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

  • 9-1-1, what is your emergency? Oro Valley, Marana dispatchers take the calls

    There is a job that only about four percent of the population is qualified and capable of doing. At this very moment, there are at least two people in Oro Valley and two in Marana who are doing it. This is the job as a police 911 operator and dispatcher.In both Marana and Oro Valley, they sit in front of multiple screens, which display maps and information, in a dimly-lit room. Constantly, the chatter over the radio is in their ear as they decipher what is needed and who. Sonia Schreiber, who is currently a lead dispatcher for the Oro Valley Police Department (OVPD), has been with the town for 10 years. Through college, she studied to be and thought she would be a teacher. But after serving as a military police officer in the Army, she was attracted to the environment and excitement of working for a police department, but liked the less-dangerous side of working as a dispatcher and operator.“There aren’t very many jobs out there that you can leave and feel a sense of satisfaction and accomplishment,” Schreiber said. “I think I just realized that with this job that I can kind of continue on that level of satisfaction and accomplishment without seeing face-to-face what goes on out in the field.”Shelia Blevins, who is the communications supervisor for Marana Police Department (MPD), was a pre-school teacher before becoming a dispatcher and a 911 operator. As a teacher, she got to know a police officer with the Tucson Police Department (TPD). He offered her a ride-along, and in doing so, gave her a tour of the communications department. “I just walked through and just said, ‘I want to do this.’ It was just an immediate ‘I can do this,” Blevins said.

  • Oro Valley hosts national synchronized swimming event

    Even before the Oro Valley Aquatics Center officially opened last spring, town officials were beaming about the U.S. National Synchronized Swimming Championships event that was slated to take place more than a year after opening.Last week, 40 teams, consisting of swimmers, coaches and other personnel, from across the country, traveled to compete in this national event in Oro Valley.Though it was touted as a highlig ht, the center has seen 18 competitions since it opened including state, regional, national, summer league and high school meets. Of those 18, more than half were larger meets, such as state and nationals.Having events like those locked in place and the town’s pool on the map for the swimming circuit, the town has secured the 2016 U.S. Masters Synchronized Swimming Championships, which will be held in October of 2016.“When we built this facility we had always envisioned having a lot of state competition. But we have been really aggressive on our bids for national competitions,” said Greg Caton, the Oro Valley Town Manager, as he watched the competition take place last week. “This is the fruit of that labor.”This past competition was projected to bring in $429,543 to the town’s economy, which is a portion of the $2.2 million that was estimated to come into the town during the course of this year from the center alone.

  • Pima County agrees to Southern Arizona Motorsports Raceway

    Pima County will soon be home to the Southern Arizona Motorsports Raceway, a 2.8-mile, 14-turn racecourse that will sit on 400 acres of Tucson’s southeast side.Expected to open in 2017, preliminary projections show the development could prove to be an economic powerhouse for the county, estimated to draw in $264 million in its first 10 years of operation – a period in which the developer has agreed to spend up to $67 million in capital improvements for the course. The county projects additional impacts of $343 million in hotel stays, $247 million in local dining, and $368 million in local shopping over the same period.The county will charge the greater amount of $137,000 per year or two percent of gross revenues.The raceway is expected to attract major professional events such as IndyCar, Super Bikes, Historic Racing, and TUDOR United SportsCar Championship Racing.Located just south of the Pima County Fairgrounds, the Southern Arizona Motorsports Raceway will complement other area racing facilities.

  • OVPD to present teen safety driving program to CDO, IRHS parents

    On April 21, at 6 p.m., the Oro Valley Police Department (OVPD) School Resource Officers Unit will present the Impact Teen Drivers Program at Parent’s Night for Canyon del Oro and Ironwood Ridge high schools. The event will be held at CDO High School in the Cyber Café, 25 W. Calle Concordia.Did you know?· In the U.S., one in four crash fatalities involve someone 16 to 24 years old.· Over half of teens involved in fatal crashes in the United States were not wearing seat belts.· In 2011, teenage motor vehicle crash deaths occurred most frequently from 9 p.m. to 3 a.m.· Nearly half of all U.S. high school students, aged 16 years or older, text or email while driving.

  • Renowned mediator and peacemaker Kenneth Cloke to speak at PCC, April 17 and April 19

    Pima Community College is proud to host Kenneth Cloke, director of the Center for Dispute Resolution and renowned peacemaker and conflict manager, April 17 and 19 for a discussion on workplace bullying and conflict resolution.The forums are sponsored by the Center for Community Dialogue, Fund for Civility, Respect and Understanding, and Collaborative Law Group of Southern Arizona.Cloke has served as a mediator, arbitrator, attorney, coach, consultant and trainer.  He specializes in resolving complex multi-party conflicts and provides services in designing conflict resolution systems for organizations. He has done conflict resolution work in Austria, Bahamas, Brazil, Canada, China, Cuba, Denmark, England, Georgia, Greece, India, Ireland, Japan, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Pakistan, Puerto Rico, Scotland, Slovenia, Thailand, Turkey, Ukraine, USSR and Zimbabwe.The discussions will take place at the Community Campus, 401 N. Bonita Ave., Room CC-A109.  The public is welcome to attend.Cloke’s April 17 discussion, “Workplace Bullying- Skillful Responses to Difficult Behaviors,” begins at 6 p.m.  There is no charge to attend.  Light refreshments will be served.  Please RSVP to Catherine Tornbom,

  • PCSO Arrests San Tan Valley man for strangulation of his girlfriend

    On Monday, April 14, Westley Burdine, 36, was arrested and booked in the Pinal County Jail in Florence, after he strangled his live in girlfriend during a domestic dispute.At 9:02 a.m.  Burdine’s 34-year-old girlfriend walked into the Pinal County Sheriff’s Substation in San Tan Valley, to report her boyfriend strangled her during a domestic dispute.The victim reported at 1:30 a.m. she and Burdine got into an argument. During the argument, Burdine grabbed her by her throat with both hands and strangled her for approximately five seconds. Afterwards she began feeling dizzy.The victim reports she was able to retreat to the master bedroom where she was sitting on the floor crying when Burdine entered the room and continued the argument.Burdine then pushed the victim onto her back where he again strangled her with both hands and this time also used his forearm across her neck. During this time, she feared Burdine would kill her. She told the deputy he threatened her by stating, “You’re never going to see your kids again”.During the second strangulation, the victim reports she was strangled to the point of unconsciousness.

  • (April 18) Today's Top Headlines - At Least 13 Sherpas Dead as Avalanche Sweeps Mount Everest

    An avalanche swept down a slope of Mount Everest on Friday along a route used to ascend the world's highest peak, killing at least 13 people in the mountain's deadliest disaster.NBC News confirmed that all of the dead were Sherpa guides. The guides had gone early in the morning to fix the ropes for hundreds of climbers when the avalanche hit them just below Camp 2 around 6:30 a.m. local time, Nepal Tourism Ministry official Krishna Lamsal told The Associated Press.Tilak Ram Pandey, an official at the ministry's mountaineering department, later told Reuters that some other people were thought to be missing.Read more here: 

  • (April 18) Today's Top Headlines - Police: Arrest warrant issued for captain, 2 crew members of sunken S. Korea ferry

    Jindo, South Korea (CNN) -- An arrest warrant has been issued for the captain of the ferry that sank off the coast of South Korea, an accident that killed 28 people and left nearly 270 missing.Two other crew members also face arrest, a spokesman for the joint prosecutor and police investigators said Friday.The spokesman did not provide any further detail.The cause of the accident still isn't known. But a South Korean prosecutor said the captain, Lee Joon Suk, wasn't in the steering room when the Sewol started to sink; a third mate was at the helm."It is not clear where (the captain) was when the accident occurred, although it is clear that he was not in the steering room before the actual accident happened," state prosecutor Jae-Eok Park said Friday.The captain was one of at least 179 people rescued soon after Wednesday's sinking.

  • (April 18) Today's Top Headlines - The top 10 stories of the day

    1. Russia agrees to deal on easing tensions in UkraineRussia, Ukraine, the United States, and the European Union struck a deal Thursday calling for pro-Russia separatists to surrender local government buildings they seized in eastern Ukraine. The agreement also spells out steps to defuse tensions. President Obama said the deal was promising but if it fizzles the U.S. still could impose more sanctions on Russia. Russian President Vladimir Putin declined to rule out sending troops if violence escalates. [The New York Times]………………………………………………………………………………2. Mount Everest avalanche kills at least 12An avalanche killed at least 12 Nepalese Sherpa guides on Mount Everest early Friday. It was the deadliest disaster ever on the world's highest mountain. Three other guides are still missing. The guides had set out early to fix ropes for other climbers below Camp 2. Hundreds of climbers, along with their guides and support crews, are gathered at the base camp to attempt to reach the 29,035-foot summit when weather permits next month. [The Associated Press]………………………………………………………………………………

  • Saturday Puzzles 4-19-14

  • Country Thunder 2014 wrap-up

    After more than 26,000 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.

  • Marana to host Pac-12 Men's Golf Championships

    The Gallery Golf Club, set in the scenic Tortolita Mountains in Marana, Ariz. near Tucson, is proud to once again host the Pac-12 Men’s Golf Championships on the club’s North Course April 25-27, 2014.The Gallery North has been host to many major events including: the Arizona Amateur Championships in 2000 and 2012; Co-host of the PGA Tour’s Tucson Open in 2001; and the Southwest Section PGA Championships in 2001 and 2012. Some of the best amateurs in the country will grace the fairways of The Gallery with four teams from the PAC-12 ranked among the NCAA’s top 15 teams.  As of April 2, UC Berkeley was ranked No. 2 with Stanford at No. 6, UCLA at No. 14 and Washington at No.15.“The members, staff and ownership of The Gallery are once again honored to play host to the PAC-12 Men’s Golf Championships,” said Garrett Wallace, general manager at The Gallery. “With the strength of the players in the PAC-12 this year, we are excited to see some of the best young players in golf challenge our North Course.”The tournament will be 72 holes of medal play with 36 holes being played on Friday, April 25 and 18 holes on Saturday and Sunday.  Starting times will be from 7:30 – 9:20 a.m. on all three days starting off holes one and ten.  The Cal Bears will look to defend their championship having won last year at Los Angeles Country Club.  Each team will consist of six golfers with the lowest five scores recorded each round to determine the team’s overall score.  “The Gallery is pleased to host this prestigious collegiate event,” said Paul Nolen, head golf professional at The Gallery. “It is special to host the event once again after 10 years, but even more special to host it 30 years after personally competing in the tournament when the University of Arizona first hosted back in 1984.”  

  • Tough loss for Marana softball

    Sabino dealt the Marana softball team a big loss as they beat the Tigers 5-0 on Thursday. The Sabercats made the most of their opportunities, while the Tigers could not push runners home. Sabino only out hit the Tigers 6-4.Ashlee Skilling got the win for Sabino.The loss will not do much to hurt the playoff chances for the Tigers, but could affect seeding and a chance to host a first round playoff match. The Tigers came into the game ranked 14th and the top-16 teams will play at home to open the playoffs. With Sabino ranked No. 7 in the state, the loss does not hurt from a strength of schedule standpoint, but the difference in rankings is so slim at this point.The Tigers face Nogales on Friday.

  • CDO surges past Rincon

    It took awhile for the CDO bats to really come alive, but once they did there was no slowing them in the Dorado’s 10-0 win over Rincon.After being held scoreless in the first, the Dorados scratched out a single run in each of the next four innings, but did not break things open until the sixth when they plated six runs, invoking the 10-run rule and ending the game one inning early.Paul Avila got the win, while Tristan Petersen and Erick Migueles each blasted home runs.The win improved their record to 9-4 and helped them forget an upset loss to Ironwood Ridge earlier in the week. The Dorados get a rare Saturday match-up with Tucson High to close out the week then face Maricopa next Tuesday.

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Country Thunder Day 4

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