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  • Marana 2340 Foundation making a difference

    From the first day students in the Marana School District step into their kindergarten classrooms until the day they toss their caps in the air for graduation, a student will spend 2,340 days in school. The MUSD 2340 Foundation wants to support those students the entire way through partnerships with community members and the private sector. “The Marana Schools’ 2340 Foundation is committed to ensuring that every student is prepared for future success and has a vision for life,” said Dan Post, foundation president. “We believe the key to a vibrant community is an excellent educational experience for all students.”In an era of tight education budgets, school districts are looking at new ways to find funding and support for schools. In December 2013, the Marana Schools 2340 Foundation was launched to provide scholarships, honor teachers and staff and provide funding for professional and staff development. Prior to last month’s award luncheon, the foundation has provided $540,000 to students and staff.“A couple hundred thousand dollars a year on a $60 to $70 million budget may not seem like much, but if it is targeted and helping out, then it makes a difference,” said Doug Wilson, MUSD superintendant and a board member of the 2340 Foundation. “Our teachers know that if they have a need, there is a place that they can go and seek assistance.”The foundation is still establishing itself, but so far the support from the community and local businesses has been terrific, according to Wilson. 

  • Congressman Tom O’Halleran talks Obamacare, internet privacy and immigration

    Congressman Tom O’Halleran is in his first term representing Congressional District 1, which includes Oro Valley and Marana, as well as Flagstaff and much of eastern rural Arizona. He recently appeared for a one-on-one interview on the televised edition of Zona Politics with Jim Nintzel. This Q&A is an edited excerpt from that conversation. So that whole repeal and replace thing with Obamacare—what happened there?I guess they couldn’t get together after saying for six years that the the Republican Party had an answer on how to cure the healthcare issues of America and as they got into it, more they started trading off issues to gain votes. And when you get into that, you better start reevaluating what you really need to do because that is not trying to get us forward on health care in America  So what’s next? We heard the bill was dead and they were moving on; we’ve heard that the bill is coming back; we heard it was not coming back. House Speaker Paul Ryan wants to work only with Republicans; President Trump wants to bring in Democrats. Do you have a sense of where this thing is going?

  • Amphi Public Schools welcomes new superintendent Todd Jaeger back into the fold

    The Amphi Public Schools governing board unanimously approved the selection of Todd Jaeger as the district’s next superintendent last Tuesday, April 18.Jaeger, who received his appointment to rounds of applause at the board meeting, will start at his new post on July 1. Jaeger will replace retiring superintendent Patrick Nelson, who announced the end of his four-year stint in January. Currently the general counsel for the Tucson Unified School District, Jaeger previously spent 20 years as a member of the Amphi team, including roles as general counsel and associate to the superintendent.“I am so grateful to once again be working with this board and to share our dedication for a high quality education for all students,” Jaeger said. “I have great respect for what each of you does in service to our community, and am humbled that you have invited me to join you again in your efforts.”The district currently maintains 21 different campuses, and roughly 14,000 students of all ages.Jaeger’s appointment to the district’s leading role was supported by all five members of the governing board, who gave congratulations of “welcome home” after casting their votes.

  • Golder Ranch mourning loss of passionate, community-driven firefighter

    Last Monday, April 11 was a dark day for the Golder Ranch Fire District when one of its own, firefighter Jose Samaniego, passed away surrounded by his family. “Firefighter Samaniego was hospitalized last week with a serious illness. However, he did not respond to treatment and declined rapidly,” said Anne-Marie Braswell, GRFD community relations manager.Only 33-years-old, Samaniego began his journey as a first responder 14 years ago as a wildland firefighter and as a member of the Avra Valley Fire District. Before joining Golder Ranch at the beginning of 2012, he worked out of Raytheon. While at Golder Ranch, Samaniego trained and certified as a member of the special operations team, which specializes in technical rescues and incidents involving hazardous materials. GRFD Fire Chief Randy Karrer said that even during the hiring process, Samaniego stood out as an individual of strong character, and a lot of positive energy. “You can train anybody to do the job, but you hire for attitude and character, and Jose had a very unique, community-driven character that fit right in to our organization,” Karrer said. “He wanted to do whatever he could do to help people; he had this very unique passion to try to be the best he could be at helping others.”As a member of the department, Samaniego joined the crew of then engineer Ryan Miller, now a captain at GRFD. Whether on a call or working around the station, Miller said Samaniego was a man of his word, a responsible and capable firefighter.

  • Two painters at Davis Dominguez paint figures and landscapes that embody the edginess of modern

    Three bodies are climbing heavenward in the painting “Skyscraper” by Tim Murphy.It’s no easy hike. The woman at the bottom of the triad stands on one foot, balancing the weight of the other two on her back. The muscular middle figure, of ambiguous gender, is also poised on a single foot, while the tiny female figure at the top of the heap is on tippy toes.  What are we to make of these precariously piled humans? They’re sturdy, and they’re determined. Like dancers, they shoot out a leg in arabesque or an arm in port de bras, deploying every available body part to keep up their delicate balance.The painting is custom-made for our Age of Anxiety. It appears at a political moment when the American project of democracy seems more in peril every day. Murphy’s determined figures are trying to stay safe and steady, but there is no guarantee that they will. The colors Murphy chooses intensify the sense of dread: the climbers’ robust bodies are painted a cheery peach, but they’re set against a background of somber grays and greens. His struggling humans are caught in a flat modernist space that is everywhere and nowhere. Murphy usually makes abstracts, delicately colored geometries painted in lush layers. Lately, he’s been experimenting more often with the human figure. For the current show at Davis Dominguez, A Natural Order, which he shares with landscape painter James Cook, Murphy is exhibiting 18 figurative works. Seven of them, like “Skyscraper,” are good-sized oils on canvas; 11 are small oil sketches behind glass. 

  • State of the Town speech honors the past, while eyeing the future

    With the Town of Marana celebrating its 40th Anniversary, it was only fitting that the State of the Town speech celebrated the town’s rich history. Mayor Ed Honea reminded attendees at the Ritz-Carlton Dove Mountain on Friday, April 14, that he has lived in the area before it became a town and was part of the effort to get signatures to incorporate back in 1977.“It seems,like just yesterday, when a group of community members walked through the neighborhoods, in North Marana to obtain signatures for incorporation,” Honea said. “To get these signatures, we walked from house to house … talking to residents about providing services and protecting our own community. I am happy to report, 40 years later, we have never stopped talking about providing services and protecting this community.”Although Honea has been actively involved with the town for most of those 40 years, serving on the town council and as mayor, he shared the stage with four other town employees who each touched on the past and future of the town. Marana may be best known for its agrarian roots, of late the town has tried to be at the forefront of development and providing innovative ways to attract and retain businesses and residents. Marana’s Director of Human Resources Curry Hale has only been a town employee since 2015, but it did not tale long for the town’s “culture of excellence” to make an impact. “Providing outstanding service is our core mission here at the town,” Hale said. “Everything we do must directly serve our larger community. Our vision ensures that even though we may not always agree, everyone always pushes in the same direction. In Marana, we believe you don’t have to be disagreeable to disagree.”

  • Business of business

    If you’d like a splendidly hilarious intermission from the Sturmund Drang of life as we know it these days—and seriously, who wouldn’t?—get yourself to Live Theatre Workshop’s wildly  hilarious production of Below the Belt.  Annette Hillman has directed Richard Dresser’s play with the requisite wicked combo of comic passion, extreme acting and slashing satire. It’s a biting, gnawing, gnashing, hard to swallow (and possibly reflux) treatment of the business of, well, business. The competition, the backbiting, the paranoia of personnel as they claw and scheme for their places in the pecking order of “human resources.” Dresser sets his story in the hideous digs that pass for office and residence in the compound of an unspecified company in an unspecified desert in an unspecified foreign country. We don’t know what the company does or what our guys actually do, but the department we witness in all its profound convolution is that of the “checkers.”  The set up is that a new checker has arrived and is assigned to share a room with a veteran checker, who is immediately suspicious and viciously unwelcoming of the new guy. Veteran Hanrahan (Stephen Frankenfield) is on the attack immediately when he responds to a friendly, normal-seeming Dobbitt (Steve Wood), his new roomie and co-worker, even as Dobbitt merely introduces himself and tries in a non-threatening, normal way to establish a relationship with his co-worker and to get the general lay of the land. Their boss, Merkin (Matthew C. Copley), calls them to his office, and the three of them are off to the races of perfectly pitched theatrical insanity.Dresser’s script is a dark but hilarious send-up of the corporate way. He insinuates himself behind the expensively designed logo, the carefully worded rules, the ladder of authority and the corporate-speak that is like a foreign language to those not in the loop, and in doing so he maniacally uncovers the existence of an amorphous blob of human ineptitude. His characters are adrift from their families, their sense of who they really are and the reasons they are participants in this odd world in the first place. His fellows are everybody’s fools. And they are outrageously entertaining.

  • Tucson man celebrates 102nd birthday with pizza, cake and a few laughs

    When Joe Lambert was born Woodrow Wilson was president, the RMS Lusitania still sailed between Liverpool and New York City and the modern marvel of color television was still some three decades from introduction. Before he turned 30, Lambert was a member of the United States Air Force flying supplies into China over The Hump in World War II, and last Tuesday, April 11, he celebrated his 102nd birthday surrounded by family, friends and fellow residents at the Mountain View Retirement Village.While some centenarians credit a daily cup of wine, whiskey in their morning coffee or regular exercise for their longevity, Lambert’s granddaughter, Megan Hulce, believes her effervescent grandfather’s secret is much less tangible – though just as important.“He is the life of the party,” she explained. “When everyone tries to calculate what you should do to live to be 100; my grandpa smoked during the war, he definitely went to his share of parties, he’s had loads of friends, he has always loved fruit and I would say he laughs a lot.”Though this year’s celebration was rather traditional, Lambert rang in his 100th birthday flying in an era warplane, and enjoyed last year’s festivities surrounded by his family and friends at Hooter’s. Regardless of the activity or locale, the popularity of the Altona, Illinois native was felt throughout the celebration; more than a dozen friends and family members stopped by to congratulate Lambert, hand him a birthday card and share in a few laughs. “My grandpa is my hero,” Hulce said. “He is the only person that I would accord that status.”

  • Marana Police serving up pride for a cause at Tip-A-Cop

    The Marana Police Department prides themselves on service, even if that service extends to delivering a steak or topping off a drink. The Marana Police Department hosted its annual Tip-A-Cop event at Texas Roadhouse. Volunteers from nearly every portion of the MPD came out to serve the packed house at Texas Roadhouse. They collected over $5,000 in tips and every dime will go to benefit the Arizona Special Olympics.“It was an awesome event,” said Marana Police Officer Jose De La Torre, who organized the event. The MPD has been involved with Special Olympics for over a decade and has raised over $100,000 for Southern Arizona Special Olympians. They had 32 volunteers on hand from the MPD including lieutenants, captains and Chief  Terry Rozema. They had volunteers from the bomb squad, K9 and motor patrol, as well as the youth Explorers program and the volunteer VIP’s.“Everyone in the department was here,” De La Torre said. 

  • Renderings show Ina Project vision

    The Ina Road Overpass project is well underway, but there are still nearly two years of construction left. With so much of the area torn up, it can be difficult to envision what the finished area will look like, but thanks to an ADOT artist’s rendering, we can start to see why all the hassle may be worth it. For more info on the project, go to the ADOT website www.azdot.gov/projects/Ina Photo 1 and 2The overpass will allow drivers travelling on Ina Road to go over freeway traffic, as well as the Union Pacific Rail Road tracks, meaning no more long waits when a train passes by and a lot safer of a situation. Ina Photo 3The project will resemble those completed at Twin Peaks, Prince Road and Miracle Mile. After Ina Road is completed, Ruthrauff is next. Ina Photo 4

  • United Healthcare is jeopardizing its members’ access to local healthcare services of Northwest Healthcare

    Local residents with United Healthcare health insurance should be concerned. Your access to high-quality healthcare services at Northwest Healthcare is at risk.Why?Because over the course of several months United issued a notice of termination on our contract, demanded a 25 percent cut in its payments, and refuses to engage in good-faith negotiations with our health system. If United doesn’t place any urgency on our discussions to renew our contract, our existing agreement will expire on May 1, 2017. That means thousands of United members will no longer have in-network access to our facilities, urgent care locations or physicians.It’s not unusual for health insurance companies and healthcare providers to negotiate and renew contracts. However, what’s not part of normal business process is to terminate your contract in the middle of open enrollment and not alert members. This is a major disruption in patient care, especially the relationship patients have with their physicians. United issued a notice of termination to our contract in November of last year, and for the last five months, Northwest Healthcare has committed the time and resources to reaching an agreement. Despite our health system offering significant compromise, United has refused to negotiate in good-faith on anything less than a 25 percent cut in what they pay us for the care we provide to its members. United knows very well that we – nor most other healthcare providers – cannot possibly endure such a deep cut. The same would be true if your boss cut your pay by 25percent to do the same job. For us, this kind of demand threatens our ability to provide the same level of services and resources our patients have come to expect from Northwest Healthcare.  Northwest Healthcare is committed to Tucson, Oro Valley and the surrounding areas. Over the last year, we’ve recruited 18 new physicians in a variety of specialties including family medicine, internal medicine, cardiology, podiatry and neurology. Two new QuickMed locations and the new Northwest Heart & Vascular practice opened, and we added new equipment for robotic and gastrointestinal surgery. In 2016, our hospitals provided more than $61 million in charity and uncompensated care to the area’s most in-need residents. Finally, our organization leaves a sizable footprint of more than $18 million in property and business taxes, which in turn fund civic resources and services.

  • “Gifted” adds up to a splendid movie experience

    We’ve been awed by brilliant movie minds before, each attempting to cope with the deep personal pain their special brain powers often creates. Russell Crowe shocked us in “A Beautiful Mind” as a Nobel Laureate in Economics. A young Stephen Hawking at Cambridge was superbly personified by Oscar-winner Eddie Redmayne in 2014’s “The Theory of Everything”. And nobody can forget Matt Damon’s 20-year-old character with the skyrocket IQ, sparring in verbal jujitsu opposite Robin Williams in 1997’s “Good Will Hunting.” But lacking from the annals of cinema history is the female child genius whose mind-blowing talents jolt theater audiences. Until now.“Gifted” introduces us to fast-thinking second-grader Mary Adler, a mathematics prodigy with a sharp mind and tongue. Being raised by a single guy named Frank (portrayed admirably by Marvel’s own Captain America Chris Evans), young Mary is quickly pulled in many directions by people espousing to know what’s best for her education and future.In this year’s best young performance to date, McKenna Grace as Mary completely sells this inspiring story. The actress’ authentic mathematical vibe and convincing childish wit carries this movie from beginning to end. Equally impressive is the subdued, down-to-Earth marine boat mechanic role of Frank—which Evans pulls off with ease. The common denominator tying the film’s other characters all together, Evans effortlessly interchanges between guardian, neighbor, son, lover, greasy nailed mechanic, and owner of a scene-stealing, one-eyed cat named Fred.Some might incorrectly characterize “Gifted” as a child-custody story, where Frank must defend his decisions regarding Mary’s education in court to ward off the girl’s opportunistic grandmother. But this plotline is much deeper than that when one looks for a common thread throughout. “Gifted” is really about Mary’s mother and her childhood upbringing as she earned comparisons to physicists Albert Einstein and Stephen Hawking.“Gifted” is an electrifying journey that ponders how a remarkable, one-in-a-billion young mind should be raised. Does each child deserve to be a kid? Or does one’s potential to change the world demand that she leapfrogs age-appropriate education, or participation in kids’ sports, Girl Scouts and other childhood experiences?Sensational casting and a script that keeps the dialogue believable easily overcomes shaky camera work at times during the film. Director Marc Webb (“500 Days of Summer”) masterfully incorporates the slow reveal, concealing several scenes’ importance until the final shots surprise viewers. Get out and see one of 2017’s best acting performances from a girl who could wipe the chalkboard with Damon’s persona in “Good Will Hunting”. 

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