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

  • UA's Gordon and Johnson commit to NBA Draft

    It should come as no surprise, but Arizona basketball players Aaron Gordon and Nick Johnson announced their intentions to turn professional. Gordon, a freshman, is projected as a top-15 pick in the NBA Draft. He was named the Pac-12 Freshman of the Year and averaged 12.4 ppg and a team best 8.0 rpg.“This was a real difficult decision because I love the University of Arizona,” said Gordon.“At the end of the day I have to make the decision that is best for Aaron Gordon,” Gordon continued.Johnson, the reigning Pac-12 Player of the Year and a consensus All-American, is not as surefire a pick but he believes he has a chance to be drafted “where I want to be.”“The feedback that I got is something that I feel confident about,” Johnson explained.

  • Foothills area Walgreen's robbed, two women at large

    On March 25 around 10:05 a.m., Pima County Sheriff deputies responded to the Walgreens, located at 1415 W. River Road, reference of larceny.When deputies arrived, they learned two Hispanic females entered the store and went directly to the liquor department.The females took five bottles of liquor from the shelf and left the store without paying. A clerk at the store witnessed the females taking the liquor and followed them out of the store.He saw the females get into a parked car with a female driver. Once the females were in the car the driver began backing out of the parking space.The clerk had to step to the side to avoid being hit by the suspect’s vehicle as it was backing up. The store clerk immediately began writing down the license plate of the vehicle.As he was writing the plate down, the driver rolled her window down and told him they were not stupid enough to use the real plate.

  • Teenager with non-functioning weapon taken into custody at James D. Kriegh Park

     On April 15, at about 8 a.m., the Oro Valley Police Department School Resource Officers and Patrol Officers responded to James D. Kriegh Park, 23 W. Calle Concordia, in response to a report of a man with a gun.Officers encountered a teenager with a rifle. Witnesses said that the teenager was pointing the rifle at cars in the area.The teenager was taken into custody without incident within minutes of the call being reported, and charges are pending. The rifle was later found to be a non-functioning weapon.The teenager is a Canyon Del Oro High School student, and OVPD is working in conjunction with Amphitheater School District officials on the investigation.

  • Great American Playhouse: A summer youth camp filled with drama

    For the young thespians looking to learn and be a part of a live play production, they can sign up for the Great American Playhouse’s summer camp.From June 16 to July 13, Monday through Friday, kids ages 7 to 15 years old will learn everything from being up on stage, to the behind the scenes work that goes into building a set.The camp will be led by the artistic director of the Great American Playhouse, Sean MacArthur, who says they plan to use the broad spectrum of the age range to put on a production of Charlotte’s Web. In addition to himself, MacArthur said he has put together a team of dance choreographers, along with a very talented musical director who has performed across the world. “What we wanted to do was bring in that age group and basically go through different areas of acting, vocal training, some dance, as well as integrate them into helping build the production,” MacArthur said. “They will help with some of the set production, some of the prop building, some of the costumes, and kind of give an all around look at what goes into not just direct instruction like acting and voice, but also into a lot of the efforts it takes to put on a production.”MacArthur, who has been with the theatre since it opened in Oro Valley last year, brings his history and training to this camp.He has acted in cities such as New York, Chicago, and Boston and has taught kids theater workshops in both Los Angeles and New York.

  • Southwest University of Visual Arts program allows teens to explore a variety of interests

    This summer, Southwest University of Visual Arts (SUVA) will be offering an art and creativity camp that will allow students to explore an art medium of their choice.For more than 10 years, SUVA has offered summer camps for teens, ages 13-17, in Tucson. This summer, from July 14 to 18, it will offer an art camp called Break Out of the “Same Old” Summer. The camp costs $350, which includes all art supplies and lunches. There are limited open spots so parents are encouraged to sign up their child online at Scholarships are also available for students.The camp, which will run from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., will allow students to pick one of the eight art mediums to work in: fine arts, photography, graphic design, illustration, advertising, interior design, landscape architecture or animation. “We have a really fun approach this summer,” said Joel Cowdry, marketing director for SUVA. “This summer we are going to build a small town that will contain all of the students projects within it. Everyone will contribute in different ways.”The small town may have billboards, for those interested in advertising, or a drive-in movie theatre for those who are interested in creating animation. SUVA faculty and student workers will help run the camp. Each SUVA faculty will teach in the art field of their experience.

  • Green Fields Country Day to host Camp Griffin for grades 1-8

    Green Fields Country Day School is introducing a summer camp for students between first and eighth grades. The camp combines an academic boost in the morning with swimming and creative project-based activities in the afternoon. Camp Griffin, named for the school’s mascot, is offered for either a full day or a half day. The camps run Monday through Friday from June 9 through July 25. The fee is $250 per week for the full day or $125 per week for a half day. Classes are grouped by age. All morning sessions focus on language arts and mathematics. The language arts segment includes lessons in literature, writing and thinking outside the box to keep summer brains sharp for the upcoming school year.Lunch and swimming precede the project-based afternoon sessions, which include: June 9-13Music for a Masterpiece – Listen to music from around the world and respond with

  • (April 15) Today's Top Headlines - Robotic Submarine Comes Up Short in First Deep Dive: Now What?

    A robotic submarine was set to be launched on a second underwater sweep for wreckage from missing Flight MH370 Tuesday after deep water ended an initial dive, triggering questions about whether the vehicle is capable of completing its mission.The U.S. Navy-owned Bluefin-21 gathered about six hours of data before returning to the surface of the southern Indian Ocean almost 1,000 miles off Australia's west coast.The unmanned sub had been expected to search for 16 hours but a built-in safety feature ended the journey after it exceeded its "operation depth limit" of 14,763 feet -- or about 2.8 miles, officials said.Bluefin-21 can create a three-dimensional sonar map of the area to chart any debris on the sea floor. The initial data collected was analyzed but no objects of interest were found.Searchers are confident they know the approximate position of wreckage of the Malaysia Airlines jet which vanished on March 8. They are moving ahead with the sub search on the basis of four acoustic signals they believe are from its black box recorders. However, no "pings" have been heard for almost a week.Read more here:

  • (April 15) Today's Top Headlines - A year after the marathon bombings, Boston perseveres

    (CNN) -- "United, we will always persevere." That was the message Massachusetts shared with the nation and the world Tuesday, on the anniversary of twin bombings that turned last year's Boston Marathon from a celebration into a day of horror.The state tweeted those words, along with an image of both the U.S. and Massachusetts flags, and the hashtag #BostonStrong.Mayor Tom Menino, Gov. Deval Patrick and Vice President Joe Biden are expected to echo that message Tuesday afternoon at a tribute marking the anniversary. The Boston Pops and a children's choir will take part.Three survivors are scheduled to speak: Patrick Downes, David Yepez and Adrianne Haslet-Davis. Downes was a newlywed at the time of the attack. He and his wife, Jessica Kensky, each lost a leg.Yepez, a teenager, was injured. He'll be joined at the ceremony by his father, Luis. Haslet-Davis, a dancer, lost her left foot in the attack.Near the end of Tuesday's ceremony, at 2:49 p.m. ET, will be a moment of silence, followed by church bells tolling and a flag-raising ceremony.Read more here:

  • (April 15) Today's Top Headlines - Top 10 stories of the day

    1. The Post and The Guardian win a Pulitzer for Snowden storiesThe Washington Post and The Guardian were awarded the Pulitzer Prize for public service for their articles on documents leaked by former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden, Columbia University announced Monday. The articles resulted in a review of the NSA's mining of telephone and internet communications data, and sparked a debate on balancing privacy rights with the need to thwart terrorists. [The New York Times]………………………………………………………………………………2. Ukraine moves against pro-Russia separatistsUkraine's acting president, Oleksandr Turchynov, told the country's lawmakers Tuesday that an "anti-terrorist operation" was underway against pro-Russia separatists occupying state buildings in the eastern Donetsk region. Russian Prime Minister Dmitri Medvedev said Ukraine was "on the brink of civil war." President Obama, by phone, urged Russian President Vladimir Putin to de-escalate tensions. Putin said he wasn't meddling in Ukraine. [Reuters, The Associated Press]………………………………………………………………………………

  • Country Thunder 2014 wrap-up

    After about 200,000 people showed up to Country Thunder in Florence this year, it’s baffling to consider the type of numbers next year could bring.Having grown each year since its inception, the four-day country music festival not only saw some record-breaking statistics this year, but also continued to attract some of the biggest names in country music to include headliners Thompson Square, The Band Perry, Miranda Lambert, and Jason Aldean.Known for its friendly, social atmosphere in which miles upon miles of recreational vehicles and campers line the barren farm fields outlying the stage, the festival this year ran from April 10-13, giving country fans more than their fair share of hits to choose from.Some fans were even lucky enough to meet the stars in person as they wandered Crazy Coyote, one of several campsites on location, which has become known for a rowdy, fun crowd.“I love this kind of stuff,” said Keifer Thompson of the duo Thompson Square. “We got to go out and visit some of the crazy coyotes, and it just reminded me of home.”“It’s like the party of the year,” added his wife and musical partner, Shawna.

  • SAACA’s Cocktails and Classics

    The Southern Arizona Arts and Cultural Alliance hosted the third-annual Cocktails and Classics event at the Tucson Mall on April 11. Above, guests enjoy food provided by Olive Garden while waiting for the fashion show to begin. At right, dance classes were offered to end the night’s festivities.This year’s event also benefitted the Susan G. Komen Foundation.

  • ‘Draft Day’ a mid-to-late second round pick

    The comparisons between this newly released “Draft Day” film and the successful 1996 Tom Cruise football comedy-drama ‘Jerry Maguire’ is both compelling and natural.  Both films take viewers behind-the-scenes to accurately portray life in the National Football League (NFL); “Jerry Maguire” from the cold-hearted sports agent perspective and now “Draft Day,” depicting NFL war rooms evaluating talent prior to selection time.  In “Draft Day”, Kevin Costner plays Browns’ General Manager Sonny Weaver, who must make the most of his team’s draft selections to secure his job and attempt to bring NFL respectability back to Cleveland. For “Draft Day”, the movie’s offense is centered very effectively on the personalities of the young athletes and the background into what makes each player’s stock either rise or plummet in the draft order-sometimes even within minutes.  Costner adequately manages to bring authenticity to his GM Weaver’s gig, highlighted by his attempts to appease the football faithful in arguably the league’s most win-deprived location; the Cleveland owner (played brilliantly by Frank Langella), the hardcore Browns’ fan base, Weaver’s family, and even Costner’s girlfriend (portrayed by Jennifer Garner) all desperately crave a return to winning.  “Draft Day”, like John Madden using his Telestrator on Sunday afternoons, successfully illustrates the challenges every NFL team must deal with on their most important non-game, day of the year.  That was achieved with the massive support from the NFL and numerous cameo appearances by football insiders; both of which teamed up to bring authenticity and credibility to this story’s playbook.The fumbles in “Draft Day” include its penchant to bring romance into a full-fledged, dominating football story.  “Jerry Maguire” used the NFL only to provide downfield blocking for Tom Cruise’s sports agent, allowing him to tackle romance.  However, Costner’s romance in “Draft Day” doesn’t get past the line of scrimmage in importance, or need.  In fact, Sonny Weaver’s fondness for Garner’s salary cap character, Ali, is a distraction throughout the film and completely unnecessary.  Garner more than holds her own in the movie and within the confining office spaces of the Browns’ facility.  Another miscue in this film is the poor casting of Denis Leary as the hapless Cleveland head coach.  Leary is unconvincing and all his labored mannerisms skirt the sideline towards over-acting and ineptness. Despite a few dropped passes, “Draft Day” is a very watchable and entertaining sports movie.  The extensive strides the film takes to gain NFL buy-in and support is superb and will please almost all diehard Sunday football fans.  The NFL’s vast assistance combined with the numerous cameo appearances from football insiders brought believability to the movie, while at the same time, a feeling that you’re actually evaluating on-field talent.  That look and feel of being inside an NFL team headquarters transforms this film into a potential late first-round pick.  Unfortunately, a love story is forced upon viewers and into the “Draft Day” coverage, causing a turnover just as the Cleveland Browns are attempting to score on future football plans.  This ill-advised relationship between Costner and Garner drops this film into a mid-to-late second round selection at best.  Although no “Jerry Maguire”, this movie does get into the end zone enough to keep viewers excited about the upcoming season.       Grade: B-

  • CDO spirit line makes its presence known at national competition

    Ending her six years of coaching on a bittersweet note, Breland Atkinson, felt nothing but pride as her pom line took second place at the USA Nationals Spirit Competition in Anaheim, Calif.The Canyon Del Oro (CDO) High School pom line, junior varsity and varsity cheer teams, which consist of 40 girls, all headed to California, March 27-30, to compete in the national competition. The three teams qualified for nationals after placing high enough scores in their regional performances back in November. This is the first time that all three teams have competed together at this competition. “The most impressive thing is that we were united as a team and also encouraging each other and as a team we had great sportsmanship,” said Breland Atkinson, head coach over the three teams. “It shows that the values of the program we created come outside of the floor and outside of practice and that what we’re doing is working.”The pom line ended up placing for the first time by coming in second in the competition. The JV and varsity cheer teams didn’t place, but represented their school well through their cheer stunts and dance routines. The pom line competed against six other schools and the cheer teams competed against more than 20 schools from across the country.“The thing I admire the most about the girls is that they have the mental fortitude to keep going and keep persevering and keep working at their skills,” said Atkinson, who added that that is a mentality she has seen all season from her teams. “Over time, that has made us competitive with some of the California teams and it’s really put the CDO spirit line on the map.”For co-captain of the pom line, Amelia Gotobed, placing second was the perfect way to end her senior year.

  • High School key match-ups highlight playoff push

    The week is headlined by one of the games of the year in prep softball as No. 3 Ironwood Ridge and No. 6 Canyon Del Oro (CDO) meet on the diamond. While both are likely to qualify for state, the winner will climb in the rankings with an eye on the top-four seed and two home games to start the playoffs. Not to be outdone, boys and girls tennis will see two of the most anticipated matches of the year on Thursday. In boys tennis, No. 1 ranked Catalina Foothills travels to meet sixth-ranked Ironwood Ridge.  Canyon Del OroThe CDO softball team carries a nine-game winning streak into the week and are well on their way to qualifying for state. They begin the week ranked sixth in the state in Division II after sweeping Vista Grande, Sunnyside and Mountain View last week. In addition to the Nighthawks, the Dorados also get a struggling Rincon squad that has just one regular-season win. 

  • Gordon, Johnson Declare for NBA Draft

    TUCSON, Ariz. – Following a season in which they helped lead the Arizona men’s basketball program to a 33-5 record, a Pac-12 regular-season title and an Elite Eight appearance, Aaron Gordon and Nick Johnson have entered their names in the 2014 NBA Draft.Gordon averaged 12.4 points, 8.0 rebounds, 2.0 assists and 1.0 blocks per game in 38 contests (all starts) for Arizona this season, leading the team on the boards and ranking second in both scoring and blocks. He posted a team-high eight double-doubles, good for sixth in the Pac-12, and shot 49.5 percent from the field and 35.6 percent from beyond the arc.He scored in double figures 28 times, including three 20-point games, and put up 11 double-figure rebounding performances. Gordon finished the season ranked fourth in the Pac-12 in offensive rebounds per game (2.7), seventh in rebound average (8.0), 11th in blocks per game (1.0) and defensive rebounds per game (5.3), 14th in field goal percentage (.495) and 22nd in scoring (12.4).His 303 total rebounds on the year were the most in program history by a freshman, breaking a 40 year-old team record, and the 10th-highest single-season total in program history. He also started more games (38) than any other freshman in UA history.Gordon finished the year ranked second on UA’s freshman list for minutes played (1,187), as well as third in field goals (189), fourth in rebound average (8.0), fifth in blocks (39) and eighth in points (470).The San Jose native was named a third-team All-American by the Sporting News, as well as first-team All-Pac-12 and Pac-12 Freshman of the Year. He was one of six finalists for the Wayman Tisdale National Freshman of the Year Award.

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