As a small businessman, Kurt Keller has the right attitude about Oro Valley Marketplace and Wal-Mart, soon to occupy significant space directly across Oracle Road from his greenhouse and landscaping business.

He’s accepting, and in fact welcoming, the future. His goal is to sell plants to Wal-Mart. And Wal-Mart might want to buy, given the quality.

Small retailers across this country face the big-box dilemma every day. Years ago, when the first Wal-Mart was coming to a small Rocky Mountain town, a university professor stood before a huge crowd of anxious merchants with a simple message. Don’t try to sell stuff cheaper than Wal-Mart does. You can’t. Instead, focus on superior merchandise, and put paramount energy and emphasis into customer service.

Keller knows that customers want more than a prickly pear. They want a trusted relationship.

Schools are starting to open across the Northwest. Marana children are back in school this Monday, and other districts welcome students during the early part of August.

Amphitheater Public Schools get going with students on Thursday, Aug. 7. The district has distributed a public service announcement regarding attendance. It says this:

“Educational studies have shown that there is a direct correlation between student attendance and their success in school. These studies suggest that for every five days a student is absent from school, their achievement will decrease by 2 percent.”

A generation or two ago, missing school was not acceptable behavior. That has changed. Now, there is evidence that connects achievement and attendance. Any missed time means a loss of learning, something every parent must be concerned about. Add further the life lesson that comes with showing up for school; in the work place, for example, five missed days can cost a worker more than a paycheck. It’s crucial to show up.

“Be smart about your child’s attendance for the start of school, and throughout the school year,” the release concludes. “Every day matters.”

Oro Valley wants to recruit the Tucson Museum of Art. This Friday, city and business officials are meeting with Robert Knight, executive director of the Tucson Museum of Art, to discuss the possibilities.

Previously, conversations about a new museum location have occurred between the museum and Marana, and there’s been some talk about a spot near the Westward Look Resort. Now, the exploration turns toward Oro Valley, which prides itself as an arts community.

“We think that we’re in a real desirable location,” Town Manager David Andrews said. “It would be a real benefit to the private sector.”

The location is desirable, and the benefits are apparent. Oro Valley needs an inclusive, best-face forward strategy to show museum decision-makers that the Northwest is the place to be.

On this page, letter writer Lynne St. Angelo asks a relevant question about candidates for the Arizona Legislature. She wants to know their positions on the constitutional amendment that would define marriage in Arizona, a question that appears on the November general election ballot. St. Angelo calls it her “defining issue.”

What are your defining issues? What do you want to know about your candidates? The Explorer plans more coverage of the primary election headed into an Aug. 20 pre-election publication, and we’d like to know what you want to know about candidates for the Legislature and for county supervisor. Send your subjects and questions to

The media are criticized for many things, often legitimately. One criticism is that we don’t care what you want to know. Not true. Please ask.

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