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NewsNet 12-12-14

RTA BOARD ENDORSES CITY'S RECOMMENDATION TO WIDEN BROADWAY TO SIX LANES - The Regional Transportation Authority Board (RTA) yesterday approved $1.5 million in funding for the City of Tucson to proceed with the roadway corridor design to widen Broadway Boulevard from four to six lanes, from Euclid Avenue to Country Club. The design will include bus pullouts, bike lanes and sidewalks. The RTA plan allocates $42,120,000 to the Broadway project. Another $26,222,000 will come from regional funds, including $25 million from 1997 Pima County Transportation Bonds, and $3 million from the City of Tucson via already-collected impact fees. The estimated cost to complete the design and final alignment of the corridor, including right-of-way research and estimating, is $2.5 million. The City of Tucson is contributing $1 million to complement the RTA's $1.5 million. Read the news release.

PLENTY OF DOWNTOWN PARKING FOR 2nd SATURDAYS AND 4th AVENUE STREET FAIR - Depending on the weather, this weekend will be busy in the downtown area and along 4th Avenue, but there are plenty of places to park. The Centro, Depot Plaza and Pennington Street garages all are within walking distance of the Sun Link Tucson Streetcar. The Fourth Avenue Merchants Association is no longer running free shuttles from the Main Gate and Pennington Street garages to the fair, due to the existence of the streetcar. The 4th Avenue Winter Street Fair is open from 10 a.m. - 6 p.m. today through Sunday, and 2nd Saturdays Downtown begins tomorrow with gallery shows at 9 a.m. Live entertainment has been canceled at the main stage due to the rainy weather forecast, but some performers and vendors may be at the Ronstadt Center if it doesn't rain. Visit @2ndSatTucson on Twitter for updates.

PUBLIC MEETINGS CONTINUE FOR INPUT ON POSSIBLE CHARTER CHANGES - Tucson's Charter Review Committee is asking for public comments as it reviews and makes recommendations about possible amendments to sections of the Tucson City Charter. A public meeting will be held Monday at 4 p.m. at City Hall (255 W. Alameda, 1st floor). Potential amendments to the City Charter may be on the Nov. 3, 2015 City ballot. All comments should be made via email to the City Clerk’s Office, cityclerk@tucsonaz.gov.

HOW TO KEEP YOUR REAL CHRISTMAS TREE FROM DRYING OUT OVER THE HOLIDAYS - Real Christmas trees bring the holiday spirit to life for many, but they start to dry out as soon as you take them home. In this week's "No Bad Days with Barrett" on KGUN9, Tucson Fire Captain Barrett Baker has a few safety tips to keep your holiday from going up in smoke, such as keeping your tree away from heat sources and candles.

REDUCE CLUTTER AND GO PAPERLESS WITH CITY E-BILLING - Go paperless with your Utility Services Statement. Set up an eBill account to pay your bill, get notification of your billing statement, view water usage, and read Tucson Water's newsletter.
Enroll in eBilling:

NewsNet 12-11-14

FOURTH AVENUE STREET FAIR BEGINS TOMORROW - The Fourth Avenue Winter Street Fair opens tomorrow and runs through Sunday, 10 a.m. - 6 p.m. each day. The event takes place on Fourth Avenue between Ninth Street and University Boulevard. The street fair includes more than 400 arts and crafts booths, more than 35 food vendors, street musicians, food, jugglers, street performers, and a hands-on art pavilion for kids. There also will be face painting, balloons, demonstrations, sidewalk entertainment, and other activities. For the first time, you can ride the Sun Link Streetcar to the fair. Please note there will be temporary route adjustments. The streetcar will operate on the east end of the route from the eastern terminus at Helen Street to University Boulevard and Third Avenue and back. On the western terminus, streetcar will operate from Avenida del Convento through downtown to Fourth Avenue and Eighth Street and back. Sun Tran buses will be used to shuttle streetcar passengers from temporary end point stops at Fourth Avenue and Ninth Street, and University Boulevard and Third Avenue. Follow the links below for more information and a map of the route adjustments.

SUN LINK STREETCAR JOINS 'STUFF THE BUS' EVENT - Sun Tran and KGUN 9 News are partnering again this holiday season for the annual “Stuff-the-Bus” event benefiting the Salvation Army’s Christmas Gift Distribution Program. This year, Sun Link will be part of the annual event by stuffing a streetcar. Tucsonans are encouraged to donate new, unwrapped toys for children 12 and under. Cash donations also will be accepted. This year’s event will be held from 6 a.m. to  6 p.m. tomorrow at two Walmart stores (Speedway/Kolb and Arizona Pavilions) and the streetcar stop at Helen Street and Warren Avenue.

TCC READIES FOR ARENA GRAND REOPENING - The Tucson Convention Center (TCC) is less than a month away from unveiling the complete $7.8 million renovation of the arena. In this video, Tucson 12 shows some of the new additions and the outlook for the future from those who played a part in the project. The public unveiling and celebration of the renovated TCC is set for Saturday, Jan. 3, with an 8 p.m. concert by the Beach Boys. Tickets are still available at the TCC Ticket Office, 260 S. Church Ave., and Ticketmaster.

SOUTHWEST NUTCRACKER HAS THREE PERFORMANCES AT TCC MUSIC HALL - This original full-length classical ballet translates the traditional Nutcracker to Tucson in the 1880s, complete with coyotes, cavalry, and rattlesnakes. The Saturday and Sunday performances feature a live orchestra, colorful costumes, professionally designed sets, and dancing. Tickets are available at the TCC Ticket Office, 260 S. Church Ave., and Ticketmaster. Read the TCC event description.

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 12-10-14

MAINSTREET PROGRAM EARNS COMMON GROUND AWARD - The Regional Transportation Authority's (RTA) MainStreet business assistance program, which provides free consulting services to businesses located within a quarter-mile of RTA projects, was recognized for its efforts with a Common Ground Award from the Metropolitan Pima Alliance (MPA). "For the past seven years, the Tucson Department of Transportation has relied heavily on the expertise of MainStreet's business assistance staff to help mitigate the impacts that our roadway improvement projects have on local businesses," said TDOT Director Daryl Cole. "Local businesses are the fuel that feeds the economic engine of our community, and our partnership with MainStreet is responsible for making sure our community continues to thrive down the road."
 
CITY COUNCIL DOESN'T RAISE BUS FARES, BUT CHANGES SOME ROUTES - The Tucson City Council yesterday voted 5-2 to adjust a handful of bus routes that would save the City about $110,000 dollars for the rest of this fiscal year and $264,000 next fiscal year. When the current year's budget was written, it factored in $1.2 million in transit savings through fare hikes and route adjustments. To cover the resulting budget gap, the City will apply gas savings and push some purchase contracts into the next fiscal year, Interim City Manager Martha Durkin told the Council. Mayor Jonathan Rothschild and Councilman Steve Kozachik cast the dissenting votes. Read the agenda materials.
 
CITY OF TUCSON HOLDS WORKSHOPS ON LICENSE AND SALES TAX REPORTING - Learn your rights and responsibilities for Transaction Privilege (sales) Taxation by attending a Tax and License Workshop sponsored by the City of Tucson Finance Department. Questions will be answered, and written materials will be available. Samples of sales tax records, worksheets, and monthly returns will be explained. You should bring a calculator and a pencil. A workshop for retail and contracting questions will be held tomorrow, 10:30 a.m. -  noon, at the Martha Cooper Branch Library, 1377 N. Catalina Ave. Another workshop will be held Thursday, Dec. 18, 10:30 a.m. - noon, at the Eckstrom-Columbus Branch Library, 4350 E. 22nd St. Read the news release.
 
LECTURE TONIGHT ON GEOTOURISM - Hear about a new vision of Southern Arizona as a destination for international tourism by preserving and celebrating our region’s unique culture heritage, history, geology and biodiversity. University of Arizona College of Science Dean Joaquin Ruiz will speak from 6-7:30 p.m. at the Playground Bar and Lounge, 278 E. Congress St. Tonight's lecture is presented by the UA Confluencenter for Creative Inquiry as part of its Show & Tell series.
 
'HOT SHOT HOOPLA' THIS WEEKEND - City of Tucson Parks and Recreation and USA Youth Sports are hosting the 2nd annual "Hot Shot Hoopla" basketball competition on Saturday. Contestants will be given two one-minute rounds to shoot from six spots to accumulate their highest score. All participants will receive a ticket to the Jan. 3 University of Arizona Women’s Basketball game. Players will be grouped based on age and gender. Participants must be 12 and under and register onsite from 8-9 a.m. at the Randolph Recreation Center, 200 S. Alvernon Way. The registration fee is $1, and the competition is limited to the first 100 kids. Read the news release.

NewsNet 12-09-14

CITY RECEIVES 'PROJECT OF THE DECADE' AWARD FOR STREETCAR - The Metropolitan Pima Alliance (MPA) recently presented the City of Tucson with the "MPA Project of the Decade" award for the Sun Link Tucson Streetcar. The streetcar was honored as one of 22 exceptional projects in the community during the MPA's 10th annual Common Ground Awards ceremony last week. The awards honor community leaders, projects, and events that overcame great obstacles through collaboration. The $196 million streetcar project, co-managed by the City of Tucson and the Regional Transportation Authority, is considered to be Tucson’s largest and most-complex transportation construction project in city history.
 
RESIDENTS NEAR RAILROAD TRACKS MAY GET SOME QUIET - The Downtown Links construction project will upgrade four railroad crossings in the downtown area. Part of the third phase of the project, set to begin in 2016, includes installing new safety features to four rail crossings, and that would make the area eligible to be a federally-approved “quiet zone” where trains wouldn’t have to sound their horns as much. The upgraded crossings at Main Avenue, Fifth Street, Ninth Avenue, and Seventh Avenue will have additional fencing, lighting, and signage to warn pedestrians of approaching trains. The crossing at Sixth Street will be eliminated completely and replaced with an underpass. When all of the work is finished, the City of Tucson can submit a proposal to the Federal Railroad Administration to have the quiet zone approved. Read more from the Arizona Daily Star.
 
TUCSON POLICE FOUNDATION AWARDED GRANT TO TEACH TEENS HOW TO DRIVE - State Farm Insurance will present the Tucson Police Foundation (TPF) with an $18,750 grant at a presentation tomorrow at 4:30 p.m. The TPF and the Tucson Police Department (TPD), in partnership with State Farm Insurance, run the Safe Teen Accident Reduction Training (START) classes. They say motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for U.S. teens. Seven teens between the ages 16 to 19 die every day from motor vehicle injuries. START training classes take place on a closed course at the Southern Arizona Law Enforcement Training Center in Tucson. Classes are taught by TPD professional driving instructors. The four-hour classes are offered at no charge, with a suggested donation of $50 to the Tucson Police Foundation.
 
JOB OPPORTUNITY: TUCSON WATER SYSTEM OPERATOR
- Tucson Water is recruiting for three Water System Operator positions in the Instrumentation & Control Section of potable, reclaimed water systems. The section is responsible for the central control operations of the potable and reclaimed water systems. Rotating shifts, weekends, and holidays are mandatory. Experience and certifications are required. The application deadline is Dec. 31. Read the job description.
 
WATCH A FOX CHASE BUBBLES - Fennec fox Amir is a demonstration animal at Reid Park Zoo. He is featured in education programs and presentations, and educators keep him socialized by interacting with him frequently. In this session (see video), Amir gets some exercise, and some fun, by playing with bubbles.

NewsNet 12-08-14

FOURTH AVENUE STREET FAIR TO ADJUST STREETCAR ROUTE - The Fourth Avenue Street Fair runs this Friday through Sunday, with more than 300,000 people expected to attend. To accommodate the street fair booths, there will be a temporary route adjustment for the Sun Link Tucson Streetcar, and Sun Tran buses will be used to shuttle streetcar passengers from temporary end point stops at Fourth Avenue and Ninth Street, and University Boulevard and Third Avenue. The streetcar will operate on the east end of the route from the eastern terminus at Helen Street to University Boulevard and Third Avenue and back. On the western terminus, the streetcar will operate from Avenida del Convento through downtown to Fourth Avenue and Eighth Street and back. Read the news release.
Map of route adjustments and shuttle bus route and stops
 
AGENDA SPOTLIGHT: GATEWAY HACIENDA ANNEXATION DISTRICT - A public hearing will be held at tomorrow's Mayor and Tucson City Council Regular Meeting regarding the proposed annexation of nine acres of vacant land at the southeast corner of River Road and Hacienda Del Sol Road. The area is slated to be the future home of Hacienda at the River, a state-of-the-art site with adult assisted living, nursing care, a medical office, and a hospice facility. The new development is anticipated to create 167 jobs, 52 of which will pay more than $55,000. View tomorrow's Mayor and Council agenda, and watch a Tucson 12 video about how annexation works.
 
SENIOR OLYMPIC FESTIVAL REGISTRATION UNDERWAY - Tucson Parks and Recreation presents the 31st Annual Senior Olympic Festival, Jan. 12 - Feb. 1, at several venues throughout Tucson. The festival is a celebration to promote fitness, health, and an active lifestyle among adults 50 years of age and older. Some of the events include volleyball, bowling, bridge, racquetball, basketball shoot, pickleball, archery, golf, tennis, horseshoes, badminton, and more. You can register through Dec. 31 (link below). You also can register between Jan.1-10, but there will be a $3 per event late fee. More than 2,000 people are expected to participate in the competition. Read the news release for registration details, and watch Tucson 12 video of the training for the games.
 
ELEMENTARY SCHOOL LUNCH WASTE GOES GREEN - Every day, Manzo Elementary School students sort their leftovers into compostables, recyclables, chicken food, or trash, minimizing the TUSD school's contribution to the waste stream. In addition, fellow students run and supervise the process from start to finish, which is considered an honor. Composting is one area the City of Tucson is using to divert waste from landfills. The City's Environmental Services Department collects food scraps from local restaurants and grocery stores as part of Compost Cats, in partnership with the University of Arizona. Watch a short video (via Facebook) of the sorting process at Manzo.
 
FROM THE ARCHIVES: CAPTAIN AWESOME!
- Join an artist and her partner, a size 3T superhero, on their adventures at Tucson's playable parks. This video was produced last year by Tucson 12.

NewsNet 12-05-14

CITY SEEKS COMMISSION MEMBERS TO REVIEW AND RECOMMEND SALARIES FOR MAYOR AND COUNCIL - The City of Tucson is accepting applications for the Citizens' Commission on Public Service and Compensation, a panel that reviews and recommends salaries for the Mayor and Tucson City Council. Commission members serve a two-month appointment and must be registered voters living within Tucson city limits. They cannot be employees of the City of Tucson, nor a parent, sibling, spouse, child, or dependent relative of an officer or employee of the City. The Commission’s salary adjustment recommendations may be placed on the Nov. 3, 2015 election ballot. To nominate a person, or for more information, please contact Monica Perez in the City Manager's Office, 791-4204. The deadline to apply is Friday, Dec. 19. Read the news release.

REID PARK ZOO HOPES TO SET ATTENDANCE RECORD - Reid Park Zoo is hoping to set a new record for its highest annual attendance. The previous record of 606,884 occurred in 2012 following the opening of the Zoo’s state-of-the-art Expedition Tanzania exhibit. With already 535,887 visitors to the Zoo through the end of November, the record is well within reach. The Zoo is particularly popular this year due to the Aug. 20 birth of Nandi, the baby African elephant. A mild winter that started off the year also brought more people than normal to the Zoo, and camel rides are now being offered. Reid Park Zoo officials also expect big crowds at this year's Zoo Lights celebration, which begins tonight. Zoo Lights will be open from 6-8 p.m. every night, through Dec. 23, with an encore Dec. 26-28. Admission is $6 for adults and $4 for children under the age of 14. Zoo members receive special discounts, including 50 percent off from Dec. 5-11.
 
DECORATE FOR THE HOLIDAYS WITH SAFETY IN MIND - If you'll be one of the many people decorating for the holidays soon, keep in mind that Christmas lights run a lot of extra electricity through your home, potentially creating hazards. In this week's "No Bad Days With Barrett" on KGUN9, Tucson Fire Captain Barrett Baker demonstrates how to hang decorations for a safe and happy holiday.
 
WRIGHTSTOWN LANE CLOSURE POSTPONED - The bank protection project on East Wrightstown Road, originally scheduled for today, has been postponed due to yesterday's storm. Crews from the City of Tucson Department of Transportation Streets and Traffic Maintenance Division will conduct the bank protection work when the saturated wash bank dries out. The work will take place on the south side of East Wrightstown Road between Sarnoff Drive and Camino Seco. When the work begins, the eastbound travel lane on Wrightstown Road will be closed. Since that part of  Wrightstown Road has one travel lane in each direction, motorists will use a single lane for both eastbound and westbound travel. Flaggers will be present to help direct traffic through the work zone. Read the news release.
 
NEED HELP STARTING OR EXPANDING A BUSINESS IN TUCSON? CALL THE SMALL BUSINESS ASSISTANCE LINE - The City of Tucson's Small Business Assistance Line, (520) 837-4100, is available from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. Help is available in both English and Spanish. Staff from the City Manager's Office of Economic Initiatives answer the calls. The Small Business Assistance Line is one of a number of City initiatives, along with 21 new business incentives, streamlined permit processes and more, to make the City of Tucson more business-friendly.

NewsNet 12-04-14

HOUGHTON ROAD CORRIDOR OPEN HOUSE NEXT WEEK - The public is invited to attend an open house for the Houghton Road Corridor Project, part of the overall Regional Transportation Authority (RTA) plan to improve Houghton Road from Tanque Verde Road to Interstate 10. The open house will be held Monday, from 6-7:30 p.m. at Pantano Christian Church, 1755 S. Houghton Road. At the meeting, the status of street lighting planned along the Houghton Road Corridor will be reviewed, and Tucson Department of Transportation (TDOT) staff will be available to answer questions about City policy and plans. A general update on the Houghton Road Corridor also will be discussed. Read the news release.
 
TODAY'S WEATHER IDEAL FOR RAINWATER HARVESTING - Today's rainfall will provide an ample supply of water for those who practice rainwater harvesting. Capturing the rain for outdoor water irrigation minimizes potable water use. Tucson 12 shows you the harvesting process and the rebates to help you along. Contact Tucson Water at (520) 791-4331.
 
REID PARK ZOO TO BE ADORNED WITH CHRISTMAS LIGHTS - Reid Park Zoo tomorrow opens it annual display of Christmas lights. Zoo Lights will help put you in the holiday spirit, with jingle bells, twinkling lights, falling snow, and Santa. Light displays, animal-themed light sculptures, and thousands of sparkling bulbs are part of the annual holiday tradition. Free cookies will be provided each night, and hot cocoa is available for $1. Zoo officials say animals will have access to heated night houses for this event, and will likely choose to be off exhibit. Starting tomorrow, Zoo Lights will be open from 6 p.m. - 8 p.m. every night, with an encore Dec. 26-28. Admission is $6 for adults and $4 for children under the age of 14. Zoo members receive special discounts, including 50 percent off from Dec. 5-11.
 
JOB OPPORTUNITY: TUCSON POLICE OFFICER RECRUIT - The Tucson Police Department (TPD) is accepting applications for the position of Police Officer Recruit. Successful candidates from this testing period will be considered for any funded academy class(es) within the next six months. The earliest academy that will be filled from this list is April 2015, but the date may be adjusted if necessary. The application deadline is Dec. 18. Read the official job description from City of Tucson, and ride along with an officer who gives advice about joining TPD, from Tucson 12 archives.
 
COMMEMORATIVE TREE DEDICATION FRIDAY - Tucson Clean & Beautiful, in cooperation with the City of Tucson and Pima County, will dedicate commemorative trees along the Pantano River Park. Each tree to be dedicated has been purchased by Tucson area residents, honoring friends and family. The dedication ceremony will include a reading of the names for whom trees have been dedicated, along with names inscribed at the nearby Children’s Memorial Garden. At the conclusion of the ceremony, attendees are invited for a brief walking tour of the newly-dedicated trees. The dedication will be held from 11 a.m. - noon tomorrow at Pantano River - Garden of the Families, 2500 S. Pantano Parkway (west side of Pantano Parkway, south of Golf Links Road). Read the news release from Tucson Parks and Recreation.

NewsNet 12-03-14

TUCSON'S STREETCAR GETS NATIONAL ATTENTION - The Sun Link Tucson Streetcar is a little more than four months old, but it's serving as an example for cities and others interested in that mode of travel. Shellie Ginn, who manages the streetcar project for the City of Tucson, appeared yesterday on the national radio show Here & Now, a two-hour public radio production of NPR and WBUR in Boston. She said the streetcar created more than $1 billion in public and private investment, and ridership along the nearly 4-mile route is higher than expected. “So, typically where you have transit streetcar stops or light rail stops, those are areas where you’ll have a lot more businesses and developers interested in developing along that line because they know it’s an infrastructure that’s a permanent infrastructure and it’s not easily removed," she said. "When you have rail on the line and you’ve got stops, you’ve got a lot of banks and businesses that want to take the chance on opening a business on something that they know is going to stay there permanently.” Listen to the full interview from WBUR.
 
TRAFFIC ALERT: WRIGHTSTOWN ROAD LANE CLOSURE THIS WEEK - Crews from the City of Tucson Department of Transportation Streets and Traffic Maintenance Division will be conducting bank protection work Friday (9 a.m. - 4 p.m.) on the south side of East Wrightstown Road, between Sarnoff Drive and Camino Seco. The eastbound lane on Wrightstown will be closed to travel in the area. Since Wrightstown is one travel lane in each direction at that location, motorists will be sharing one lane for both eastbound and westbound travel. Flaggers will help direct traffic through the work zone. The project is scheduled to be completed in one day. Read the news release.
 
HOCKEY RETURNS TO TCC THIS WEEKEND - Arizona Wildcat Hockey takes to the ice this Friday and Saturday at the Tucson Convention Center (TCC). The games begin at 7:30 p.m. Both games are against ASU D1. Tickets are available at the TCC Ticket Office and Ticketmaster.
 
REGISTRATION DEADLINE APPROACHING FOR 'SANTA'S HOLIDAY EXPERIENCE' - Monday is the last day to register for "Santa's Holiday Experience" for kids. Participants will create an art project featuring a snowman, play reindeer games, bake with Mrs. Claus, have storytime with elves, and have their picture taken with Santa (bring your own camera). The event will be held Dec. 13 at the William Clements Regional Center, 8155 E. Poinciana Dr. Walk-in registration is required, as is a cash-only payment of $5 per person.
 
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 iPhone App Store and Google Play for Android.
Watch a University of Arizona Athletics PSA about the app.

NewsNet 12-02-14

GET A FREE BIKE LIGHT TONIGHT AT 'LIGHT THE NIGHT'  - Living Streets Alliance is partnering with the City of Tucson Bicycle & Pedestrian Program and the Pima Association of Governments to give away bike lights to people without them. Not only do bike lights improve visibility for both cyclists and others on the street – it's the law that bicyclists have them. Starting tonight at 5 o'clock, Tucson Mayor Jonathan Rothschild and Pima Association of Governments’ (PAG) Executive Director Farhad Moghimi will give away light sets, helmets, maps, and safety literature at the intersection of North Campbell Avenue and East 3rd Street, one of the most popular bikeways in the region. Since October, more than 400 light sets and 65 free helmets for youth have been distributed to promote bicycle and pedestrian safety.
 
CITY SUBMITS PROMISE ZONE APPLICATION - The City of Tucson, in collaboration with Pima County and the City of South Tucson, has submitted an application for the Obama Administration's Promise Zone competition. Promise Zone communities work together with the federal government to promote economic opportunity and accelerate economic growth in high-poverty areas by receiving preferred access to certain competitive federal investments, federal staff to help implement goals, and five full-time AmeriCorps VISTA members to recruit and manage volunteers. At least eight urban, rural, or tribal communities are expected to be named Promise Zones from this second round of designees. Read the White House news release.
 
CITY OFFERS HOLIDAY SHOPPING DEALS ON SURPLUS ITEMS - Need some jewelry for a Christmas gift? How about a Xbox or an iPod to keep your kids busy? Maybe a motorcycle is a better fit for someone on your list? You can find these items and more on the City of Tucson's surplus auction website. This holiday season the City will auction Rolexes, a Gibson Les Paul guitar, Louis Vuitton shoes, bikes, car stereos, and more. Most of the auctioned items come from unclaimed merchandise confiscated by the Tucson Police Department, with the rest comprised of City surplus equipment and unclaimed lost-and-found items. Read more from the Arizona Daily Star.
 
ELEPHANT BABY PHOTO CONTEST ENDS THIS WEEK - The Reid Park Zoo's Facebook photo contest to find the best picture of Nandi, the baby African elephant, ends Thursday. Enter your photo for a chance to win a behind-the-scenes tour of the Zoo. On a related note, the BuzzFeed website ranks Nandi 34th in its "37 Cutest Baby Animals Photos of 2014."
 
FOOD NETWORK PERSONALITY HEADING TO TUCSON - Alton Brown is coming to Tucson next March for his traveling culinary variety show called "The Edible Inevitable Tour." As part of his travels across the United States, Brown is asking Twitter and Facebook users to use special hashtags to make suggestions about the best places to eat. For Tucson, he's asking people to use the hashtag #ABRoadEatsTucson. Brown will be appearing at Centennial Hall on March 22, 2015. 

NewsNet 12-01-14

NEW PARKING METERS DOWNTOWN - Downtown Tucson now has 21 new "smart parking meters," which accept coins, credit cards, debit cards, and will soon accept stored value cards. A new smartphone app will be available soon that will allow parking customers to pay through their cell phones. The new meters relay data to Park Tucson to monitor meter operations, revenue, occupancy, and other data to assess future parking needs. The solar-powered meters at Pennington Street and 6th Avenue are the first of more than 850 parking meters expected to be installed downtown this month, with another 200 at Main Gate Square and locations near the University of Arizona campus. Next month, more than 350 meters will be installed in the 4th Avenue business district. More information about how to use the meters is at the Park Tucson website.
 
TUCSON NAMED A BEST CITY FOR HOTEL VALUE - The hotel-booking site Trivago names Tucson as one of the top 50 destinations in its "U.S. Best Value Cities for 2015" index. Tucson - the only Arizona city on the list - ranks 31st in the survey, with an average hotel room rental rate of $104 for a standard double room. The German-based website says Trivago is the world's largest online hotel search site. Read more from KTAR.
 
CATCH UP ON CITY NEWS YOU MAY HAVE MISSED - You may notice some changes the next time you play at a City golf course; a new pocket park opens to the public; and thanks to a community effort, residents are enjoying a new playground. Those stories are featured in the latest edition of Tucson City News in Review, produced by Tucson 12.
 
'BUY LOCAL MONTH' UNDERWAY - While today is "Cyber Monday," a state organization is encouraging you to patronize local businesses. Local First Arizona, a nonprofit advocacy group, says that when you shop at locally-owned businesses, your money is recirculated, creating up to 75 percent more tax revenue to our community and state. Buy Local Month began last Friday and runs through Dec. 24. Many local businesses have special deals for consumers participating in Buy Local Month. Read more from the Arizona Daily Star.
 
FOOD SAFETY FOR THE HOLIDAYS - With the holidays upon us (and maybe some leftover Thanksgiving food in the refrigerator), now is a good time to brush up on food safety. In the latest edition of "No Bad Days with Barrett" on KGUN9, Tucson Fire Captain Barrett Baker explains the importance of safe food preparation and proper handling of leftovers.

NewsNet 11-26-14

TUCSON WATER RECEIVES DESIGNATION OF ASSURED WATER SUPPLY - The Assured Water Supply (AWS) program is designed to sustain Arizona's economic health by preserving groundwater resources and promoting long-term water supply planning. Before developers in the Tucson Water service area can record plats or sell parcels, the City must demonstrate a 100 year supply of water to meet current and future growth water demands. The State of Arizona recently issued the City a Designation of Assured Supply for approximately 183,000 acre-feet/year of available water supply through 2025. That exceeds Tucson's projected demands of approximately 155,000 acre-feet/year, which puts the City in a strong position to support future population growth and economic development.
 
RECYCLE YOUR TURKEY GREASE TO HELP KEEP THE ENVIRONMENT CLEAN
- The Day-After-Thanksgiving Grease Collection and Recycling event will be held this Friday. The annual event benefits the community by keeping grease out of our sewers. The collected grease is recycled into biodiesel, a cleaner burning fuel for the environment. The Pima County Regional Wastewater Reclamation Department and its partners will collect grease from 9 a.m. - 1 p.m. at five drop-off locations.
 
HOLIDAY ARTS & CRAFTS FAIR THIS WEEKEND - As the holiday shopping season is about to begin, the Tucson Parks and Recreation Department is offering an alternative to the busy stores. The annual Holiday Arts & Crafts Fair will be held this Saturday and Sunday in Reid Park, 22nd Street and Country Club Road. The free event will be held west of the DeMeester Outdoor Performance Center from 9 a.m. – 4 p.m. each day. More than 100 vendors will be on hand from all over the Southwest, ranging from artists, crafters, photographers, painters, potters, jewelers and more. The Thanksgiving weekend fair has become a tradition for many holiday shoppers for more than 20 years. See artists' original designs, including delicate beading, steampunk jewelry, teapot wind chimes, handcrafted masks, colorful mosaics, sun catchers, and one-of-a-kind ceramics. Food and refreshments from local vendors will be available for purchase.
 
TUCSON COMMUNITY BUILDS NEW PARK PLAYGROUND IN ONE DAY (VIDEO)
- La Madera Park is sporting a new playground today, thanks to neighbors, volunteers, The City of Tucson, KaBOOM!, Humana, and Lend a Hand Senior Assistance. The all-ages redesign of the park at 2700 E. La Madera Drive was finished earlier this month. The one-of-a-kind, multi-generational playground was created using drawings and other input from community members, including children and seniors. The new design is senior-focused with adult elements, including fitness stations and walking paths to promote good posture, balance, and flexibility. There also is traditional, kid-friendly equipment that creates a multi-generational space. Tucson 12 captured some of the sights and sounds of the design phase and construction.
 
HAPPY THANKSGIVING FROM NEWSNET - The staff at NewsNet wishes all of our readers a happy Thanksgiving! We wish you all the best this upcoming holiday season. We'll be off tomorrow, but will be back Friday with a special edition highlighting some of the great stories that happened this year at Reid Park Zoo. You'll learn more about a big baby that's capturing the hearts of Tucson (and the nation), and we'll even tell you about a little baby...the newest resident of the Zoo.

NewsNet 11-25-14

CALL CENTER EXPANSION TO CREATE HUNDREDS OF JOBS - APAC Customer Services says a major expansion will bring more than 1,100 jobs to Arizona, with 700 full-time positions coming to Tucson. The Chicago-based call center made the announcement yesterday with the Arizona Commerce Authority and Tucson Regional Economic Opportunities, Inc. They say the move will be a major boost to the Tucson-Phoenix “Sun Corridor.” APAC serves customers in a broad range of industries, including healthcare, financial services, technology, communications, and travel and hospitality industries. APAC already ranks 24th among Southern Arizona’s largest employers, with 1,904 full-time equivalent employees at the start of the year, according to a survey by the Arizona Daily Star.

MEXICAN CONSULATE READY FOR IMMIGRATION CHANGES - The Mexican government announced yesterday that the 50 consulates in the United States are prepared to help those who qualify for executive action on immigration. Currently, the government is running a national help line out of Tucson. Once President Obama's action begins next year, the consulate will provide free legal advice, workshops, and the waiving of document fees. Officials say the goal is to provide information through trusted sources, so that immigrants don't fall victim to fraud or abuse. Read more from the Arizona Daily Star.

TRANSIT ON HOLIDAY SCHEDULE THURSDAY: READY FOR GAME FRIDAY - Both Sun Tran and the Sun Link Tucson Streetcar will be operating on a Sunday schedule on Thanksgiving Day, and Sun Express routes will not be in operation. Regular service will return Friday. On Friday, football fans can ride the Sun Link Tucson Streetcar to the University of Arizona football game. Prior to the 1:30 p.m. rivalry game against Arizona State University, fans can experience dining, entertainment, and retail opportunities at Main Gate Square, Fourth Avenue, Downtown Tucson, and the Mercado District, and then board the streetcar to the UA from any one of the 23 stops along the 3.9-mile route. Once on campus, Arizona Stadium is a short walk from the Second Street and Cherry Avenue stop. Fans also can park in one of the many garages downtown and take the streetcar to the game to avoid UA congestion. Beginning at 10:30 a.m., the Pennington Street Garage is offering discounted parking fees when you ask for the "Park, Dine, and Ride" bundle, which includes a Sun Link Day Pass and parking.
UA Parking and Transportation football information

JOB OPPORTUNITY: ENVIRONMENTAL SERVICES EQUIPMENT OPERATOR - This position primarily is responsible for the collection of trash and recycling using trucks operated by hydraulic systems. City of Tucson Environmental Services has multiple positions available for qualified individuals with solid waste collecting experience and the skills to operate front loaders, automated side loaders, roll-offs, rear loaders, skid steers, and other collection and hauling equipment. The application deadline is Dec. 7. View the job description.

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 11-24-14

HOW TO PREPARE YOUR PIPES FOR FREEZING WEATHER - A Freeze Watch is in effect for the Tucson area overnight, and Tucson Water is recommending that residential and business customers insulate exposed water pipes, plumbing, and backflow assemblies as part of their preparation for winter. You can wrap exposed pipes and plumbing with insulation available at plumbing supply and home improvement stores. In a pinch, you also can wrap your exposed pipes with towels and blankets. Tucson Water has tips and videos to help you get ready for winter.
Watch a demonstration video from Tucson 12
 
FINALISTS NARROWED DOWN FOR JAN. 8 MEMORIAL - The January 8th Memorial Foundation has chosen four finalists to submit competing proposals for the design of a permanent, outdoor memorial at El Presidio Park in Downtown Tucson. The memorial will honor the six people killed on that day and the 13 who were injured at the 2011 Congress on Your Corner event that was hosted by Gabrielle Giffords, who was among the injured. Firms submitted statements of interest, past work examples, and preliminary renderings of how they might design the memorial. About half of the 60 submissions were from companies based in Arizona, but Ibarra Rosano Design Architects is the only Tucson firm to be named a finalist. Read more from the Arizona Daily Star.
 
TRASH AND RECYCLING DELAYED A DAY THIS WEEK FOR MANY CUSTOMERS - Thanksgiving will be observed this Thursday, and residential and commercial trash and recycling will not be collected on that day. All City of Tucson customers with Thursday or Friday collections will have their trash and recycling services delayed by one day, and the Los Reales Landfill will be closed on Thursday. Except for emergency services, all City of Tucson offices also will be closed on Thanksgiving.
Download "My Waste" app
 
DOWNTOWN PARADE OF LIGHTS ACCEPTING ENTRIES - The Downtown Tucson Partnership is inviting individuals and community groups to participate in the Downtown Parade of Lights, presented by Carondelet St. Mary’s. This year marks the 20th year of the parade, which attracts about 20,000 spectators. The festivities will be held on Saturday, Dec. 20, and entries to take part in the parade must be submitted by Dec. 5.
 
SUNGO CARDS ACCEPTED ON BOTH SUN LINK STREETCAR AND SUN TRAN BUSES - The SunGO card is the best way to pay fares when riding public transit in Tucson. The card works on both the Sun Tran bus system and the Sun Link Tucson Streetcar. A SunGO card with unlimited rides for a month is just $42. If you're an occasional rider, you can load the SunGO card with a cash value to pay the $1.50 one-way fares whenever you use transit. In addition, there are many discounts available for students, low-income residents, senior and others. If you ride the streetcar, you must have a SunGO card, or purchase a day pass with cash or a credit card from a vending machine at the stop. Cash is not accepted on the streetcar.
How to Ride streetcar
Cómo Viajar video

NewsNet 11-21-14

EL TOUR DE TUCSON TRAFFIC RESTRICTIONS - Downtown Tucson will be the site of the El Tour de Tucson start/finish line tomorrow. The event will encompass the entire region with a 107-mile bicycle ride/race, meaning traffic will be restricted at various times in many parts of the city. Beginning tonight at 6 o'clock, Sixth Avenue will be closed between 12th and 13th Streets and will remain closed until late tomorrow afternoon. Beginning at 5 a.m. tomorrow, Sixth Avenue will be closed from 13th Street to 22nd Street, and 22nd Street from Arizona Avenue to Mission Road will be reduced to one travel lane in each direction. Left turns will be not be permitted. Also tomorrow, Grande Avenue will be closed between Congress Street and 22nd Street from 5 a.m. to 5 p.m. The eastbound I-10 frontage road also will be closed between Cushing Street and 22nd Street. These streets will reopen by late afternoon, after the last rider has finished. More than 6,000 bicyclists are expected to take part in El Tour. Read more on traffic restrictions.
 
PRESIDENT OBAMA TAKES ACTION ON IMMIGRATION
- President Obama last night announced his executive action on immigration, halting deportations of nearly 5 million undocumented immigrants. Key components of Obama's announcement include placing a greater emphasis on securing the border, prioritizing immigration resources on deporting felons, halting deportations for parents of U.S. citizens, and providing an accountability program for long-term residents who are undocumented, but have significant family ties. The president's action does not provide a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants, nor does it allow access to the Affordable Care Act. Read more from the the White House blog and the Associated Press via the Arizona Daily Star.
 
ZOO EXPERT/TV CELEBRITY PRAISES CITY'S REID PARK ZOO - Through his two TV shows and late-night TV talk show appearances, Jack Hanna is a familiar name among wildlife lovers and the zoo community. The Director Emeritus of the Columbus Zoo was in Tucson yesterday releasing bighorn sheep into the Santa Catalina Mountains and recording footage at the Reid Park Zoo for a TV show that will air in the spring. Hanna took some time out of his schedule to speak with Tucson 12 about the great work being done at Tucson's zoo, while also discussing the financial impact and quality-of-life zoos bring to their communities.
 
TIPS TO STAY SAFE WHEN FRYING A TURKEY - If you plan to fry your Thanksgiving turkey, please be aware that there are several safety steps you need to take to prevent injury to yourself and others. In this week's "No Bad Days with Barrett" on KGUN9, Tucson Fire Department Captain Barrett Baker offers some tips to keep your holiday celebration away from the emergency room.
 
HOW TO REPORT TRANSPORTATION CONCERNS - Is there a pothole you'd like to see fixed? Is a street sign missing? Is a tree limb hanging too close over a roadway or sidewalk? You can report these issues to the Tucson Department of Transportation (TDOT), (520) 791-3154, or email the exact location to tdotsr@tucsonaz.gov. You also can use the SeeClickFix website and app for Android and iOS.

NewsNet 11-20-14

ABANDONED SHOPPING CART PROGRAM TURNS ONE YEAR OLD - It has been a little more than a year since the City of Tucson's Environmental Services department began collecting abandoned shopping carts reported via phone and the "My Waste" smartphone app. When the Mayor and Tucson City Council approved the program in October 2013, City staff estimated it would cost $40,000 for the first year, but that amount turned out to be less than $5,500 paid to the contractor. In the past year, 1,222 carts have been collected, mostly from Walmart, Fry's, Walgreens and Albertsons. If you see an abandoned shopping cart, please call 791-3171 or use the app to report it.
Watch a PSA about how the program works
 
EL TOUR HEALTH EXPO UNDERWAY AT TCC
- The El Tour Bicycle, Fitness & Health Expo opened this morning at the Tucson Convention Center (TCC) and will stay open until 9 p.m. The two-day, free event leads up to Saturday's big cycling race. The Expo is a trade show with cycling and health-related vendors and exhibitors. In addition, cyclists will be picking up their rider packets, timing devices and other items. The event is open to the public. The start and finish line for Saturday's Special Olympics El Tour de Tucson is located at Armory Park, across the street from Children’s Museum Tucson, on South 6th Avenue at 13th Street. Read more from Tucson News Now.
 
NANDI CELEBRATES 3-MONTH BIRTHDAY - Reid Park Zoo's baby elephant is three months old today. Nandi weighs more than 465 pounds, and she received her first vaccine (tetanus) last Thursday. Nandi is still figuring out how to manage the 40,000 muscles in her trunk, entertaining visitors to the Zoo. The Zoo is having a Facebook photo contest to find the best baby picture.
Read more from the Nandi Notebook in the Arizona Daily Star.
 
HOW TO PROTECT YOUR HOME FROM BURGLARS - With the holidays approaching, it's a good time to make sure your home is burglar proof. In a video produced by Tucson 12 back in 2011 (link below), the Tucson Police Department shares tips to protect your residence.
 
FOLLOW THE PROGRESS ON THE DOWNTOWN LINKS PROJECT
- The City of Tucson and the Regional Transportation Authority (RTA) have a Downtown Links website to give citizens information and updates on one of the largest transportation projects in Tucson. The $76 million project will result in a four-lane roadway north of the Union Pacific Railroad that will link Barraza-Aviation Parkway and Interstate 10, Broadway Boulevard with 4th Avenue, and downtown with the neighborhoods to the north. Downtown Links also will provide alternate access to downtown, new and safer underpasses and railroad crossings, and improved sidewalks and bike paths.

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