The Explorer: The Voice of Marana, Oro Valley and Northwest Tucson

  • PCC Northwest to dedicate $11 million expansion project

    Science and math programs are expected to improve at the Pima Community College Northwest Campus with the completion of an $11 million expansion that will be celebrated this week.The 55,000-square-foot building, with 48,000 square feet of usable space, is aimed at addressing increased classroom needs and improving community partnerships with local high schools and state universities. The three-story building primarily focuses on math and science expansions, but also includes a 105-seat lecture hall that will be used for community events and to accommodate larger class sizes. The expansion of the campus was planned years ago to meet the demand of the growing northwest Tucson area. The Pima Community College Board of Governors approved funding in April 2010, following several years of enrollment studies.John Gillis, the campus dean of students, said several years ago the northwest campus had more than 7,000 students enrolled. In recent semesters, they have about 4,500 students enrolled.For the students in the science and math programs, enrollment has increased to levels where non-classroom space was starting to be used for lectures.“It was worth the wait,” said Gail Gonzales, a Northwest campus psychology faculty member who served on a committee that helped plan the building. “Having a little more space for the students is going to be helpful.”

  • The Mission Family: Mom thanks organization for saving daughter

    It wasn’t until 10 years later that Elisa Jennings could thank the people who saved her daughter’s life. Though she wishes it could have been sooner, Elisa is now showing her appreciation through raising awareness for the nonprofit organization, March for Dimes.On Dec. 4, 2003, Makenna Painter was born at 2 pounds, 14 ounces at Northwest Medical Center. Having been seven weeks early, the chances of Makenna’s survival were slim. The birth came as a total surprise to Elisa who had had no apparent signs of problems that may occur. At 3 p.m. at work, Elisa’s water broke in the bathroom. Just a little more than an hour later, Makenna came into the world and, shortly after, was transported to the University Medical Center where she underwent intensive care. While there, she was given blood transfusions, Continuing Positive Air Pressure (CPAP), drugs and more. The drug that ultimately saved Makenna’s life is called surfactant therapy, which helps babies who have underdeveloped lungs. The person who developed the drug in 1988 is an individual from March for Dimes - the nonprofit organization that Elisa is so thankful for.“March of Dimes saved her life,” said Elisa. “She was administered this drug to help develop her lungs. It was basically what saved her life.”March of Dimes helps support community programs that help moms have healthy pregnancies and helps fund research to prevent problems that can threaten babies. President Franklin D. Roosevelt established the nonprofit organization in effort to fight polio. Although the organization helps all babies, its primary focus is to help babies who are born premature or with birth defects.It was but a few months ago that one of Elisa’s clients asked her to be a part of a March for Dimes team. Elisa didn’t hesitate. March of Dimes was for a good cause so she had no problem helping out. Little did she know though that her story would lead the chairman to ask her to be an ambassador family for the March for Babies. Elisa agreed to do it.

  • Mayor Honea delivers State of the Town address

    Marana continues to grow and stay strong, Mayor Ed Honea stressed during the annual State of the Town event on Friday.With more than 400 in attendance, Honea previewed developments coming to Marana, and touted the growth the town has enjoyed during the last year. The event was hosted at the Highland at Dove Mountain.Honea focused on the need for smart planning to be the community of excellence. In that strong planning, Honea stressed that continually updating the town’s strategic plan is the foundation to meeting needs.One of the pivotal aspects of community success is commerce. Honea said Marana continues to see strong economic progress during the last few years.In the coming year, Honea highlighted plans to build one of the largest retail centers in Southern Arizona, starting with a strip mall being constructed at Twin Peaks and Interstate 10. The project will come to be known as the Marana Center.The town is also working with Pinal County to do a master plan for the airpark.

  • LCMNA to host neighborhood meeting: Miller, Orr, Farley to attend

    The La Cañada/Magee Neighborhood Association, Inc, a duly registered 501(c)4 organization serving the northwest area of Pima County will hold its spring semiannual meeting on• Thursday, April 24, 2014, 6:30-8 PM, at• St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church, in the Chapel, at• 7650 N Paseo Del Norte (northeast corner of Chapala/Paseo Del Norte).The meeting is open to the public.Speakers Agenda

  • OVPD to host Dispose-A-Med and Shred-A-Thon events April 26

    The Oro Valley Police Department (OVPD), in conjunction with National Dispose-A-Med Day, will hold a Dispose-A-Med event this Saturday, April 26, 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. at the Oro Valley Target Store, 10555 N. Oracle Road.In 2013, the Oro Valley Police Department (OVPD) collected a total of 2, 249 pounds of unused or expired prescription drugs. Proper disposal of these substances is critical for many reasons. Prescription drugs are abused by youth more than any other illegal drugs, except marijuana. The main source where teens obtain prescription drugs is from the medicine cabinets of friends and family. One in five teens report intentionally misusing someone else’s prescription drugs to get high.As a reminder, OVPD no longer accepts metal or glass inhalation aerosol containers, syringes or epi-pens.GOT PAPER?Also at the Oro Valley Target Store on Saturday, April 26, OVPD is hosting a Shred-A-Thon event, in partnership with Hallmark Financial, from 10 a.m. to noon (or until the truck fills). Help prevent identity theft by shredding your unwanted paper materials such as billing statements and receipts. There is no charge for this service; however, donations of $5 or three cans of food per box of paper will gladly be accepted, benefitting IMPACT of Southern Arizona.

  • Mobile home lost in trash fire by TIA

    On April 22 Rural/Metro Fire Department responded to a large trash fire around 5 p.m. in the 1600 block East McKain Road. Upon arrival the crew found a fire that was rapidly spreading from the yard into the vacant mobile home.In the photographs the fire started in the pile of combustible items and spread to the home, fortunately there were no injuries to report, and damage to the home was limited because fire fighters took quick action.As the community approaches the wild fire season, this fire provides an educational opportunity. Ensuring your property has a defensible space of 30 feet around the structure will help fire fighters protect your home. Clearing this space will keep fires of any nature from spreading from a yard to a structure or from home to home.

  • (April 23) Today's Top Headlines - Man guilty of killing newlywed wife Escoto was married to 21-year-old Wendy Trapaga for only four days in October 2002 when he strangled and beat her, prosecutors said. Escoto initially tried to drug her during their Key West honeymoon and make her death look like an accidental drowning, but Trapaga complained her drink was too chalky.He tried to drown her again several days later in a Jacuzzi at Miami's Executive Airport Motel, but he couldn't get her to stay under water, prosecutors said. He finally beat her to death with a tire iron outside a warehouse later that night, prosecutors said."He took her life, boldly, brazenly, for money," prosecutor Gail Levine said during closing arguments.A Miami-Dade County jury found the 42-year-old guilty of first-degree murder and he faces a mandatory life sentence. His sentencing is scheduled for May 7.The lead witness against Escoto was his ex-girlfriend, Yolanda Cerrillo, The Miami Herald reported. With immunity from prosecution, Cerrillo told jurors she helped Escoto plan the murder, ground up the prescription painkillers to knock Trapaga out and even practiced with Escoto how to drown the young woman.

  • (April 23) Today's Top Headlines - Titanic subs may hunt for missing airline

    NBC News: The hunt for the missing Malaysia Airlines jet will likely soon deploy more powerful sonar equipment like the technology used to find the Titanic, an official said Wednesday.Australian Defense Minister David Johnston said authorities were consulting with Malaysia, China and the United States on the next phase of the search for the plane that went missing March 8, which is likely to be announced next week.Johnston said more powerful towed side-scan commercial sonar equipment would probably be deployed, similar to the remote-controlled subs that found RMS Titanic 12,500 feet under the Atlantic Ocean in 1985.Such equipment can delve deeper as the current search of the most likely crash site in the southern Indian Ocean has failed to yield any clues."The next phase, I think, is that we step up with potentially a more powerful, more capable side-scan sonar to do deeper water," Johnston told The Associated Press.

  • (April 23) Today's Top Headlines - The top 10 stories of the day

    1. Justices uphold Michigan's affirmative action ban in college admissionsThe Supreme Court, in a 6-2 ruling, upheld a Michigan constitutional amendment banning affirmative action policies in public university admissions. Michigan and other states, such as Florida and California, that have outlawed taking race into consideration in higher education have seen sharp drops in enrollment of black and Hispanic students, but the court's majority said voters, not courts, should decide what policies to use. [The New York Times]………………………………………………………………………………2. Obama sets out to reassure Pacific alliesPresident Obama arrived in Japan Wednesday for a meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe at the start of a four-nation tour of Asia. Obama is trying to show allies that the U.S. is "rebalancing" in the Pacific, to reassure them in the face of security concerns raised by China's territorial battle with Japan over remote islands and by North Korea's nuclear program. Obama will also make stops in South Korea, Malaysia, and the Philippines. [Voice of America]………………………………………………………………………………

  • PCC Hosts Annual Japanese Speech Contest April 26

    Pima Community College will host Tucson’s 12th Annual Japanese Speech Contest on April 26.The event, noon to 5 p.m., at PCC’s Northwest Campus, 7600 N. Shannon Road, is free and open to the public.  The Japanese Speech Contest allows students of Japanese language at all skill levels an opportunity to demonstrate their abilities.  The event features cultural exhibits, performances and student speech competitions.“Our annual event provides our local community with an outlet to celebrate and promote Japanese language and culture,” said Yosei Sugawara, Japanese language instructor at Pima.This year, seven students from Pima Community College and 19 students from The University of Arizona will give their speeches.  Also, for the first time this year there will be a Cosplay Competition, short for “costume play.”  Two students from Pima and eight students from two local high schools will compete in the Cosplay Competition.  The competition is organized by Pima Community College and the Tucson Japanese Speech Contest Committee of the Southern Arizona Association for Japanese Education. What:  12th Annual Japanese Speech Contest When:  Noon-5 p.m., April 26, 2014 Where:  PCC Northwest Campus, 7600 N. Shannon Road, G Building Cost:  Free and open to the public Info:

  • Great American Playhouse rocks Oro Valley with the ‘Quest of the Caveman’

    The Town of Oro Valley is home to much quiet beauty, powerful landscape, and a calm temperament. The last collective personality that Oro Valley could possibly draw attention for is as a rowdy and rambunctious enclave that knows how to sing and dance the night away. The Great American Playhouse (GAP), however, is trying to change that. The eight-month-old melodramatic theater prides itself on lively productions with audience interaction, a family friendly environment, and a loveable gang of whimsical stage performers. Now kicking off its third production, “Quest of the Caveman”, The GAP is beginning to show why it is the premier hotspot of fun in the growing Oro Valley community. “Quest of the Caveman” brings the audience back in time to an age when Man and Neanderthal shared the planet, the power of fire was absolute, and everyone ate 100 percent organic (yet still somehow only lived to be 30). The play begins with the theft of the Asher tribe’s fire at the hands of the Schmuck tribe. But things are not always as they seem. A larger plot begins to unfold, one that reveals an evil cave dweller, Ork (Michael Claridge), as a criminal mastermind who has hopes of burning Black Mountain, and gaining control of the entire tribe of Ashers. The play stars Jacinda Rose Swineheart as Nola - the tough and outspoken heroine, Nick Seivert as Rube - the tribe’s wise man, and Colleen Zandbergen as Bobo -  the primitive muscle of the Asher tribe. Amy DeHaven, Jodi Darling, Jesus Limon, Randy McDonald, and Sean MacArthur complete The GAP’s ultra-talented team of players that possess an endless supply of boisterous energy. Showing exponential growth and improvement in the last eight months, The GAP’s cast has truly become top notch. The play’s acting, singing, and dancing is infectious, pouring out into the aisles and over the crowd, beckoning both audience and staff participation. The liveliness of the spectacle that takes place within the walls of The GAP’s building can surely be heard from the parking lot, as hoops and hollers, sing-a-longs, and laughter ring happily throughout the theater. The atmosphere is perfect, exuding a sense of family, community, and a certain warmness that welcomes all ages.

  • ‘Bears’ - A spectacular view of the wild side

    Disneynature’s latest production takes moviegoers on a splendid Alaskan adventure tracking a grizzly bear single mother and her two newborn cubs.  The pair who brought us “African Cats” in 2011, Alastair Fothergill and Keith Scholey, team up again to educate and mesmerize viewers.  “Bears” provides a fascinating inside look at survival along the Alaskan peninsula’s snow capped mountains and valleys. The spectacular up-close views and vivid film footage documents the lives of these three bears over the course of one-year, as they forage for food and attempt to avoid the dangers lurking along their journey to find salmon. Veteran actor and comedian John C. Reilly narrates the film, providing context and humor to the wildlife adventures being witnessed.  Reilly would not have been my first choice as storyteller, but his voice aptly ambles along at about the same, effective, pace as the bear cubs.  However, there’s no mistaking what this movie is about, nor who its stars are - the grizzlies.  Period.  Just as a protective sow’s only concern is her cub’s wellbeing, “Bears” the movie keeps the filmgoers’ focus clearly - and appropriately - on the grizzlies and their struggles to survive.  The only humans found in the movie are the camera operators and support staff who get a much-deserved moment of screen time near the film’s end; a fitting tribute to the team members who tempted fate and isolation to capture these remarkable, remote scenes for our viewing pleasure.This documentary’s biggest coup is the sheer magnitude of its stunning, majestic cinematography.  The ability of these filmmakers to gain access to and live among the grizzly bear population, is a testament to their courage and desire to give viewers the raw, real and unfiltered look at this enormous species.  The eye-popping camera work and accompanying music soundtrack even skillfully bridges the occasional slower moments of the story.Through the powerful lens of a camera, “Bears” is another example of Disney nature’s superb educational filmmaking.  This adventure of a grizzly bear mother, trying to raise her two cubs, offers a cinematography feat approaching the level of last year’s Oscar-winning “Gravity” masterpiece.  Between the dangers facing this trio of grizzlies in The Last Frontier and their desperate need for salmon to survive, is a riveting wildlife story.  Whatever lack of suspense and somewhat bland narration exists, is made up for by the film’s amazing camera shots and behind the scenes look into the grizzly lifestyle.  That, alone, is worth the price of admission to see “Bears”. Grade: B.

  • Nighthawks edge the Falcons

    The Ironwood Ridge boys volleyball team won a five-set thriller over Catalina Foothills on Wednesday night. It looked like it was going to be an easy night for the Nighthawks as they jumped out to a 2-0 lead thanks to a pair of 25-21 wins. They had a chance to sweep the match, but the Falcons would not be deterred in the third set and escaped with a 31-29 win to stay alive.Foothills seemed to steal the momentum tied things up by winning the fourth set 25-18.The Nighthawks re-gained their mojo and won the fifth set to take the match.

  • Falcons fend off rally

    The Catalina Foothills baseball team fended off a late rally and downed visiting Vista Grande 5-4 on Tuesday afternoon.The Falcons came out of the gates strong scoring two in the first and five in the second to go up 5-1. Their bats quieted down from there but they still led 5-1 heading into the seventh inning.The Spartans made one final push, scoring three runs in the final inning, but could not come all the way back.Anthony DeNiro got the win for the Falcons.

  • Falcons, Nighthawks and Lions send teams to state

    Both Catalina Foothills and Ironwood Ridge’s boys and girls tennis teams earned first round home matches in the Division II state team tennis championships. The Falcon boys are the top seed, while the girls earned the No. 2 seed despite going undefeated on the season. Pusch Ridge also sent both their boys and girls teams to the Division III tournament, but only the boys will host.The Falcon boys will host 16th seeded Desert Edge on Tuesday at 3 p.m. If the Falcons win they would host the winner of Cactus Shadows and Notre Dame Prep. Desert Edge is 10-3 on the season but are ranked No. 27 in the state and only earned the berth because of a second place finish in their section.Ironwood Ridge earned the No. 4 seed in the tournament and will have a home match against Cibola on Tuesday. A win by the Nighthawks would have them hosting the winner of Bradshaw Mountain and Nogales.If their seeds hold true the two schools would meet in the state semi-finals on May 9 at the Paseo Racquet Center in the Phoenix area.

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