Marana Regional Airport staffers recently briefed the Town Council on plans to upgrade the facility’s infrastructure.The airport recently received a grant to produce new master plans and business plans that are being developed by Armstrong Consultants and Genesis Consulting. Marana Airport Manager Steven Miller reminded the council that the project began in August 2015.The last master plan update was done in 2007 and with all of the changes to the town and the airport, a new update was overdue. Miller said the main goal of the master plan is ensure that the projects will be eligible for funding from the FAA and ADOT. Miller said that the bulk of the needed improvements is for infrastructure and not “adding more pavement and runways.”Armstrong Consultants was responsible for putting together the master plan. The group’s Charlie McDermott explained that a master plan is a “20-year development plan for an airport and includes forecasts in aviation demand and expected demand at the airfield.”
Santa’s Workshop, along with the Arizona Rose Theatre Company, are hosting Christmas In July, a fun festival that doubles as a collection event for used items that will be re-distributed to less fortunate families. “For more than 25 years, our theater company has collected and distributed used toys and clothes through what we call Santa’s Workshop,” said Ruben Rosthenhausler of the Arizona Rose Theatre Company. On Sunday, July 17, the Continental Ranch Community Center will host the festival, which hopes to collect used and new toys, clothing, hygiene items, non-perishable food and baby items. Attendees will find food, carnival games, face painting, crafts, vendors and entertainment. “Families can enjoy games and delicious food trucks during the event,” said Erin Recuparo, chair of the event. “We will also have a family-friendly, half-hour magic show at 4 p.m. And, rumor has it that the head elf himself, Santa, will surprise us with a special visit.”A lot of the festival will be indoors so attendees will have somewhere to escape the heat. The group collects items, then cleans and repairs them before giving them to families with a need. In addition to individual families, the group also helps nonprofits like the Casa Maria Soup Kitchen, Tucson Community Food Bank, the Holiday Sharing Center and Merilac.
According to a press release dated this morning from the office of Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich, 18-year-old terrorist suspect and Tucson resident Mahin Khan has been indicted on three separate charges: terrorism, conspiracy to commit terrorism and conspiracy to commit misconduct involving weapons. Khan was arrested in here in Tucson on July 1 by agents from the FBI and agents with the Joint Terrorism Task Force after a joint investigation by the Phoenix Field Office of the FBI and the Joint Terrorism Task Force with agents from the Arizona Attorney General’s Office Special Investigations Section.As previously reported, between mid-last year and continuing until earlier this month, Khan “solicited, incited or induced others to promote or further an act of terrorism to wit: at a Motor Vehicle Division office located in Maricopa County, Arizona,” according to his indictment paperwork. He is being held, without bond, in the Maricopa County Jail pending a trial outcome. The case is being prosecuted by assistant Arizona attorneys general Blaine Gadow and Scott Blake.Though the investigation into Khan’s action is ongoing, authorities have stated there is not believed to be a further threat from him or his activities.A heavily redacted two-and-a-half page court document with information on Kahn’s alleged correspondence efforts with several individuals believed by Khan to have ties to terror organizations was released yesterday. Within the document, it is stated that Kahn allegedly said Mission Bay, Calif. would be “a pretty good target right there. There’s(sic) a lot of people there.” Within the same conversation, Kahn also allegedly requested two assault rifles, a pistol and made mention of an Air Force recruitment center as a possible target here in Tucson.While speaking with an individual named as “Abid Manoor,” whom the former believed to be a member of the organization Tehrik-e Taliban Pakistan, and requested various weapons and plans to make an improvised explosive device. Kahn allegedly told Manoor that he was a supporter of ISIL (ISIS), the TTP and was planning to “take out marines and jews.”According to the Maricopa County Superior Court records, Kahn will have a status conference this Friday, July 8, and a preliminary hearing set for July 12.
Two local investors have purchased the The Ritz-Carlton, Dove Mountain resort in Marana but little is expected to change at the 5-star resort. David Mehl of Cottonwood Properties and Humberto S. Lopez of HSL Properties announced the formation of a new partnership that has completed the purchase of the resort. The duo purchased the property from affiliates of both Cottonwood Properties and of Marriott International. The purchase closed on June 28, with financing provided by National Bank of Arizona. The hotel will continue to be managed under a long-term management contract by The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company, L.L.C. Mehl, president and owner of Cottonwood Properties, has long been involved with the project and the area. Cottonwood Properties developed The Ritz-Carlton, Dove Mountain hotel and the 6,200-acre Dove Mountain community, which has direct ties to the resort. Homeowners receive a membership to the resort as part of their purchase. “The Ritz-Carlton, Dove Mountain is a special place,” said Mehl in a prepared statement. “I am very proud of what we created and excited to continue ownership of the hotel together with our new partners HSL. Both Humberto and I, along with The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company, share a long-term vision for the property.” HSL Properties, one of the largest apartment owners in Arizona, now has interests in seven local hotels, including two other resorts, the Hilton El Conquistador and The Westin La Paloma.
High-tech careers offer many of the top-paying jobs of today and tomorrow, but they require workers who know how to write the code that make computers work.Two Marana schools are going to immerse their students in a high-tech environment. Quail Run and Gladden Farms elementary schools will team with Code To The Future, the nation’s leading computer science program, to integrate computer science with a comprehensive curriculum. The goal is to create “an engaging, interactive, and fun learning environment.”Code To The Future tries to use fun activities to get students interested in technology. Teachers at the schools will use video games like Minecraft and other new technology to create a cutting-edge learning environment for elementary students.“The Marana Unified School District is honored to lead the way in capitalizing on Computer Science’s potential as a teaching tool,” states Dr. Doug Wilson, superintendent of the Marana Unified School District. “As a District committed to inspiring students to learn today and lead tomorrow, MUSD is ensuring students are provided with the skills necessary to be successful in an ever changing world. Students at these schools will have an opportunity to develop Coding skills as part of the daily curriculum. Along with the comprehensive curriculum, students will have access to Chromebook mobile devices and new collaborative furniture, creating an engaging, interactive and fun learning environment where we will be preparing students for the high growth, high demand jobs of the future.”
The first summer storms have already torn through Southern Arizona, leaving flooding, downed trees and other wreckage in their wake.Fortunately, there have been no serious injuries, but the treacherous monsoons are a reminder that everyone should prepare for the storms. The same is true for businesses. The Tucson Premium Outlets mall has earned “StormReady” designation by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) National Weather Service. The designations recognize Tucson Premium Outlets for its preparedness to handle all types of severe and potentially life-threatening weather situations through communications infrastructures, community outreach and hazardous weather training. The Simon Property Group, which operates the mall, is the first real estate investment trust to achieve the StomeReady status at all of its locations nationwide.“Simon Property Group proactively shares NOAA’s vision of building a Weather-Ready Nation,” said Chris Maier, national warning coordination meteorologist of NOAA’s National Weather Service, in a release. “We welcome Tucson Premium Outlets as a StormReady and Weather-Ready Nation Ambassador partner. Their comprehensive emergency management and security program helps their tenants and patrons stay ready, responsive and resilient to extreme weather events.”Shopper and employee safety was at the core of the mall’s
The Marana Police Department is going high-tech in its hunt for leadfoots who break the speed limit.A new grant from the Governor’s Office of Highway Safety (AZGOHS) will pay for new speed enforcement technology—namely, the purchase of four new KUSTOM Pro 4 LIDAR units and two holsters for the Victory Motor Units. A LIDAR is a speed measuring device used by officers to accurately determine a vehicles speed. Radar speed guns rely on Doppler shift to measure speed but LIDAR speed guns uses light from a laser to measure speed and can be used to measure a single vehicle in a stream of traffic. “These LIDAR’s will be instrumental in our officer’s ability to continue to keep our roadways safe for drivers and pedestrians,” said Marana Police Department Public Information Officer Chris Warren. MPD has put an emphasis on conducting traffic enforcement in areas with a high number of collisions or speed related complaints and the LIDARS will be a tool to help with the additional traffic enforcement.“The LIDARS will be assigned to our Motorcycle Unit and will allow MPD to effectively manage traffic enforcement and increase safety in our community,” Warren said.
In an effort to honor those who provide for the local community on a daily basis, The Explorer has put together a collection of stories and photographs chronicling the efforts of the first responders community. Whether in uniform or out, police, fire or medical, those who take the calls and arrive on scene deserve nothing less than being honored as heroes of the local community. While the extraordinary events and occurrences are often the subject of news headlines and TV spots, the everyday actions of those same brave men and women are often just as impactful to the community and its residents – without any of the fanfare. While the jobs may be different, one common theme is almost always found – modesty. Those who serve the community don’t see themselves as the heroes we all know them to be, instead often placing that mantle on the shoulders of their spouses, family members or those who serve our nation’s military. While the term hero may not be the most easily definable, there are inherently heroic qualities to be found in anyone who sacrifices their time, wellbeing or safety for the preservation and betterment of the world around them. So thank you to all those who service, protect, provide and ensure that the world around them is a better place, through actions both large and small, recognized or never mentioned.See more stories about our heroes in general, Mountain Vista Fire District and Melissa Larkin, the SRO of the year.
Marana High School is pretty quiet these days as the majority of students are gone for summer vacation. But if you head to the north side of the school, you’re likely to hear the sounds of welding torches and angle grinders. Follow those sounds and you will see sparks flying in the school’s welding shop.For the second straight year, the school is hosting a Welding Certification Boot Camp designed to allow students who are planning welding career to not only get a lot of additional welding experience, but also earn valuable American Welding Society (AWS) certification. Last year, Marana teamed with Tucson and Cholla high schools to conduct the camp, but this year, interest was so high that each school was able to offer their own camps. The class is made up of both recent graduates and seniors-to-be, but all of the students are serious about welding careers. “They had to express that this is what they want to do for a career,” said Marana Welding and Fabrication Instructor Kenton Webb. “They are here to weld, not hang out with me or their friends.”First-time students in the camp can earn three types of certifications, including Shielded Metal Arc Welding process, which is also known as stick welding. SMAW is the most common welding process. In addition, they can earn certificates in FCAW or MIG, as well as dual shield wire. Although they are entry-level certifications, they can really help when the students enter the job market.“If they go and apply with a fab company or welding company, it at least gets their foot in the door because they have shown that they have already passed the certifications,” Webb said.Students in their second year of the program can pursue a Cade Industries certification, which is a little bit different and a little bit harder cert. This particular certification is an ASNE Certification or pipe certification.
For the second straight year, a member of the Marana Police Department has been named the state’s School Resource Officer of the Year for their work in the Marana Unified School District.Melissa Larkin received the award during last week’s Arizona School Resource Officer Association Conference, being honored for her service and dedication to the students and community of Marana Middle School.Larkin completed her second year working with seventh and eighth graders at the school and has forged strong relationships with the students, parents, teachers and staff. “I teach an internet safety class which every seventh grader will take at some point,” Larkin said. “There are over 500 seventh graders at Marana Middle and every one of them will spend time in my classroom.”Larkin logged in some serious hours teaching the course. The federal grant which funds her position requires that she teach 180 hours each school year, but last year she clocked a total of 240 hours. “Officer Larkin has a classroom that supports safety and collaboration,” said Marana Middle School Principal Heather Pletnick. “She works closely with teachers to establish a curriculum that is timely, educating our students on the dangers of the internet and cyber bullying.”
Longing for memories of home, husband and wife Diego and Monica Ascencio opened La Garrafa Artisan Ice Cream and Snacks at 6781 N Thornydale Road #229 in Marana. The ice cream parlor serves Nieves de Garrafa, traditional ice cream from central Mexico.Their vision was to provide a little taste of home for those who grew up in the same region they did, while providing new experiences for those who are not accustomed to the style. The ice cream is made in a specific machine, la garrafa that involves a wooden outer bucket and a stainless steel interior chamber. The ingredients are placed inside and made in a similar method to other ice creams, but because of the ratio of ingredients and the machine, the ice cream has a slightly different consistency and taste than commercial ice creams or ice creams you find in the United States. The final product is very fresh and a little icier than ice creams that utilize a lot of fat, extra sugars or premade mixes. Diego describes it as a “cleaner flavor.”“The consistency is different,” Ascencio said. “It is grainier, it is not as thick as regular ice cream because of the process.”The couple began considering the idea after feeling a little homesick and nostalgic for their hometowns in central Mexico and the ice cream they ate as children. The chain store ice cream and even raspados did not satisfy like nieve de garrafa and after getting some encouragement, they decided to bring the flavors of their youth to Tucson.
Marana High School won a grant that will allow students to study how technology can improve efficiency in agriculture.The $5,000 grant from the CenturyLink Clarke M. Williams Foundation will assist science teacher Alex Ruff and his students with a project designed to use high-tech tools, including a drone, to study how water use can affect plant productivity.“I wanted students to be able to use some current research techniques to answer some ecological questions which are relevant to our area, most importantly how well we are using water in our agricultural fields,” Ruff said.The foundation’s grants are awarded to teachers who want to innovatively implement technology in their classrooms to increase student achievement.Ruff’s project was to evaluate water use and plant productivity around Marana using some emerging technology.The grant will help students use remote sensing, field sensors, and Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) to investigate plant health around the school and hopefully assess crop health and water use in some agricultural fields near the school.
Pima County Supervisor Ally Miller walked out of a heated board meeting last Tuesday, June 21, as her delays in responding to public-records requests were being discussed.“I have an urgent appointment I need to get to,” Miller said. “I thought we’d be done by now.”After Miller’s sudden departure, the board voted for a new records policy that would require members to turn over public records related to county business created on personal computers and devices such as smart phones, as well as public records created on private email accounts. Before she left the meeting, Miller pledged to turn over any public records created on personal devices and via private email addresses.While Miller has told the County Clerk’s Office that she and her staff have not done county business on private email accounts or on private devices, recently uncovered records suggest that District 1 staffers, including Miller, may have conducted county business using their private email accounts. At least one email recently released by Miller’s office shows that Miller and her staff discussed a recent ordinance regarding panhandling in medians via private Gmail addresses.
The Marana Town Council approved the Town of Marana’s final budget for the fiscal year 2016-2017. According to Town of Marana Finance Manager Erik Montague the overall budget has not changed since the presentation of the tentative budget on May 17. At that meeting the expenditure limit was established at $170,063,889. Since that meeting there were some minor reallocations within certain categories and between certain funds, but the overall expenditure limit remained the same. The budget will rise by about $25 million from the previous year’s budget and that includes the hiring of eight new positions and a team performance pay adjustment of up to a 3.5 percentThe town is already looking ahead to future budgets, specifically the 2017-18 budget. The town has to hold an election to continue using the Alternative Expenditure Limitation, also known as the Home Rule Option. The Home Rule Option allows the town to create a local spending limit as part of the annual public budgeting process. The annual expenditure limit is based on available revenues and the set spending limit based on service levels.Although the Home Rule Option has been discussed at previous meetings, the town held their first public hearing on the subject. The town will hold a second public hearing and then vote on whether to send the item to the voters. The town has tentative plans to put the measure to a vote during November’s general election.
Tucson Premium Outlets will unveil a number of new retail and dining offerings this summer, including Journey’s, VF Outlet, Famous Wok and Johnny Rockets.“We’re thrilled to have so many exciting announcements to share with area residents and visitors,” said Elyse Munger, the mall’s director of marketing and business development. “We value our role in the community and are continually looking to not only enhance our visitor’s experience but also offer a wide-variety of services.”Journey’s is now open in a 2,894-square-foot space between Vans and Perfumania.The store offers a wide variety of “trendy, relevant brands” such as Vans, Converse, TOMS, Sperry, Ugg, DC, Adidas and Polo and caters to a younger clientele, especially “sneakerheads” who put an emphasis on footwear as a major component of their individual style. There will be two new restaurants for shoppers who want a bite to eat. For those craving a little Chinese food, Famous Wok offers a menu with dishes such as orange chicken and bourbon chicken with steamed or fried rice and noodles. Other menu highlights include egg rolls, wontons and soups.