The Explorer will be rolling out the new Northwest Chatter portion of our website this week. The Northwest Chatter will feature weekly columns such as "Mind of Mom," "The Doctor is In," "What's Up UA," and guest columns from local organizations such as the Town of Oro Valley, Marana Chamber of Commerce and others.
Explorer Photographer Randy Metcalf will also begin the new, "Gadget Magnet," column, starting this week with a guide on what cameras to buy based on skills levels.
"Mind of Mom" is written by Alisha Allison, a lcoal mother of three who recently gave birth. Every week, Allison will talk about the trials and tribulations of being a mother of three boys, managing a career and going to school to become a registered nurse.
"The Doctor is In," will allow residents to pose medical questions to the qualified staff at Northwest Medical Center. If you have a medical question, send them to Interim Managing Editor Thelma Grimes at email@example.com.
Log on to www.explorernews.com to read the new features.
Christmas fun for couples at Westward Look Resort
The holidays have a way of bringing out the kid in everyone. This December, adults can indulge their inner child with festive holiday fun at Westward Look Resort at the Sixth-Annual Adults-only Gingerbread House Decorating Party.
On Thursday, Dec.15 from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m., the resort invites couples to once again enjoy the Westward Look holiday tradition of creating a gingerbread dream house while enjoying music, wine and light appetizers.
Westward Look Resort will supply the gingerbread houses and all the necessary sweet and colorful trimmings, from icing to candy. All participants need to bring is their creativity, holiday spirit and an appetite for fun, food and wine.
The Gingerbread House Decorating Party will take place in the resort's Javelina Room. The cost is $49 per couple, which includes the gingerbread house, decorations, light appetizers and a glass of wine.
Reservations can be made by calling Westward Look Resort at (520) 297-115.
Letters to Santa
One of the best parts of Christmas is reading letters from our little ones to Santa. This year, the Explorer will be printing some of those hand-written letters. Have your child write the letter, then send them our way to Thelma Grimes: Letters to Santa, at 7225 N. Mona Lisa Rd. #125, Tucson, AZ. 85741.
OV and RTA to hold forum on transit services
The Town of Oro Valley and the Regional Transportation Authority will hold a second public forum for the integration of transit services on December 14, starting at 4:30 p.m. at the Oro Valley Public Library, at 1305 W. Naranja Drive.
Residents are encouraged to attend to be kept up-to-date on regional transit services as well as share any questions or concerns.
Town officials and RTA officials will be continuing discussion on transition the town's transit services, known as Coyote Run, to the RTA next year.
Art Exhibit on Jan. 8 Shooting opens
"Healing in Tucson - The Healing Response to the Violence of Jan. 8" exhibit opened at the Behavioral Health Pavilion Gallery in the lobby of the Behavioral Health Pavilion at The University of Arizona Medical Center South Campus, 2800 E. Ajo Way.
As the one-year anniversary of the Jan. 8, 2011 shooting in Tucson approaches, The University of Arizona Medical Center - South Campus will hold an art exhibit that focuses on the healing process and response to the tragedy, which killed six and injured 13, including Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords.
The exhibit features pieces created by visual artists in Southern Arizona.
The exhibit will remain on display through Sunday, Feb. 26. The Behavioral Health Pavilion Gallery is open for viewing 8 a.m.-7 p.m. Monday through Friday and 1:30- 4 p.m. on weekends.
ADOT to hold public meeting corridor study
The Arizona Department of Transportation and Federal Highway Administration invite the public to attend a public scoping meeting to learn about and provide feedback on a new study of Interstate 10 between Tangerine Road and Ina Road in Tucson.
The meeting will held Wednesday, Dec. 14 between 5:30 p.m. and 7 p.m.
A brief presentation will begin at 5:45 p.m. at Coyote Trail Elementary School at 8000 Silverbell Road.
The study will assess potential improvements to increase capacity and enhance safety for commuters, general traffic and truck traffic from immediately south of the Tangerine Road traffic interchange to immediately north of the Ina Road traffic interchange.
Comments received by the deadline will be part of an evaluation of potential improvements that will be included in a Design Concept Report and Environmental Assessment for the project.
More information is available at www.azdot.gov/tangerine2ina.
For additional information, or to submit comments in writing, please contact the ADOT Outreach Team by mail: 2540 N. Tucson Blvd., Tucson, AZ 85716; phone: 520-327-6077, ext. 110; fax: 520-327-4687; or email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
City of Tucson accepting applications for Section 8 housing
Families, couples and individuals may now apply for the opportunity to have safe, decent and affordable housing through the City of Tucson/Pima County Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher Program.
The Section 8 waiting list will open using a lottery system to ensure that everyone who submits an application within the appropriate timeframes will have an equal opportunity for placement on the list.
This eliminates the need for applicants to wait in long lines. The application period runs from Tuesday, Dec. 13 through Thursday, Dec. 15. Once all applications are received, a waiting list number will be assigned to each application using the lottery-based system.
Applications will be available online at http://web2.transview.org/section8 and must be completed and submitted between Tuesday, December 13, 2011 and Thursday, December 15, 2011.
Completed applications that are sent by mail must be postmarked no later than Thursday, Dec. 15.
Income limits apply, based on household size. Applicants are screened for criminal background history. For more information, call the Section 8 Office at 791-4739.
Find unique holiday gifts at the Marana Farmers Market
The growing popularity of local Farmers Markets will be on display at the upcoming Holiday Market at Marana Farmers Market on Tuesday, Dec. 13 from 3 to 6 p.m. at the Marana Health Center, 13395 North Marana Main Street.
The Holiday Market at Marana Farmers Market, managed by the Community Food Bank of Southern Arizona, will have a variety of fresh produce as well as local specialty items. There will also be a crafts table where kids can make their own ornaments.
The growth of local Farmers Markets is attributed in large part to the Pima County Health Departments' Communities Putting Prevention to Work grant, which promotes the idea that making healthier choices, increasing physical activity and improving nutrition can combat obesity.
The CPPW Healthy Pima initiative has made strides in the quality and growth of local Farmers Markets, evidenced in the following facts provided by the Community Food Bank of Southern Arizona:
At Food Bank Farmers Markets Food Bank vendors, consignment members and staff interact with more than 1,000 community members each week. All Food Bank markets accept WIC, SNAP and Farmers Market Nutrition Program vouchers for
Seniors, and these programs account for nearly 25% of sales. The Marana Farm, last year, produced 23,462 pounds of food, equal to 83,240 servings of fresh vegetables. The farm has a projected production of 970 tons of compost a year and 6,800 pounds of worm castings per year, enhancing the growing ability of gardeners throughout the community.
At the Urban Farm, in less than a year the Food Bank has established 38-community garden plots feeding 500 people. That will grow to 85 plots feeding 1,020 people year round.
Since the start of the grant, 3,072 people have attended workshops and training, and the gardens of the 913 cooperative members have yielded 109,560 pounds, or 547,800 servings, of vegetables.
The Healthy Pima initiative is made possible by funding from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The Pima County Health Department leads the effort in partnership with Activate Tucson, the Carondelet Health Network, the Community Food Bank of Southern Arizona, the University of Arizona, the United Way of Tucson and Southern Arizona, and the YMCA of Southern Arizona.
Event aimed at mental illness awareness
The National Alliance on Mental Illness of Southeastern Arizona and Cenpatico of Arizona invite members of the public to join in on a fun day on Saturday, Dec. 10 for the inaugural NAMI Bikes "Classic Western Towns Tour."
Bicyclists will be riding to help make a difference for families with loved ones suffering from mental illness. Proceeds will help NAMI SE AZ fund local programs.
The tour's start and finish will be at the Sierra Vista Veterans' Memorial Park. Registration begins at 6:30 a.m., the Century Ride starts at 7:30 a.m.. The 67-mile ride starts at 9 a.m.
Participants may register at www.namibikes.kintera.org/arizona with a $35 registration fee. Suggested minimum fundraising is $300.
There will be activities for participants, family members and friends, provided by the Sierra Vista Police Department and the Fire Department, as well as some great entertainment by local talent.
NAMI Bikes is a multiple-distance bicycle ride for people who want to make a difference and help people living with mental illness. Net proceeds fund innovative programs at the national, state and community level. This event hosts individuals and teams from all over the state, integrating the passion and support of the mental health community with a rewarding experience for all participants and partners.
NAMI SE AZ is grateful for the donations, sponsorships and support from various organizations, and welcomes all.
For more information, contact Phyllis Getz (520) 459-3228 or email email@example.com