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  • Town asks public for solution feedback

    The Town of Marana has tried to find a solution to the El Rio Preserve, otherwise known as “Lake Marana,” when the area floods to fix the issue, but also create a new amenity “that merges community recreation and nature preservation, public feedback is imperative.”To best serve the needs of the public, the town is asking residents to complete a survey to help guide the future of the El Rio Preserve. The El Rio Preserve is a 104-acre site that has served a variety of uses for many years. In the 18th century, Juan Bautista de Anza and his followers camped on this site during their journey from Southern Arizona to San Francisco. More recently, the Arizona Department of Transportation used this location as a gravel borrow pit for large infrastructure projects. Over the past several decades, disc golfers have constructed a series of targets throughout the site, and periodically, the flood waters from surrounding neighborhoods have created a seasonal lake, attracting a variety of migratory birds. The El Rio Preserve is tucked into a pocket in the upper Tucson Mountains and functions as a collecting basin for both run-off from the mountain slopes and overflow from the Santa Cruz River. This confluence of geologic features affords spectacular views of granite and gneiss intermixed with the younger volcanic rocks that produce the red hues that distinguish these peaks. To the east is a wide open flood plain of the lower Santa Cruz River, which occasionally becomes a turbulent waterway after heavy rains.ASSETS OF EL RIO PRESERVEEl Rio Preserve offers the Marana community a number of benefits which must be considered in any site plan.

  • Monsanto opponents continue to fight project

    The Pima County Board of Supervisors are set to discuss possible tax breaks for a Monsanto project near Marana next month and will begin public meetings to get feedback beginning this week. In preparation for these events, opponents of Monsanto scheduled two events of their ownlast week. On Friday night at Green Fields School they showed the film “The World According to Monsanto” and held a question and answer session with “Going Against GMO’s” author Melissa Diane Smith. According to a flier advertising the event it was designed to “give an update on the movement against Monsanto and what’s coming in the new year.”On Saturday afternoon they held a similar event, this time featuring a video about “Hawaii’s Experience with Monsanto” and another presentation by Smith, as well as a panel discussion to learn about the public meetings.The events were organized by local citizens in cooperation with GMO Free Arizona, GMO Free Baja Arizona, March Against Monsanto Tucson and Organic, Sustainable Baja Arizona. 

  • Marana cops give big to Diamond Children’s Hospital

    The Marana Police Department Volunteer Foundation presented a check for $12,377.07 to the pediatric unit at Banner University Medical Center late last month. The donation was made possible from the money that was raised during the Pride for the Patch Golf Tournament, which was more successful than the event organizers planned.In addition to the donation, first responders from agencies across Southern Arizona filled the roundabout in front of the Diamond Children’s Medical Center at Banner UMC. Emergency vehicles activated their lights and provided an overwhelming display of red and blue for the children who were able to make it down. It was a cold, wet day, so unfortunately many of the children could only watch from windows above, but the first responders took the show upstairs and visited many of the patients while also getting a tour of the hospital.  “First responders are hoping to help make this a magical and unforgettable Christmas for all the sick and injured children at Banner UMC,” said Marana Police Department Public Information Officer Chris Warren before the presentation. The show of support in the roundabout had an unexpected reaction, as several people came to the doors to make sure everything was alright, fearing the flashing lights on the cars and trucks meant something bad had 

  • Stories to watch for 2017

    These are the stories to watch around Marana in 2017.MonsantoMonstanto’s plans to put a greenhouse and research facility on recently purchased land just outside of the Marana town limits has already caused a lot of ire. The agricultural firm, controversial for its genetic engineering of seeds and its business practices, is seeking to lower its tax rate by establishing a foreign trade zone. As part of the deal, Monsanto negotiated with Marana Unified School District to make up for some lost revenues. The $500,000 deal made a lot of financial sense to the school district but has drawn the ire of some parents and anti-GMO activists. Several area farmers have said that they already use Monsanto seeds and that the genetically modified product has drastically reduced the use of pesticides in the area and has made the crop yield increase.The Pima County Board of Supervisors will hear more about the proposed foreign trade zone, as well as studies on the environmental impact of the facility, at a February meeting. Ultimately, though, the Board of Supervisors will only make a recommendation regarding the the establishment of a foreign trade zone; the federal government actually grants the designation.

  • Marana Road Projects on the horizon

    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.

  • Luncheon raises funds for MUSD’s teenage parent program

    Earlier this month, more than 120 women gathered in the ballroom at the Highlands at Dove Mountain for the annual Holiday Friendship Luncheon to support the Marana Unified School District’s Teenage Parent Program (TAPP).  Marianne Wyatt, who has coordinated the event for the past decade, has used the luncheon as a fundraiser and as a way to increase understanding and support for TAPP. “I am so pleased with our success in raising money in support of this program,” Wyatt said. “It is very rewarding for our generation to be giving back to future generations and to know that girls are graduating with good parenting schools.”Started in 1991 with a grant from the Flinn Foundation, the TAPP program is housed on the Marana High School campus but is open to all students in the district. It offers services and support to pregnant and parenting students with the ultimate goal of graduation. Students are referred to TAPP from school counselors and health care professionals or can contact the program directly. The program’s staff strives to retain students who become pregnant and reaches out to drop-outs to encourage them to return to school, as the school district estimates that approximately 75 to 80 percent of TAPP students were out of school at one point. The program also provides assistance to students who are behind in credits and accommodates the challenges that teenage parents face by creating flexible schedules and alternative education options.The four major components of TAPP center on education, health care, child care and case management. The education portion includes classes in prenatal care, parenting and child care skills and vocational training. 

  • Boxing Inc. returns to the north side with opening of third location

    Why train like a normal person, when you can train like a fighter?That is the guiding question at Boxing Incorporated (Boxing Inc.), Tucson’s own boxing, martial arts and training facility which has serviced athletes and fitness novices alike for more than a decade. Having established a strong presence both on the east side and near the university, time had come for Boxing Inc. to make its name known once again on the north side of town, and it has with the recent opening of its new location on the west side of North Oracle Road, just south of West Orange Grove Road at 6261 N. Oracle Road.More than an ordinary workout facility or gym, Boxing Inc. offers a wide selection of classes including boxing, kickboxing, Muay Thai, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, mixed martial arts, CrossFit and more—all under one roof.Regardless of the discipline, owner Zac Aikin said that the “class-style personal training” offered at Boxing Inc. works by offering constant, positive motivation to its members, creating a safe environment to constantly push individual physical limits and get a great workout—all while learning how to fight.“When we teach you how to throw a jab, a right cross or a left hook, we’re teaching you how real fighters execute those strikes, and how they train,” Aikin said. “We will take you through the workouts that real fighters do. About 95 percent of my clientele aren’t going to be fighters, but they are going to learn to train like one. … You get to come in, take your aggressions out on the bag, have fun and it’s an amazing workout. Just try doing a three-minute round of boxing, it will really surprise you.”That surprising workout will produce the desired effect on anyone who participates, Aikin said, whether it is a retiree with a hip replacement or an 18-year-old fighter training for a professional debut.

  • Despite protests, Marana High bans Confederate Flag

    The Marana High School administration has banned the Confederate Flag from their campus in any form other than use in the school’s curriculum. This decision to ban the flag—more specifically, the Northern Virginia Battle Flag which is often referred to as the Confederate Flag—has caused a number of students and parents to protest on private land across the street. Last week, MHS Principal David Mandel sent out a letter outlining the school’s decision to ban the flag, citing a number of students and staff members feeling “unsafe.”“When an element of student speech, whether by symbolic representation or explicit utterance, presents a significant potential for disruption to the education of students and the work of the adults on campus, we are responsible to address the situation,” Mandel wrote in the letter. “To that end, we concluded, that the display and possession of the Confederate Flag poses a reasonable barrier to feelings of safety and sense of well-being for a large number of our students and staff.”Mandel wrote that he understands that they have a diverse campus with different viewpoints and stressed that this was not about passing judgment or taking one side over another, but instead trying to provide a campus setting where students can focus on learning. “I want to be clear that as a public school that serves this diverse community, we are not making judgments about the validity of either side; however, we are absolutely responsible to do what is in the best interest of protecting student safety and the well-being of all students,” Mandel wrote. 

  • Supervisors approve improvements to Mike Jacob Sportspark

    There had been some uncertainty about the future of the Mike Jacob Sportspark, but a recent vote by the Pima County Board of Supervisors ensures the near future of the facility.The supervisors voted 4-0 at their Dec. 13 meeting to fund capital improvements to the facility. They can use up to $1 million for the improvements, using funding from the Arizona Department of Transportation’s right-of-way acquisition as part of I-10/Ina Road construction.“Ultimately we are confident that the Sportspark facility, with the investment authorized by the Board, will be able to remain open for public use,” said Natural Resources, Parks and Recreation Director Chris Cawein. “However some of the likely repairs will require trenching and other heavy construction activities so we will likely need to temporarily suspend play at the site while we conduct those needed activities.”District 1 Supervisor Ally Miller was not present at the meeting to cast a vote.The facility will potentially have a new operator. For the time being the current operator will remain running Sportspark but the board authorized Natural Resources, Parks and Recreation (NRPR) to offer the present operators a month-to-month agreement for 6-months to continue their operations at the site while they pursue proposals for longer term viable solutions to the future of Sportspark.  Initial discussions with one of the operators indicated his interest in continuation for that period and the second operator does not appear very interested.According to a release by the county quoting Chris Cawein, NRPR director, Sportspark is “operated through a complex public/private partnership that has a number of shortcomings.”

  • Marana council approves new utilities board members

    The Council approved three new members for the Town of Marana Utilities board.  The three new members are Julie Mette, Jeff Biggs and Northwest Fire District assistant chief Doug Eman. Marana Water Director John Kmiec will serve as chair.The town recruited for the new members from Oct. 10 through Nov. 10, using social media, the town’s website and word of mouth throughout the community.  The council approved a rezoning of four acres of land located east of Camino de Manana approximately 1/8 mile south of the Desert Falcon Lane. The rezoning would allow the developer to develop 14.5 acres as residential lots, 6.5 acres designate roadways and infrastructure and 24 acres of open space. Of the 24 acres approximately 15 acres will be natural, undistributed open space and a two-acre park. During the public hearing portion of the presentation it was explained that the Planning Center, who is responsible for the design of the project, met and worked “directly with a number of surrounding property owners to resolve concerns.” The result of those meetings was to designate several of the lots along the perimeter as single story and to increase the buffer yards on the north and east boundary to give a 100-foot separation between lots that were proposed and the property boundary. A few additional concessions were made in the week leading up to the council meeting. The developer agreed to limit the two rows of lots at the northernmost portion of the development to single story with a maximum height of 18-feet for a pitched roof and 16-feet for a hip roof. This will affect about eight lots. 

  • Oro Valley, Marana among state’s safest cities

    Marana and Oro Valley are two of the safest cities in Arizona, according to a statistical data analyzed by the Orent Law Offices in Phoenix and data visualization firm 1 Point 21 Interactive. They looked at the 40 communities in the state with populations over 10,000 and determined that the two northwest communities were among the five safest in Arizona.The actual study was used to find the most dangerous cities and Tucson was found to be the most dangerous, while Oro Valley was the safest, ranked 40th out of 40 for most dangerous. Marana was 36th. Sahuarita was also among the safest, ranking 38th on the list.The rankings were determined by looking at 14 different metrics in three different categories. Those categories were crime, police investment and effective strength and community socioeconomic factors.FBI crime stats were used to find the Crime Rank, looking at per capita stats for violent crime, murder, rape, robbery and assault. Oro Valley ranked 39th for crime, while Marana was 30th. Conversely, Tucson was No. 1, statistically the highest crime rate in the state. ““The FBI has a lot of other things that they feel that impact crime and safety in an area and we try to sort out some of those that are easy to look at,” said 1 point 21 Interactive Project Manager Brian Beltz.The Community category looks at socioeconomic statistics such as poverty rate, unemployment rate, percentage of high school graduates, the median income and the average temperature. In these rankings Marana is the top ranked community, while Oro Valley is third best. Marana edges Oro Valley with a lower poverty rate and slightly higher median income, while Oro Valley gets a slight edge in the percentage of high school graduates and a slight edge in unemployment.

  • Marana Council approves new town logo

    The Marana Town Council selected a brand-new logo during a special council meeting on Nov. 29.The selection caps off a year-long project which included research, the creation of multiple logo options and staff and public input. Town staff narrowed the potential logos down to five and the public were able to vote on those. The top-three were then presented to the town council. The logos were first voted on at a November meeting, but the matter was not taken up until the end of a longer-than-normal meeting that had a number of “complex issues.” Marana Town Manager Gilbert Davidson thought it would be best to revisit the logo when more time could be devoted to the discussion. Mayor Ed Honea was also in favor of reconsideration of the item because “the item didn’t receive the proper consideration due to the length of the agenda and the long list of items to be discussed.”At the original meeting, Vice Mayor Jon Post moved to vote on one logo. The initial group discussion seemed to slightly favor Post’s preferred logo, but it was close enough that they had to poll the council and when polled individually, just two voted in favor of that logo.  Honea indicated that his preference was the streamlined “modern” logo and several council members agreed. Council Member Herb Kai liked the “modern logo” but also liked one of the other options that featured water and crops, giving a nod to Marana’s roots as a farming community. Marana Communications Manager indicated that the “modern” logo also featured water and crops, only with “a more abstract interpretation.”

  • Town of Marana’s tourism website wins an award

    The town of Marana’s continued emphasis on tourism has paid off with another award for its Discover Marana website.DiscoverMarana.org won a 2016 Silver Adrian Award for Website Design from the Hospitality Sales & Marketing Association International (HSMAI), an organization “committed to growing business for hotels and their partners.” HSMAI bills themselves as “the industry’s leading advocate for intelligent, sustainable hotel revenue growth.”Executives from all sectors of the industry judged the entries for the Silver Adrian Award and the town will be presented the award in February.“We are thrilled that Discover Marana’s website has received this industry award for achieving the ambitious goals of providing a sense of all that Marana has to offer while making it easy for people to find exactly what they need to enjoy their leisure time in our beautiful town,” said Marana Tourism and Marketing Manager Laura Cortelyou, in a release.According to a release by the town, DiscoverMarana.gov “has been recognized for being sleek, colorful, and responsive to all viewing devices.” One of the main goals of the website is to give viewers an immersive experience with visual highlights of the attractions and natural beauty of Marana.From a technical aspect, the website was honored for its full-screen HTML5 video, itinerary builder, social integration and interactive mapping.

  • Marana senior puts on emergency preparedness fair

    All Eagle Scout service projects are designed to benefit the community, but in most cases it benefits specific aspects of a community like a school or church. Alex Jones partnered with the town of Marana to put together a project that benefits the whole community. Jones, a Marana High School senior, worked with the town to put together an emergency and preparedness fair. The project was hosted late last month at the Sportsman’s Warehouse in Marana. A service project is intended to demonstrate the culmination of the scout’s leadership training and successful completion of the project results in attaining the Eagle Scout rank. Jones wanted the project to increase awareness and inform people about emergency preparation. He looked at some of the worst disaster scenarios—disasters that close stores, cause the loss of utilities or even force evacuations—and then worked with the Marana Police Department, Pima County County’s Attorney’s Office and Northwest Fire District gather all of the information to present to the public. Jones was pleased with how the event turned out. There was too much to do and too much going on at the event for him to get an exact count, but he estimated that at least 200 people attend.“We had great feedback from attendees and volunteers,” Jones said noting that “they liked what was presented and how it was organized.”

  • State Superintendent Diane Douglas stops in Marana to discuss education

    Arizona State Superintendent Diane Douglas brought her We Are Listening tour to Marana last week, spending over two hours at Gladden Farms Elementary outlining he AZ Kids Can’t Wait proposal, listening to concerns of parents, teachers and students and spending time connecting with Southern Arizonans. The visit was one of three to the area, with Douglas visiting Douglas and Safford before returning to Maricopa County. The tour is something the superintendent plans on doing every year. Last year, her first on the job, she visited 15 locations statewide. She previously visited Pima County in June, attending he Leading Change Conference at the JW Marriott Starr Pass Resort and then meeting at the Main Library in downtown Tucson. She spent the first half of the event outlining her plan. One of the key facets of the plan is to increase funding to schools. Her goal is to not only increase overall funding to school districts and charter schools, but find ways to increase teacher salaries. Several of those in attendance spoke out about the lack of teacher salaries when Douglas opened the floor to questions and comments. “Arizona does not have a shortage of quality teachers, Arizona has a shortage of those who wish to continue being teachers,” one parent said. “We requested that there be immediate funding so that classroom teachers can get a five percent salary increase,” Douglas said. 

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