the town council he considered himself lucky to be standing before them.

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