Animal lovers have their hackles up following the Marana Town Council’s decision to end the town’s relationship with Pima County Animal Care Center and instead create its own animal services division.The town council voted 5-2 to end create the new department on March 14 after hearing presentations about keeping the county service or starting a Marana animal-control department and hearing from seven members of the public, who all supported maintaining the contract with the county. A week later, the council voted 5-2 to spend $159,000 to have the new division up and running on July 1. Council members Herb Kai and Roxanne Ziegler voted against both issues.A normally civil council became heated at times when Ziegler and Vice Mayor Jon Post argued about the subject. Ziegler called into question voting on the subject at the March 14 study session and asked for documentation on complaints of poor service by PACC. “I’ve asked for the letters, I’ve asked for the complaints and all I have heard is anecdotal evidence,” Ziegler said.Post argued that it has been something that has been discussed for some time and that this was not a new issue. “We’ve been discussing this since 2009, the first year they gave us a bill,” Post said, mentioning he was not pleased when they started to see the charges climb.”
The Golder Ranch and Mountain Vista fire districts may one day operate under a unified banner.The prospect of consolidation, in one form or another, is by no means a new topic, said Mountain Vista Fire District (MVFD) Fire Chief Cheryl Horvath, who explained that the proposition arose as part of ongoing efforts to improve services to residents living within both districts.Responding to a community of roughly 38,000 across 19 square miles of northern Pima County, Marana and Oro Valley, Mountain Vista was formed in 2008 after the merger of the former La Cañada, North Ranch/Linda Vista and Heritage Hills districts, and maintains a total of 54 employees at two stations. To the north, Golder Ranch Fire District (GRFD) has operated for four decades, and currently serves more than 60,000 with a team of 191 personnel from eight stations.Additionally, GRFD maintains a Certificate of Necessity (CON), awarded by the Arizona Department of Health Services, which grants ground ambulance services the right to operate in a specific region. MVFD contracts through American Medical Response.Improving and expanding services eventually requires an increase in revenue, a fact on which Horvath and GRFD Fire Chief Randy Karrer agree. MVFD, which maintains a roughly 80 percent residential district with little potential for commercial build-out, relies on property tax as a significant source of revenue. In the district’s currently adopted budget, $5.7 million of a $6.2 million in projected income derive from its 2.1 percent secondary property tax. Though the district’s rate can be raised by governing board approval, fire districts are ultimately limited by a state-mandated 3.25 rate cap.“As fire districts get closer to that tax cap we’re required to start talking with our neighbors about how we can create efficiencies, create shared services and things of that nature, in lieu of just increasing taxes,” Horvath said. “I think that has set a legislative precedent for why these things might need to occur. Every time we want to increase service and we raise our tax, it hits the homeowner. …Golder Ranch has more potential for commercial growth and development, and that is going to be very helpful in the long run.”
Although crime rates in Marana rose slightly in 2016, the overall numbers are positive as crime is down over the past six years.Six years ago Terry Rozema took over as the chief of the Marana Police Department and he admits there were challenges. Six years later the population of the town has grown by nearly 8,000 people, but crime is down.In 2011 there were 53 P1 violent crimes, crimes designated by the FBI as violent crimes, in Marana or 1.48 violent crimes per 1,000 residents. In 2016 there were 41 violent crimes or 0.94 violent crimes per 1,000 people. Although the numbers are up slightly over the past two years, they are still lower than 2011-2013.The big change in the numbers stemmed from a rise in robberies. There were 16 robberies in 2016 compared to just 11 total the two previous years. The good news is that all 16-robbery cases were solved and Rozema said that is important not just to find the culprit but to make sure the local businesses feel safe. “There is a lot of work that goes into solving a robbery case when all you have is a very bad picture of somebody or a picture of somebody’s face that is covered up,” Rozema said. Homicides and aggravated assaults were down. There was one homicide in 2016, compared to two in 2015, though both homicides in 2015 were justified. One was a police officer involved shooting and the other was ruled self defense in a domestic violence incident.
Marana’s Founders’ Day has always been a family affair, with a lot of activities geared to the kids. This year’s edition was no different as there were plenty of things to do for kids of all ages, so who better to give a review of the event than 6-year old Tyler Allis? The following review is a verbal re-telling of the day, with some “guiding” by his father to make sure he covered the event in detail:Parades are great, but I especially like parades where they throw candy. They threw a lot of candy at the Marana Founders’ Day parade. All you had to do was wave to the floats and they threw you candy. Candy was not the only cool part of the parade, there was plenty to see. There were a lot of really neat vehicles. There were kids on BMX bicycles, including a two on unicycles. There were Shriners in little mini cars. They would do tricks and then give high fives to all the kids. There were a bunch of people on horses, and a lot of floats. There were fire trucks and police motor cycles and even a monster truck.At the end there were people from the Marana Health Center, and one of them asked his girlfriend to marry him. She said “yes” even though he was wearing a big purple heart and yellow tights. They called it a “proposal” and I learned that everybody, especially girls and ladies, really like proposalsThe rest of Founders Day was over at the park and there was so much stuff to do. Since the day was kind of hot, we decided to get something to drink. Although we could have gotten an Eeggee, ice cream or a snow cone, we just decided to get water so that we would have more money for good later on.
Everybody loves a parade and that is one reason the Town of Marana has made Founder’s Day their fourth signature event. Unlike their other three events, Founder’s Day has a parade element that their other events lack.The town is working with the Marana Heritage Conservancy to put on the event that has been under the conservancy’s watchful eye the past few years. Now the two entities are working together to try to improve upon the already popular event.According to Marana Special Events Coordinator Monique Meza, the goal was to take the most popular portions of past events and make them even better.“We are really trying to hone in on the things that we feel have worked really well in the past,” Meza said. “We want this to feel like as much of a community event as possible. We really want to highlight the people that make Marana special.”The parade is at the center of the day’s events and this year’s theme is celebrating Marana’s 40th Anniversary. All floats either need to celebrate the 40 years of Marana or highlight a specific moment in Marana’s history. They are trying to find ways to improve or “amp up” the parade and that will include a greater emphaisis on the route of the Main Street area. There will be additional entertainment in the area, bleachers and that is where the parade judging will occur. Parking on the route will be suspended during the parade and portions of Lon Adams will also be closed to traffic in an effort to improve safety.Parking will be available at the MHC Health Center and by the fire station to allow easier access to the Main Street area.
On March 14, the Marana Town Council voted to begin the process of providing animal care and enforcement. As part of this new program, we will contract with the Humane Society of Southern Arizona to provide sheltering service, while the town itself will hire two new animal control officers who will respond to resident calls. By adopting this new framework, we hope to ensure the highest quality of support for all Marana residents. The Town has decided to pursue this strategy after nearly a year of staff research, including site visits to nearby jurisdictions, interviews with support agencies like the Humane Society, and budget analyses of projected costs.This approach will allow us to provide a direct customer response to residents who request animal services. By adopting this model, the town will be better able to achieve our community-wide vision of excellence. In the long term, Marana’s enforcement efforts will result in more animals returned quickly to their homes, and fewer stray animals in need of rescue.Our top priority is to be responsive to resident requests. By managing our own animal control officers, the town will be able to tailor animal care to the needs of our community. We will be able to respond promptly to all calls and meet the high expectations our residents have for their government.In addition to hiring two animal control officers and providing shelter services through the Humane Society of Southern Arizona, the town also plans to partner with local veterinarians to provide emergency care for animals picked up by town officers. Lisa Shafer, Marana’s director of community development and neighborhood services, will oversee the implementation and operation of this new program.One thing we want to emphasize is that from the public perspective, the list of services which residents currently enjoy will not change. They will still be able to adopt pets, drop off strays, license their dogs and so forth. The only difference is that now the Town will be able to enhance those offerings for everyone involved.
Marana Unified School District students, teachers and staffers were honored last week as the Marana 2340 Foundation held their annual Celebration of Excellence luncheon at the Ritz-Carlton, Dove Mountain.The event serves as a fundraiser for the foundation but also honors top students and employees in the district. Twelve MUSD high school seniors, from Marana, Mountain View and MCAT High received scholarships. “The best part of this event is that we are changing lives,” said 2340 Foundation President Dan Post. “We are changing the lives of the young people who are receiving scholarships.”Almost 200 people attended the event with KOLD TV news anchor Dan Marries served as Master of Ceremonies.“We have great sponsors and great partners in being able to do this to show off what we are doing for our students,” said MUSD Superintendent Dr. Doug Wilson. In addition to handing out scholarships, the foundation honored three MUSD employees. Quail Run Elementary speech pathologist Beth Gapp was honored as Teacher of the Year, Thornydale crossing guard Johnnie Edmond and director of public relations Tamara Crawley were named the district’s employees of the year.
The Marana Town Council voted 5-2 last week to create a Marana animal-control department and sever ties with Pima County’s Pima Animal Care Center.Council Members Roxanne Ziegler and Herb Kai voted against the plan. Supporters of the change said rising costs and a lack of customer service for Marana residents led to the move. Over the past decade the town has seen costs from the country rise from $10,000 to over $230,000 annually as the county facility has moved toward finding homes from the animals in its care rather than euthanizing them.Marana town staffers as well as council members said that they field numerous calls from Marana residents who cannot get Pima County Animal Control Officers to respond to calls in the town. In response, the town will hire two full-time animal control officers, build a temporary kenneling facility and contract with the Humane Society of Southern Arizona to provide sheltering services.“Our top priority is to be responsive to resident requests,” said Marana Town Manager Gilbert Davidson. “By managing our own animal control officers, the town will be able to tailor animal care to the needs of our community. We will be able to respond promptly to all calls and meet the high expectations our residents have for their government.”Marana began exploring the option over the past year. That process included visiting other jurisdictions in the state who handle animal control needs in a variety of ways. Town officials pointed to Avondale and Casa Grande as examples of similarly sized towns who handle animal control services. Avondale provides animal control services themselves and has their sheltering and licensing services through Maricopa County. Maricopa County has this agreement with most municiplalites in the county. They provide free sheltering and in turn keep all proceeds from licensing.
T.J.Maxx opened a new store in Marana on Sunday, March 12. Located at Arizona Pavilions shopping center, 8030 N. Cortaro Road, a grand opening celebration was hosted from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.A small fashion show launched the opening with models wearing items found in the store. In celebration of its new location, T.J.Maxx presented a $5,000 donation to Our Family Services and Ed Honea cut the ribbon. The first 500 customers received reusable totes. Gift cards were hidden throughout the store and there was a wheel to spin for additional prizes.
The Town of Marana’s planned wastewater plant expansion has been in the works for some time, but now has funding in place to make sure it moves forward. During their March 7 meeting, the Marana Town Council approved the sale and execution of up to $46 million bonds to fund the project as well as pay off a prior bond issuance so that debt may be paid off at a lower rate. The town has explored various ways to fund the planned $21 million expansion of the town’s wastewater facility in north Marana. With the town linking the Saguaro Bloom community to the sewer system the facility is close to capacity. The expansion will allow the facility to handle up to 1.5 million gallons a day, nearly tripling what it currently handles. The expansion will allow the facility to handle up to 10,000 new homes or businesses in the area.The council approved an expansion plan that will use conventional activated sludge, a process which uses bacteria and biological matter to break down waste and help purify the water. The newer process will utilize two separate basins that can treat up to 750,000 gallons per day. The design allows for further expansion, with room for additional basins. Without expansion the town would not be allowed to have any growth in the northern part of town.“With the continued
While “kindness” can be sort of a catch-all term used in schools, a number of Marana Unified School District schools are using the concept as a way to reduce behavior problems. Kindness is a cornerstone of the district’s integrated behavior system, Positive Behavioral Intervention and Support, which emphasizes the importance of respect, responsibility, accountability and kindness in all classrooms and areas of school. Last Thursday night, March 9, Estes Elementary had a fun-filled evening that also strived to reinforce the ideas of kindness. The event had a variety of booths and displays that shared resources and information on how to promote kindness as well as family activities, health and wellness checks, and displays on conservation, planet resources and animals.“At Estes, we place an emphasis on demonstrating and promoting kindness,” said Principal Colleen Frederick. “We understand that when students feel respected, supported, and safe, they feel a sense of belonging and their overall academic experience is positive. We are pleased to offer this event to our community in order to share the important role we all play in promoting kindness.”The school has held a number of events to promote kindness in the school. In February the school had their Kick-Off to Kindness Assembly, at which Ben’s Bells founder Jeannette Maré shared her message on the power of kindness. This message has been a core part of the PBIS program which utilizes “positive interventions and system changes to achieve socially important behavior changes.”The strategy works best when students are taught respect, responsibility, and accountability from an early age. As part of PBIS, clear expectations for the behavior for the classroom and school as a whole are established and reinforced.
The cafeteria at Mountain View High School resembled a school carnival than a fundraiser for pediatric cancer, but that was the point. The third annual St. Baldrick’s night at the school was meant to bring some levity to a serious cause. It also brought some good money, raising more than $7,000. The event is on target to raise over $8,000, with two more dine to donate nights at Dickey’s BBQ and Boston’s Bar and Grill. “The event went well,” said Chris Dow, one of the event’s organizers. St. Baldrick’s raises funds for cancer research in kids and young adults. The main way people participate is to have their heads shaved. Not only are they going bald in solidarity with those who have lost their hair during cancer treatments, but they also collect donations and sponsors to get their heads shaved. “At the event we honor several local kids, young adults that are battling cancer and their families,” Dow said. “We make it a point to get to know these families and support and encourage them.”Sports Clips was on hand to do the hair trimming duties with four stations. For the first few hours the hair stylists who donated their time were busy shaving heads (as well as a few beards).
Town of Marana has hired Steven Romero to be their new assistant town manager. He began the new position on March 6 and returns to the town after working on the East Coast. Romero will oversee the departments of technology services, economic development, community relations, and parks and recreation. He will also assist the town attorney and the town’s legal department on a number of legal matters. The town has long had three town manager slots, but when a position became available during the 2008 recession, the town did not fill it as part of a cost-cutting measure. Town Manager Gilbert Davidson had been working Deputy Town Manager Jamsheed Mehta in the Town Manager’s Office as a two-man team, along with other staffers, before the addition of Romero. “For a number of years, we’ve been able to maintain everything with two people, and sometimes one person, we are at a point with the amount of growth and activity from one end of town to the other it is nice another person involved,” Davidson said.Romero previously worked for the Town of Marana in 2008 when he became the Town’s first intergovernmental affairs administrator. At that time, he worked with Southern Arizona’s congressional delegation, then-Sen. Jon Kyl’s office and state representatives in an effort to further the town’s legislative goals. Before joining the town staff, Romero worked for the international consulting firm Booz Allen Hamilton in Virginia.
Saying you want new businesses to locate to Southern Arizona and making that happen are two different things. Most businesses don’t choose a city independently, but instead use professional site selectors, who are management consultants who specialize in matching companies with municipalities. Last week the top professional corporate location consultants in the world convened in Tucson, giving the region and the state a shot at impressing them. Both Marana and Oro Valley are involved in the event and hope to benefit from being part of the hosting group. Tucson and the state of Arizona won the right to host the Site Selectors Guild’s Annual Convention, which not only allows them to bring these consultants to the Old Pueblo in March, but provides opportunities for the local municipalities and other organizations to get face time with all the key players in one location. The guild is an organization made up of the cream of the crop of those in the site selector profession, the top professional corporate location consultants in the world. “We’re management consultants,” said Phil Schneider, board chair of the guild. “We are hired by companies to figure out where they should place an operation and why. We look at all of the factors involved.” Those factors include operating costs, labor force, infrastructure, access to customers and access to suppliers. There is also the livability of the community.“All of those issues are analyzed and modeled and due diligence is done before a company selects a location,” Schneider said.
The Marana Town Council voted not to renew their contract with Pima County to provide animal control services. Instead the town will create their own animal control department.The vote was 5-2, with Roxanne Ziegler and Herb Kai objecting.The town was concerned with rising costs from the county combined with customer service that they found unacceptable. The town has seen the cost of animal control services from the town rise from $10,000 less than a decade ago to over $230,000 this fiscal year. The estimated cost for the town to run their own service in 2018 is $212,000 with an initial cost of about $156,000 to get things started. The town estimates a return of at least $75,000 in licensing fees, which they would now handle themselves.The town would hire two full time animal control officers, purchase at least one vehicle and build temporary kenneling facilities. The town would contract with the Humane Society for sheltering and veterinary services.Several people spoke out in favor of remaining with Pima County, mostly due to their concerns no longer utilizing Pima Animal Care Center, which they feel is better equipped to take in Animals from the community, as opposed to the Humane Society which typically takes in adoptable animals.Marana will take over their own animal control services on July 1.