The Explorer: Marana


Recent Headlines

  • Marana Police Beat - Week of Aug. 20

    Marana Police DepartmentOn Friday, Aug. 8, at 2:36 p.m., Marana police responded to a call about a theft at the Sportspark at 6901 N. Casa Grande Highway. The caller said that her purse, along with $40 in cash and three different credit cards, were stolen from her car. Her friend’s $400 tablet was stolen as well. The passenger window was smashed. Replacing the window would cost about $500.On Monday, Aug. 4, at 5:46 p.m., Marana police responded to a call about a past theft at the LA Fitness on Business Park Drive. The caller said he received a call from his bank asking if he had bought two Greyhound tickets for a total of $469. The caller said he didn’t and realized he left his wallet in the car while at the gym. He returned to his car and found the wallet missing from his gym bag. Nothing else was taken from the gym bag. His driver’s license debit/credit cards, school ID and insurance cards were in the wallet. On Sunday, Aug. 3, at 9:40 a.m., Marana police responded to a call about a house being egged at the 1200 block of North Tare Lane. The officer found 12 different places that eggs hit the house. The officer advised that the caller talk to his two boys to see if they did it. The caller said this is the second time that his house has been egged.On Saturday, Aug. 2, at 8:44 p.m., Marana police responded to a call about a broken window at the 3500 block of West Orange Grove Road. The officer saw a large hole in the sliding glass door and glass shattered around the area. The woman who lived at the apartment said her, her son and daughter-in-law were watching TV when they heard the glass shatter. No one was hurt. The officer found a rock by the sliding glass door. On Friday, Aug. 1, at 8:39 p.m., Marana police responded to the Walmart at 8280 N. Cortaro Road in response to a shoplifter. The caller said he saw two men that were acting suspiciously. He saw them put spray paint cans into their shopping cart. The two passed the registers without purchasing the spray paint. The caller said he stopped them and one of the men took off while the other stayed. The man who took off eventually came back to the store after hearing that the officer had his license plate number. Both were cited with shoplifting and then released. The men were about to shoplift 24 spray paint cans that totaled at $90.48.

  • Learning police work from the Marana experts

    If you are a Marana resident or work or own a business in the town and have an interest in how policing gets done within the town limits, then you might consider signing up for the Marana Police Department’s (MPD) Citizens Police Academy.The 12-week academy won’t make you an instant cop, but it will give you a better understanding of what it takes to work in law enforcement in Marana. The Academy is designed to give participants an up-close and personal look at law enforcement operations as practiced within the town.Who is eligible? If you are at least 18 years old, don’t have a prior felony arrest and live, work or do business in Marana, you are on the way to getting in. You also can’t have any misdemeanor arrests within one year of your application and you must complete an application form at Police Department Sergeant Steven Johnson, who’s in charge of the Citizens Police Academy, as well as several other MPD areas such as emergency management, homeland security and SWAT (Special Weapons and Tactics)/bomb squad, among others, said, “We expect participants to have an interest in the police department and what we do, have an open mind, and consider how they can help us as well as how we can help them.”The next MPD Citizens Police Academy runs from Sept. 3 through Nov.19, meeting Wednesday evenings from 6 to 9:30 p.m. at the Northwest Fire District Training Center at 5125 W. Camino De Fuego in Marana (a quarter mile west of Interstate 10 on the north side of Ina Road). The program is free.

  • Marana council returns from summer break

    The Marana Town Council met on Aug. 5 for the first time since taking a summer break in July, hosting a 40-minute session to discuss a variety of topics.The meeting opened with comments from the public and David Morales addressed the council. The former council member took his allotted time to encourage the council to get excited about the veterans cemetery that is due to open by the end of the year. Councilwoman Roxanne Ziegler echoed those sentiments. “There will be a lot of eyes on Marana,” Ziegler said. “It will really put Marana on the map statewide. There are a lot of veterans out there.”Both Morales and Ziegler felt the cemetery would not only be a way to put a positive focus on the area, but would also be good for area businesses. The council unanimously approved the consent agenda, which included nine items, including the reappointment of Charles Davies as Marana Town Magistrate, authorizing the mayor to provide School Resource Officers to support the Marana School Safety Program and approve the final play for John Deere Marana. 

  • Marana police see increase in scam calls

    The Marana Police Department has seen a recent increase in a phone scam involving a person claiming to be a police officer who tells citizens they have failed to pay a traffic fine.The citizen is told the following:They were caught speeding by a traffic enforcement camera and failed to appear for their scheduled court date.  Court fines are owed for the cost of the speeding ticket and for court related late fees.  If they fail to pay immediately, their driver’s license will be suspended and a warrant will be issued for their arrest.  To pay the fine, they need to put the full amount they owe on a “Green Dot” prepaid Visa or MasterCard and call the “police officer” back and provide him the digits from the card.  

  • Many proposed bond projects could benefit Marana

    The Pima County Bond Advisory Committee has wrapped up five months of intensive review of hundreds of proposed projects for a possible 2015 bond election package.After a summer break, the committee will resume in September and start the process of deciding which projects will be recommended to the Board of Supervisors for inclusion in next year’s proposed bond election.There are more than a dozen projects proposed in and near Marana. The Bond Advisory Committee will meet twice a month through February before submitting the proposed project list.These meetings, as well as the Board of Supervisor’s meeting early next year where it will decide whether to have the election and which projects will be placed before voters, is your opportunity to express support for all or some of these projects. It’s been 10 years since a big bond package like this went before voters and there is a lot of pent up demand in the region for more parks, more libraries, more recreation centers, more cultural amenities, new government facilities for public health and law enforcement and more flood control.Pima County is unique in the state in the way it conducts its bond elections. In other counties, each individual government decides what its needs are and then each holds its own bond election.

  • Authors with local ties write books for children and parents

    Two authors with local ties have written books with themes from both sides of the parent-child dynamic. Marana resident Lori Alexander will have her first children’s book, “Backhoe Joe” published this fall and the road construction in the town was an inspiration. Alexander’s son Max was fascinated with big trucks and other construction equipment, so she often found herself looking at a lot of construction sites. “I found myself constantly stuck in traffic, as we sought out road-widening projects so he could see the machines in action,” Alexander said. “Some days, I wished my son had been a dinosaur fanatic instead. But in the end, his love of construction inspired Backhoe Joe, as we spent many hours together imaging what it would be like to have a backhoe of our very own.”The book, a picture book for children that comes out in mid September, is about a named Nolan, who finds a “stray” backhoe in the street. He names him Joe and can’t wait to adopt him. “Backhoe Joe is not very well behaved,” explained Alexander. “He revs at the mailman. He digs in garbage. As Nolan tries to train his new pet, he learns that this backhoe might already have a home.”While writing a 40-page children’s book may seem easy, it is actually a very lengthy process. Alexander’s initial story went through a number of re-writes. She turned to  the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators) for guidance and also went to writing classes and critique groups. It wasn’t until she found an agent that things started to really get moving. 

  • Marana Town Talk: A new school year is under way

    Another school year has arrived and the community wants it to be enjoyable for students, parents and teachers.The Marana Police Department and Marana Unified School District are working together to ensure that children have a safe year. There are precautions for students of all ages. Whether their children are riding the bus, walking, biking or driving, parents should emphasize these tips when discussing safety with their kids.Students who ride the bus to school should:• Stand at least six feet from the curb.• Make sure the driver can see them at all times before boarding or after departing.• Never walk behind the bus.

  • Hanging up summer

    The school year began for Marana Unified School District's Butterfield Elementary School Monday morning.

  • House, Senate reach VA reform deal

    An agreement made by House and Senate leaders on July 28 is set to change the way veterans receive healthcare from Veteran’s Affairs (VA) facilities.The agreement, which came thanks to a Senate bill under Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., and a companion House bill under Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick, D-Ariz., arrives after reports and investigations of the mismanagement at the Phoenix VA.Kirkpatrick and McCain are both members of the House-Senate Veteran’s Affairs Committee. McCain’s version of the bill in the Senate passed overwhelmingly (93-3), and Kirkpatrick’s companion bill is being met with just as much support in the House.In large part, the agreement is designed to expand veterans’ access to care, increase medical staff, and boost VA employee accountability.Kirkpatrick said one of the major benefits is that veterans who live more than 40 miles from a VA facility – or veterans facing lengthy waits to schedule appointments – will instead be allowed to seek care from private doctors who take Medicaid, community health centers, Indian Health Service and Department of Defense facilities.“There has been a lot of work that has gone into this, and this creates a system that put veterans first,” said Kirkpatrick. “The key to this reform is to address veterans’ delays in getting treatment. That’s where it started from.”

  • Huckelberry proposes sales-tax increase, full board approval required

    It’s no secret that the roadways in Pima County are in bad shape. However, the problem has been finding a funding source that all, or even the majority, of the Pima County Board of Supervisors could agree on.As directed by the Board of Supervisors, Pima County Administrator Chuck Huckelberry laid out options for how to solve the problem. That solution would involve the entire board approving  a half-cent sales tax approved to bring more than $76 million a year, with $30 million of that to go toward road repair.This option could mean fixing Pima County roads in seven or eight years, Huckelberry said in the lengthy Aug. 1 memorandum where he laid out a variety options.By approving the sales-tax hike, Huckelberry said it would provide significant funding for the road-repair plan that in total will cost the county on estimated $264 million to repair the county’s 1,855 miles of roads.On average, Huckelberry said for every $1 million of funding available, seven miles of roads can be rehabilitated.“Thus, $38 million would address, at a minimum, the preservation of 266 miles of roads annually,” Huckelberry explains to the board.

  • Marana wastewater plant upgrades

    Upgrades and improvements to the Marana Water Reclamation Facility made during the past year have resulted in a more efficient collection and treatment system, according to the town of Marana’s utilities director.John Kmiec said that the improvements were designed to make the facility more durable, remove solid materials before they can enter the plant’s treatment lagoon, and enhance the biological treatment of the wastewater.“We added a stainless steel-framed curtain wall between the treatment lagoon and the clarifier,” Kmiec said. “Biological activity takes place in the lagoon and then the wastewater moves into the clarifier to settle out any other particles before final treatment and disinfecting.”The second upgrade the utilities department made, Kmiec noted, was “improving the solids removal station in the headworks area, which takes out plastic bags and other materials for disposal and cleans the water more effectively than before.”He added, “This is a large metal filter on a conveyor belt that allows solids to stick to it and liquids to pass through, then bags the solids for later disposal.”The third major upgrade to the facility was the addition of an air blower and new diffusers to the plant’s treatment lagoon which use oxygen to help along the biological process. With the new equipment, Kmiec said, “Microbes have enough oxygen to convert waste into a clean product and release nitrogen gas. A wave oxidation process then takes the nitrogen out of the water, which more efficiently puts air into the treatment lagoon.”

  • Thermal imaging unit another tool for the Marana Police

    The Marana Police Department has a new tool in their efforts to keep the town’s streets safe. Five patrol vehicles are now equipped with state-of-the-art thermal imagers.The imagers have a variety of uses, including searching for suspects, vehicles, missing persons, and evidence. The devices allow officers to see people and objects giving off heat, which is especially effective at night where visibility is limited.Previously this technology was only available on police aircraft and a few handheld units. Now officers with the thermal technology can search an area without leaving the vehicle.The thermal image appears on the in-car computers. The image is black and white, but the warmer the object the lighter the color. A person would appear much brighter than the surrounding area. A car that had just been driven would appear to be much brighter on screen than parked cars near it that had not been driven recently.The equipment was purchased using funds awarded to the Marana Police Department through an Operation Stonegarden grant from the US/AZ Department of Homeland Security. Each unit costs around $4,000 and if they prove effective the department would consider purchasing more, especially if there was some more grant money available.“We are the first agency in Southern Arizona to use these,” said Chris Warren, Marana Police Department’s Public Information Officer. “If they prove to be a useful tool and as good as they say they are going to be then we will look at buying more.”

  • Marana Police Beat - Week of Aug. 6

    On July 19 at 8:45 a.m., Marana police responded to a playground regarding suspicious activity. The caller told officers that earlier in the day he noticed some graffiti on a playground table in the shape of a gun. The officer photographed the photos and submitted them as evidence. The case was forwarded to Marana Parks and Recreation for cleanup.On July 19 at 8:36 p.m., Marana police responded to a caller whose purse had been stolen. The victim told the officer she was attending a swim event when her purse went missing. An announcement was made at the facility but the purse was not found.On July 21 at 6:43 a.m., Marana police responded to a call regarding stolen copper wire from a residence. The officer met with the construction manager, who said the wire was stolen between 1 p.m. on July 19 and the morning of July 21. The cost of the wire and reinstallation was estimated at $7,000.On July 21 at 8 a.m., Marana police responded to a call about bullet holes in a fence. The caller told police that the damage to the fence came as a result of people using the area, which is State Trust Land, for target practice. The victim said the damage was valued at approximately $1,000. A couple hours after the call, police returned when it was reported two individuals were using the area for target practice. The men told officers they assumed it was okay to shoot in the area because it looked like it was intended for such due to the several bullet holes in the area. The officer asked them to leave and issued a warning.On July 21 at 8:20 p.m., Marana police responded to a call of criminal damage to a vehicle. The victim told officers he had arrived at a park at 6:30 p.m., and when leaving at 8:20 p.m., he noticed the handle on his driver’s side door was damaged. No suspects were identified. The officer took photos for evidence.On July 22 at 11:32 a.m., Marana police responded to a call of fraud. The victim told officers someone had used her name to open a Pay Pal account. The victim said her credit report showed that someone had used $971 of the $3,000 credit limit. The victim was unaware who might have opened the account.

  • Marana schools receive 2014 AIMS results and letter grades

    On August 4, 2014 the Arizona Department of Education (ADE) publicly released 2014 AIMS results and the A-F school letter grades for schools throughout the state. The Marana Unified School District earned a high profile of B. One elementary school earned the ADE’s highest Achievement Profile of an A and fifteen Marana schools earned the Achievement Profile of a B.“Marana schools are committed to providing the highest quality education to equip students with the academic skills to be lifelong learners and responsible citizens,” states Dr. Doug Wilson, superintendent. “I consider our school district to be a leader in the implementation of Arizona’s College and Career Ready Standards given that we spent the last several years preparing for and then fully implementing the standards in the classroom last year. It is extremely difficult to measure the progress of student achievement when we are still using a State assessment instrument (Arizona Instrument to Measure Standards) not aligned with the standards our teachers are required to teach. As a district, we recognize that we will continue to face the challenge of accurate and consistent measurement in the coming year or two as we transition to the new state accountability test; however we remain focused on student achievement and preparing all students to be college and career ready.”Dr. Brett Kramer, executive director improvement initiatives says, “A decline in 4th and 5th grade mathematics AIMS scores was the major contributing factor in the letter grade this year. Our students are learning Arizona’s College and Career Ready Standards which are different than what was tested on AIMS. Once the State implements a new assessment, the full range of the State standards can be measured to determine whether students are college and career ready. School administrators and teachers continue to refine their school improvement plan to ensure that all students are learning and making solid academic achievement. Our teachers embrace higher accountability and educational strategies rooted in performance data to guide their instruction and improve academic achievement.  As a district we have increased our emphasis on successful instructional practices and professional development to provide teachers the tools and resources they need.”A-F school letter grades are described as: A demonstrates an excellent level of performance, B demonstrates an above average level of performance, C demonstrates an average level of performance, D demonstrates a below average level of performance, F demonstrates a failing level of performance.Fifty percent of a school’s Letter Grade comes from the students’ passing rate on AIMS. Additional points are available for students passing the language proficiency assessment and reducing the number of students in the lowest AIMS category (Falls Far Below). The other 50 percent comes from the average growth percentile of students on AIMS. To determine the growth percentile, an individual student’s growth is compared to that of “academic peers.” Academic peers are students who have similar test scores on AIMS in prior years. Students who score better on AIMS than their academic peers from the prior to current years receive higher growth percentiles. SCHOOL   2014
Results DeGrazia Elementary School   B Estes Elementary School   B Thornydale Elementary School   B Butterfield Elementary School   B Roadrunner Elementary  School   D Desert Winds Elementary School   B Ironwood Elementary School   B Quail Run Elementary School   B Coyote Trail Elementary School   B Picture Rocks Intermediate School   C Twin Peaks Elementary School   A Rattlesnake Ridge Elementary School   B Marana Middle School   B Tortolita Middle School   B Marana High School   B Mountain View High School   B

  • Fresh is the best

    Every Thursday Continental Ranch hosts their own farmers market. For four hours, between 25-35 vendors serve up a wide variety of goods and crafts. There is everything from fresh produce to custom jams and jellies to hand crafted jewelry. There is a massage chair, homemade soaps and a vendor selling cowboy hats. You can pick up grass fed steaks, high-end cookies and even get a crepe.Some of the vendors are Marana-based, while most are from elsewhere in southern Arizona and do three to five farmers markets a week.  “It’s a real good market because it is a neighborhood market,” said Bob Meyers of San Rafael Grass Fed Beef, who also happens to be one of the purveyors of the farmers market.The crowd is very mixed. You get a combination of retirees and parents with small children. On this particular Thursday there were a number of people in their workout clothes, just getting done with a run or a lift.For area resident Jennifer Folino it was a nice outing for her and her three children. It was only the second time she had come out to the market, and the first since school let out. She picked up some local honey, some baked goods for the kids and also caught a quick massage on her way out. 

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