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  • Summer Safari Nights returning to Reid Park Zoo

    Cool summer evenings in Tucson will soon receive an infusion of roars, growls, squawks and a medley of other animal sounds at the Reid Park Zoo, which kicks off its annual Summer Safari Nights this Friday. A weekly shindig, the animal attractions at the zoo will be joined by live musical performances, special dining menus and discounts at the gift shop.Every Friday will feature a different theme, and the zoo has chosen its two resident bear populations, the Andean and grizzlies, as its representatives of the safari’s first night: The Bear Necessities.The zoo’s two grizzlies, Ronan and Finley, were rescued from Yellowstone National Park four years ago, when the siblings were roughly 18 months old. As cubs the two bears were taught several problem-causing and dangerous behaviors by their mother, and the decision was made to relocate the duo.Ronan and Finley (now well-trained) live in Grizzly Crossing at the zoo, which was originally built to house the polar bear population. With some modifications, however, the furred siblings have found a new home and a new life.“These aren’t your average bears, but they do like picnic baskets,” joked zookeeper Chelsea Barber.The zoo’s Andean bears, Worf and Lucy, have been a part of the Reid Park family since 1996, and have long entertained Tucsonans and visitors alike with their penchant for climbing trees. Also known as “spectacled bears” for the white ring of fur around their eyes, Worf and Lucy have had two cubs of their own over the years, which have been sent to other zoos to help propagate the vulnerable species. 

  • Reel Deal: Q&A with the Loft's Peggy Johnson

    Peggy Johnson is the executive director of the Loft Cinema Foundation, the nonprofit that runs the Loft Theater. The Loft is getting a major makeover this summer with a renovation of the main auditorium that will bring in new, more comfortable seating along with other improvements. Johnson recently discussed what’s happening at the Loft on the radio edition of “Zona Politics with Jim Nintzel”, which airs Sunday afternoons at 5 p.m. on community radio KXCI, 91.3 FM. This Q&A is a condensed and edited version of that conversation. You’re doing a major makeover in the main auditorium of the Loft. You still have movies going on in your upstairs theater and on the relatively new screen next door to the big screen, so we don’t want people thinking that you’re closed for business. But before we get into this summer’s programming, let’s start with the work you’re doing with the main auditorium. This has been a long time coming, and we’re so excited it’s happening now. What we’re doing is really just bringing that big screen—the big theater that everybody loves so much—up-to-date.  It’s going to have stadium seating in the back. It’s going to have more aisles. It’s going to have new comfortable seats. It’s going to have better sight lines. It has to be fully accessible, which has been such a priority, and it’s just really a long time coming. There will be other advantages along the way. We’re going to upgrade the sound a little bit, and we’re going to upgrade the air conditioning system. You know, little things like that, so it’ll be totally a modern space. How old were those seats in there?

  • Mountain View honors seniors moving on to future endeavors

    Mountain View High School held their first ever College Signing Day to honor seniors who will be moving on to colleges, trade schools, internships and the military. Nearly 275 students took part in the ceremony.After a brief speech by Mountain View Principal Todd Garelick, the students were honored.“I couldn’t be more excited and proud of what we are doing today and what you have accomplished and where you guys are going,” Garelick told the students at the event. “This is a great day and we could not be happier.”The video board showed the logo of each individual school and listed the students who were planning on attending that college. The students were called up by school and handed a certificate. By the end of the procession the 275 students were on stage where they posed for pictures, including a few selfies by the school staff.More than 20 four-year, two-year and trade schools were represented, as were four different internship opportunities and each of the four branches of the military. Pima Community College led the way with 97 students, followed by the University of Arizona and Northern Arizona, which are slated to have 65 and 48 students attend, respectively.

  • Notes before council finalizes next year's budget

    The Oro Valley town council is one step closer to finalizing its budget for the coming fiscal year, which will begin in July. While the seven-member body discusses last minute alterations to the recently approved tentative budget, here are a few things to keep in mind from the May 19 council meeting:1. For now, higher than the current fiscal year: The 2017-18 budget was first brought before the council in the form of the town manager’s recommended budget during the April 19 session, at which time the spending plan was set at $123.2 million, down from the current year’s $125.8 adopted budget. The tentative budget adopted by council on May 19 is set at $128.4 million.2. The change is primarily due to the Naranja Park plan: During the May 3 session a unanimous seal of approval was given by council to place a $17 million bond question on the November ballot for improvements at Naranja Park. Of the difference between the recommended and tentative budgets, $5 million is attributed to added capacity for the possible issuance and expenditure of general obligation bonds should special bond election pass public vote. If the measure is not approved the town would not use the additional budget capacity. The rest of the increase is linked to the energy efficiency project currently underway at the community center, which was increased $249,000 after the project’s contractor – Trane – updated its estimates.3. Change is expected: Alterations between stages in the budget process are why the approval of each stage is set apart several weeks. The council sits through several budget study sessions in April and May to listen to overviews from department heads, ask questions and request alterations in the budget. Though the local expenditure limit is now set at $128 million for the coming fiscal year, the council does have the authority to make changes to the budget prior to final adoption, though the total amount must stay under the expenditure limit.4. Still includes repayment from Community Center to General Fund: When the previous town council voted to acquire the community center and associated amenities in 2015, $1.2 million was withdrawn from the General Fund contingency reserve to front the first few months of operations and improvements, under the assumption of repaying $120,000 every year to the general fund. Last summer town council voted to delay its first repayment of that cash infusion, though the current tentative budget does list the payment in the community center fund, which has yet to be made.5. The entire document is available online: Much like the information given to council during its meetings and recordings of those meetings, the town manager’s recommended budget and other finance information is available via the town’s website, or by clicking here.

  • Marana tentative budget approved

    The Marana Town Council approved the tentative budget for the fiscal year 2018 during on May 16.The Town Council will still need to take one more vote to formally approve the budget, but barring any last second changes, the budget for the fiscal year that begins July 1 is set.“We just have to do the final budget,” said Marana Town Manager Gilbert Davidson. “There is not going to be any major modifications to what we laid out there.”Town Finance Manager Erik Montague said the budget plan fits the town’s goal of of maintaining fiscal responsibility while investing in the community.“Strategic initiatives are balanced against existing priorities, resulting in a robust, yet efficient, financial plan for the coming year,” wrote Montague in a letter accompanying a draft of the proposed budget to the Marana Town Council."In developing this plan, town staff were guided by the priority initiatives identified by the Council and the community in the recently adopted Strategic Plan III.”As Marana continues to grow, so do revenues. The general fund revenues are expected to increase by approximately 5.7 percent to $43.6 million, according to Montague. Ninety percent of the general fund revenues come from sales taxes, intergovernmental revenues and development-related revenues. Montague noted that revenues can fluctuate, but all town projections show more dollars will be available in the year ahead because of new development.

  • Mountain Vista and Golder Ranch Fire Districts exploring consolidation

    The Golder Ranch and Mountain Vista Fire Districts have begun the process of working through a consolidation after both fire district boards met and unanimously voted to explore the process.“Our organizations have been working collaboratively for over a year in the areas of fleet services, technical support, training and fire prevention,” said Mountain Vista Fire Chief Cheryl Horvath. “Additionally, the districts are now responding under an automatic aid agreement which allows the closest most appropriate resources to respond to an emergency call, regardless of jurisdictional boundaries.”Golder Ranch Fire Chief Randy Karrer said both departments “are committed to providing information to our communities and allowing an informed dialogue to take place.”“We are hopeful that as we move through this dynamic and time-sensitive process, we will be successful in reaching each important commitment outlined in statute,” said Karrer.The public is encouraged to attend public meetings in order to learn more about this process. The following meetings are open to the public:• Thursday, June 8, at 6 p.m.; Mountain Vista Fire District administrative office, 1175 W. Magee Road.

  • “The Wall” hits the mark as psychological thriller

    Few modern war films give a voice to the enemy. Speaking parts are usually reserved for the battlefield’s victor, with only short glimpses of the losing opponent scrambling through a thick jungle or getting shot down in the sky from behind. In this latest movie from “Jason Bourne” series director Doug Liman, we find ourselves watching a deadly game of cat and mouse take place between a pair of overmatched U.S. soldiers and a single Iraqi sharpshooter in a post-Saddam Hussein timeline.Given the mission to find out who is repeatedly taking out an American contractor supply route, last year’s Golden Globe winner Aaron Taylor-Johnson (“Nocturnal Animals”) teams up with professional wrestler John Cena to scope out the source of the convoy trouble. As spotter and sniper, both make costly mistakes that jeopardize their position and lives.“The Wall” refers to the dilapidated and war-torn rock remains of an Iraqi school that serves as a source of cover from an enemy well-hidden and versed in American military tactics. Despite a couple of camouflaged political statements, “The Wall” asserts itself as psychological thriller with several suspenseful moments. Highlighting the film’s success is the established communications between opposing sides of this duel. The isolation of counter-sniper operations and both stars morphing, from being the hunter to the hunted, jumps out at shocked viewers.With less than a handful of characters in the entire 81-minute movie, this quagmire instills a deep sense of survival on the battlefield. Most interesting is the notion that misery loves company. Having a battle-buddy elevates one’s spirits and helps push them through intense adversity. Suffering alone, though, has the opposite coping effect upon a soldier’s mindset.

  • Events for some fun around town

    Finding the right bit of entertainment can always be a bit of a hassle, especially as the summer sun begins to beat down on our necks, forearms and ears. Instead of searching through online listings, ads and previews, take a moment to consider Logan’s top five things to do this week. 1. The Arizona Grand Opry: Located at Oro Valley’s Gaslight Music Hall, the Opry follows in the long tradition of live country music performances through which legends of the likes of Elvis were discovered. Local musicians and touring performers alike take the stage for a memorable performance of a truly southwestern character. By filling the void between stadiums and garage sets, the Opry is a chance for some of the newer names in country music to impress the community. Details: Sunday, May 21 at 6 p.m., 13005 N. Oracle Rd., tickets are $12.50, gaslightmusichall.com or 529-1000. 2. National Museum Day at the International Wildlife Museum: Dedicated to spreading knowledge about the animals of the world, the International Wildlife Museum has caught the attention of both local families and regional visitors since its founding in 1988. Including displays of more than 400 species of insects, mammals and birds from around the globe, the museum hosts exhibits more than 100 years old, and gives visitors a chance to interact with hands-on dioramas, computers, displays and more. Details: Thursday, May 18 from 9 a.m.-5 p.m., though the last admission is at 4:15 p.m., 4800 W. Gates Pass Blvd., free admission, thewildlifemuseum.org or 629-0100. 

  • Raccoon saves “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2” disaster

    As one of my most anticipated films of 2017, I was anxious to see how this next volume of “Guardians of the Galaxy” stacked up to its first mixtape. I unapologetically gave that first edition a well-deserved Top 5 ranking on my Best Films of 2014 list. In fact, this charming group--led by space scavenger Peter Quill—replaced Tony Stark’s initial “Iron Man” as my favorite comic book-to-movie release of all-time. Well, until last year’s unbelievably edgy adventure “Deadpool” (my 4th ranked film of 2016) elevated the superhero movie game to new heights. So now comes “Guardians” v2.0 and I am left feeling very disappointed. Disappointed not because this sequel tried too hard to match the flamboyance of its predecessor. Disappointed because Vol. 2 didn’t try at all. The camaraderie, non-stop humor, and sexual tension on the big-screen from three years is all diluted down to a younger audience and visions of the saga’s future third installment. Chris Pratt’s Quill character has lost of the confidence and moxie worthy of a Star-Lord. The journey that the lackluster Quill takes to find the identity of his father is both predictable and painfully slow to discount David Hasselhoff & Co. as DNA possibilities. The film’s mercilessly slow start extends well beyond halftime and before three subplots begin to get cleaned up in good ol’ “Guardians” fashion. I am Groot.  We’re told the space heroes’ camaraderie established in 2014 has now grown into a loving “family” of characters. The smoldering sexual tension between Quill and green-chick Gamora (Zoe Saldana) has dramatically cooled off to an “unspoken” love interest—resembling the innocence of a first-grade crush. With several subplots juggled throughout the galaxy, few scenes have the Guardians all together to exude their collective mojo and eye-poke each other.  Another missed opportunity is the fine performance by Kurt Russell as an “Ego”-maniac with worldly powers. Russell’s complicated existence is summarily presented to finally bring closure to film’s 137-minute ordeal. No one buys Russell’s sales pitch as the god-like Ego except for the meek Star-Lord.The film’s superstar is the smart-aleck raccoon Rocket (Bradley Cooper). His wise-cracking personality and penchant to steal carries this storyline and movie. With perfect comedic timing perhaps only rivalled in the Marvel Cinematic Universe by Robert Downey Jr., Cooper’s Rocket physically and verbally destroys all standing before him. In a distant second place for humor comes Dave Bautista’s laughable Drax the Destroyer. His awkward laughs out loud is both contagious and funny to viewers.

  • Sports update: Alday says goodbye to IRHS, hello to Pima CC

    Veteran coach returns to PCCPima Community College’s gain is Ironwood Ridge’s loss as Rich Alday has accepted the head coaching job for the Aztec baseball program. Alday has agreed to come back to lead the Aztecs, leaving the Nighthawk softball program. Alday started the Pima baseball program and racked up a record of 496-220 in his 16-year career from 1974-1989. He took the Aztecs to the NJCAA National Championship game in 1985 and was named Coach of the Year on three occasions in 1981, 1983 and 1985.He has spent the past four seasons coaching the Ironwood Ridge softball team, winning two state titles and winning 107 games.After his initial sting at Pima, he went on to coach the University of New Mexico for 18 seasons where he became their winningest head coach with 515 wins. He has a total of 1,011 wins in his collegiate career.Alday also coached the Olympic U.S. National team in 1988, where they won the tournament as an exhibition sport. He took them back in 1996 when they won a bronze medal.

  • CDO softball wins title

    The Canyon del Oro softball team has advanced to the state title game 12 times in their history and with a 4-2 win over Sunrise Mountain the Dorados, won their ninth state championship Tuesday, May 9.The Dorados survived a late Mustang rally and a 30-minute lightning delay to win the title at ASU’s Farrington Stadium in Tempe. CDO struck first with a three-spot in the first inning. Hope Banales reached on single, then after the weather delay, Ellessa Bonstrom tripled to score Banales and put the Dorados up 1-0. Ari Acedo singled home Bonstrom, and she eventually scored on a Nene Campos single. The Dorado defense made several big plays to keep the Mustangs off the board, but the offense could not come up with key hits, and the game remained 3-0 until the fifth inning. A.J. Kaiser led off the fifth with a single and was moved over by an Anya Gonzales bunt. Stephanie Cota came in to run for Kaiser and scored CDO’s fourth run on an errant throw by the Sunrise Mountain catcher.

  • End of season for CDO baseball

    Canyon del Oro High School senior Mason Myhre racked up more than half a dozen strikeouts from the mound against No. 1 ranked Nogales High School when the two schools met in the 4A state semifinal last Wednesday. Though the Dorados kicked off a three-run rally in the fifth inning, it was not enough to overcome the Apaches, who beat No. 2 ranked Salpointe Catholic in the championship game over the weekend.

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