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  • Town’s “Project Ina” app is live

    Since plans for the Ina Road Interchange project were announced several years ago, the town of Marana has been examining ways to help businesses with the impact of the construction. Ina Road’s closure on both ends of I-10 was going to cause a number of problems, including difficulty for cops and firefighters responding to calls in the area and traffic issues at neighboring interchanges. But the biggest concern was for the area businesses, whose customers are likely to avoid the congestion and hassles that come with a major road project.The town came up with a number of strategies to help those businesses, including the creation of an app to help promote businesses and inform residents about what was happening in the area. The town’s “Project Ina” app has gone live and is now available in the Apple App Store and on Google Play. The goal of the free app is to allow people to keep up with the traffic alerts in the area, as well as learn about any deals or promotions from those businesses affected by the construction. The app was first presented to the Marana Town Council back in October, when a beta version was available. The goal was to have everything someone heading to the area would need to know in one place. “It will really serve as a central hub of information about the program,” said Marana Assistant to the Town Manager Tony Hunter at the time.

  • And the Winner is …

    This Sunday night’s 89th Academy Awards show on ABC is one of the most uncertain and open races in recent years. First-time Oscar host Jimmy Kimmel kicks off the telecast at 5 p.m., Arizona time.  Despite La La Land netting a record-tying 14 Academy Award nominations (joining Titanic and All About Eve for the most ever), Oscar Night always manages to entertain and surprise viewers.  Expect the Hollywood love story to get stiff competition from Manchester by the Sea and Moonlight for the 8 ½ pound golden statuettes.Here are my selections for who’ll win this year’s Academy Awards, honoring the highest achievements in filmmaking (in bold):ACTRESS IN SUPPORTING ROLE Despite not being enthralled with either Moonlight or Manchester by the Sea, both films provided exceptional performances from their talented casts.  My vote would easily go to Viola Davis in Fences.  Lion and Hidden Figures are the best movies on this 5-picture list, but Kidman and Spencer face an uphill battle.  And Williams?  Come on, she was barely in Manchester by the Sea…but her one memorable scene may be enough to sway Oscar voters. Viola Davis (Fences) Naomie Harris (Moonlight)

  • Old West Flavor

    When someone mentions the word steakhouse, eyebrows raise. What’s the occasion? Is it Dad’s birthday? Who’s getting married? For most, going to a steakhouse and ordering up a prime cut of meat means something special is going on. Either an upscale environment or a funky cowboy style ranch house also means it’s going to be an expensive meal.Luckily for us here in Tucson, we have a history of traditional and elegant restaurants to get your meat fix and not every spot is on the pricey side.Nevada Smith’s Saloon is a good, tasty example, serving generous cuts of meat, in a comfy and unpretentious environment, that’s delighted bellies and budgets for nearly 36 years.“That right there is a 22-ounce thick cut porterhouse steak,” prides Darryl Smith, the owner and namesake, pointing to a sizzling cut of meat on the wood-fire grill out back. “This comes with an old family recipe side of cowboy beans or a huge baked potato and an all you can eat salad bar with rolls.”Yeah, but for how much?“Seventeen bucks.”

  • Area teams active in state basketball playoffs

    Area girls basketball teams have found great success in this year’s state basketball tournament. Six area schools qualified for the postseason and four advanced to the quarterfinals or beyond. Pusch Ridge was still alive in the 2A state tournament as of press time. The Lions beat Yuma Catholic 58-22 in a game that was never in doubt. The Lions led 16-7 after the first quarter, then went on a 20-3 second quarter run to take full control. Bree Olson led all scorers with 16 points, while Angel Addleman added 13. Olson led the Lions with six rebounds, while Addleman led the team with three assists and three steals. Marana’s season came to an end in the quarterfinals of the 5A state playoffs with a 66-54 loss to No. 4 Chaparral.The Tigers led by three after the first quarter but the second frame saw the Firebirds outscore the Tigers 18-9 and after three quarters they pushed the lead to 14.Alyssa Perez capped a great junior season with a 15-point outing. She added five steals and three assists on the night. The inside tandem of Mele Hala’fia and Quinnesha Mitchell added 14 and 13 respectively, while also combining to pull down 20 rebounds and block 5 shots. 

  • High-Mile Club: Oil changes for older cars

    Your car has been a faithful steed for years, and you want to keep it running perfectly.So when you start hearing commercials about oil changes for cars with high mileage, you wonder. Because your car has logged at least 75,000 miles, you think this service might be warranted.While a high-mileage oil change certainly won’t hurt your car, it may not be necessary, said John Walter, director of automotive services for AAA Arizona. Expect to pay 25 to 40 percent more for a high-mileage oil change because of the increased levels of additives in the oil, he said.“Typically, high-mileage oil changes have higher levels of additives in them,” Walter said. “If you maintain your vehicle, high-mileage oil changes aren’t going to do much for you.” As a go-to source for automotive information, AAA’s Walter explained why this type of oil change usually isn’t that much better for your car. 

  • Community comes together to combat, educate on distracted driving in OV

    Just over a month ago, the Oro Valley Police Department began enforcing an ordinance passed by town council last December aimed at improving roadway safety by restricting the use of handheld electronic devices while traveling on public roadways. Since enforcement began on Jan. 6, OVPD Lt. Chris Olson said the department has launched a campaign against distracted driving, conducting roughly 400 traffic stops, though issuing no citations. While that may seem like a significant number of violations, Olson said he expected several hundred more, and he doesn’t see that discrepancy as a problem.“In other words, it’s become harder to find someone driving with a cell phone in their hands – and that’s really been our goal,” Olson said. “When you do a six-month educational campaign, it’s because you just want people to follow the ordinance. It’s not about generating revenue, it’s not about making money, it’s simply about getting people to engage in safer driving behaviors so we have less crashes on the roadway.”Olson discussed the ongoing effort by the department at the first of several public information meetings the department will host, in conjunction with other public service agencies and community organizations, across Oro Valley. The Mountain Vista Fire District (MVFD) joined the police department, representatives from the town, AT&T and Look! Save a Life, a national nonprofit aimed at reducing roadway collisions and deaths, and also played a role in the efforts to have the ordinance passed. Look! Save a Life Merchandising Manager Kirk Wilson said the organization works to improve safety conditions for all who make use of public roadways, especially those he referred to as “vulnerable users,” primarily cyclists and pedestrians. A difficult mission to accomplish, Wilson said having the support of the town, local first responders and other organizations in the region is of great benefit to the cause.“It’s really awesome for Oro Valley to be the first in the Tucson area that has gone to lengths to pass this type of legislation,” he said. “We’re hoping that other jurisdictions and municipalities will follow in the good graces of example that Oro Valley has set.”

  • EPA recognizes Amphi as top user of green power

    Since completing its solar installation project last December Amphitheater Public Schools announced that it now stands at number three on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA’s) top 30 K-12 schools list of the largest green power users from the Green Power Partnership. The district also appears as No. 20 on the top 30 on-site generation list, along with corporations such as Walmart Inc., Apple Inc., Coca-Cola and General Motors. “We are proud to be recognized by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for our green power use,” said James Burns, executive manager of operational support for the district. “By making the choice to use clean, renewable energy, our organization becomes more sustainable, while also sending a message to others across the United States that using green power is a sound business decision and an important tool in reducing one’s carbon footprint in the fight against climate change.” The district’s choice to use green power is helping to advance the green power market and support clean renewable energy alternatives. The on-site solar energy systems are providing 65 percent of the district’s total power needs. The solar power systems are comprised of approximately 29,000 photovoltaic panels located on carports, shade canopies and rooftops across all school sites and other district facilities locations. The district is using more than 16 million kilowatt-hours (kWh) of green power annually, which is equivalent to the electricity use of nearly 1,500 average American homes each year. Generating the same amount of electricity using nonrenewable sources would result in the release of approximately 11,519 tons of carbon dioxide, or the equivalent emissions from 2,433 passenger vehicles annually, according to U.S. EPA data for the region.The solar project required no upfront capital from the district. Constellation owns and operates the solar power system, and the district will purchase the electricity generated by the solar panels from Constellation under a 25-year solar services agreement. According to the district, the project will result in an expected savings of $23 million in energy costs over the term of the agreement.For more information about Amphitheater’s solar project visit www.amphi.com/Page/8184.

  • Chris Cornelison appointed Oro Valley assistant town manager

    Chris Cornelison was recently appointed assistant town manager for the Town of Oro Valley. This appointment, made by interim town manager Daniel G. Sharp, became effective Sunday, Feb. 19. The Town of Oro Valley is still in the process of hiring a new town manager, and Sharp will continue to serve as acting town manager until a new manager is hired.Cornelison has worked for the Town of Oro Valley since 2010, when he was first hired as a management intern while working on his master of public administration (MPA) degree. Upon graduation he was hired as the constituent services coordinator and management assistant, and later promoted to assistant to the town manager in 2013.“I have had the opportunity to see Chris transition and grow over the last seven years, first as an intern and then as assistant to the town manager,” said Oro Valley Mayor Satish Hiremath. “His professionalism, relationship-building and passion to serve this community are some of the many reasons I fully support his promotion.”

  • Northwest Fire’s new hires reflect area demographics

    In early September Northwest Fire went about hiring a new batch of firefighters. Unlike previous classes, the fire district wanted to create an opportunity for anyone in the community to have a shot at joining the ranks. That first “green” class was finalized late last month. In an effort to broaden their reach for recruits, Northwest Fire opened their application process to anyone, which meant recruits needed no formal training to be admitted to the academy. In years past applicants needed to at least have EMT Certification and some classes have only included experience firefighters who have served with another agency.“We asked for no prior experience, no prior qualification, no anything,” said Doug Emans, Division Chief. “We really wanted to represent our community and really do a different approach. To get some different looks at people that we want to bring into our organization.”The idea was to reach out to portions of the community who might not be able to take the classes due to family, employment or financial restrictions. “We really wanted to represent the community, not just those who could afford to take classes before applying,” Emans said. Attitude was a key component to the process. The thought was that most of the other aspects of being a firefighter can be taught. Physical fitness can be improved, techniques can be taught, but a positive attitude and a desire to serve the community is something that one either has or does not.

  • Police Beat

    Good intentions ...Two girls enjoying a “hang-out” in Marana made the decision to drive back to one of their Oro Valley homes. Unfortunately, the girl driving the vehicle never had a license, and was only behind the wheel because her friend was too drunk to drive.Just after 7 a.m. on Sunday, Feb. 5 officers with the Oro Valley Police Department responded to calls from a local neighborhood after two juvenile girls were spotted sleeping in a vehicle parked the wrong direction on the side of the street. The resident who made the call to the department said he was leaving the neighborhood when spotted the vehicle, and was unsuccessful in waking the sleeping passengers. Arriving on scene, an officer indicated in a police report that one girl slept in each of the front seats. Officers also noted an open bottle of Malibu rum on the passenger floorboard.Once the girls were finally awake, one officer wrote that they seemed to be “surprised” by the police presence. After opening the door and disarming the alarm, the parents of the girl in the passenger seat arrived and told officers that the other girl was “just a friend.”Officers then made the discover that the driver didn’t have a drivers license, having never been issued one. After being told the officers would be contacting her parents, she admitted that her mom thought she was sleeping at the house of a different friend, and told officer about the “hang-out” in Marana. Realizing that her friend was too drunk to drive, the girl took it upon herself to get them home, despite not having a license. The officer indicated in his report that it was of note that the girl did not show any signs of intoxication.

  • Letters to the editor

    START WITH WALKABILITY FOR MAIN STREETIn reference to your article “Oro Valley Turns Out in Crowds to walk the block,” Town planners indicate the Main Street project will evolve over a longer term period. Simple steps to improve walkability in these areas now though could bring immediate benefits.Walking has been called the most popular form of exercise in the country. Easy to do, great for your overall health, gets you outside, meet and greet people, etc. Most successful downtown redevelopment areas include benches for people to rest on, sit and visit, as do many major shopping malls. The Town could make it easier for more pedestrians to frequent the areas around the Lambert/La Canada intersections, which were originally developed with cars in mind.  Installing some benches and shade trees would be a good amenity now for the pedestrians the Town wishes to encourage.The long one mile stretch along La Canada and Lambert connects the commercial developments with the Town Hall and Library areas and now the Community Center. Some well placed benches and shade trees along the route could encourage more residents to make that walk.  To pay for benches, The Town could even institute a program to have area citizens donate to and sponsor the benches as some parks do.—Rosalie Roszak

  • All-Northwest Wrestling teams

    It was a great year for Northwest wrestling. Mountain View High School claimed their first state title, while Marana, Ironwood Ridge and Canyon Del Oro high schools all had grapplers fare very well at state level. In many weight classes deciding on the first and second teamers were quite easy. Others had too few or too many standouts to easily make a decision. Some wrestlers on the second team for a tough weight class could have a better season than some of the first teamers in a weaker class. An emphasis was placed on performances at the state tournaments for close calls.All Northwest Wrestling First Team106 Gabe Ortiz, Mountain View (31-13)

  • Amphi Foundation prepares for another gala to help in the classroom

    It’s that time of year again, and across the entire Amphitheater Public School District students, staff, faculty and volunteers are working hard to prepare for the Amphi Foundation’s premier event: The Amphi Foundation Gala.A yearly event designed to showcase the best, brightest and most exciting students within the district, members of various projects, teams, clubs and other programs will convene at the Hilton Tucson El Conquistador Golf & Tennis Resort alongside family and friends on Saturday, March 25. After the student showcase, guests will enjoy cocktails and a silent auction, dinner and special recognitions.“Socially it’s a really fun night, but on an emotional level the gala is very inspiring and leaves parents, educators, administrators and community members proud of our public schools, and public of what’s going on,” said foundation executive director Leah Noreng.The longstanding foundation event is not only an opportunity to show off the programs and successes of Amphi students, but is also a chance for the nonprofit foundation to raise more than three-fourths of its yearly operating budget, Noreng said.With that money, and the funds raised through grants and other contributions, the foundation looks to promote academic success at all Amphi schools by providing resources to students and teachers that enrich the educational process. This year, Noreng said the foundation was proud to introduce the mini grant program, which has distributed nearly $10,000 to classrooms in more than a dozen Amphi schools. 

  • Monsanto withdraws from property tax break

    Less than a week before the Pima Board of Supervisors was to vote on whether or not it would endorse a controversial greenhouse project for a Foreign Trade Zone (FTZ) exception for Monsanto, the company announced they were withdrawing its FTZ proposal with the county. Monsanto announced the decision last week, though representatives said they are moving forward with several commitments to the area. The board of supervisors was set to vote this week on whether or not to recommend the 7-acre greenhouse project with the federal government. If granted, the trade zone would have given the company a lowered property tax rate, as per Arizona state law. Under the agreement the property tax rate would drop from 15 percent to 5 percent. Monsanto had already reached agreements with the Marana Unified School District (MUSD) and Pima County Joint Technical Education Districts (JTED), though Pima Community College declined to reach an agreement.  In 2016, Monsanto purchased the 115-acre site just outside of Marana, with plans of building a state of the art, fully enclosed greenhouse for “crossing” corn plants. Crossing involves taking pollen from one plant and putting it on another in an attempt to get desired characteristics from both plants. The company hopes to grow between 400,000 to 500,000 corn plants annually, and maintains all of it will be inside the greenhouse. Monsanto says there are no current plans to grow corn outside the greenhouse. In anticipation of the vote, the county held a series of public meetings, at which opposition towards the project was overwhelming, despite the efforts of Monsanto officials to try and alleviate fears of pesticide use and other environmental concerns. 

  • Town, chamber officials meet with Ina Road businesses for closure resources

    With the Ina Road Interchange poised to close, the Marana Chamber of Commerce and town of Marana officials walked door to door in the area last week to get feedback on the project and inform businesses about what resources are available.Mayor Ed Honea, Council Member Patti Comerford, Town Manager Gilbert Davidson, Assistant Town Manager Jamsheed Mehta and Police Chief Terry Rozema were among the town officials seeking feedback. They were joined by several chamber employees as well as business owners such as Terry Kyte of the Bisbee Breakfast Club and Javier Avalos of Spectrum Auto Collision.“I think it says a lot about the type of community we have in Marana,” Honea said. “There are not many places where town leaders, chamber leaders and local business leaders would partner to do something like this.”Most chamber business walks, which occur every couple of years, cover every area of the town and go over a wide variety of topics. This year’s version was special to just the Ina/I-10 region and all conversations centered on the impending closure. “The importance of the walk is for the town of Marana and the chamber to go out and have a conversation with the businesses and provide them with the information they are going to need to prepare for the closure of I-10,” said Marana Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Ed Stolmaker.The first component of the business walk was a fact-finding mission. During the previous business walk, officials asked a variety of questions and their discoveries paved the way to implementing the half-cent sales tax to fund the new police facility. 

  • Birdhouse for books attracting a flock of readers at neighborhood lending library

    From “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” to a selection of the “Anne of Green Gables” series, or even one of James Patterson’s many novels—and everything in between—one Oro Valley neighborhood has been sharing its communal love of the written word, all thanks to the efforts of Tom Penttinen and his lending library, “The Book Stops Here.” Named after the famous saying attributed to President Harry S. Truman, Penttinen said the idea to craft the library near his house first came to him after reading a story about a young boy in the Midwest who crafted a lending library of his own and installed it near his family’s house. As Penttinen tells it, the local home owners association forced the youth to remove the library, though it was later reinstalled after the local community backed the young bookworm.Penttinen, who opted to have his own library approved before starting construction, said he began the project last summer. A woodworking hobbyist for the past 50 years, Penttinen said the structure was complete and erected in November before his supportive neighbors near his home off of North Monterra Vista Drive.“It’s turned out real well, I am really happy with it,” Penttinen said. “It was something that I did in order to give back to the community, and I am hoping that people will see it and might get the same idea and do it somewhere else. It gets people talking together. They stop and look through it and the response has been great. I am happy with it.”Karen and Jack Swanberg were just two of Penttinen’s neighbors who came out to support the lending library. Karen, and avid reader and one of the first book lenders, said she first learned of Penttinen’s plans when she saw him working with his saw in the garage. Struck by a bit of curiosity, Karen said she went over to see what her neighbor was doing, and was ecstatic to hear what was in store.

  • Welfare check leads to homicide arrest

    A welfare check of a Marana resident led to a homicide arrest. Marana Police Officers conducted a welfare check on Feb. 9 at the 8900 block of North Valhalla Drive and discovered 62-year-old Debra Elaine Fouts deceased inside the residence.According to MPD officers there were obvious signs of trauma and Marana Police Detectives were sent to the scene to conduct the investigation.As a result of theinvestigation, MPD Detectives arrested 35-year-old Nathan Ray Fouts for alledged 1st Degree Murder and Unlawful Possession of a Weapon. As of now the circumstances and motive surrounding the murder are still under investigation.  Information gathered by the Pima County Sheriff’s Department led them to believe something may have happened to Debra Elaine Fouts and due to her Marana address, PCSD requested Marana PD conduct the welfare check.

  • Firefighter saves two from burning vehicle

    Two people are fortunate that an off-duty firefighter was in the right place at the right time over the weekend after he pulled the pair out of a burning car on Saturday morning after a crash in North Marana. Around 8 a.m., the vehicle was travelling westbound on Interstate 10 just north of the Marana Road Exit when the driver lost control. The vehicle went into the median, crossed an empty irrigation canal and rolled over before coming to a stop.The two people, including an off-duty Northwest Fire District firefighter on his way home from a shift, stopped to help. The pair in the car were trapped and the vehicle caught fire. The two good Samaritans quickly pulled the people from the vehicle before the flames became too intense. Firefighters arrived on scene to extinguish the flames while paramedics treated the victims. They are said to have serious, but not life-threatening injuries and it is believed the injuries are what prevented them from exiting the vehicle on their own accord. Marana Police and the Arizona Department of Public Safety were on hand to investigate the cause of the crash.

  • Planning and Zoning gives go ahead on storage facility at Steam Pump Ranch application still needs to make the rounds through another board and town council

    After nearly two hours of discussion, the Oro Valley Planning and Zoning Commission unanimously voted to support the proposed development of a indoor self-storage facility on more than an acre of land within the Steam Pump Village development area.While self-storage facilities were specifically listed as a prohibited operation when the Planned Area Development (PAD) for the property was adopted in 1988, the request was seeking approval for one specific property located north of Steam Pump Ranch and west of the Quick Trip gas station. According to town documents, the structure—proposed to be three stories and 48 feet tall—would maintain the appearance of an office building, the original intended use for the site.“The stated intent of not permitting mini storage facilities was to maintain a high-quality development, and to prohibit uses that are not compatible with the site,” said Oro Valley Principal Planner Chad Daines, who spoke before the commission at its Feb. 7 meeting. “Historically, mini storage facilities have consisted of long, linear buildings with rollup doors and units that are accessed by drive aisles. These facilities have evolved over the years to include indoor, climate-controlled facilities, and with proper design these facilities can have more of an office appearance and can be compatible with retail development, such as the Steam Pump Village development.”Some of the design elements listed in the commission documents include faux windows, varied materials and colors consistent with nearby development, building articulation, metal and lighting elements.In addition to an indoor self storage facility, the plans for the building include 3,800 square feet on the ground floor to be used for office or retail space, the former being more likely, as indicated by town staff in the report. Other aspects of the application include a change in parking standard as well as a requested increase in the floor area ration allowed. Additionally, other restriction would apply to the proposed building, including a prohibition on outdoor rental displays or activity, corporate graphics or activity from within the units.With all considerations made in terms of architecture, display and other factors, Daines said that staff would recommend approval for the PAD amendment.

  • Clark sentenced to life for 2015 murder of Gann

    Cody William Clark was sentenced to life in prison on Monday, May 6, for the March 2015 murder of Austin Gann. Clark was convicted on one count of first-degree murder in Pima County Superior Court in December. He will be eligible for parole in 25 years and has been credited with 686 days time served.Clark was originally taken into custody on March 23, 2015, in connection to the death of Gann. The morning of the incident, Clark, Gann and a third unidentified man were seen exiting a Northwest-side Circle K. Clark was later arrested in a nearby neighborhood for disorderly conduct; he was reportedly shirtless and, swinging at landscaping lights with a two-by-four.Gann’s body was discovered in his PT Cruiser in the desert near I-10 and Cortaro Road at 9 a.m. with a single gunshot wound to the head. Marana Police were able to determine he was shot while in the vehicle. Investigation into his death led to a connection to the already apprehended Clark. Authorities said the two men were friends, and had probably been out drinking the night before.

  • MLS Red Bulls practice, play in Oro Valley

    Although Tucson lost baseball spring training, Major League Soccer spring training has flourished in Pima County. While many games are played near the county’s sports facility at Ajo Way and Kino Boulevard, the New York City Red Bulls are practicing this year at Naranja Park in Oro Valley.On Saturday Night, the Red Bulls hosted a friendly exhibition game with FC Tucson.The Red Bulls prevailed 3-1 in the exhibition against FC Tucson, which is a semi-pro team from the Premier Development League. An estimated 600 fans took in the game, with most of the fans able to sit just a few feet away from the pitch. It was a great opportunity for fans to get up close and personal with the teams. “They are just loving the talent on display here and the excitement under the lights,” said Oro Valley Councilmember Mary Snyder. Many of the fans were young families, with a number of kids in attendance donning their youth soccer jerseys in front of the pros. 

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