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. 

  • Celebrate SunLink’s opening day on Friday, July 25

    Tucson’s modern streetcar opens to the public in three days. Want to be a part of the opening day action? Here’s how:Take a bus or shuttle downtown. The following routes go to the Ronstadt Transit Center and the immediate area: Sun Tran Routes 1, 2, 3, 4, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 16, 19, 21, 22, 23 Sun Express Routes 101X-110X Sun Shuttle Route 421 Then attend the grand opening dedication from 9-10 a.m. at Congress and Fifth. Expect 2,000-plus attendees. Be aware of special event road closures and travel restrictions. No backpacks due to security.If such a big crowd isn’t your thing but ribbon cuttings are, there are four of those earlier in the morning elsewhere on the route: 7 a.m.: Avenida del Convento and Congress stop (Mercado) 7:40 a.m.: Helen Street and Warren Avenue stop (University of Arizona) 8:05 a.m.: University Boulevard and Tyndall Avenue stop (Main Gate) 8:28 a.m.: 4th Avenue and 7th Street stop (4th Ave.)

  • Near drowning in Oro Valley

    On July 22, 2014 at approximately 6 p.m., the Oro Valley Police Department (OVPD) and Golder Ranch Fire Department responded to the 300 block of West Sacaton Canyon in reference to a near drowning. Initial reports are that a mother found her 16 month old child at the bottom of the pool. The mother removed the child and began Cardio Pulmonary Resuscitation (CPR). The child was transported by Golder Ranch Fire Department to University of Arizona Medical Center. The child is in critical condition, and the investigation is ongoing.

  • Oro Valley Candidate Forum set for July 30, submit questions to The Explorer

    Candidates for Oro Valley mayor and town council have agreed to participate in a forum Wednesday, July 30, at the Oro Valley Church of the Nazarene, 500 W. Calle Concordia.The public is welcome to attend the free event, presented by the Greater Oro Valley Chamber of Commerce. Doors open at 5 p.m., giving guests one hour to meet casually with the candidates. The question-and-answer portion runs from 6 to 8 p.m. in the church’s sanctuary.Incumbent Mayor Satish Hiremath and challenger Pat Straney are first on stage, answering questions from Chamber President / CEO Dave Perry and Thelma Grimes, editor of The Explorer Newspaper and Inside Tucson Business.Following the mayoral debate, town council candidates Don Bristow, and incumbent council members Joe Hornat, Mary Snider and Vice Mayor Lou Waters field questions.There will be no questions from the audience. Grimes is soliciting questions from Explorer readers, and some of those may be asked during the evening. A brief presentation on the home rule question is also planned.Residents who want to submit questions can email them to Grimes at thelma@tucsonlocalmedia.com.

  • (July 25) Today's Top Headlines - Kerry pushes for cease fire

    Fox News:Bloody clashes continued between Israel and Islamic militants in Gaza Friday, as U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry tried to hammer out a cease-fire deal to end the deadly violence.Kerry met twice Friday in Cairo with United Nation chief Ban Ki-Moon and Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shukri to negotiate an agreement for at least a week-long halt of the fighting between Israel and Hamas in the nearly three-week war.Two diplomats close to the negotiations said a deal had not yet been reached but spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to be named.Secretary Kerry has been on the phone all morning, and he will remain in close touch with leaders in the region over the course of the morning as he continues work on achieving a ceasefire,'' a senior U.S. State Department official in Cairo told Reuters.Kerry has proposed a two-stage plan that would first impose the week-long truce, and then negotiations would begin between Israelis and Palestinians on the main political, economic, and security concerns in Gaza. Other nations would also attend the meetings, the New York Times reported.

  • (July 25) Today's Top Headlines - The top 10 stories of the day

    1. Protests rock the West Bank ahead of a "day of rage"Israel deployed thousands of security forces around Jerusalem after Palestinian leaders called for a "day of rage" on Friday following massive overnight protests in the West Bank. Israeli tank shells reportedly hit a United Nations school in the Gaza Strip on Thursday, killing at least 15 people. Dozens of Palestinians had sought shelter there from fighting between Israel and Hamas, the Islamist Palestinian faction that runs Gaza. Israel said it did not target the school. [NBC News, USA Today]………………………………………………………………………………2. Obama urges Congress to close overseas tax loopholes for businessesPresident Obama on Thursday called on Congress to close loopholes allowing businesses to use foreign partnerships to avoid taxes at home, even when their headquarters and main operations remain in the U.S. Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), who is the top Republican on the Senate Finance Committee, said he was all for asking companies to pay their fair share but that Obama administration policies were "punitive and restrictive to businesses." [CBS News]………………………………………………………………………………

  • (July 25) Today's Top Headlines - Man says he shot pregnant burglar

    MSN News:An 80-year-old man who came home to find two burglars said he shot and killed one of them despite her pleas that she was pregnant, but it's the woman's alleged accomplice who has been arrested on suspicion of murder, police said.Police said they would present their case to prosecutors Friday but were still deciding whether to recommend charges against Tom Greer, who told a television station he shot the woman in the back as she fled from his house."She says, 'Don't shoot me, I'm pregnant — I'm going to have a baby,' and I shot her anyway," Greer told KNBC-TV outside his house.Long Beach police Chief Jim McDonnell said at a news conference Thursday that the woman, 28-year-old Andrea Miller, did not appear to be pregnant, but a planned autopsy would determine whether she was.However, the surviving suspect, Gus Adams, 26, has been arrested on suspicion of residential burglary and murder, McDonnell said. The murder charge is possible because he is accused of being involved in a felony that led to a death, the chief said. He was being held on bail just over $1 million, and police did not know if he had hired an attorney.

  • 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. 

  • ‘Begin Again’ is chart-topping movie

    This film provides the perfect mix of music and relationships, blending both with equal parts of raw emotion thrown in for good measure.  Viewers looking for a splendid date night movie or an up-close view of the music industry’s research and development side of the house will find “Begin Again” a very satisfying summer soundtrack and film experience.Director John Carney, who brought us the surprise 2006 hit “Once” using unknown film stars singing an Oscar-winning tune, attempts to capture much of that same success and winning formula in this adventure.  Academy Award nominee Keira Knightley (for 2005’s “Pride & Prejudice”) is a familiar screen presence playing the role of a British songwriter for her boyfriend (portrayed by real-life singer Adam Levine).  Admirably, Carney gets both Knightley and Levine to venture outside their normal day-to-day comfort zones—actress Knightley showing off her singing chops for the first time on the big-screen while Maroon 5 lead vocalist Levine uses “Begin Again” to launch a potential film career.  “Begin Again” is a compelling and rich movie that takes viewers along the artistic music path from talent discovery to chart-topping success.  It examines the behind-the-scenes struggles of a record-label exec (Mark Ruffalo) that has hit rock bottom personally and professionally.  And what a challenge life is for him—with his employment, marriage and fatherhood all hanging in the balance. Ruffalo’s stellar midlife crisis performance as the character Dan will easily make viewers forget he ever wore green paint as The Hulk in “Marvel’s The Avengers” (2012).  It’s the believability and realism in “Begin Again” that separates this film from so many other romantic dramas and comedies.  Director Carney’s movie modus operandi is to let his storylines take a natural and acceptable course in a film—even if that means final scenes don’t tie up loose ends or conclude with happy endings for all involved.  Carney sides with reality and any tiebreakers towards the end of the film usually sway in the direction of life’s real uncertainties—leaving the audience to find their own movie wrap.Although Oscar history tells us that films debuting before September have an uphill battle to gain Academy Award nominations, “Begin Again” has several things going for it.  Ruffalo, an Oscar nominee for 2010’s “The Kids Are All Right” and a real-life brain tumor survivor, achieves his finest performance ever in film.  “Begin Again” gives a chorus of music throughout, but after the last note is sung, this movie is about Ruffalo and his character, Dan. Ruffalo’s inspiring and brilliant effort deserves an Oscar nod in the Best Actor category.  Likewise, a strong supporting cast that includes previous Oscar nominees Hailee Steinfeld (“True Grit”) as Dan’s teenage daughter and Catherine Keener (“Being John Malkovich”) playing his wife flawlessly cover any acting shortcomings from film novice Levine.  The entire ensemble successfully sells the realism behind the microphone while Carney avoids any awkward gimmicks or faux pas in the relationship between Ruffalo and Knightley.“Begin Again” easily makes my Top 10 List for 2014 films.  Exceptional performances, particularly Ruffalo’s as the ear of the music industry, reward filmgoers with a realistic storyline of relationships and turning one’s life around after setbacks.  Knightley’s first-ever singing gig may not have been pitch perfect during every ballad, but she kept the storyline interesting and plausible.  Carney, much like his successful Irish music drama “Once”, provides an encore that’s very watchable to viewers due to its realistic depiction of life.  The film and its conclusion—which continue as credits roll—allow us to eavesdrop and listen in to how music is discovered but also made, promoted and sold.  “Begin Again” is great movie to add to your summer playlist.

  • Mountain View hires two new coaches

    Mountain View has hired new baseball and softball coaches for the 2014-15 season.  Steve Elmore and Ashley Monceaux join the Mountain View staff, replacing Brian Moore and Jill Malina.“We are extremely excited to have two coaches of that caliber joining our coaching staff at Mountain View,” said Athletic Director Todd Garelick.Elmore was the longtime coach at San Manuel High School. He is actually the second former San Manuel coach at Mountain View, joining wrestling coach P.J. Ponce.The Mountain Lion baseball team went 12-15 last season.Monceaux is a former Pima and Baylor player who was also a graduate assistant for the Bears.

  • Ty Cruz to join the Wildcats

    The University of Arizona football team released their official 2014 roster and former Catalina Foothills standout Ty Cruz was listed on the roster as a walk-on.Cruz led the Falcons in rushing last season, gaining 1,346 yards on 134 carries, scoring 23 times. He also had two more receiving scores.“I am real happy that he is getting this opportunity because the improvements he’s made academically and on the football field,” said Catalina Foothills Head Football Coach Jeff Scurran. “The second half of the season, no one could stop him.”Scurran also feels Cruz will be a great locker room guy, “He’s very easy to like.”It is never easy for walk-ons to make an impact, but Cruz steps into a very good situation at Arizona. First and foremost, Head Coach Rich Rodriguez is a former walk-on himself and has always been willing to give non-scholarship players a long look. He is also very familiar with Cruz, as the running back was a teammate of Rodriguez’s son Rhett.Arizona is also a bit thin at running back. The team’s top six rushers a year ago will not be in the picture this season. Five have either graduated or left the team, while Jared Baker will miss the start of the season with a serious knee injury. Add to that the fact that redshirt freshman Pierre Cormier had to give up football with a health condition and you have a wide open battle. The Wildcats have just four healthy scholarship running backs on the roster.

  • Former Dorado represents Arizona at Media Day

    Former Canyon Del Oro standout Jared Tevis was one of two Wildcat players to accompany Head Coach Rich Rodriguez to Los Angeles for Pac-12 Media Day.Hill and Tevis appeared on the Pac-12 Network and much of Tevis’ time was devoted to answering questions about starting his career as a walk-on.“It’s a blessing, Tevis said. “I wasn’t even sure I was going to get a shot at playing ball at this level.”Tevis has not only earned a scholarship, but is one of the team’s captains and has been nominated for a few national award watch lists.Tevis, due a lot to his size and perceived lack of speed, was not offered any FBS scholarships but wanted to play at the FBS level. He considered going to Pima, but in the end chose walking on at Arizona over walking on at Boise State, the school his brother attended.“I thought that Arizona was the place to be,” Tevis explained. “I wanted to be in a D-I atmosphere and I believed in my potential and took the chance.”

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