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

  • March of Dimes invites you to special March for Babies event

    A baby’s first steps are one of the most precious moments in life, and the March of Dimes believes every baby deserves a healthy first step. Take your own first steps by joining March for Babies and make sure more babies get that chance.  Join us in walking together for stronger, healthier babies.Premature birth is the leading cause of newborn death in the U.S.  Those who survive an early birth may have lifelong health problems such as cerebral palsy, vision and hearing loss, and learning disabilities. The March of Dimes, the leading nonprofit organization for maternal and infant health, has worked for more than 75 years to help babies get a healthy start in life.  About four million babies were born in the United States last year, and the March of Dimes helped each and every one through research, education, vaccines, and breakthroughs.  Although you may not realize it, you have been touched by the March of Dimes if:• You or your child received a polio vaccine; • You took the B vitamin folic acid before and during pregnancy to prevent birth defects; 

  • Second development east of IRHS proposed to Oro Valley council

    In the wake of concern and opposition from residents living nearby, the Oro Valley Town Council approved the conceptual site plan for a 118-lot subdivision northeast of Ironwood Ridge High School on April 16.Without any public resistance, during the council meeting on April 2, the council unanimously approved a request by the town’s Development Infrastructure Services Department to rezone a 45-acre lot, which is east of the high school and north of Casas Church. The lot went from having homes at 144,000 square feet per lot to 7,000 square feet per lot. The rezoning would also include building a 120-lot Meritage Homes subdivision on the lot. The site plan of 131 acres of houses approved last week sparked public discussion and concern over traffic congestion along Glover Road, Naranja Drive, and La Cholla Blvd., as well as encroachment on nearby housing lots that are adjacent to the lot.Tim Milbourn, who owns a 3.3-acre lot direct to the west of the proposed subdivision, spoke to council about his concerns for the added congestion this development will bring to the area, citing traffic issues he has seen during his 10 years of living in the house.“If you go onto Naranja between 7:45 and 8:30 in the morning, you will find traffic stopped,” Milbourn said to the council. “It goes from the school, beyond and backed up onto the other side of La Cholla. The exact same thing happens in the afternoon.”The town currently plans to widen Naranja Drive to three lanes west of the La Cholla Blvd. with a continual left turn lane.

  • Man starved horses and dog, charged with animal cruelty

    On July 21, 2013 around 12:15 p.m., Pima County Sheriff's Department deputies responded to the 15200 block of South Lovell Road referencing the report of three penned horses that were possibly starving.When deputies arrived, it was discovered that there were horses and dogs that appeared to be emaciated. A Pima Animal Care Center officer also responded to the property to view the animals.Sheriff’s Department detectives took over the investigation. A search warrant was issued and detectives found that one dog and two horses were severely emaciated.The owner, 62-year-old Dennis Woblick, owned three dogs and three horses at the time.The horses were sent to Healing Hearts Rescue and Refuge in the Wilcox area. The dogs were sent to Pima Animal Care Center.Since that time, the horses have been rehabilitated and have recovered to proper physical condition. The dogs were rehabilitated and adopted through Pima Animal Care Center.

  • ICS seeks public assistance for food bank

    Summer is just around the corner, which means the need for food is about to become greater than at other times of the year. Children who eat free or reduced-price lunches at their schools are home during the summer months, and already-struggling families must find a way to feed them.Many look to the Interfaith Community Services (ICS) Food Bank to fill the void, and as always, ICS wants to be ready. That’s why this year for the first time, the nonprofit social services organization is participating in the Feinstein March/April $1 Million Challenge.The Rhode Island-based philanthropy is the brainchild of Alan Shawn Feinstein, who for the 17th consecutive year is divvying up $1 million among nonprofit hunger-fighting agencies nationwide.He has asked that agencies who wish to participate keep track of the donations they take in from advertising the challenge, including cash, checks, and food items – which are valued at $1 per pound. The million dollars that Feinstein has put aside for this year’s challenge will be divided proportionally among all participating agencies, with a minimum contribution of $250 and a maximum contribution of $35,000. That means the more food that comes in by the end of April, the higher the potential match from the Feinstein Foundation.Last year alone, the independently run ICS Food Bank distributed $1.6 million worth of food to 21,883 individuals in 6,682 households, and the numbers have continued to rise each month this year.

  • Hughes Federal Credit Union gives to local students

    Hughes Federal Credit Union, Southern Arizona’s premier locally-owned financial institution, on Saturday awarded four deserving high school members with $6,000 in scholarships as part of their  9th Annual Scholarship Program.“Hughes is a local institution and we are proud to be able to provide financial assistance to our local high school members,” said John Sansbury, chairman of the board. “This is our ninth year of awarding scholarships and we believe this program is helping our community’s youth prepare for their future.”The scholarships’ were awarded as follows:• First place – Brenden Bernal, Pusch Ridge High School, $2,500• Second place – Michael Volk, Ironwood Ridge High School, $2,000• Third place –  Mikayla Morrison, St. David High School, $1,000

  • Oro Valley Chamber raises funds for scholarships

    A cool outdoor setting, hors d’oeuvres, drinks and the music of Joe Bourne and the Cream of the Crop Band highlight A Night in the Canyon, a scholarship fund-raising event presented by the Greater Oro Valley Chamber of Commerce.A Night in the Canyon will be on Saturday, May 10, from 6:30 to 10 p.m. at Loews Ventana Canyon Resort. Tickets are $75 for an individual and $125 for a couple. A portion of the ticket price may be tax-deductible.For years, the chamber has awarded one-time scholarships to needy, deserving students residing in northwest Tucson. Applicants are judged on the basis of financial need, academic performance, community service and goals. They must plan to attend an Arizona college or university.The scholarships are named for E.S. “Steve” Engle, an Oro Valley founding father who served as mayor from 1978 to 1990. Until his death in 1990, Mayor Engle gave scholarships from his own funds to deserving students. After he passed, the original Greater Oro Valley Chamber of Commerce started a scholarship program in Engle’s memory.“We’re asking people to help raise funds for students, and to enjoy themselves on Mother’s Day Eve in one of greater Tucson’s most splendid places,” said Chamber President / CEO Dave Perry.For information and tickets, call 297-2191, email or, or go to our website,

  • (April 22) Today's Top Headlines - Pistorius denies taking 'acting lessons' in preparation for trial

    NBC News:The family of Oscar Pistorius denied "in the strongest terms" a newspaper columnist's claim that he took acting lessons in preparation for his murder trial.The double-amputee Olympian's appearances in court have been interrupted on several occasions by him vomiting and crying uncontrollably, emotional displays that have been treated with suspicion by the prosecution.Well-known South African columnist Jani Allan alleged that the double-amputee paralympian had been coached for his appearances."I have it from a reliable source that you are taking acting lessons for your days in court," Allan wrote on her website Tuesday in a post entitled "Letter to Oscar." "Your coach has an impossible task."Allan is a former Sunday Times of South Africa columnist who gained notoriaty in the 1980s after an alleged affair with the white supremacist leader Eugene Terre'blanche. She said in the open letter that Pistorius and Terre'blanche were "cut from the same cloth" and that both men were "narcissistic in the extreme."

  • (April 22) Today's Top Headlines - New Jersey school sued over 'under God' in pledge

    Associated Press:A family is suing a New Jersey school district, contending that the phrase "under God" in the Pledge of Allegiance discriminates against atheist children.The lawsuit against the Matawan-Aberdeen Regional School District was filed in state court last month and was announced Monday by the American Humanist Association. The group says the phrase, added in 1954, "marginalizes atheist and humanist kids as something less than ideal patriots."The anonymous plaintiffs say those two words "under God" violate the state constitution.But school district lawyer David Rubin says the district is merely following a state law that requires schools to have a daily recitation of the pledge. He says individual students don't have to participate.The humanist group is awaiting a ruling from a court on a similar case in Massachusetts.

  • (April 22) Today's Top Headlines - The top 10 stories of the day

    1. The U.S. might cut its Afghanistan force to 5,000The U.S. next year might cut the number of troops it leaves in Afghanistan below 10,000, which is the minimum military leaders say will be needed to train Afghan forces, Reuters reports. There are close to 33,000 American soldiers in Afghanistan now, down from 100,000 in 2011. White House officials, encouraged by Afghanistan's surprisingly smooth April 5 presidential election, are considering reducing the number below 5,000. [Reuters]………………………………………………………………………………2. Keflezighi becomes first American to win the Boston Marathon in three decadesMeb Keflezighi, 38, became the first American man to win the Boston Marathon since 1983 on Monday, with an official time of 2:08:37. A huge crowd cheered as Keflezighi completed the first Boston Marathon since last year's deadly bombing at the finish line. "This is probably the most meaningful victory for an American because of what happened last year," he said. Kenya's Rita Jeptoo, 33, won the women's division for the second straight year. [CNN, The New York Times]………………………………………………………………………………

  • 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.

  • Lee Brice to headline Pima County Fair Saturday

    Not long after thousands of Tucsonans flocked to Florence for the country music festival known as Country Thunder, they’ll have a chance for another dose of country music when Lee Brice visits the Pima County Fairgrounds on April 26. Known as an “evocative, rough-edged singer” with a “range from rough and raspy to soft and sweet,” Brice was the recent recipient of the Academy of Country Music Awards’ Song of the Year for his chart-topping single, “I Drive Your Truck.”Brice was additionally nominated for Male Vocalist of the Year, Single Record of the Year, and Video of the Year.Also known for “A Woman Like You,” and “Hard to Love,” Brice recently released his latest single titled, “I Don’t Dance,” – one of a long list of hits that fans will no doubt get to hear when Brice takes the stage Saturday evening at 8 p.m.Brice’s arrival comes toward the latter end of the annual Pima County Fair, which runs from April 17-27, and has attracted Bret Michaels, Kid Ink, YG, Scott Weiland and the Wildabouts, and Tyler Farr.The Pima County Fair attracts about 250,000 visitors over its 11-day period, offering attractions, motorized events, carnival rides, concerts, entertainment, and animals. An assortment of food is also available on fair grounds.

  • Inaugural Oro Valley sprint triathlon event held

    For many years, triathletes in Tucson had one local race series, Tri Tucson, at which to hone their competition skills in all three disciplines.  Race Director Julie Stark, owner of On Your Left Fitness, recognized the demand for more quality triathlons in the Old Pueblo and on April 5, she launched the first Oro Valley Sprint Triathlon.The event was launched with the support of the Oro Valley Aquatics Center, Fleet Feet Multisport of Tucson, Trek Bicycles of Tucson, Summit Hut, and many other local sponsors. The morning of the inaugural event dawned clear and crisp at 49 degrees.  Triathletes clad in swim gear shivered on deck, but no one complained; they all knew it was better to suffer a little before the race in the name of a cooler bike and run. In order to get everyone cycled through the pool efficiently, Stark elected to implement a serpentine swim, in which swimmers enter the pool at one end and zigzag up and down each lane towards the other end.  Swimmers were seeded according to their predicted swim times, and volunteers from Tucson Tri Girls were on deck to make sure that traffic in the pool flowed as smoothly as possible.  As Stark explained, “It’s not everyone’s favorite, but a serpentine swim allows the athletes to get in the pool sooner, and ultimately finish the race in cooler temperatures.”  New triathletes who had been anxious about the swim later reported less congestion than anticipated, thanks to gaps between groups of swimmers with different abilities.  Spectators lined the deck and cheered on the swimmers as they made their way across the pool, and out the gate to the transition area, which was managed by local Boy Scout troops.

  • Falcons and Nighthawks sending several seeded players to state

    Ten Catalina Foothills and four Ironwood Ridge tennis players earned top-eight seeds in the Division II boys and girls singles and doubles state tournament. Kirtana Bhat was named the top girls seed, while the team of Nate Rasmussen and Quinn Gardner will be the top ranked boys doubles team. The Falcons’ girls doubles teams of Noelle Karp and Katie Watson and Angelica Anderson and Caroline Leidy will be seeded second and fifth respectively, while the boys’ team of Bogdan Racolta and John Miller were ranked No. 3. Mike Lee earned the No. 2 seed in boys singles. Ironwood Ridge had a pair of No. 3 seeds. Kelsey Brown and Allie Knox are the third-seeded boys doubles team, while Ryan Knox is the No. 3 seed in the boys singles tournament.  Stephanie Nickles is the No. 8 seeded girl. Canyon Del Oro 

  • Sports Perspective: Arizona’s Gordon and Johnson declare for draft

    The long anticipated dismantling of this season’s Arizona basketball team began last week when team leaders, Aaron Gordon and Nick Johnson, announced that they would be casting their fishing lines into the NBA Draft shark tank. Much criticism emerged among Arizona fans, as a public outcry circulated that highlighted a collective disapproval of the choice made by two of the Wildcats’ most exciting high flyers. The same Arizona basketball fans that had been touting these players all season began rhetoric of ridicule, making depreciating comments such as, “Aaron Gordon is too young”,  “Aaron Gordon can’t shoot free throws”, or “Nick Johnson settles for bad shots”, and “Nick Johnson isn’t strong enough”. But if there is anything that sporting history has taught young athletes trying to make professional dreams come true, it is that opportunity is an impatient creature, and NBA hopefuls would be wise to declare for the draft when their stock is at a highpoint. In the world of basketball, it is not always about whether or not a player is fully “ready” for the NBA, but rather, is all about when the decision to go pro makes most sense (and dollars). In the case of Gordon and Johnson, hanging up the Arizona jerseys was just the right thing to do. From the moment Aaron Gordon first placed an Arizona hat on his head and smiled wide the way any child about to enter the world of adulthood would, Wildcat fans could tell he was special. It was common knowledge that the then 17-year-old would be a shoe-in for the pros after his brief pit stop in Tucson. In fact, had it not been for the NBA’s recent requirement that high school basketball players spend at least one season in college, Gordon would likely have been playing on the world’s biggest stage this season. The athletic and ever improving forward is projected to be a top 10 pick in the 2014 NBA draft, guaranteeing a hefty income come payday. And though the young athlete would still benefit under the tutelage of a near perfect developmental coach such as Arizona’s Sean Miller, Gordon would be foolish to pass up such a promising prognostication from NBA scouts. His ceiling is immeasurable, but more optimistic annalists might compare the California native to a young Blake Griffin (who also dealt with free throw shooting woes in his early 20’s). Given this comparison and the fact that Gordon is as hard a worker as they come, the former Wildcat has much promise in claiming a place among the NBA’s most elite, and has made the correct decision to declare for the draft. Though Nick Johnson was the undisputed go-to-guy on Arizona’s roster this past season, the junior guard is predicted to be selected in the late first round at best in this coming draft. This mid to late level selection window has nothing to do with his skill set, however. Instead, Johnson’s projection has everything to do with concerns about his size. At 6 foot 3, the natural shooting guard is extremely undersized for the average NBA player at his position. Talent wise, however, Johnson has little left to learn at Arizona. The team’s leading scorer showed vast improvement in each of his three seasons in red and blue, which is something that NBA teams hold in high regard come selection day. In this light, Johnson’s NBA stock was at its highest this season, where as a fourth year at Arizona would have run great risks of decreased improvement, injury, an early exit from the tournament, or double team defenses that may have effected scoring productivity. The gamble of staying on for a senior season simply offered greater risk than reward for Johnson, and he also made the correct decision by declaring for the NBA draft.  As die hard Arizona fans, it is easy to let emotions get the best of us, making harsh comments and secretly hoping that our own student athletes fall short of their dreams as a sort of repercussion of leaving school more early than we would like. This way of thinking is wrong. Our Arizona alumni should, above all else, consider their own futures, and head toward the NBA whenever it makes most sense for their own livelihood. It is the job of the fans to respect and support the decision of our athletes. After all, what makes Arizona basketball so special is that it is a player’s program, one that symbiotically finds its lifeblood in the unfailing and unwavering support of a noble fan base that wishes nothing but the best for those athletes who have played their hearts out for us all season, and chosen to ride gracefully into the always breathtaking Arizona sunset.

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