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  • A conversation with Sen. John McCain

    Senator John McCain recently sat down with the Foothills News political writer Jim Nintzel and publisher Steve Pope to talk about Supreme Court appointments, illegal immigration and the propositions on minimum wage and recreational marijuana that voters will decide in the Nov. 8 election. Here’s a condensed and edited Q&A with Arizona’s senior senator, who is facing Democratic U.S. Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick as he seeks a sixth term.  How do you feel about recent reports about the apparent rapid advance of the middle class economically over the last year?What I saw was some improvement in the economy but we still have a smaller middle class than we had prior to 2008. This has been the slowest recovery since the end of the Great Depression. And we’ve seen the disposable income of middle America being reduced because of government regulation and Obamacare. So the wealthiest Americans have become wealthier and the number of poorer, lower income Americans has become larger. And 19 million Americans have stopped looking for work. That’s not good. It’s the first time in modern history that we’ve gone without at least one year of 3 percent GDP growth. What sort of policies do you think would turn that around?

  • Town to honor younger residents for their good work

    The Town of Marana will honor the young people of the town with their newly created Youth Legacy Award. The award compliments the Branding Iron and Ora Mae Harn Crystal Legacy Awards currently given out by the town. The Marana Town Council approved the award by a unanimous vote. Inspiration behind the award was the town’s recent participation in the All America City competition in Denver. The town partnered with the Marana Unified School District to take a group of students to Colorado in June for and came away very impressed with the young people, who presented many of the elements that were judged for the competition. “Their enthusiasm, talent, perspective, commitment, other scholastic and community-based programs they are involved with is exciting and impressive,” said Marana Communications Manager Vickie Hathaway. “Especially their presentation at this national competition on how to showcase programs that promote heart, body and mind.”Working with the students the town staff realized that it was important to find more ways to not only engage younger residents, but to award and recognize them for their accomplishments. Marana’s other awards have traditionally gone to adults.For the Marana Youth Legacy Award the town is looking at nominees whose work and ethics benefit the community. To be considered for the award, the nominee must be 18 years or younger at the time of nomination and have made an impact in one of three categories. The first category is heart, which is “the participation in programs that promote a safe environment.” The second is body, which are any programs that address the central needs such as food, clothing or shelter. The final category is mind, which are educational opportunities.  

  • Garden lovers prepared, Tohono Chul gearing up for Fall Plant Sale

    The fall equinox is now in the rearview and the Tucson area can finally say goodbye to summer and welcome fall – the name adopted locally for the brief window of temperate climate before dipping into the morning frost of desert winter.For some, the call of autumn means the beginning of football, upcoming championship series and the return of the NBA.For Jo Falls, director of education and visitor services at Tohono Chul Park, the break from triple digit heat means it’s time to take to the garden.“In general terms fall is the best time of year to plant,” she said. “The reason being that whatever you are putting into the ground has the opportunity to establish itself and get some root growth. We always encourage people to look at fall as a time for planting. … Somewhere it is ingrained in people that you have to wait until the last frost and wait until spring and that’s the time that everybody comes out and does their plant shopping. For us, fall is a really good time to do it.”Though there is no set-in-stone deadline to put seeds or roots down, Falls said that anecdotally the deadline to keep in mind is somewhere around Thanksgiving. So get those seeds or transplant plants selected and get the ground prepared, even if it’s as simple as raking up an open area.For larger plants like trees, agave, yucca and cacti, Falls suggested that planting as soon as possible is of great benefit because of the extra time required to settle before any weather-related hazards set back in.

  • Tragedy strikes stunt pilot with Marana ties

    A longtime pilot with ties to Marana died in an airplane crash during an air show in Central Oregon.Marcus Bruce Paine, 61, perished when his Boeing Stearman biplane crashed while attempting a low-altitude loop as part of the Airshow of the Cascades on Aug. 27. The air-show veteran had successfully attempted the same maneuver the day before.Jefferson County Sheriff’s Department officials said Paine died in the crash and no one on the ground was hurt. An FAA official was on hand and the department is investigating the incident.“It is with heavy hearts that the Airshow of the Cascades announces the loss of the talented aerobatic performer, Marcus Paine, during his Saturday afternoon performance in Madras, Oregon,” a statement from the air show organizers read. “The Paine Family and the air show community appreciate your thoughts and prayers during this difficult time.”Paine, a native of Alaska, owned Unusual Attitudes, LL, a business based out of Marana Regional Airport. He operated the business only part of the year, when he was not participating in air shows or other ventures. Paine taught trained pilots how to fly air-show aerobatic maneuvers, with an emphasis on flying in abnormal conditions. The flight school also taught Unusual Attitude Recovery, Stall/Spin Awareness and aerobatic flight. He taught from October to May, which is the offseason for the air show circuit.

  • DWD: Driving While Drowsy

    High schools might want to consider pressing the snooze button when it comes to starting the school day.New research suggests later school start times could be safer for teen drivers when they’re driving in the afternoon. “When you are sleepy, it affects your health and safety behind the wheel,” said Michelle Donati, communications manager for AAA Arizona. “Teens are more likely to be at-risk for drowsy driving as their bodies need more sleep than adults.”Drowsy driving is especially a problem for young drivers because science shows that teens need more sleep than adults. Many high schools, however, start as early as 7 a.m. Robert Foss, who studies teen driving at the University of North Carolina Highway Safety Research Center, researched whether later school start times had an effect on teen driving safety. He found a 14 percent drop in crashes involving teen drivers in one county after the school district pushed high school start times from 7:30 to 8:45 a.m. in 2003. While the shift in start times only served to push morning crashes back an hour, the data showed that the number of early afternoon crashes fell significantly. Researchers suggested that later dismissal times reduced the amount of time teens were on the road in the afternoon. 

  • Sixth annual Salsa and Tequila Challenge brings Tucson’s foodies together

    Equipped with personal bags of chips, well over 1,000 local foodies took to the La Encantada Shopping Center on Saturday, Aug. 20 to celebrate two of the Southwest region’s most staple foodstuffs—salsa and tequila at the sixth annual Salsa and Tequila Challenge, hosted by the Southern Arizona Arts and Cultural Alliance.Filtering through the booths of dozens of Tucson’s most accomplished restaurateurs and culinarians, guests were treated to some of the best – and most surprising – examples of the classic culinary duo.“Welcome to the Southwest,” said SAACA Communications Director Cait Huble. “Salsa and tequila is just a fun way to bring out the culture of Tucson. Almost every restaurant offers tequila cocktail, a lot offer salsa and the fun thing about this event are the ones that don’t normally offer it in the restaurant. (They) are competing against those that do. You get to taste a lot of different varieties.”Whether indulging in tequila popsicles, habenero-peach salsa or a vaporized cocktail, the challenge was more a festival, as each participant looked to not only display gastronomic ingenuity, but show off with artistic and colorful booths.According to Huble, it’s the perfect event for any restaurant, food truck, home kitchen or any other accomplished cook or chef to reach their audience in a way much more engaging to Tucson’s eaters.“It’s not just buying a bus ad or buying a print ad anymore, you want to be able to get in front of people; the audience that will return to your restaurant,” she said. “If you come to a foodie event that is culturally driven, that’s your people. That’s the audience you want.”

  • Fall Arts Preview

    The upcoming season offers photography, dance, fine arts and, of course, politicsPolitics are everywhere in this endless election season, and local artists and arts organizations—painters, dancers and actors—are doing their part, jumping in with timely works that offer pungent political commentary. Painter Alfred Quiroz, a UA prof whose big canvases have long aimed sharp criticism at sugar-coated versions of U.S. history, opens a major show at the University of Arizona Museum of Art right in time for the election—and for the inauguration of the presidential winner. The Presidential Series: Paintings by Alfred J. Quiroz, on view from Oct. 22 to Jan. 22, takes aim at the follies of presidents past, in large-scale, cartoon-colored paintings that veer from comic to deadly serious. www.artmuseum.arizona.edu.Two local editorial cartoonists—Rand Carlson of the Tucson Weekly and David Fitzsimmons of the Arizona Daily Star—wield their stinging pens in works at the Contreras Gallery. Political painter Gary Aagaard joins the pair in a show that runs in the fraught political weeks from Oct. 1 to 29. www.contrerashousefineart.com.Even dance turns serious. Artifact Dance Project, the ambitious local contemporary troupe, has created a dance interpretation of Animal Farm, George Orwell’s ominous 1945 fable about the rise of totalitarianism. ADP stages the work to live music in the Great Hall of MOCA-Tucson, running Oct. 6 to 9. artifactdanceproject.org. See Sherilyn Forrester’s description of Nogales, a new play at Borderlands that deals with the wrenching issues of the border, a hot topic in the election. The play examines the real-life death of 16-year-old Jose Antonio Elena Rodriguez, a Mexican boy who died on his own turf, shot by a Border Patrol agent through the border wall. 

  • Catalina Foothills High School football: Falcons flying high for 2016 season

    Since hiring Jeff Scurran prior to the 2013 season, the Catalina Foothills High School football program has had their best run of success in the school’s history. The Falcons enter the 2016 season full of optimism, not only hoping to make the playoffs for the fourth straight season, but looking to make their deepest postseason run in school history.The Falcons have won 23 games in three seasons, after going 0-10 in 2012. Scurran’s arrival coincided with that of quarterback Rhett Rodriguez. Rodriguez, the son of University of Arizona Head Coach Rich Rodriguez, won the job as a freshman and has never looked back. The heady passer, he also boasts a 4.0 GPA, has passed for over 5,000 yards in his career. He had a great junior season, throwing for 2,503 yards and rushing for 624 more, but more importantly, taking the Falcons to the second round of the state playoffs for just the second time in school history. What makes Rodriguez so effective is his decision making. He threw just two interceptions last season, one for every 118 pass attempts, and completed over 66 percent of his passes. “It is like having a coach on the field, who’s like a point guard,” said Scurran. “Everything we do gets run through him.”The quarterback is hardly alone in getting it done in the classroom. Half of the team are considered A and B students, while six are either 4.0 students or one class from being straight A students. Rodriguez is not the only threat on offense. The Falcons return their top two receivers and top two rushers. 

  • Valley View expanded and ready for students

    The Valley View Early Learning Center and its staff were prepared for the more than 200 pre-k students which came returning to the halls of the recently expanded school last week. Having undergone an expansive expansion process, the school now has a greatly expanded outdoor space, classrooms and more.As the communities youngest learners returned to Valley View last Thursday to begin another year of adventurous learning and play-based education, those who hadn’t seen the school over the summer – or new students – were in for quite a surprise.Having nearly doubled in size since the previous school year, the school is looking at the end of a year-long expansion process: having added eight new classrooms, a greatly expanded outdoor play space, a new kitchen, an occupational therapy room, a lounge for teachers and more.Breaking ground last August and hosting construction crews throughout the year, the school remained opened and fully operating while Concord Construction took to work. While many schools may look at a massive overhaul as a distraction and possibly even a detriment to the education process, Valley View embraced the construction with open arms, integrating the happenings of the worksite into the classroom. “It was an adventure and it was noisy,” said McKenzie Thomas, who teaches at Valley View. “It definitely took some getting used to; it was a lot of bodies that were added so a lot of in-and-out movement. … In my classroom in particular we got really involved with the construction and we actually created a relationship with the construction team, the engineers and the architects…That’s what they were noticing and seeing outside and they brought it in and made it an everyday part of their life.”

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