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  • Oro Valley unanimously removes storage prohibition for single property within Steam Pump Village

    After a lengthy discussion, both across the dais and from within the community, the Oro Valley town council unanimously gave the green light for a storage facility at Steam Pump Village on Wednesday, March 15.The council removed a prohibition against indoor mini-storage facilities at Steam Pump Village, following the lead of the town’s Planning and Zoning Commission and Conceptual Design Review Board, and approved an architectural concept and parking standards for the proposed facility.The current PAD for the site was adopted in 1996, at which time self storage facilities were not permitted. According to town documents, the commercial center has undergone multiple amendments and changes over the years, though the most relevant to the ordinance discussed by council was in 2011, when mini-storage was specifically prohibited. Other developments within Steam Pump Village include a QuickTrip gas station and convenience store, Pima Federal Credit Union, The Children’s Museum Oro Valley, a Holiday Inn Express and the BASIS school complex. The town’s general plan designates the property as “Community/Regional Commercial.”The proposed 107,000 square foot, three-story building would include 80,000 square feet for a storage facility, as well as 3,800 square feet on the bottom floor designated for separate mixed retail and office use. Because of the different types of spaces, town planning manager and planning and zoning administrator Bayer Vella called the proposed building a “unique project” if approved by council.“When the applicant came in and asked if, on this site which is tucked behind the [QuickTrip] and not the best location for the original intended use, to see if self storage would be possible, our first reaction as staff was, ‘no, it’s prohibited use,’” Vella said. “We focused on the words. The intent of the (plan) was to make sure and reflect the common perception of self storage as being not fitting of a high quality development; the rollup doors, the long linear expansive spaces, big rectangles, very basic barebones architecture. So we challenged ourselves and we challenged the applicant: are there design solutions to make this work?”After more than a year of work between town staff, developer 1784 Capital Holdings and RKAA Architects, Inc., Vella said that the site—owned by Diamond Ventures in partnership with Evergreen Devco Inc.—has found a suitable design. That design includes architectural elements which create an appearance of an office building, Vella said, including colors and materials similar to those already in use within Steam Pump Village, metal awnings, lighting standards, faux windows and modified building articulation.

  • Luncheon celebrates the best of Marana Unified School District

    Marana Unified School District students, teachers and staffers were honored last week as the Marana 2340 Foundation held their annual Celebration of Excellence luncheon at the Ritz-Carlton, Dove Mountain.The event serves as a fundraiser for the foundation but also honors top students and employees in the district. Twelve MUSD high school seniors, from Marana, Mountain View and MCAT High received scholarships. “The best part of this event is that we are changing lives,” said 2340 Foundation President Dan Post. “We are changing the lives of the young people who are receiving scholarships.”Almost 200 people attended the event with KOLD TV news anchor Dan Marries served as Master of Ceremonies.“We have great sponsors and great partners in being able to do this to show off what we are doing for our students,” said MUSD Superintendent Dr. Doug Wilson. In addition to handing out scholarships, the foundation honored three MUSD employees. Quail Run Elementary speech pathologist Beth Gapp was honored as Teacher of the Year, Thornydale crossing guard Johnnie Edmond and director of public relations Tamara Crawley were named the district’s employees of the year. 

  • Angels actress uses golf to educate

    When many of us think of Cheryl Ladd we think of her solving crimes as one of Charlie’s Angels, or her role in last year’s “The People vs. OJ Simpson.” What many of us do not realize is the former actress, model and singer is an avid golfer out there doing good. Ladd was on hand for the Tucson Conquistadors Classic to host a clinic, as well as raise awareness for cataracts. Ladd fell in love with the sport from day one, though she admits she, like most new golfers, struggled at first. After three years of marriage Ladd’s husband proposed they go out and golf. Although he had never invited her out before, the two hit the links, ironically enough at a golf course right across the street from the 20th Century Fox lot where she filmed Charlie’s Angels. “I was just dreadful, but I cracked a couple of drives, and was hooked,” Ladd said. She jokes that she specifically uses the term “cracked” because she was hooked from the start.Within a week she had her own set of clubs and two weeks later they purchased a condo on a golf course. “I just fell mad in love,” Ladd said. “All of our free time was spent on the sport.”

  • Community bike swap returning to Oro Valley this weekend

    Riding back into Oro Valley this Saturday, March 25, at Steam Pump Ranch is BIKE. SWAP. SELL., the town’s bike swap servicing the communities of north Tucson. Celebrating the strong cycling culture in the region, the event will give area residents an opportunity to comb though a diverse selection of parts and components from more than a dozen vendors.The meet kicks off at the ranch, 10901 N. Oracle Road, at 9 a.m. and will include the swap meet, a bike rodeo riding path for children, educational activities, food trucks and fix-a-flat and minor maintenance service courtesy of the Pima County Bike Ambassadors every half-hour from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. The event will also serve as a drop-off for bike donations for Wheels For Kids, which works to provide children with bicycles.Oro Valley Recreation and Cultural Services Manager and community cyclist Lynanne Dellerman, who helped launch the event, said the event is a must for anyone with free time on Saturday. The swap meet will coincide with Oro Valley’s weekly Heirloom Farmer’s Market, and Dellerman advised her fellow cyclists to peruse the stalls for some fresh ingredients after visiting the food trucks.“It’s so fun,” she said. “We will have music, snacks, bicycle valet, it’s very, very enjoyable and a good time for everyone.”For more info, Dellerman can be reached at 229-5052.

  • Pancake-loving sisters find success in breakfast mixes

    Oro Valley resident Kim Vanderwerf and her sister Jan Claxton spend their Saturday mornings at the Heirloom Farmers Market at Steam Pump Ranch, handing out miniature pancakes and showing off the versatility of their breakfast mix. Also known collectively as Girls From Arizona, the sisters have spent a great deal of time amongst whole grain and spices, perfecting their product.Though they deal in early morning meals, Vanderwerf said the inspiration behind the breakfast food was her own search for a suitable way to prepare one of her favorite weekend cravings, pancakes.“I just could not find a mix that I enjoyed that was also healthy,” she said. “I was talking with my husband one morning and he said, ‘Why don’t you just make your own?’ So we discussed the things that I like, consulted with my sister, and that’s how we came up with it.”The result of their hard work is a versatile, locally sourced multigrain breakfast mix including whole wheat, whole oats, light and dark flax seed, cinnamon and sugar which can be utilized to create pancakes, waffles and muffins. With their product in hand, Vanderwerf said they have “taken all of the guesswork out,” to make it easy for anyone to have a satisfying meal. For those with dietary restrictions like dairy or eggs, she said there are several substitutes available.Many of the changes and learned adaptations the sisters have added to the mix have come directly from their customers, Vanderwerf said, which she added is a huge benefit of their presence at the weekly farmers market.“We meet so many different people, and hear their different folk’s opinions,” Vanderwerf said. “What we 

  • A Beast: “Beauty” breaks box office records

    The best opening weekend for the month of March ever, Disney’s live-action movie “Beauty and the Beast” hauled in a record-breaking $170 million in the U.S. alone. The wholesome love story also flexed its animation muscle globally, taking in a record $350 million worldwide—making it the biggest PG-rated film opening in North American history and the seventh best grossing weekend of all-time.Using the most impressive animation features I’ve ever seen on film, “Beauty and the Beast” seamlessly blends its charismatic Disney characters amongst some of Hollywood’s biggest names. Academy Award-winner Bill Condon (“Gods and Monsters”) directs a talent-rich cast that includes Emma Watson, Kevin Kline, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Ewan McGregor, Ian McKellen and Emma Thompson.Although easily predictable, the lone letdown in the film is the performance by leading lady Watson. The “Harry Potter” veteran is the movie’s weakest link--both in her acting and singing. Watson’s tentative and lackluster showing as Belle gets magnified opposite a stellar job from Dan Stevens as the cursed prince and Beast. Likewise, a superb supporting castle crew invokes charm and laughter amidst a handful of dangerous, uncertain moments.“Beauty and the Beast” sells its heartwarming romance tale through sheer compassion and straightforward storytelling. Nicely sidestepping too graphic altercation scenes, the movie promotes goodness from within its varied animated souls. Racing against time, Belle and Co. are challenged to save others … beginning with her father. This invigorating love story gets stronger in its pointed message and comedic delivery as the film gallops forward. It lavishly ties the Disney spirit with the eye-raising brilliance of a Broadway production. Even Watson’s underwhelming song and act routines can’t dull a likable Beast and magical cast. In the second strongest, non-summer opening weekend ever, “Beauty and the Beast” shines bright. Very bright. Take the entire family and enjoy!Grade: A

  • Oro Valley snowbirds running, biking and swimming laps around the competition

    When Tim Cronk and Heather Webber retired from their careers as air traffic controllers, the exercise enthusiasts said they began looking for different outlets for their athletic inclinations. First the longtime couple turned to cycling, then skiing and snowboarding, though they would soon enjoy the thrills of rock climbing, base jumping and even develop a taste for skydiving. Though jumping from airplanes and leaping off cliffs contained a fair bit of thrills, they soon found themselves pursuing fitness goals of a different nature: triathlons. What began as recreational swims in a lake near their East Coast home was the beginning of an impressive endurance career for both athletes. As Cronk, now 54, tells the story, he and Webber, 53, were one day asked by a neighbor if they had ever considered participating in a triathlon. A new thought for both, before long the idea was reality. Shortly after the idea of becoming endurance athletes was brought to their attention the couple crafted their own event, the Cronkathon. Instead of a traditional triathlon—running, cycling and swimming—the Cronkathon substituted running for kayaking.“Considering that we were coming from rock climbing and base jumping, it was kind of like an aging, progressive thing,” Cronk said. “I became more interested in the triathlon from a health perspective, but as with anything I do, I had to take it to a higher level and be competitive. Competitors both, Webber and Cronk would soon becoming world-class marathon and Ironman participants for their age group. Marathons are running events spanning just over 26 miles, while the more demanding Ironman consists of a nearly two-and-a-half-mile swim and an 113-mile bicycle ride on top of a marathon run. While both Webber and Cronk have found great success in endurance sports, the latter has competed on the world stage at the Ironman World Championships in Hawaii three times since his first half-Ironman in 2009, and said he is looking forward to a fourth trip later this year.“What drew me to [Ironman] is what initially drew me to skydiving,” Cronk said. “I had viewed skydiving as impossible and could never imagine leaving a plane on my own free will. It seemed impossible, but then after you do it, it becomes the possible when you break it down. An Ironman triathlon seemed absolutely impossible at one point in time—but if you break it all down, it becomes possible.”Shattering the concept of the impossible is an impressive feat in its own right, but the couple has also been vegans for almost a decade.

  • Lehman wins Conquistadors Classic on PGA Tour

    A late charge propelled Tom Lehman (-20) to the win at the Tucson Conquistadores Classic. Leman used a third round 66 to edge Steve Stricker by a single stroke at the event held at the Omni National. An eagle on the par-5 No. 2 jumpstarted the round for Lehman. He birdied 5 and 6 and then closed out the day with birdies on 16 and 17.Srricker, who led after the first two days, bogeyed 16 and 18, giving Lehman his 10th win on the PGA Champions Tour. Bernhard Langer was third at -15, while Fred Couples, Billy Andrade and Gene Sauers tied for fourth at -14.This marks the third year for the event in Tucson after it replaced the Accenture Match Play, which was held on Marana’s Dove Mountain, first at the Gallery and then at the Ritz-Carlton. After the event left Southern Arizona, the PGA Champions Tour event filled the void. Despite competition from the NCAA Tournament, the crowds were strong. Popular players like Couples and Stricker, who recently joined the tour after turning 50, drew big groups following them from hole to hole.

  • Town creates Animal Services Division

    The Marana Town Council voted 5-2 last week to create a Marana animal-control department and sever ties with Pima County’s Pima Animal Care Center.Council Members Roxanne Ziegler and Herb Kai voted against the plan. Supporters of the change said rising costs and a lack of customer service for Marana residents led to the move. Over the past decade the town has seen costs from the country rise from $10,000 to over $230,000 annually as the county facility has moved toward finding homes from the animals in its care rather than euthanizing them.Marana town staffers as well as council members said that they field numerous calls from Marana residents who cannot get Pima County Animal Control Officers to respond to calls in the town. In response, the town will hire two full-time animal control officers, build a temporary kenneling facility and contract with the Humane Society of Southern Arizona to provide sheltering services.“Our top priority is to be responsive to resident requests,” said Marana Town Manager Gilbert Davidson. “By managing our own animal control officers, the town will be able to tailor animal care to the needs of our community. We will be able to respond promptly to all calls and meet the high expectations our residents have for their government.”Marana began exploring the option over the past year. That process included visiting other jurisdictions in the state who handle animal control needs in a variety of ways. Town officials pointed to Avondale and Casa Grande as examples of similarly sized towns who handle animal control services. Avondale provides animal control services themselves and has their sheltering and licensing services through Maricopa County. Maricopa County has this agreement with most municiplalites in the county. They provide free sheltering and in turn keep all proceeds from licensing. 

  • Oro Valley proclaims March 21 World Down Syndrome Day

    More than just a regular Tuesday, March 21 is also known as World Down Syndrome Day, the aim of which is to encourage citizens of every community to work together to promote the respect and inclusion of individuals with Down Syndrome as well as celebrate their own contributions to our world. In an effort to aid in the global mission of inclusion and understanding, Oro Valley Mayor Satish Hiremath announced last Wednesday, March 15 that the town would participate in World Down Syndrome Day. Hiremath said Oro Valley always looked to recognize the struggles – and success – of all its residents. After the proclamation was made Hiremath, in partnership with Arizona Governor Doug Ducey’s office and the Southern Arizona Network for Down Syndrome, presented the document to Indrani Solomon. Solomon is a town resident whose nine-year-old son, Pranoy, has Down syndrome. In light of his condition, Pranoy has inspired the local community in the past; last year he was recognized as part of the town’s Spotlight on Youth program after he was highlighted in New York City’s Times Square as part of National Down syndrome Month by the National Down Syndrome Society.After thanking all involved in making the day a reality Solomon challenged the community to better understand the two worlds in which she said everyone lives. The first is the world we inherit, the other world within each person. Solomon said that when an individual explores the world within themselves the result is a greater sense of inclusiveness and understanding, kindness and generosity.“If Prinoy can do it, we can all do it,” she said. “It’s within us.”Steve Freeman, president of the Southern Arizona Network for Down Syndrome and parent to a daughter with Down syndrome, said that Solomon’s message of inclusion was vital to better understanding those with the condition – and helping them find success.“It is very important that our loved ones are represented in all facets of the community,” he said. “We’ve got individuals who are actors, business owners, professors, teachers – they do everything that they want to do, and put their minds to. It takes a lot of work, and it took a lot of work for my daughter to get through the U of A, but she did it and it as the best two years we’ve ever seen in her growth experience. I just urge you guys to keep doing what you’re doing, we really appreciate it.”

  • Northwest blood donation locations for National Volunteer Month

    The American Red Cross encourages eligible donors to give blood during National Volunteer Month this April. Donating blood is a simple way to make a profound difference in the lives of patients. Nearly 2.8 million generous people donated blood through the Red Cross last year. The Red Cross salutes these volunteer blood donors who helped fulfill its lifesaving mission and invites others to roll up a sleeve and join them. Volunteer donors are the only source of blood products for those in need of transfusions. Donors of all blood types are needed this spring.Make an appointment to donate blood by downloading the free Red Cross Blood Donor App, visiting redcrossblood.org or calling 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767).Upcoming Northwest blood donation opportunities:Marana

  • T.J.Maxx is now open in Marana

    T.J.Maxx opened a new store in Marana on Sunday, March 12.   Located at Arizona Pavilions shopping center, 8030 N. Cortaro Road, a grand opening celebration was hosted from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.A small fashion show launched the opening with models wearing items found in the store.  In celebration of its new location, T.J.Maxx presented a $5,000 donation to Our Family Services and Ed Honea cut the ribbon. The first 500 customers received reusable totes. Gift cards were hidden throughout the store and there was a wheel to spin for additional prizes.

  • Oro Valley staff reviews Walk the Block results

    Last month, hundreds of Oro Valley residents gathered at the intersection of North La Cañada Drive and West Lambert Lane for the chance to cast a vote and voice their opinion on what they see as the best course of action for future development in the area. Entitled the Walk the Block event, the Saturday afternoon trip was the first major public event of the Main Streets Project: Oro Valley’s plan to develop a town center.Having begun the work early last year, Bayer Vella, Oro Valley planning manager and planning and zoning administrator, said all of the staff working behind the scenes on Main Streets was excited to see just how much interest the project had garnered—and that they were blown away by the turnout.“We expected roughly 200 folks, and were pretty wide-eyed about that possibility,” Vella said. “But to get 350-plus folks there in attendance really buffaloed us, in a very strong way. We couldn’t be more pleased.”Whether elderly residents, young families or high school students, Bayer said the turnout coupled with the wide demographic of attendees meant the project had grabbed the attention of those who would actually make use of a gathering place within the town. Those walking the block did more than converse with staff, however. Votes were cast on a variety of different aspects of potential development, including preferred means of transportation, crosswalk and sidewalk designs, public art, architecture and more.“From a big picture perspective, for people to be actively engaged in the idea and be able to go out on the street, talk about it and see things for themselves was a big plus for us,” said Oro Valley Long Range Principal Planner Elisa Hamblin, who was also involved in the recently completed and adopted Your Voice, Our Future General Plan. “I think that it’s something to see an idea on paper, but it’s something else entirely when you can see a physical representation.”

  • Council approves bond issuance to fund wastewater expansion

    The Town of Marana’s planned wastewater plant expansion has been in the works for some time, but now has funding in place to make sure it moves forward. During their March 7 meeting, the Marana Town Council approved the sale and execution of up to $46 million bonds to fund the project as well as pay off a prior bond issuance so that debt may be paid off at a lower rate. The town has explored various ways to fund the planned $21 million expansion of the town’s wastewater facility in north Marana. With the town linking the Saguaro Bloom community to the sewer system the facility is close to capacity. The expansion will allow the facility to handle up to 1.5 million gallons a day, nearly tripling what it currently handles. The expansion will allow the facility to handle up to 10,000 new homes or businesses in the area.The council approved an expansion plan that will use conventional activated sludge, a process which uses bacteria and biological matter to break down waste and help purify the water. The newer process will utilize two separate basins that can treat up to 750,000 gallons per day. The design allows for further expansion, with room for additional basins. Without expansion the town would not be allowed to have any growth in the northern part of town.“With the continued

  • Estes Elementary celebrates kindness as part of greater goal

    While “kindness” can be sort of a catch-all term used in schools, a number of Marana Unified School District schools are using the concept as a way to reduce behavior problems. Kindness is a cornerstone of the district’s integrated behavior system, Positive Behavioral Intervention and Support, which emphasizes the importance of respect, responsibility, accountability and kindness in all classrooms and areas of school. Last Thursday night, March 9, Estes Elementary had a fun-filled evening that also strived to reinforce the ideas of kindness. The event had a variety of booths and displays that shared resources and information on how to promote kindness as well as family activities, health and wellness checks, and displays on conservation, planet resources and animals.“At Estes, we place an emphasis on demonstrating and promoting kindness,” said Principal Colleen Frederick. “We understand that when students feel respected, supported, and safe, they feel a sense of belonging and their overall academic experience is positive. We are pleased to offer this event to our community in order to share the important role we all play in promoting kindness.”The school has held a number of events to promote kindness in the school. In February the school had their Kick-Off to Kindness Assembly, at which Ben’s Bells founder Jeannette Maré shared her message on the power of kindness. This message has been a core part of the PBIS program which utilizes “positive interventions and system changes to achieve socially important behavior changes.”The strategy works best when students are taught respect, responsibility, and accountability from an early age. As part of PBIS, clear expectations for the behavior for the classroom and school as a whole are established and reinforced. 

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