Platelet drive coming to OV Town Hall May 19

The American Red Cross Arizona Blood Services Region will be in Oro Valley for a community mobile platelet drive this Thursday, May 19. The drive will take place from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. in the council chambers at the Oro Valley Town Hall, 11000 N. La Cañada Drive.

For appointments or more information, call 230-7267.

Those who have never donated platelets may walk in for a 20-minute prescreening process that will determine their eligibility to give platelets. Persons will get the test results in approximately two weeks.

Platelets aid in the clotting process to prevent or stop bleeding. Platelet donations go to critically ill children and adults who are being treated for leukemia, other cancers, surgery, burns, bone marrow and organ transplants.

Local website hosts writing contest for ages 6-18 is seeking entries for its short-story writing contest, which is open to children ages 6-18 years. The winning entries in each of six age categories will receive $100.

The maximum length for each story is 2,000 words. Only one entry per person will be accepted. Entries should not contain vulgarity or inappropriate content.

The deadline for entries is Aug. 1. Entries may be submitted to

The ZipZap search engine was created by Oro Valley resident Jonathan Rhodes as a safer, family-friendly social networking site. It is safer because kids can only be searched for by their ZipZap personal identification number, and not their name or location. Parents have control over a child's friend lists and options. For more information, visit

Giffords' trauma surgeon, staffer are guest speakers at Tucson Together picnic

The Greater Tucson Leadership organization invites Tucsonans to come to the University of Arizona Mall on Saturday, May 21 from 9 a.m. to noon for Tucson's largest community picnic, Tucson Together.

The event, hosted by GTL, has been created to tap into the community spirit and kindness that followed the Jan. 8 shooting tragedy.

There will be a variety of activities for children and adults, including a volunteer festival to promote community service opportunities for families and individuals, and live music.

Attendees can create a tile to be included in a public art mosaic installation as part of a future Tucson road improvement project.

Guest speaker Ron Barber, Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords' staff member who was injured in the shooting, will provide an update on the status of the Fund for Civility, Respect and Understanding, the fund he established.

Dr. Peter Rhee, the UMC trauma surgeon who treated Giffords, also will speak about the needs and benefits of community volunteerism and leadership.

Attendees should bring their own picnic meal and a blanket or chairs. Free parking will be available at the 2nd Street Garage, located at 2nd Street and Mountain Avenue.

For more information, call 512-5485.

Scholarship fundraising golf June 10 in Oro Valley

Golfers of all abilities and sponsors are being sought for the annual Northern Pima County Chamber of Commerce golf tournament, to be held on Friday, June 10, at the Hilton El Conquistador Country Club in Oro Valley.

Activities include golfing, dining, winning prizes and having a fine time on behalf of a worthy cause, with part of the proceeds benefiting the Steve Engle Scholarship Fund.

For $125 a player or $475 for a foursome, players in the scramble-style tourney get breakfast and lunch, green fees, a cart, range balls, a goody bag, and chances to win raffle items and contest prizes.

Sponsorship opportunities are also available.

Earlier this year, the chamber awarded three $2,000 scholarships to deserving young people.

"We're looking for golfers and sponsors," said Dave Perry, president and chief executive officer of the chamber. "The tourney is an enjoyable way to help students fulfill their dreams."

This year's scholarship recipients are Chad Springetti of Pusch Ridge Christian Academy, Cameron Blazevich of Pima College and Rebecca Graf of Marana High School. Scholarship awards are based upon academic achievement, community involvement and student need.

To sign up, or to get more information, call the chamber office at 297-2191, or contact events director Ruth Geier at

Man indicted, arrested for chemical weapons

A federal grand jury returned a two-count indictment last week against Todd Russell Fries, aka Todd Burns, of Tucson, for allegedly producing and using chemical weapons.

Agents from the Federal Bureau of Investigation arrested Fries on Friday, May 13; he is being detained pending his appearance before a federal magistrate judge.

Fries, 48, faces felony charges of Prohibition Against Chemical Weapons, according to the indictment unsealed on May 13.

“This defendant developed and executed a chlorine gas attack that impacted an entire neighborhood and had the potential to cause tremendous harm and fear,” said U.S. Attorney Dennis K. Burke. “I commend our partners at the FBI for their diligence on this case, and we expect justice to be served.”

The indictment alleges that on Sunday, Aug. 2, 2009, Fries placed chemical devices in the front and back yards of a couple living on the northwest side of Tucson.

When ignited, the devices produced a football-field-sized cloud of chlorine gas that hovered over the neighborhood and resulted in the evacuation of numerous families in the area.

Deputies were first called at approximately 4:50 a.m. on Aug. 8, 2009, to the home of Myles and Karen Levine in the Casas del Oro Norte development, 2870 W. Magee near Shannon Road.

The victims themselves called law enforcement, and said they were “unable” to open the sealed garage door and front door to their residence, a Pima County Sheriff’s Department spokesperson said at the time of the incident.

Northwest Fire/Rescue District’s hazardous materials team and several fire units were called to the scene.

At 6 a.m. on the day of the incident, the sheriff’s department issued a warning by media to residents, urging them to remain in their homes if they were in the area bordered by Shannon Road to the east, Cortaro Farms Road to the west, Overton Road to the north and Ina Road to the south.

Thirteen nearby homes were evacuated. Other residents were urged, “to refrain from outdoor activities,” the release said.

A conviction for Prohibition Against Chemical Weapon carries a penalty of prison time, a $250,000 fine or both. In determining an actual sentence, the District Court judge who presides over the case will consult the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines, which provide appropriate sentencing ranges. The judge, however, is not bound by those guidelines in determining a sentence.

An indictment is simply the method by which a person is charged with criminal activity and raises no inference of guilt.

An individual is presumed innocent until competent evidence is presented to a jury that establishes guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

The investigation preceding the indictment was conducted by the FBI.

The prosecution is being handled by Beverly K. Anderson, Assistant U.S. Attorney, District of Arizona, Tucson.

Watch Wednesday’s Explorer for Marana election results

On May 17, Marana voters went to the polls to voice their opinions on the General Plan, and a proposal to renew the town’s Trico Electric Cooperative, Inc. franchise agreement.

Results will appear in next week’s issue of The Explorer.

The first question on the ballot related to the ratification of the Marana 2010 General plan, which the town council unanimously approved on Dec. 7 of last year.

A yes vote, “shall have the effect of ratifying the Town of Marana 2010 General Plan with its five themes and each of its elements as adopted by the mayor and council in resolution 2010-120; thereby making the 2010 General Plan effective for the next 10 years.”

If residents voted against the measure, the plan approved in 2007 will remain in place. The Marana plan, originally approved in 2002, was developed with plans to update it as needed every three to five years.

The 2010 plan is divided into five themes: land management, built environment, people and community, resource management and natural systems.

The second question on the ballot asked voters to continue the franchise agreement between Trico Electric Cooperative, Inc. and the town of Marana.

A yes vote allowed the franchise agreement to remain in place. A no vote ended the agreement.

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