Ancient ruins at Marana park site - Tucson Local Media: Import

Ancient ruins at Marana park site

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Posted: Tuesday, September 19, 2006 11:00 pm

September 20, 2006 - Archaeologists hope to dig one last time at a future Marana park site that has yielded several thousand prehistoric artifacts, some that predate pottery.

A final excavation season could begin next month at the Yuma Wash site, located just north of the intersection of Ina and Silverbell roads along the Santa Cruz River. Archaeologists in 1999 began excavations on the site, once home to a large settlement of Hohokam Indians.

Old Pueblo Archaeology Center found evidence of approximately 200 underground pithouses and above-ground pueblo homes.

The town of Marana will preserve part of the 43-acre Yuma Wash site when it builds a long-awaited 58-acre recreational park. Pima County also will build a 22,000-square-foot library in Cortaro-Silverbell District Park.

About $4.5 million in voter-approved bonds will go toward construction of the library. The county also will tap into its library district budget, using about $1.4 million more, said Carter Volle, project manager for the Wheeler Taft Abbett Sr. Public Library.

The Abbett family gave the county $1 million to gather books for the library, which will house 100,000 volumes.

Budget problems have left the library in temporary limbo. The project may go out to bid this month, Volle said.

"The bid climate for new construction is really lousy right now," he said.

If the library reaches the bid process Marana Lt. Joe Carrasco and patrol officer Robert Bereiter both applied for the position. Carrasco has been with the department for more than 20 years. Bereiter has worked in the department for about two years but has extensive experience in administration and training, Vidaurri said.

The committee also interviewed Pima Community College Interim Police Chief Barbara Harris and Gary Dhaemers, who oversees Pima County Attorney Office's 88-Crime hotline. Since its inception in 1980, the program has given more than $777,000 in rewards for tips leading to arrests.

The hiring committee decided to offer the job to Harris, after completion of a background check.

If she accepts the position, Harris will make $85,000 or more a year as the second-in-command to Viduarri.

"We had really good, qualified candidates," the chief said. "Any would make a good assistant chief."

The department has 75 sworn officers and the town council approved nine new officer positions in June.

The number of crimes committed in Marana has fluctuated since 1997, mostly increasing along with the town's population. The department handled 171 car thefts last year, almost 50 more than in 2004.

Officers made 762 arrests last year, compared to 729 in 2004. Through June of this year, officers had arrested 221 adults and 183 juveniles.

The town also will add a fourth attorney to its legal department. Just four years ago, the town employed none. Cassidy, a former Oro Valley and Pima County attorney, in 2003 became Marana's first in-house lawyer.

The Marana Municipal Court's case-

load has increased more than 30 percent over the past few years, prompting the town to hire its own prosecutor in May 2005. A former Tucson city prosecutor and attorney in the city school district's legal department, Jane Fairall became the town's first in-house prosecutor.

The town previously paid the Hochuli & Benavidez law firm to prosecute cases. The firm acted as both town attorney and town prosecutor, services that cost the town more than $350,000 a year.

The Marana court handles civil traffic violations, misdemeanor crimes and breaches of town ordinances, including animal and noise violations. The court issues orders of protection, injunctions against harassment and marriage licenses.

The town budgeted $571,411 this fiscal year for its legal department and $729,080 for its court.

The court's caseload has increased from 6,038 in fiscal 2001 to more than 9,000 cases in fiscal 2005.

Marana now has two attorneys, an attorney-to-be and an opening for assistant town attorney, who will report to Cassidy.

Cassidy makes $127,157 a year, Fairall $87,412. The town in January hired Laine Sklar as a law clerk fresh from law school. Sklar recently took the bar exam, and upon passing results, will become assistant town prosecutor at an annual salary of $49,164.

Cassidy's assistant will make up to $80,000 a year, according to a town advertisement posted on its Web site. The town council approved the assistant attorney position at its Sept. 5 meeting. The attorney will assist Cassidy with civil matters and provide legal advice to the council, town manager and all town departments.

The town will close the position's opening on Oct. 30, after it advertises in the Oct. 16 edition of Arizona Attorneys Magazine. Interviews will follow in November, Cassidy expects.

"I wanted to cast my net as wide as I can," he said. "We hope to get in on the front of the wave of work."

Cassidy's assistant will work a lot with development agreements, which take months to settle. The town continues to work on an agreement with Red Point Development for its huge 1,476-acre Cascada project, which will include more than 3,000 houses, businesses and offices.

The town recently put the agreement on two council agendas, removing it both times at the meetings.

"It takes some time to hammer out legal issues," Cassidy said. "Day to day, there's just 10 more things, and these things get put off. I hope with the new positions, we should be set for the foreseeable future."

The new attorney positions almost bring Marana in line with Oro Valley, which has five attorneys on staff - a town attorney, chief civil deputy town attorney, civil attorney, a town prosecutor and assistant prosecutor.

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