City News

Saguaro National Park East July Program Schedule

Saguaro National Park East is offering a variety of hikes and talks this summer that explore the park’s wonderful natural and cultural histories. Program listings also are available on the park’s website, www.nps.gov/sagu/index.htm , or visit them on Facebook. Interpretive programs are free, but park entrance fees apply. Program schedules are subject to change; call the visitor centers for updates or reservations.

Saguaro National Park East July Program Schedule

Saguaro National Park East is offering a variety of hikes and talks this summer that explore the park’s wonderful natural and cultural histories. Program listings also are available on the park’s website, www.nps.gov/sagu/index.htm , or visit them on Facebook. Interpretive programs are free, but park entrance fees apply. Program schedules are subject to change; call the visitor centers for updates or reservations.

NewsNet 06-23-14

NEW MOVIES RETURNING TO DOWNTOWN AFTER 40-YEAR ABSENCE - The Screening Room, 127 E. Congress St., will begin showing current movie releases next month as Grand Cinemas takes over daily operations from the nonprofit Arizona Media Arts Center. The theater also will show independent films and will continue to host the annual Arizona International Film Festival, said Grand Cinemas managing partner Kent Edwards. In addition to plumbing and electrical upgrades, the $100,000 renovation project includes a new state-of-the-art screen and seats, an expanded snack bar, and a $45,000 HD digital cinema projector like the ones used by large multiplex companies. The theater will seat 120 people. The news is the latest in Downtown Tucson revitalization, fueled by the Sun Link Tucson Streetcar. Over the past two years or so, dozens of new restaurants and clubs have opened in the area. A grocery store is set to open in December and there are plans for a new hotel. Read more from the Arizona Daily Star.

REFUND OF ILLEGAL TAX COLLECTION FOR SOUTH TUCSON TAXPAYERS UNCERTAIN - The City of South Tucson collected about $1.8 million from its residents over the past three years, even though it has been determined that the secondary property tax collection was illegal, because it wasn't submitted to voters for approval. Although the Pima County Treasurer’s Office collected South Tucson’s secondary property tax and the Pima County Board of Supervisors approved the tax valuations and assessments, neither had the legal responsibility to check that the City received the required approval from voters. The budget the South Tucson City Council approved Wednesday ended the tax, but elected officials and administrators stopped short of calling for refunds to taxpayers. The $10.2 million budget for the fiscal year that begins July 1 includes several tax and fee increases to compensate for the approximately $600,000 hole created by eliminating the secondary property tax. Read more from the the Arizona Daily Star.

HOME SALES STRONG ON TUCSON'S SOUTHSIDE - Three southside ZIP codes registered the highest percentage of homes sold in May that were on the Tucson Association of Realtors Multiple Listing Service (TARMLS). The Association reports home sales were highest in the ZIP Codes of 85706, with 48.8 percent of listings sold, 85756 at 47.3 percent, and 85746 at 34.6 percent. A contributing factor could be price, TARMLS President Kim Clifton said, pointing to declining May sales in higher-priced Marana, Oro Valley and Sahuarita. Read more from Arizona Public Media.

EL TOUR RECRUITING CHILDREN TO BICYCLE FOR HEALTH - The Jr. El Tour Youth Cycling program is putting together a coed team of children between the ages of 10 - 12 who are interested in cycling to improve their health. Priority will be given to children who are in need, overweight, not very active, or at risk for health problems. The kids will learn cycling techniques, safety, sports nutrition, and exercise. Training sessions are three times per week for the first 12 weeks, culminating in a 40-mile ride in the El Tour de Tucson bicycle event in November. Jr. El Tour is a nonprofit program of the Perimeter Bicycling Association and is supported by grants and donations. Participation is free for those accepted into the program. Read more from the Arizona Daily Star.

DOWNLOAD APP TO REPORT GRAFFITI IN TUCSON - Graffiti Protective Coatings and the City of Tucson have a smartphone application for reporting graffiti. MyTucson is a free download on the iOS App Store and Google Play for Android.
City of Tucson apps
Watch a University of Arizona PSA about the app

NewsNet 06-20-14

CITY ISSUES NONPROFIT A TEMPORARY PERMIT TO HOUSE MIGRANT CHILDREN - Southwest Key yesterday was issued a Temporary Use Permit to provide shelter services to unaccompanied migrant children. Southwest Key is contracted by the federal government to shelter the children - mostly from Central America - who have been coming across the border. Southwest Key has been readying a building north of downtown for several weeks.

ARIZONA PREPARES TO BORROW TO PAY UNEMPLOYMENT BENEFITS - New projections show that cash flow problems with Arizona's unemployment insurance trust fund will last longer than expected, so the State is preparing to borrow again to keep paying unemployment benefits. The fund collects money from employers’ payroll taxes and pays unemployment benefits to laid-off workers. The trust fund was one of the healthiest in the nation in the mid-2000s, but was completely depleted — and then some — by the length and depth of the recession. Arizona was one of 36 states that borrowed from the federal government last year to pay unemployment benefits. The State also temporarily increased employers’ taxes in 2011 and 2012 and tightened eligibility for benefits. Last year, the State borrowed $200 million from a private lender so it could repay the government loan without paying interest fees or letting businesses take a federal payroll tax hike. That loan was paid off last month. Read more from the Arizona Daily Star.

ARIZONA'S UNEMPLOYMENT RATE FELL A BIT IN MAY, BUT JOB LOSSES PLENTIFUL - Last month's jobless rate in Arizona was 6.8 percent, down from 6.9 percent in April, and down 1.2 percent from May 2013. Arizona's jobless rate is still above the national average of 6.3 percent. Despite the numbers, the Arizona Office of Employment and Population Statistics reports employers shed 15,000 jobs in May, the worst showing for that month since 2009. Government losses in May were especially heavy, and many private-sector employers pulled back as well. Part of the reason for the seemingly-conflicting statistics is that the jobless rate is based on a separate survey than job growth. Read more from azcentral.com.

17TH ANNUAL DÍA DE SAN JUAN FIESTA SET FOR TUESDAY - The annual tradition of celebrating the beginning of the “season of monsoon rains” continues Tuesday from 5 p.m. - 10 p.m. at Mercado San Agustin, 885 W. Congress St. Local tradition hails St. John the Baptist as the one who brings the rain, kicking off the monsoon in the Old Pueblo. The Fiesta will feature a procession, live music and dance, food, arts and crafts, games, activities for children, and free water and watermelon. The free event is non-alcoholic and boasts a family-friendly atmosphere.

SMOKING IS STILL LEADING CAUSE OF FIRE DEATHS IN THE UNITED STATES - Fire officials say most fires caused by smoking occur when a smoker falls asleep or improperly discards of a used cigarette. Tucson Fire Captain Barrett Baker says if you must smoke, follow safety precautions to protect you, your family and your home.

NewsNet 06-19-14

CONSTRUCTION UNDERWAY ON NEW TUCSON AIRPORT TOWER - Tucson International Airport soon will have the newest air traffic control tower in the United States...a far cry from what is now the second-oldest in the country. Officials broke ground yesterday at the future site of the 252-foot tower. The new control tower will be twice as tall as the current one built in 1958. Tucson Airport Authority President and CEO Bonnie Allin says the iconic tower will be preserved for other yet-to-be-determined uses. The new tower will be built on the south side of the airfield with a 13,000-square-foot base and adjacent 1,600-panel solar farm to generate part of the facility’s electricity. The Federal Aviation Administration is spending $42 million on the project, which is expected to take about two years to complete. Read more from the Arizona Daily Star.

TEXTING WHILE DRIVING LISTED AS TOP RISKY BEHAVIOR FOR TEENS - The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says more than 40 percent of the teens they surveyed reported that they had texted or emailed while driving. Meanwhile, The City of Tucson urges our citizens to recognize the potential for tragedy associated with texting while driving, which is illegal in city limits. In addition to risking their own lives and the lives of others, motorists caught texting while driving are subject to a $100 fine, which increases to $250, if involved in an accident. Read more from Tucson News Now.
Anti-texting while driving PSA video from Tucson 12
View the video in Spanish

ENDANGERED SPECIES FOUND SPAWNING AT GRAND CANYON - The razorback sucker, an endangered fish species believed missing from Grand Canyon National Park since the 1990s, has been found spawning in the lower Colorado River. Researchers recently discovered larval razorback suckers in the river that runs through the Grand Canyon, U.S. Department of the Interior officials said yesterday. The razorback sucker, which can grow to up to three feet in length and live 40 years or more, was once abundant throughout the Colorado River and its tributaries from the Green River in Wyoming to the Gulf of California. Due to habitat changes and non-native species in the river, the razorback sucker recently was known to occur only in the Lake Mead National Recreation Area on the Arizona-Nevada border. The National Park Service and U.S. Bureau of Reclamation released nine adult razorback suckers on March 16 in the Colorado River within Grand Canyon National Park. The larval fish were first detected April 14 and again in multiple samples later in April and last month, officials said. Read more from the US Department of the Interior.

SUMMER SAFARI NIGHTS CONTINUE TOMORROW AT REID PARK ZOO - Enjoy the Zoo and cooler evening temperatures at a series of themed nights featuring different zookeeper chats, animal encounters, artifact stations, enrichment-making activities, crafts, and scavenger hunts. The event runs every Friday, from 5:30 p.m. - 8 p.m., through July 11. Tomorrow night's theme is Positively Pachyderm Night, featuring elephants and rhinos. Meet the elephant family and their keepers. You also can watch a training demonstration, see elephants swimming, and watch them enjoy frozen treats.  View the schedule and admission prices at Reid Park Zoo.

SEE VINTAGE TUCSON POLICE VEHICLES ONLINE - "Throwback Thursdays" is a popular social media trend where people and businesses post pictures from the past. The Tucson Police Department went way back into its past for today's Facebook posting, showing vintage police vehicles from many years ago. In fact, the photos are so old, they aren't even in color! View the photos at TPD's Facebook page (also shared on City of Tucson's Facebook page)

ADOT Survey - Dust Storms

The Arizona Department of Transportation (ADOT) invites you to participate in an important online survey. The survey, which is being released during Monsoon Awareness Week, focuses on driver awareness of and first-hand experiences with driving in Arizona dust storms. Your input will help ADOT identify opportunities to improve communications to drivers.

The survey has been completed and is no longer available.

NewsNet 06-18-14

PIMA COUNTY APPROVES $1.18 BILLION DOLLAR BUDGET WITH PROPERTY TAX INCREASE - The Pima County Board of Supervisors yesterday adopted the 2014-15 budget. The $1.18 billion spending plan includes a 62-cent increase per $100 of assessed value in the primary property tax rate. For the owner of a $146,000 home — the average for Pima County — the tax increase will cost a little more than $90 a year. As part of the package, County employees will receive a 50-cent-per-hour pay raise. The board approved the budget, with Republican Supervisors Ray Carroll and Ally Miller voting against the measure. Read more from the Arizona Daily Star:.

MAYOR AND COUNCIL APPOINT INTERIM CITY MANAGER - The Mayor and Tucson City Council yesterday voted unanimously to appoint Assistant City Manager Martha Durkin as the Interim City Manager after current Manager Richard Miranda retires July 31. Durkin has worked in City and County government since 1984. The Council plans to conduct a national search for a permanent City Manager and will discuss the recruitment and selection process at a special meeting on June 30th. Read more from Arizona Public Media.

'THERE’S NO BACKDROP THAT SAYS DESERT QUITE LIKE (TUCSON'S) 100 SQUARE MILES OF TOWERING SAGUARO CACTI' - Zoomer Magazine mentions Kitt Peak National Observatory, Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum, Pima Air & Space Museum, Titan Missile Museum, Saguaro National Park, El Charro Café and Tucson Lazydays KOA as some of the reasons to visit Tucson. Zoomer describes itself as catering to the "discriminating 45-plus demographic," with articles on travel, lifestyle, health, money, and more. Tucson is continually featured in travel magazines, websites, and newspaper articles touting the city's great climate, bicycling, recreation, restaurants and general high quality of life.

MOVIES IN THE PARK SERIES CONTINUES AT REID PARK - Looking for some family-friendly entertainment on Friday nights over the summer? Movies in the Park, a Tucson summer staple since 2003, returns Friday at Reid Park with a free showing of "We Bought a Zoo." Residents are invited to bring blankets and chairs to enjoy a free movie every other Friday at the Demeester Performing Arts Pavilion, 900 S. Randolph Way. The events begin at 5:30 p.m. with live music, jumping castles, balloon animals, and arts and crafts exhibits from nonprofits. Popcorn, soda, and food truck vendors also will be available for an additional charge. The Movies in the Park program is hosted by Cox Communications and the Southern Arizona Arts and Cultural Alliance. Read more from Tucson News Now.

GET THE LATEST TUCSON NEWS AND INFORMATION ON FACEBOOK AND TWITTER - "Like" the City of Tucson on Facebook to get the latest news, community updates and fun facts about Tucson local government and our community. You can also "Follow" the City of Tucson on Twitter for timely, concise updates throughout the day.

NewsNet 06-17-14

ONLINE NEWS SITE: TUCSON ONE OF '10 BEST CITIES IN THE U.S. FOR PEOPLE WHO LOVE TO RIDE' - Tucson regularly earns national and international recognition for being a bike-friendly community. The latest shout-out is from Bustle, an online news site "for and by women who are moving forward as fast as you are." It has included Tucson as one of the "10 Best Cities in the U.S. for People Who Love to Ride" bicycles and gives Tucson a number seven ranking. It mentions Tucson’s year-round warm weather and 700 miles of designated bike paths, making it an "ideal cycling city for diehards and dalliers alike." Read more at Bustle.com.

EFFORT TO LEGALIZE MARIJUANA IN ARIZONA WILL NOT APPEAR ON NOVEMBER BALLOT - Safer Arizona, a cannabis-reform political-action committee, says it has stopped collecting signatures for its 2014 ballot initiative to legalize marijuana. The volunteer-driven initiative fell well below the 250,000 signatures necessary to get on the ballot, said Mikel Weisser, executive director for Safer Arizona. The organization lacked the funding and the manpower to collect all the required signatures, he said. Read more at from azcentral.com.

HUMANE SOCIETY STOPS ACCEPTING DOGS FOR ONE WEEK - The Humane Society of Southern Arizona (HSSA) has stopped accepting dogs because of an increase in the number of cases of fatal distemper being discovered. HSSA says it needs a week to clean and sanitize the shelter. Officials say the shelter will begin accepting dogs again on June 23. In the meantime, they ask people to drop off canines at the Pima Animal Care Center. HSSA says there is no medication for the highly-contagious distemper virus that affects eye membranes and respiratory, gastrointestinal and central nervous systems. Dogs brought in with the virus have been euthanized. Distemper can be prevented with a vaccine. Read more from the Arizona Daily Star.

ADOT LAUNCHES NEW DRIVER LICENSE, NEW APPLICATION PROCESS - As of yesterday, drivers applying for a new driver's license or identification card will use an updated process and receive a newly-designed license. Drivers visiting a Motor Vehicle Division office to get a new driver license now will leave with a temporary credential. The permanent license will be mailed to the customer within 15 days. The Arizona Department of Transportation (ADOT) has launched an innovative, high-security credential format. Arizona is following a change occurring across the nation by many states with the production of a driver license with a background that contains numerous security features. Older driver's licenses or ID cards remain valid until their expiration dates - or at least until the 12-year mark when the photo needs to be updated.

CITY OF TUCSON REMOVING ABANDONED SHOPPING CARTS - If you see a shopping cart off store property, abandoned along the street, or sitting in a wash, please call the City of Tucson's Environmental Services (ES) department to have it removed. You can call Customer Service at (520) 791-3171 or use the 'My-Waste'™ app and choose the Report a Problem option. Watch a PSA about how the program works.

NewsNet 06-16-14

CHINESE COMPANY TO BUY RECYCLED PRODUCTS FROM TUCSON - A Chinese company has entered into an agreement to buy the junk mail, cardboard boxes and newspapers that get thrown into the City's blue recycling bins. America Chung Nam Inc., or ACNI, will buy up to 100 ocean containers filled with recyclable paper each week. The goods will move from the Port of Tucson to China, where they will be turned into new paper. “This is a big economic development tool for our region,” said Stefan Baumann, director of business development for the Port of Tucson. He said some companies relocated to California to be close to the coast and keep transportation costs low. “Now we are like the Los Angeles port, but dry.” The Port of Tucson is an inland port that can service ocean freight. Read more from the Arizona Daily Star.

SILVERBELL ROAD IMPROVEMENTS OPEN HOUSE TONIGHT - The Tucson Department of Transportation and the Regional Transportation Authority (RTA) will host an open house tonight to discuss the landscape design and public art for the Silverbell Road improvements. The meeting runs from 6 p.m. - 7:30 p.m. at the El Rio Neighborhood Center, 1390 W. Speedway. The project, which is part of the voter-approved RTA plan, will widen the stretch of North Silverbell between West Grant and West Goret roads to four lanes while adding pedestrian facilities, bicycle lanes, drainage improvements and native landscaping. Read more from the Arizona Daily Star.

CITY OF TUCSON AND UA TO COLLECT FOOD SCRAPS -  The City of Tucson and the University of Arizona will begin a pilot program June 30 that will collect food scraps from local restaurants and grocery stores to be used for compost. The scraps will be delivered to a compost facility operated by the UA Compost Cats on Tohono O'Odham Nation land. The City recently entered into an Intergovernmental Agreement with Compost Cats to divert food scraps and green waste. The compost is sold at Farmers' Markets and is used by the Tohono O’Odham Nation and the City’s Parks and Recreation Department. Food scraps represent a significant portion of the City's organic waste generation. Tucson's Environmental Services department will evaluate whether commercial businesses, such as grocery stores and restaurants, generate enough food scraps to develop a cost effective collection program. Read the news release.

TUCSON SOCCER ACADEMY COMPETING IN REGIONALS IN NEW MEXICO - The Tucson Soccer Academy's 98 Boys Red team is playing in this week's Region IV Championships in Albuquerque, following a second consecutive title win against powerhouse programs in Arizona. "The biggest thing they have going for them is chemistry," said Head Coach Jeff Rogers. "They all get along, they're good friends on and off the field, and the dynamics of the players have all come together and they mesh together in a really special way." The championships are expected to draw more than 4,500 players and an estimated 15,000 spectators. The U.S. Youth Soccer Region IV Championships consist of championship teams from 14 state associations.

Sixth Avenue Underpass Closure

Crews from the Tucson Department of Transportation (TDOT) Streets and Traffic Maintenance Division will be performing maintenance work on the Sixth Avenue Underpass downtown to prepare the underpass for repainting. 

Because of this work, beginning Monday, June 16, 2014 through Friday, June 20, 2014 Sixth Avenue at the underpass will be closed daily from 7 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.  Motorists, bicyclists and pedestrians will be prohibited from using the underpass during the work hours.

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