Buffelgrass to be killed at Picture Rocks

Crews at Saguaro National Park are eradicating buffelgrass along a three-mile section of Picture Rocks Road this Thursday through Saturday, Aug. 20-22.

The road segment traverses the west side of the park.  No road closures are anticipated, but to ensure safety for workers, speed limits are being temporarily reduced, with flaggers controlling traffic. Work is scheduled between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. to avoid normal commuting hours, a release said.

One of two methods to eradicate buffelgrass is being deployed.  If the plants are green, herbicides will be used, with a blue dye mixed with the spray to mark plants that have been treated.  "The herbicide being used has low toxicity, and there are no safety concerns for those driving through areas being treated," the release said.

If plants are less than 50 percent green, they will be removed by hand.

Saguaro National Park has used both methods in controlling buffelgrass for more than five years.  Park employees and volunteers, including local residents and groups such as Eagle Scouts, high school and college organizations, and employees from Citigroup and Tucson Electric Power "have been instrumental in helping remove buffelgrass from the park."

For additional information, including a map of areas to be treated, visit www.nps.gov/sagu, or www.buffelgrass.org.

Citizens can learn about prosecution

Applications are being accepted for a "Citizens Prosecution Academy" Sept. 16-Oct. 28 through the office of Pima County Attorney Barbara LaWall.

Classes meet from 9:30 a.m. to noon Wednesdays at the Legal Services Building, 32 N. Stone, Tucson. Applications are available at www.pcao.pima.gov/ They may be mailed to Pat Wiedhopf, Pima County Attorney's Office, Suite 1400, 32 N. Stone, Tucson, 85701, or faxed to 740-5495 by Aug. 28.

The annual academies are free to county residents. The course "demystifies the criminal justice system and the workings of the county attorney's office," a release said.

"This is an amazing opportunity for people to meet prosecutors and staff from the county attorney's office and get an insider's look at what we do and how we do it," LaWall said.

For information, call Isabel Burruel Smutzer at 740-5622.

Sheriff seeking help on 'smash, grab' thefts

Businesses in the Northwest are reporting a series of "smash and grab" burglaries, according to the Pima County Sheriff's Department.

The burglaries appear to be committed by one individual "who historically walks through the front door of a closed convenience store," a release said. The suspect forces entry through the front door or window to gain entry before grabbing cigarettes and fleeing the store.

Ten such incidents have been reported since January. They have occurred on the Northwest side, specifically between River Road and Ina Road, and Oracle Road to La Cholla Boulevard.

Detectives from the sheriff's burglary unit are seeking the public's assistance in identifying a possible suspect in these incidents. He is described as a Caucasian male, 20-30 years old.

Anyone with information as to the possible identity of the suspect is asked to call 911 or 88-CRIME.

Melvin slates town halls on Sept. 5, 12

District 26 Sen. Al Melvin, a SaddleBrooke Republican, is inviting people to a third series of town hall meetings in the Northwest.

The events are on two Saturdays, Sept. 5 and 12.

The schedule is:

Sept. 5:

Mountain View Clubhouse, SaddleBrooke, 9-11 a.m.;

Golder Ranch Fire District office, Catalina, 11:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m.;

Oro Valley Magistrate Court, 1-3 p.m.;

La Paloma Urgent Care, Catalina Foothills, 4-5:30 p.m.

Sept. 12:

Catalina Vista Center, Sun City, 1:30-3 p.m.;

Nanini Library, 3:30-5 p.m.;

Heritage Highlands Clubhouse, Dove Mountain, 6-7 p.m.

Melvin is prepared to speak on an array of topics, among them the state budget, school funding, taxes, health care reform, "cap and trade ramifications for Arizona," border security, nuclear power, desalinization, state parks, a ban on text messaging while driving, no-kill animal shelters, state's rights and federalism, tort reform and job creation.

Special Olympics fall games in Sun City this Saturday

This Saturday, the Special Olympics Pima County Fall Games take place at the Sun City Vistoso Mountain Vista recreation center.

From 8 a.m. to noon, approximately 125 Special Olympic Arizona athletes from Tucson and surrounding areas are competing in swimming, bocce and golf.

Fifty volunteers from the Sun City Vistoso community, Saguaro Aquatics, Raytheon Missile Systems, Oro Valley Police Department and Golder Ranch Fire District will be on hand to assist.

The Sun City Vistoso Community Association donated the use of its pool, bocce courts and golf course for the eighth consecutive year. Saguaro Aquatics' staff members volunteer their time to help coordinate and officiate the swimming events.

The Aug. 22 event is being held in memory of Eunice Kennedy Shriver, founder of Special Olympics, who passed away Aug. 11.

Legislator on Dems' tuition tax task force

Rep. Nancy Young Wright, D-26, has been named by House Democratic leaders to a newly formed task force on private school tuition tax credits, according to a release from the Arizona Democratic Party.

Five Democrats and three Republicans are on the panel. The task force plans its first meeting Sept. 21.

"Too many questions and concerns have been raised about this program and its reported violations of various laws," said House Democratic leader David Lujan. "The task force will be essential to address this problem and correct it."

"Democrats and Republicans must work together to ensure this program is effective for Arizona's school children and that it's not violating state and federal laws in the future," said Rep. David Schapira, a Tucson Democrat who is chairing the task force. "I commend those who have joined the task force to build education for a stronger Arizona."

'Community champs' feted Tuesday, Aug. 25

Tickets remain available for a "community champions" recognition luncheon on Tuesday, Aug. 25, at the JW Marriott Starr Pass Resort and Spa.

Tickets are $100 per person, or $1,000 per table. For information, call Jennifer C. Coyle at 322-5253, or by e-mail at jennifer.coyle@madd.org.

The inaugural event, established by Mothers Against Drunk Driving Southern Arizona, includes a three-course luncheon, live entertainment, silent auction and a keynote speech by Jay Zucker of the Tucson Toros. It begins at 11 a.m.

MADD recognizes Southern Arizona businessmen, businesswomen and public servants "for their outstanding charitable and civic contributions to our communities," a release said.

The 2009 community champion nominees are Amy Bass, program coordinator for the Community Prevention Coalition; Julee Baxley, co-owner of Integrity Automotive; Paul Bigelow, managing partner of Texas Roadhouse in Marana; David J. Diamond, owner and attorney with Goldberg and Osborne; Sharon Foltz, community relations director with Tucson Electric Power; Elliot A. Glicksman, owner and attorney with Elliot Glicksman PLLC; Douglas Hanna, sergeant with the Pima County Sheriff's Office; Barbara LaWall, Pima County attorney; John E. Osborne, owner and attorney with Goldberg and Osborne; Michael Pryor, lieutenant with the Tucson Police Department; Eddie Resner, captain with the Arizona Rangers; Charles L. Ryan, director of the Arizona Department of Corrections; Ryan Schmidt, Pima County deputy county attorney; Annie Shellberg, postmaster of the Rillito Post Office; Dimple Smith, victim witness advocate for the Pima County Attorney's Office; Roger Tamietti, president of the Tucson Firefighters Association; and Roy E. Tullgren III, chair of the Community Prevention Coalition.

Prescription 'take back' in OV Saturday

A "prescription take-back event," free and open to the public, is being conducted this Saturday, Aug. 22, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Wal-Mart in the Oro Valley Marketplace.

The event is presented by the Oro Valley Police Department, in partnership with the federal Drug Enforcement Administration, SOBER Project, Meth Free Alliance, Oro Valley Optimist Club, Golder Ranch Fire District and Pima County Wastewater.

Citizens, businesses, churches and schools are invited to the free, public "prescription take back," a release said.

Residents can bring in old prescriptions for disposal, excluding needles, syringes and IV bags. There will also be opportunities to learn about prescription drug safety and proper disposal of narcotics and other harmful drugs.

For more information, contact Sgt. Amy Sloane at 229-5081.

Pima's fall classes start on Aug. 26

Pima Community College's fall semester classes begin on Wednesday, Aug. 26.

The college offers day, evening, weekend and online classes. In addition to the traditional 16-week semester, the college also offers classes in six- and eight-week sessions.

For more information about classes, degrees, and certificates, visit any of the College's six campuses, its website at www.pima.edu, or call 206-4500.

Pima Community College was founded in 1969. It is the ninth-largest community college in the United States. PCC offers degrees and certificates in more than 100 transfer and occupational programs on six campuses and more than 180 teaching sites throughout Pima County.

Phase-in starts on new ID rules for air travelers

A new requirement regarding airline passenger identification is effective Aug. 15.

In the second phase of the Transportation Security Administration Secure Flight program, some airlines are asking passengers to book travel reservations under the same name that appears on their government ID, along with date of birth and gender.

TSA is partnering with each airline to phase in the additional information requirements when the airline's reservation system is able to accept it. When fully implemented by early 2010, all airlines will be required to collect the specific passenger information, a release said.

"The collection of additional information is part of an effort by TSA to enhance the pre-flight security process and is intended to help passengers whose names are similar to those on watch lists avoid misidentification," the release continued. "Secure flight does not affect the security screening that takes place at the airport."

 Further information is available at www.tsa.gov.

State of OV at the Hilton on Sept. 29

The Northern Pima County Chamber of Commerce is again hosting the annual State of The Town of Oro Valley address, this year on Tuesday, Sept. 29.

Mayor Paul Loomis speaks at the luncheon, which is slated from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at the Hilton Tucson El Conquistador, 10000 N. Oracle Rd.

A "mini expo" is planned at this year's event, according to a chamber release. Sponsorships are being sought.

Tickets are $45 per individual, or $425 for a table of 10. To make reservations, call the Chamber at 297-2191 or email events@the-chamber.com.

Golf event for Ridge music set Saturday, Sept. 5

A fourth annual fund-raiser for the Ironwood Ridge High School music program is set for Saturday, Sept. 5, at the Hilton El Conquistador Country Club Golf Course.

The Vanguard Marching Band is inviting people to "step back into the days of Smokey Jazz," a release said.

The Vanguard Classic opens with registration at noon, followed by a 1 p.m. shotgun start.

Registration costs, due on Aug. 28, are $90 per golfer or $340 for a foursome. Dinner and a performance by the jazz band are included.

For more information, contact Jana Brady at irhsgolf@live.com or go to www.irhsvanguard.com.

Training planned for volunteer hospital chaplains

A 10-week volunteer chaplain training course begins Monday, Oct. 5, through the Northwest Medical Center's Pastoral Caring program.

The free weekly classes are held at 9 a.m. Mondays through Dec. 7. Two-hour classes are scheduled at Northwest Center, 6200 N. La Cholla Blvd.

Training is opened to ordained clergy, Stephens ministers and hospice personnel and others with hospital training in patient care "and a desire to learn," a release said. Volunteer chaplains are a "multi-denominational, integral part of the health care team, providing spiritual and emotional support to patients, families and hospital staff."

The deadline for applications is Monday, Sept. 21. They are available through the Rev. Carl Stouffer at 576-2076, or by e-mail at RCSSJS2000@yahoo.com.

Interviews for candidates begin Monday, Sept. 28.

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