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  • 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. 

  • 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.

  • Parents used Douglas visit to air concerns over Monsanto

    State Superintendent Diane Douglas’ stop in Marana to promote her AZ Kids Can’t Wait plan as part of the We Are Listening Tour became a debate over the Marana Unified School District’s school board to accept a $500,000 payment in lieu of reduced tax payments to the school district if the Pima County Board of Supervisors vote to grant Monsanto a property tax break.Several parents spoke out against the plan during Douglas’ stop at Gladden Farms Elementary School.At first parents used other issues as a way to bring up the Monsanto deal. One parent used the question of transparency in the state board of education, specifically with the implementation of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), as a way to question the local decisions about Monsanto.“That does not give me much confidence in the school system If the school board supervisors don’t consider the health risks of Monsanto and their chemicals near Marana High School just down the road, how can we trust that ESSA will be implemented as intended?” asked one parent.She then went on to discuss her general concerns with the health risks many have attributed to the corporation. “This is a great concern of mine because of the terrible reputation of the corporation as well as the heath risks from the chemicals they use,” she added. 

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