- Your Voice
The town of Marana was named one of the top cities in the country for its use of online services for its citizens for the second year in a row.The Center for Digital Government releases an annual list recognizing cities that use technology to improve citizen services, enhance transparency, and encourage citizen engagement.“This year’s top digital cities are using technology to ensure citizens can meaningfully interact with city government more easily than in any other time in history,” said Todd Sander, executive director of the Center for Digital Government. “From open data portals to enhanced connectivity and mobile platforms, this year’s top-ranked cities are actively promoting transparency, encouraging citizen participation, and making it easier for people to do business with government.”Marana’s digital efforts are wide-ranging, and include an active web presence, numerous social media outlets and a variety of tools that allow the town to provide residents with accurate, up-to-the-minute information. For example, in the past year, Marana debuted the Financial Transparency Dashboard, a portal that allows users to track how the town is allocating taxpayer dollars. Though this information is already made public through the town budget, by presenting it through this lens, Marana is working to make it more readily understandable to a general audience.“Our Technology Services and Communications staff work closely to implement creative ideas that connect residents with the information they need,” said Technology Services Director Carl Drescher. “Whether they’re looking to pay a water bill or find out about our upcoming events, we want to make sure their online interaction with us is as straightforward as possible.”Over the next several months Marana will continue to increase its digital presence. The town recently unveiled the Marana Events app, available in the App Store and on Google Play, which allows residents to learn all about upcoming signature events, such as the Holiday Festival and Christmas Tree Lighting on Saturday, Dec. 3. The Tech Services team will soon release another app, aimed at supporting the businesses along the Ina Corridor as the Arizona Department of Transportation constructs the new overpass. This new app will connect consumers with the many shopping opportunities that will remain open during construction.
Despite gusty winds and a serious downpour at the end of the event, more than 750 Marana Unified School District fourth graders took part in the first-ever Marana Water Festival to learn more about Arizona’s water resources and water in the earth system.The festival, held at the Crossroads at Silverbell District Park, is part of a larger Arizona Water Festival, which has been put on by Arizona Project WET for 16 years and has engaged over 100,000 Arizona fourth graders in the program’s history. The goal of the Arizona Water Festivals is to instill a deeper understanding of water in the earth system and Arizona’s water resources through a hands-on community festival. It also featured a professional development workshop for teachers and extensive volunteer and community involvement.The festival itself is part of a larger curriculum unit focused on water stewardship and STEM education. Teachers implement a water STEM unit and go through additional education to help better teach the unit, which is then built upon at the festival. Educators receive seven hours of additional instruction where they learn to do pre- and post-instruction for the festival day.“The Arizona Water Festival program combines effective teacher professional development, direct student outreach that extends classroom learning and community engagement,” said program Director Kerry Schwartz. “Bringing these components together is the art work that APW does to achieve STEM literacy and water stewardship education in Arizona’s communities.”The festivals include instruction from local water professionals.“Arizona Water Festivals are designed to be delivered by people from the communities in which they are held,” Schwartz said. “Arizona Project WET takes the time to train professionals to engage students in learning by allowing them to explore and giving them time to think. The professionals teach the lessons that we provide so that a strong foundation for learning can be established for each student. The professionals only need to be willing to learn the art of instruction, they enjoy watching the light bulbs go on when students get the big ideas.”
The new Dove Mountain Health Center and MHC Urgent Care facility celebrated their grand opening with a ribbon cutting ceremony on Thursday, Nov. 17. MHC officials and employees were joined by local business partners, state and town officials and other representatives for the ceremony.The new facility has been open for several weeks and has already become an important part of the Dove Mountain community. “We’ve been open three weeks and it is already incredibly busy,” said MHC CEO Clint Kuntz. “I can’t believe how fast it has grown. There is a huge demand in this community.”The new 15,915 square-foot health center and urgent care facility is located at 5224 W. Dove Centre Road and employs 33 medical professionals, including four physicians and two nurse practitioners. The goal is for it to be a one-stop neighborhood health center, providing full primary care and behavioral health services, medical care management, care coordination, outreach insurance services, general radiology, ultrasound, and a draw laboratory. The MHC Urgent Care facility is the first of its kind for MHC.MHC’s resale shop Cotton Blossom will be relocating to the new Dove Mountain facility from their current location on Marana Boulevard.
Construction on the new Marana Police Department police station is due to begin in 2017 and within two years the new building will be opened. The process of getting the new facility funded and approved has been lengthy, but more details on the project are now available.The town revealed these details in a press release last week and they include all aspects of law enforcement from the police officers themselves to the support staff and even the families of those employees who strive to keep Marana safe.“The new police facility represents another step in our continuing efforts to provide unparalleled police services to our community,” said Police Chief Terry Rozema in the release. “Appropriate detention areas will keep our community, officers, and detainees safer. Training facilities will increase our level of proficiency and effectiveness, and appropriate workspaces will greatly enhance efficiencies. This building is not simply a nice benefit for the police, it’s a tremendous asset for the entire community.”The new facility will be on the campus of the Marana Municipal Complex, adjacent to the administration building.MPD had input, along with the engineering departments in selecting those that would work on the project. They worked hand in hand to select the project management firm, architect, and construction contractor through a competitive bid process earlier this spring. Abacus, Architecton, and CORE Construction were subsequently hired, and the planning and design process began. “It was important to have everyone on the team from the very beginning,” said Deputy Engineering Director Jennifer Christelman. “We are able to make sure our needs and the budget are consistently aligned throughout the whole process.”
The Marana Town Council named Jon Post as Vice Mayor at their meeting last Tuesday. The council approved Post unanimously 7-0. Post is currently serving as Vice Mayor and will continue with the role for his third term. He was first elected Vice Mayor in June 2013.“I’d like to comment on what a pleasure it is to serve with everybody,” Post said after his reappointment. “I appreciate the vote of confidence.” The vice mayor serves a two-year term and terms can be extended after each election. The vice mayor serves in the absence or disability of the mayor and is chose from among the council members by majority vote. Post is a Marana native and owns Post Farms. In addition to serving on the Marana Town Council Post has served on the board of directors for Trico Electric Co-Op, the Cortaro Water Users Association and Cortaro Marana Irrigation District. He also served as chairman of the Town’s Planning and Zoning Commission and was president of the Marana Junior Rodeo Association.
The Town of Marana announced the hiring of their new deputy director of the Parks and Recreation Department. D. Tyrell McGirt joined the town last week. According to a town press release McGirt brings with him “significant experience in the parks and recreation field, and the Town is eager to benefit from his fresh perspectives.”He comes to Marana after serving as the Director of Parks, Culture, and Recreation in Unalaska, a small community in the Aleutian Islands off the coast of Alaska where he earned the reputation for coming up with a number of initiatives and “developing a vision and mission for his department.”“I sincerely believe that leisure activities, recreation, and sports play an essential role in adults and children living active, balanced, and healthy lives,” said McGirt. “In Marana, residents already enjoy a wide variety of recreational opportunities, and I look forward to building on that legacy.”He has a background in aquatics, serving as the aquatics coordinator for the YMCA of Greater Charlotte and also helped open Ray’s Splash Planet, Charlotte’s first indoor water park. He also implemented a junior life guard program in the town. McGirt will assist Parks and Recreation Director Cynthia Nemeth Briehn. The department has offered a number of programs including free guided hikes, the recent Turkey Trot and El Tour de Tucson leg as well as offering a number of year-round activities, such as Zumba classes, martial arts programming and classes that fuse music and visual art.
Through the month of November, Marana Unified School District schools have held STEM/STEAM nights. During the school’s STEM or STEAM night students and families have the opportunity to think critically and build 21st Century skills as they visit hands-on interactive booths/displays and participate in fun educational activities.On Thursday, Nov. 17 Butterfield Elementary was one of two MUSD elementary schools, along with Estes Elementary, to host STEM/STEAM night. The courtyard of the school was filled with a variety of activities and displays for students and their families to look at and expand their knowledge of science and technology. Students were first greeted by a 3-D printer and several science-fair displays and then were able to learn about patterns with a hands-on activity. The next stop had representatives of Mountain Vista Fire giving a CPR demonstration. Another cluster of displays informed students about the human body and the animal kingdom. One demonstration showed the dangers of smoking by inflating healthy and damaged pig lungs, while at the adjacent table was a replica human skeleton. Various bird eggs of all sizes and colors occupied another table, as did one showcasing various animal skulls. The presenters on hand were able to point out the unique features of each display. Students were able to build working propeller driven paper airplanes at a Raytheon sponsored booth that also included moving items created with a 3-D printer, while students from Mountain View’s engineering program allowed students to manipulate various working robots.
The Pima County Sheriff’s Department happily reported at 1:55 p.m. that 12-year-old Julia Davis has been located and reunited with loved ones.--The Pima County Sheriff’s Department is seeking the public’s assistance in locating 12-year-old Julia Davis. Julia was last seen yesterday, Nov. 20 around 9:00 p.m. and is believed to be somewhere on the Northwest side.She is described as:CaucasianApproximately 5’0” in height, 80 pounds in weightBrown hair, green eyesUnknown clothing descriptionAnyone with information on the location of Julia Davis is urged to call 9-1-1.
The Town of Marana held a meeting with residents of Continental Ranch who live near the El Rio Open Space to get feedback on a proposed plan to turn the area into a permanent wetlands area and create an attraction.The meeting was held last Monday at the Wheeler Taft Abbett Library and was attended by residents from both the neighborhoods that sit adjacent to the pit.The plan calls for a permanent repair to the berm that prevents water from running into the former borrow pit from the Santa Cruz and has caused flooding. The excess water from rains, the river and effluent from the sewage treatment plant collects in the pit and forms a lake of sorts. Residents have complained of insect infestations, primarily mosquitoes, and smells from stagnant water.The initial designs that were presented called for two smaller, permanent pools of circulating water in the low points on either side of the space. They would be connected by a small arroyo. Some of the residents were wary of having permanent water in the area, noting that whenever water fills the pit that the mosquitoes in the neighborhood to the west are so bad that residents are unable to spend lengthy amounts of time outdoors.Their fears were assuaged a bit when Marana Town Engineer Keith Brann said that by having permanently circulating water and using larvacide pucks, could almost guarantee that the mosquito population was eliminated. The Sweetwater Wetlands near I-10 and Prince Road have used similar strategies to great effect.
There were three propositions brought before Marana voters this election, and although results will not be finalized until Saturday, a clear winner emerged in two races. Proposition 440, also known as the Home Rule Option, appears to be well on its way to passing. The measure allows the town to utilize all of its revenues when it comes to budget spending. Had the measure failed, the town would be forced to use a state generated formula that would have seen the budget decrease by nearly $62 million.“The Marana voters have an expectation that public safety, roads, parks, and other services are important and that all available financial resources should be used to make Marana a great community to live,” said Marana Town Manager Gilbert Davidson. “Home Rule allows the local government to fully utilize all revenue to support the quality of life expected by our residents. The Town of Marana takes very seriously the responsibility to serve its residents in the most responsible, transparent, and supportive way.”As of Wednesday morning the measure was passing by a near 2-to-1 margin. The town’s estimated budget for fiscal year 2017-2018 is approximately $118.1 million. If the Home Rule Option measure had failed, the town would have trimmed its spending to $53.7 million. The outcome of the vote neither raised nor lowered taxes.This marks the ninth time Marana voters have passed the Home Rule Option.
The Town of Marana has been concerned about construction in the I-10/Ina area and has proposed several methods to try and help those effected businesses in the area. One of those proposed methods was a change to the sign code to allow businesses affected by construction to utilize additional signage. To implement that change, the council had to approve a change in the sign code. “This change would help to alleviate some of the issues the traveling public may encounter during construction events,” said Marana Development Services Director Ryan Mahoney. With the change in the code, businesses would be able to display a temporary sign per frontage on their own property totaling 40 square feet for each sign. They would also be able to have an A-frame sign within 20 feet of their business.“This would especially help those businesses along Ina Road which are located behind other buildings,” Mahoney said. To let businesses know about their options with the new signs, the town is looking to distribute a 5x5 note card letting them know exactly what they can do with the new sign rules. The card would have a link to the website, specifically a link to an application, at no charge, for the sign and within 24 hours they would have an approval as long as they met all requirements requirements.
A new race option for cyclists participating in the El Tour de Tucson will begin in Marana. The 28-mile mini race will begin in Marana and wind through portions of the town until heading south down I-10 to a downtown Tucson finish.The Marana race is on Saturday, Nov. 19 and leaves at 1 p.m. from Marana Heritage River Park at 12375 N. Heritage Park Drive.The Town of Marana began a sponsorship agreement with the El Tour de Tucson in 2015, with an agreement to have their own race this fall. “Marana Heritage River Park is the perfect location for this event,” said Cynthia Nemeth-Briehn, director of parks and recreation in Marana. “This park and its neighbor, Gladden Farms Community Park, showcase some of our most beautiful open spaces, and El Tour offers a terrific opportunity for us to bring the community together in this picturesque location.”The town wants to make the race an event for more than just the riders. Beginning an hour before the riders depart the town will hold a mini-festival that includes a DJ, food trucks, cornhole, a bike shop, and more. The festival event will run 12-2pm at Gladden Farms Community Park.“It is small little thing to build some excitement to the start,” said Marana Director of Communications Vickie Hathaway.
There were three propositions affecting Marana in this election, and although full results will not be finalized until Saturday, a clear winner was emerging in two races.Proposition 440, also known as the “Home Rule Option” appears to be well on its way to passing. The measure allows the town to utilize all of their revenues when it comes to budget spending. Had the measure failed, the town would be forced to use a state generated formula that would have seen the budget decrease by nearly $62 million.As of Wednesday morning the measure was passing by a near 2-to-1 margin.Proposition 446 was whether or not to allow Northwest Fire to issue bonds to raise funds to build or renovate fire stations. The proposition appears well on its way to passing. As of Wednesday morning 68.5 percent of the votes were in favor.The only proposition that was still murky was Proposition 448, which was to allow the Marana Unifies School District to continue a 10 percent budget override. As of Wednesday morning the yes votes led the no by just 450 votes out of the 34,370 that had been counted. Two state-wide propositions will also have an impact on Marana. Both Proposition 205 and 206 were opposed by the Marana Chamber of Commerce.
Marana High School senior Kimberly York was awarded a $72,000 National Merit Hispanic Scholarship from the University of Arizona. She also received a $1,500 stipend to study abroad. “I am so humbled by this recognition,” York said in a release. “The scholarship is such a huge blessing and I am looking forward to continuing my studies as an Arizona Wildcat.”York was also named a National Hispanic Scholar from the National Hispanic Recognition Program of the College Board. The College Board’s NHRP program is an academic honor that can be included on college applications. It’s not a scholarship, but colleges use this program to identify academically exceptional Hispanic/Latino students.York has attended Marana Unified School District schools since the fourth grade. At Marana High School she has maintained a 4.0 GPA and been involved in various sports and activities. She was a member of the dance team, ran track and was a captain of the cross-country team. She is a member of the school’s National Honor Society and Mu Alpha Theta, a math honor society and, according to a school release, she has taken on leadership roles in each organization.
The Town of Marana prides itself on being veteran friendly and that direction comes from the top. Several members of the Marana Town Council have been very active in issues that have a direct effect on those who serve in the armed forces. For their efforts the town was named a “Purple Heart Town” by the Military Order of the Purple Heart. The honor recognizes cities and towns that go above and beyond to support veterans. At the time only Scottsdale and Sierra Vista shared the honor with Marana in the state. Marana has long prided itself on being a pro-military community and has recently broken ground on the state’s final veterans’ cemetery and dedicated a veterans’ memorial at Mountain View High School. “It is nice to honor people who serve our community and keep us free and give us the opportunity to let us have what we have,” said Mayor Ed HoneaHonea is a veteran himself, serving with the Navy Sea Bees in Vietnam. He is a member of Marana’s VFW and has lent his support to a variety of veteran’s causes. “It is nice to be able to give back to people who have served out country,” Honea said.