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

  • Commitment to fitness

    After more than a year in training, more than 20 officers with the Marana Police Department (MPD) took a physical fitness test at Marana High School on July 18.Marana Police Chief Terry Rozema felt like his department was in good shape, but like any police department, the overall physical fitness level needed to be improved. Not only are fit officers more productive on the job, but they tend to have a better overall quality of life, according to Rozema. “We know through studies that law enforcement has a pretty low life expectancy,” said Rozema. “Some of it is due to stress, some of it is due to the sedentary nature of the job. All kinds of factors play into that. As much as it is for the public and community, it is equally for the officers and their health and their well being, so that when they get to retirement they are actually able to enjoy their requirement.”The challenge handed down by Rozema for officers to take part in the added training was on a volunteer basis. Many of the officers accepted the challenge.“We were looking at something that can improve the quality of life of the officers and after we retire, after we leave the Marana Police Department we can enjoy life, enjoy spending time with our families,” said Officer Scott Criswell.The program and standards are the result of a year long staff study conducted by MPD Physical Fitness Instructors, Department Command Staff, and Town Legal Advisors.  These standards were selected by the Department’s Physical Fitness Instructors and approved by the Town of Marana’s Legal Department because they have been validated as being job related for law enforcement officers.  

  • Police Beat - Week of July 23

    Oro Valley Police DepartmentOn July 6 at 6:27, Oro Valley police responded to a call about a potential fight. Officers made contact with one of the individuals suspected to be involved. The individual acknowledged his involvement, and told officers he had been in an argument with his brother over an incident the prior day. The individual and his brother reported no physical violence to police, and neither was charged. On July 8 at 4:27 p.m., Oro Valley police responded to a call regarding a stolen bicycle from Dick’s Sporting Goods. The caller told police his son’s bike had been stolen while it was parked in front of the store for a span of 10-15 minutes. The bike was described as black in color, with circular style handlebars and no pegs. There are no suspects at this time. On July 10 at 7:36 p.m., Oro Valley police were issuing an arrest warrant at a residence when they smelled the odor of marijuana. Officers issued the arrest warrant, and later called a Pima County judge to obtain a telephonic search warrant of the home, which was granted. While searching, officers found small amounts of marijuana and paraphernalia. The occupant did not have a medical marijuana card, and officers charged him with possession of marijuana and possession of drug paraphernalia. 

  • Craig Sawyer: From the military to the big screen

    Since his 2013 appearance on Animal Planet’s “Rhino Wars,” Oro Valley resident and retired Navy Seal Craig “Sawman” Sawyer has been keeping plenty busy.In one of his latest ventures, Sawyer has stepped in front of the Hollywood cameras alongside actor Casper Van Dien, commonly recognized for his character “Johnny Rico” in the film “Starship Troopers.”After spending the bulk of his career doing special ops military work, and later, as a security contractor for such names as U.S. Sen. John McCain, Sawyer began working as a consultant for filmmakers in need of someone with expertise in military tactics.Sawyer has worked on the sidelines for a number of films, training actors like Jack Osbourne (“Hollyoaks”), Matthew Marsden (“Black Hawk Down”), Michael Broderick (“G.I. Joe”), and Zoe Saldana (“Colombiana”). Thanks to his networking, Sawyer landed his latest role as a hard-nosed Special Forces Master Sergeant in the film “Leap,” likely due for release in 2015. Van Dien stars in the film as a veteran facing the struggles of reconnecting with his family after returning home from duty. 

  • Marana schools offering open houses

    Marana Unified School District students will begin the school yearon Monday, August 4. Seventeen district schools anticipate welcoming over 12,300 students.The district encourages all students to be in class on the first day of the new school year.Parents can register their child(ren) this week at their child’s school.For information on registration, school times, bus schedules, visit www.maranausd.org.A variety of Open Houses and Meet & Greet activities are scheduled this week and on the first

  • Northwest Hospital upgrades robotics

    Northwest Medical Center announces it is the first hospital in Tucson to upgrade its technology for robotic-assisted surgery to the newest da Vinci Xi system.  This system allows for “multi-quadrant” surgeries where the instruments must be able to reach from the pelvis to the chest.  What does this new capability mean for patients?  Less time under anesthesia for these surgical patients as compared to the current robotic platform, according to robotic surgeons.Today, many complex gynecological oncology and general surgery cases require either the patient or robot to be repositioned during surgery.  This takes time.  Northwest’s investment in a robotic-system upgrade gives surgeons anatomical access from virtually any position, often eliminating the need for repositioning.“The ability to easily access different areas of the abdomen without having to reposition the equipment or the patient is very important when we’re performing gynecological cancer surgery on our patients,” said Hank Hallum, M.D., a GYN oncologist.  “This new system provides us the flexibility to do that.”Urologist Sanjay Ramakumar, M.D., uses the robotic platform for prostatectomies and kidney surgeries.  Dr. Ramakumar says, “The benefit of the new system will be for patients requiring surgery in multiple areas (pelvis and abdomen for instance) and difficult tumors. The surgery will be more efficient, resulting in shorter operative times.”Another technique being used by some robotic surgeons at Northwest is single-incision surgery.  These are procedures performed with just one small incision—a tiny scar hidden in your belly button.  For many patients, this means less pain, less time in the hospital and a faster recovery.  Dr. Hallum says this type of surgery is “game-changing.”Megan Nelson, M.D. is a general surgeon who performs single incision robotic-assisted surgery at Northwest.  She says, “With the robotic system I see a three-dimensional view with 10 times the magnification of normal vision.  This allows for a more controlled, precise operation.  The new upgraded robotic equipment allows the surgeon access to the most difficult-to-reach areas of the body, such as deep in the pelvis. It truly acts as an extension of my own eyes and hands but with greater range of motion and dexterity. It’s elegant surgery!”  Nelson uses robotic-assisted procedures for some gallbladder removal, colorectal surgery and for hernias (inguinal, abdominal or hiatal).

  • Marana area motorcycle accident

    Northwest Fire District units responded to the area of Grier Road and Galleno Ave, near Marana and Interstate 10,   just after 6:00pm Friday night after a motorcyclist lost control of his bike and crashed into a tree.  Another rider on a separate motorcycle called 9-1-1 to report the incident.  The motorcycle was the only vehicle involved in the accident. A 20 year-old male suffered critical life-threatening injuries as a result of the crash.  He was airlifted to the trauma center at UAMC for treatment of his injuries.  The patient was wearing a helmet at the time of the crash.The Marana Police Department was on scene to conduct an investigation into the cause of the accident.No traffic delays or closures resulted from the accident.

  • (July 28) Today's Top Headlines - N. Korea threatens nuclear strike on White House

    MSN News:A top-ranking North Korean military official has threatened a nuclear strike on the White House and Pentagon after accusing Washington of raising military tensions on the Korean peninsula.The threat came from Hwang Pyong-So, director of the military's General Political Bureau, during a speech to a large military rally in Pyongyang Sunday on the anniversary of the armistice that ended the 1950-53 Korean War.Hwang, who holds the rank of vice marshal in the Korean People's Army, said a recent series of South Korea-US military drills, one of which included the deployment of a nuclear-powered US aircraft carrier, had ramped up tensions."If the US imperialists threaten our sovereignty and survival... our troops will fire our nuclear-armed rockets at the White House and the Pentagon -- the sources of all evil," Hwang said in his speech broadcast Monday on state television.It is not the first time that North Korea's bellicose rhetoric has included threats of nuclear strikes on the continental United States and US bases in the Pacific.

  • (July 28) Today's Top Headlines - Attack on park in Gaza kills 10

    MSN News:A strike on a Gaza park killed 10 people Monday, nine of them children, as Israeli and Palestinian authorities traded blame over the attack and fighting as the Gaza war raged on despite a major Muslim holiday.A truce between the sides remained elusive as diplomats sought to end the fighting at the start of the Eid al-Fitr holiday, marking the end of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.In Israel, meanwhile, the military said a mortar attack on southern Israel caused "deaths and injuries," but did not disclose further details. Israeli media reported that the attack killed at least four people, which saw military helicopters rushing stretchers away to local hospitals.The Gaza park attack happened as children played on a swing in the Shati refugee camp on the edge of Gaza City, said Ayman Sahabani, head of the emergency room at nearby Shifa Hospital. Sahabani said nine of the 10 killed at the park were children under the age of 12 and 46 were wounded.For the full story, visit: http://news.msn.com/world/strike-hits-gaza-park-killing-at-least-10-1

  • (July 28) Today's Top Headlines - The top 10 stories of the day

    1. Strikes ease under Palestinian-Israelis humanitarian truceIsraeli airstrikes and Palestinian rocket fire declined sharply on Monday as a humanitarian cease-fire took hold at the start of Eid al-Fitr, the three-day Muslim holiday marking the end of Ramadan. Hamas said it wanted a 24-hour truce. Israel said it would respect "an unlimited truce" but would respond to any attack. Palestinian health officials said the death toll in the Gaza Strip had reached 1,032, most of them civilians. [The Wall Street Journal]………………………………………………………………………………2. Politicians agree on a plan to improve veteran health careThe leaders of veterans' affairs committees in the House and Senate reached a deal to fix the health-care system for the nation's veterans. The Veterans Affairs Department has been gripped by scandal for months since reports surfaced of patients waiting months for care at VA facilities and attempts to cover up the failings. VA committee leaders scheduled a 1:30 p.m. news conference Monday to announce their proposal. [Bloomberg News]………………………………………………………………………………

  • Saturday Puzzles 7-26-14

  • Sippin' Social: Sushi Garden offers generous happy hour menu

    In this month’s Sippin’ Social, members of the public accompanied staff of Tucson Local Media for happy hour and conversation at Sushi Garden, located at 7401 N. La Cholla Blvd.With two locations in town, Sushi Garden features an extensive front and back stand-alone happy hour menu with dozens of discounted food and drink items. Sushi Garden’s happy hour spans from 4-7 p.m. Sunday through Thursday. A decent-sized crowd filled the bar and outer tables upon arrival, but our group was nonetheless seated and ordering within minutes.Sushi Garden features a well-lit, casual atmosphere that makes creative use of Japanese-style décor throughout the facility. To kick the afternoon off, I began with a locally brewed 32-ounce Barrio IPA draft ($5.75), which, due to its volume, comes with a glass and pitcher. Yes, I was thirsty.  The draft was perfectly chilled, making its hoppy, clean flavor that much more refreshing considering the day’s heat. 

  • Prime Time Review: ‘Goosebumps’ film coming next summer

    The highly regarded San Diego Comic Con event never disappoints when it hits the west coast every July. The buzz around the event is not without warrant. Every year film producers bring fans sneak peaks on their favorite film franchises, and announce groundbreaking news about fascinating worlds in which we are sure to visit on our next trip to the cinema. On July 24, the 2014 Comic Con event is expected to unveil plenty of exciting information regarding a 1990s throwback film based on a popular book franchise. “Goosebumps”, which stars the whimsical A-list actor Jack Black, is set to hit theaters in August of 2015. It is timely and clever for producers to take a stab at bringing the popular children’s book franchise to the big screen, as it is sure to grab the attention of both the children of 2014, as well as the children of the 90’s, now well into adulthood. The film’s plot will not borrow directly from any of the 100 plus books from author R.L. Stine’s franchise, but instead will take a much broader approach. The movie introduces Zach, a young city boy who moves to a small Maryland. Zach befriends a girl named Hannah, who happens to be the daughter of scary book author R.L. Stine (Black). When Zach accidently releases all of the ghoulish creations of Stine’s books into the real world, the team must work together to round up the monsters before they destroy everything in sight.  Rather than seek out an aura of true horror, the film aims at blending its spooky nature with an off the wall comedy twist. No stranger to family comedy, Black should fit perfectly in this universe. The star of films such as “School of Rock” and “Kung Fu Panda” also promises to make the R.L. Stine character his own. 

  • Ironwood Ridge wrestler wins national titles

    Ironwood Ridge wrestler Danny Vega had a stellar summer, winning three big time national tournaments, including two last weeks.Vega won the 106-pound championship at the USAW Junior Men’s Freestyle championships over the weekend in Fargo, North Dakota. Vega went 6-0 at the event and had little trouble in the event, getting five wins via technical falls, by a combined score of 63-10. He won his first round match against Brendan Coughlin via pinfall in just 30 seconds.Four days earlier he won the USAW Greco Nationals. It wasn’t quite as easy, but most of his wins were lopsided. He opened the tournament with a bye, then beat Izaak Grubbs via an 11-0 technical fall. He pinned his next two opponents, both in 2:44 or less.The semi-finals saw him earn an 8-4 decision, then in the championship he beat Todd Small of Georgia 7-2.For Vega it was the triple crown of titles. Back in April he won the Folkstyle Nationals in Iowa. Again, he was dominant. He won all three of his matches by either technical fall or major decision and outscored his opponents 44-1.His run this year has been quite remarkable. Since December he was wrestled in nine tournaments, including the Arizona state high school championships and won eight of the nine tournaments. All told he is 57-5 on the year. 

  • Former Falcon to play for D-III school

    Former Catalina Foothills soccer player Cameron Rivera will have a new home this fall. The college sophomore has transferred to Rutgers-Newark for the 2014 season.Last season Rivera played for Davis & Elkins College an NAIA school in West Virginia. He started 14 games last season, going 12-1-1 with five shutouts and giving up just 12 goals. All told the team went 12-4-2.Rutgers-Newark is a Division III school that competes in the New Jersey Athletic Conference. Last year they went 17-6-1 and  qualified for NCAA Tournament, falling to Roger Williams in the first round.Rivera graduated from Catalina Foothills in 2013, where he was a three-year varsity performer.

  • Summerset wins national title

    Mountain View’s Justice Summerset is a national champion. Summerset won the Boy’s 15-16 Division High Jump title at the USATF National Junior Olympic Track and Field Championships in Humble, TX.Summerset won the title Friday morning with a jump of 2.05 Meters (6-8 ¾). He edged Nebraska’s Jacob Heitkamp, who cleared 2.00 Meters but failed on all three attempts at 2.05. Summerset cleared 2.05 on his first attempt. He missed on all three attempts at 2.10.The National record is 2.16 Meters by Randall Cunningham Jr., the son of former NFL quarterback Randall Cunningham.Summerset, a junior to be at Mountain View, finished fifth in the state in this year’s Division II state championships. He was second as a freshman in 2013.Summerset will now turn his attention to football, where he is a key piece to the Mountain Lion’s team. Summerset, whose father is the offensive coordinator, is expected to compete at quarterback and will likely start at free safety.

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