The Explorer: Marana


Recent Headlines

  • Marana Police creates new physical fitness program

    Marana Chief of Police Terry Rozema has instituted a new wellness program for the Marana Police Department.  This program is unique, because traditionally very few police agencies across the country have an established fitness or wellness program.  “The public has a reasonable expectation that those of us who protect them are competent and capable. Therefore it’s incumbent on leadership to continually look for ways to ensure our personnel are mentally, emotionally and physically prepared to provide a level of service that exceeds expectations. The Marana Police Department’s new “Fit for Duty” program is an additional element of our ongoing efforts to provide our community with the best police service possible and give our employees everything they need to carry out their responsibilities with excellence,” said Rozema.The purpose of the program is to encourage the Department’s sworn officers to maintain healthy levels of fitness.  Police Officers need to be physically fit to deal with the physical demands of the job.  Officers are also historically prone to heart disease, diabetes, stroke, and a myriad of other health related problems.  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’s legal department because they have been validated as being job related for law enforcement officers.  The program is voluntary for officers to participate in and officers can earn rewards based on their performance.  The program consists of the following - Agility Course, 300 meter run, maximum bench press, push ups, sit ups, vertical leap, and a 1.5 mile run.

  • Continental Ranch works to save agave plants

    The Continental Ranch Homeowners Association (HOA) has been able to turn a negative into a positive. When many of their agave plants were infested with agave snout weevils, the HOA found a way to repurpose one type of plant.Agave snout weevils or agave borer weevils attack agave plants, boring holes on the plant and leaving a bacterial secretion in the holes which begins a rotting process in the plant. The weevils then lay their eggs in the holes and when they hatch, the babies eat the rotten part of the plant. Generally a plant infested with weevils does not survive. Rob Palfreyman and the rest of the landscape committee discovered that many of the agave plants around Continental Ranch had been attacked by the insects, but Josh Seng of the Continental Ranch Community Association noticed the octopus agaves that they planted did not get attacked by the pests. When the octopus agaves flower they send up a stalk that has a number of golden flowers but also have seed capsules and bulbis or “pups”. These pups are basically baby plants. The downside of the octopus agave, and all other agaves, is that they die after flowering, so the landscape committee had the idea of taking the pups and replanting them.“Someone on the committee, I wish I could say it was me, had the idea that we should harvest them,” Palfreyman said, “We wanted a way to give back to the community.”

  • Banner Health to acquire UA Health Network

    Phoenix-headquartered Banner Health has reached an agreement with the University of Arizona Health Network (UAHN) and the University of Arizona (UA) to create a statewide health care organization and a comprehensive model for academic medicine. The agreement would have Banner Health acquire two hospitals in Tucson — the UA Medical Center-University Campus at 1501 N. Campbell Ave., and UA Medical Center-South at 2800 E. Ajo Way, and also make a commitment of $500 million toward capital projects at those hospitals.Banner Health is the largest health system in the state and operates 16 hospitals in Arizona, with its closest to Tucson being Banner Casa Grande Medical Center, which Banner Health took over in June.As part of the 30-year agreement and in support of the UA College of Medicine in Phoenix, Banner Health also would turn Banner Good Samaritan Medical Center in Phoenix into a faculty-based medical center. In addition it would provide “substantial” financial support for the UA College of Medicine.Banner Health said it anticipates generating approximately $1 billion in new capital, academic investments, and other consideration to the University and the Tucson area.The agreement came after votes by the UAHN and Banner boards of directors in support of proceeding with negotiations, and a vote by the Arizona Board of Regents (ABOR) to authorize UA to also move forward with UAHN and Banner. A Banner statement noted the parties will work together toward final definitive agreements, which are anticipated to be completed and signed in September. The definitive agreements also must be approved by ABOR and the boards of directors of UAHN and Banner. 

  • Drywall falls and injures three

    Northwest Fire District crews were dispatched to a reported building collapse at 3912 W. Ina Road shortly after 2:00pm on Monday. The shopping center (Embassy Plaza Shopping Center)) is a strip mall style shopping center that has two main buildings.  The buildings are connected by the breezeway where the incident occurred. A full alarm was dispatched to the scene including specialized building collapse equipment on board the technical rescue truck. When the first engine arrived within 4 minutes they were able to quickly determine that drywall had collapsed from the breezeway roof area but that no structural damage or collapse had occurred.Three of the suits of the strip mall along the breezeway area are occupied by the Department of Economic Security (DES).  4 people that were waiting in the breezeway for appointments at the DES office were struck by the thick drywall that fell approximately 15 feet down from the ceiling area.  2 of the patients (a 35 year-old female and a 58 year-old male) were treated at the scene and transported to a local hospital for treatment of injuries that are described as minor and non-life threatening.  A third person was treated at the scene by Northwest Fire paramedics and released. The fourth person struck by the drywall denied any injury.Building officials from the Town of Marana believe that wind gusts may have brought air into roof vents causing a pressure increase in the attic space of the breezeway.  This pressure increase from winds in the area may have caused weakened and aged drywall to loosen from the nails that are used to install the drywall causing it to fall.  Water from recent rains was ruled out as a cause of the collapse.The breezeway was secured by caution tape to prevent anyone from entering the hazard area.  Property management staff was at the scene and working with investigators from the Town of Marana Building Department to determine the cause and begin the process of demolition and repair of the affected area.  The DES offices will remain open.  Staff from the office has asked that clients use the rear entrance of the offices until repairs are made. 

  • Three Points man found dead in abandoned well

    Chief Deputy Chris Nanos advises on July 2, 2014, Sheriff’s Department Homicide detectives were in the desert area on Phillips Road west of Sierrita Mountain Road conducting follow-up on a missing person. During their investigation, they located a deceased male in an abandoned well approximately twenty five feet down.He was later identified as 75-year-old William Sattler. He died from a single gunshot wound to the abdomen.Detectives from the Robbery/Assault Unit, Burglary Unit, and Night Detective Squad responded to assist the Homicide Unit. They served multiple search warrants at various locations. One person, identified as 51-year-old Donald Stewart was taken into custody for questioning. He was later transported to the Pima County Adult Detention Complex and booked on one count of First Degree Murder.The Sheriff’s Department Search and Rescue Unit, Pima Regional Bomb Squad, and Northwest Fire Department assisted in extracting the victim out of the well.The victim’s name will be released pending next of kin notification. Anyone with information regarding this incident is urged to call 9-1-1 or 88-CRIME.

  • Resident recalls nine-year service in Air Force

    Mary Ferris came to Oro Valley in 1985, by way of Boston, by way of Madrid, Spain, by way of Goose Bay, Labrador, by way of St. Paul, Minnesota— and a few other places in between.Over her 83 years, Mary has quenched again and again her thirst for world travel, thanks not only to her husband’s work in the hospitality industry but the career she held herself before their marriage: as a nurse in the U.S. Air Force.During her nine years in the military, Mary served stateside and overseas, achieved her goal of being a flight nurse, and, with her wings, tended to wounded special forces men in the early days of America’s involvement in the Vietnam War.On the lighter side, she took advantage of the “hops” the Air Force made available, seeing Hong Kong, Thailand and Hawaii. While serving in Japan, she climbed Mount Fuji. Travel opportunities spurred her to join the military and decades later remain among her fondest memories.It started in 1954, when Mary was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the Air Force. She had earned her bachelor’s degree in nursing three years prior from the College of St. Catherine, now St. Catherine University, in her hometown of St. Paul and worked at a civilian hospital at first. But she was an adventurous and spirited young woman. She wanted to see the world, meet new people, and find out more about herself, having grown up as an only child.“I was given a lot of love and a lot of care and got so much attention that I kind of wanted to go out and see what I could do on my own,” she said.

  • Monsoon season to have late start

    Although it is technically monsoon season, there has been nothing more than scant traces of rain. If the National Weather Service’s projections are accurate, Southern Arizona may not see a lot of rain in July either.However, local fire officials say that is no reason not to be prepared for when the afternoon storms finally do roll in.According to the National Weather Service, July is expected to be average to below average in total rainfall, but August and September could be wetter than normal thanks to El Niño.“The forecast is calling for a slow start to things in July,” said Ken Drozd, the warning coordinator meteorologist for the National Weather Service in Tucson. “There are indications it could pick up in August and September.”The cause of the wetter end to monsoon season is El Niño, which is above-average surface temperatures in the Eastern Pacific, specifically off the coast of Mexico. “Technically for it to be an El Niño, the average temperatures have to be over half a degree Celsius threshold for five consecutive three-month periods.”Although an El Niño does not necessarily mean that things will be wetter, this year they are projecting more storms off the coast of Mexico and Central America, and the remnants from those storms should bring more moisture than normal to Southern Arizona. The El Niño conditions, as well as projected shifting winds, could mean the storms winds, could mean the storms come further north before they dissipate.

  • Marana council discusses new police station

    In a special worksession on June 24, the Marana Town Council discussed building a new police station, the Heritage Park Arena and a new water/sewer system.New Water SystemThe council backed a plan to use impact fee funds to support the development of a new water system on Tangerine Road, east of Interstate10. The hope was this development would aid future development along the Tangerine Road corridor.John Kmiec, the town’s utilities director, said there have been discussions with Tangerine Business Park and the Marana Technology Campus to share in the cost of the town building infrastructure that will supply water to the east Tangerine corridor.There were two options being considered. The option that placed the well closer to the reservoir was chosen because it saves energy costs. The council voted unanimously to approve the use of impact fees and to continue to negotiate with developers on their contributions to the project.Police Station

  • Marana resident retires after 20 years in Air Force

    The Fourth of July is always a big deal for Marana resident Carlos Diaz and his family, but this year it is extra special. Every year the family throws a big party, but this year they will be celebrating more than just Independence Day, they will also celebrate Carlos’ retirement from the U.S. Air Force.“I could have retired on June 1, but I asked to stay on one more month so it would coincide with the Fourth,” Diaz  said.Technically his last day was June 30, when there was a nice ceremony for him, on his final day after 20 years in the military.Diaz was a pilot in the Air Force and the dreams of flying military planes began early on. He was an 11-year old Boy Scout at an air show in Washington. An F-15 screamed by, full after-burner and he decided that is what he wanted to do.“I turned to my dad and said ‘I want to fly jets when I grow up,’” Diaz explained.As he got older he lost sight of the dream. It was the 80’s after all and he, like so many others at the time, were conditioned to think that corporate America was the best path to go.

  • Fourth of July events

    Fireworks planned in Oro ValleyThe Hilton Tucson El Conquistador Golf & Tennis Resort, the AAA Four-Diamond resort located in the shadows of Pusch Ridge.Resort guests and locals alike are invited to celebrate Independence Day with Hilton Tucson El Conquistador Golf & Tennis Resort’s Stars and Stripes Classic BBQ event. Attendees will enjoy two live concerts, featuring Kaci Bays and Ken Martinson from 6 to 7 p.m. and country singer Marnie Chastain from 7 to 9 p.m. Throughout the event, the resort’s culinary team will be cooking-up a buffet-style BBQ feast featuring baby back ribs, southwestern green chili pork, gourmet hamburgers and hot dogs, roasted chicken, veggie burgers, tamales, served alongside an array of seasonal salads, side dishes and desserts. At 9 p.m., the resort will light-up the Tucson skies with a 30-minute spectacular fireworks show.The event is open to the public, with non-resort guest tickets available for $48 for adults, $20 for children ages 5-12, with no charge for children under the age of five. Ticket prices include taxes and gratuity, and advanced reservations are strongly recommended as the event is expected to sell-out.To purchase tickets, call the resort concierge at 520-544-1244 or visit the resort’s El Conquistador Country Club location at 10555 N. La Canada Drive, Oro Valley.The event will be held Friday, July 4 between 6 and 9:30 p.m., gates open at 5:30 p.m. for event parking.

  • Pima County to acquire Painted Hills acreage

    Pima County has reached a tentative agreement to purchase 286 acres in the Tucson Mountain Foothills for $7.5 million, pending approval of the Board of Supervisors. The deal also requires the city of Tucson’s acquiescence to a 2004 open space bond amendment reallocating funds to cover part of the payment.The county has long sought the Painted Hills property, first attempting to acquire it with money allocated in the 1997 bond election. That money ended up acquiring a smaller parcel nearby. The county tried again in 2004 with open space acquisition funds from that year’s bond election but again was unsuccessful. Subsequent to that effort, the property has been sold a few times, finally ending up in the hands of the Dallas Police and Fire Pension System. Attempts by the pension system to develop the property over the last six years met a number of stumbling blocks, mostly over access to water lines.The pension fund purchased the land in 2006 for about $94,400 per acre. The county could acquire it for about $26,200 per acre. The county intends to use the 2004 bond funds to make a $3 million initial payment this year and then will pay $1 million a year for five years. With interest, the total purchase cost is roughly $8.3 million. However, that interest cost could come down some as the county hopes to use proceeds from a planned 2015 bond election, if voters approve, to pay off the balance in 2016. Absent further bond funds, the county may use proceeds from the Starr Pass Environmental Enhancement Fund, which is a 20-year, roughly $17 million agreement between the county and the Star Pass resort and homes developer to use a percentage of Starr Pass sales proceeds for environmental protection in the Tucson Mountains. Beginning in 2016, the county’s percentage of proceeds from that fund increases and should provide slightly more than $1 million a year. Other funds may be available for the purchase if necessary, Pima County Administrator Chuck Huckelberry told the Supervisors in a memo.“This acquisition, if approved, is a significant expansion of open space in the Tucson Mountains. It essentially extends the Tucson Mountain Park into the urban area, and will greatly expand our natural resource protection in the Tucson Mountains and add to our hiking and natural recreation opportunities in the park,” Huckelberry said.The property is wedged between Speedway Boulevard to the north and Anklam Road to the south a couple of miles west of Pima Community College’s West Campus. A southeastern spur of the Painted Hills parcel along Anklam Road is near the historic 23-acre Mary Henderson property, which the county acquired from the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum a few years ago.

  • Marana Facility joins Adopt-a-Roadway program

    The Marana Community Correctional Treatment Facility recently teamed up with the Town of Marana to keep the community clean.“We’re extremely pleased to be part of the Adopt-a-Roadway program,” said Warden Jeremy Casey. “We believe in having a positive social impact on the communities in which we work and live. We are proud to be part of such a great effort to keep our community clean.”Staff members and offenders from the Marana facility will donate their time to keep a two-mile stretch of Silverbell Road clean. Signs have been placed at both ends of the two-mile stretch indicating the area that will be maintained by the Marana Community Correctional Treatment Facility.

  • Marana resident recalls 28-year career from Vietnam to military intelligence and service under two generals

    In a time of controversy at home and war on foreign soils, Marana resident Tom Hayden didn’t have to receive a draft notice to go into the military. Right out of high school, Hayden joined the U.S. Army and began a 28-year career that involved two tours in Vietnam, military intelligence, managing security for a four-star general and serving as a teacher to many soldiers.“I knew I didn’t want to go to college,” he said. “This was what I wanted to do.”Once enlisted, Hayden began what would become an illustrious career that took him through many countries, much of the U.S. and trained him to eventually continue serving the greater good in Southern Arizona. Hayden currently serves as the training director for the High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA).Hayden wasn’t a soldier that would be immediately sent into war. After basic, besides marrying wife Peggy, he was also on a career path to take him into one of the toughest programs in the Army.The Officer Training Unit (OTU) was developed in 1965 to train officer cadets  to provide platoon commanders for units serving overseas in Vietnam and other parts of Southeast Asia. It was a rigorous six-month program that could break any man, as Hayden noted, many soldiers did struggle and there were some tough days.“After my first day, I remember staring up at the bunk and I asked myself, ‘What did I get myself into,’” he said. “That first day my quarters were on the third floor, but it seemed like it took me hours to get up there because every time I turned around I was being told to drop and give some sergeant pushups.”

  • Marana School District capital improvement survey results

    The Marana Unified School District recognizes that excelling schools create strong communities and strong property values. Ensuring that our students have a 21st century learning environment that inspires them to achieve academic and personal excellence requires the District to plan for our future capital needs. To that end, a community-driven Capital Improvement Plan Committee was formed and a Capital Improvement Survey was developed to engage our entire community in a conversation about the District’s future facility and operational needs to best meet projected growth, while using tax dollars responsibly.Designed and administered by independent technology and communications firm K12 Insight, the Capital Improvement Plan survey was open March 6-31, and had more than 2,900 participants. To ensure widespread participation and candid feedback, the survey was available in both English and Spanish, and paper copies were made available to participants who did not have Internet access.There are a number of notable survey findings including:•         89% of participants support funding for individual school needs such as classroom improvements, instructional technology, school buses, and cafeteria and athletic renovations.•         80% of participants support the construction of a new STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) Academy.•         Over 75% of participants support the construction of a new elementary school.

  • ATV collision kills driver

    On June 28, 2014, at approximately 11:30 p.m., Tucson Mountain District deputies responded to Ina Road and Ellexson Drive reference a single vehicle collision. When deputies arrived, they learned 38-year-old Geneva McClean left a birthday party driving southbound on Ellexson Drive on an ATV. She drove through the intersection at Ina Road and collided head on with a brick and mortar mailbox. Deputies performed life saving measures on Ms. McClean until the Picture Rocks Fire Department arrived and took over. She was transported to the trauma center where she was pronounced deceased. The Sheriff’s Department Traffic Unit responded and took over the investigation. Ms. McClean was not wearing a helmet and alcohol may have been a factor in the collision. 

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