City News

NewsNet 06-25-14

PHOENIX HEALTH NONPROFIT COMPANY READY TO TAKE OVER UA HEALTH NETWORK - Phoenix-based Banner Health would acquire the University of Arizona Health Network, which includes two Tucson hospitals, under the terms of a 30-year draft agreement that still needs approval from the Arizona Board of Regents. Banner Health, a nonprofit company, is Arizona’s largest health system and operates 16 Arizona hospitals, but none south of Casa Grande. The UA Health Network includes two teaching hospitals - the UA Medical Center-University campus at 1501 N. Campbell Ave., and the UA Medical Center-South at 2800 E. Ajo Way. The network also includes clinics, health plans and a physician practice plan that staffs the teaching hospitals with doctors from the UA. A recent financial report shows that the UA Health Network recorded a $28.5 million loss for the first eight months of the current fiscal year. Read more from the Arizona Daily Star.

HIRING UNDERWAY FOR NEW SHELTER TO HOUSE MIGRANT CHILDREN - Southwest Key currently has 272 job openings at its new shelter north of Downtown Tucson. The company is looking to fill numerous positions for cooks, care providers, and more. According to job descriptions posted online, many positions require that employees are bilingual and have previous childcare or case management experience. The shelter will house mostly Central American unaccompanied minor children who crossed illegally into the United States. Many of those children currently are housed in a Border Patrol facility in Nogales, Ariz.

TRAFFIC ALERT: 22ND STREET ASPHALT WORK - Crews from the Tucson Department of Transportation (TDOT) Streets and Traffic Maintenance Division are performing asphalt maintenance work on 22nd Street between Country Club Road and Tucson Boulevard. The work began early this morning and is expected to be finished by Friday, July 11, 2014. Work hours will be weekdays from 6 a.m. - 2:30 p.m. A single travel lane restriction will be in place during the work. At least two lanes of travel will be maintained at all times. Read the news release.

RIO NUEVO TO HAVE ACCESS TO DISTRICT TAX RECORDS - The Rio Nuevo Board unanimously authorized signing an agreement with the Arizona Department of Revenue, giving the district access to tax forms showing which businesses’ sales tax collections are being credited to the downtown redevelopment effort. About 1,100 businesses within the district are supposed to fill in a code on their tax forms so Rio Nuevo can receive its share of those tax dollars. However, district employees can’t access the forms to see how many of them actually are entering the code. Filling in the box doesn’t increase the amount of tax collected, but it means that all the money goes to the state instead of some of it remaining in Tucson. The board also approved $25,000 for a group wanting to renovate the fountains that link La Placita Village and the Tucson Convention Center. However, the money is contingent upon the group finding a match from the City, County or private parties. Read more from the Arizona Daily Star.

ELEPHANT BABY SHOWER THIS WEEKEND - The Reid Park Zoo is hosting a baby shower for Semba, the pregnant African Elephant. The party will be held at the Zoo Sunday from 8 a.m. - 10 a.m. Semba isn't expected to give birth to her calf for a few more weeks. In all, the pregnancy lasts about 22 months. Education staff will be on hand with crafts, activities, shower games, and a giant card for guests to sign. You can make a contribution for a specific gift through the Reid Park Zoological Society.

AN ELEPHANT BABY SHOWER AT REID PARK ZOO

Reid Park Zoo is throwing an elephant-sized baby shower for Semba, a
pregnant African elephant, June 29 8-10am. Although Semba’s calf is
not expected for a few more weeks, any pregnancy lasting 22 months
deserves a party! This is the first elephant pregnancy at Reid Park Zoo
so staff is particularly excited about sharing this special time with
the community.

22nd Street Asphalt Maintenance Work: Country Club to Tucson Boulevard

Crews from the Tucson Department of Transportation (TDOT) Streets and Traffic Maintenance Division will be performing asphalt maintenance work on 22nd Street between Country Club Road and Tucson Boulevard. The work begins Wednesday, June 25, 2014 and is expected to be complete by Friday, July 11, 2014. Work hours will be 6 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., Monday through Friday.

A single travel lane restriction will be in place while crews are performing this maintenance work. At least two lanes of travel will be maintained. 

NewsNet 06-24-14

HOUGHTON ROAD PROJECT FINISHES ON TIME AND UNDER BUDGET - Construction on Houghton Road, from Irvington to Valencia, is complete. An official ribbon cutting was held this morning to mark completion of the project, which began in October 2012. It was budgeted at approximately $25 million and finished at a cost of roughly $21 million. The improvements are a six lane divided roadway, rubberized asphalt for noise reduction, upgraded drainage, and multi-use paths. There also are new traffic signals, signs, new dual left turn lanes and exclusive right turn lanes, and bus pullouts. The project was funded by the City of Tucson, the RTA and Pima County. Read more from Tucson News Now.

SUN LINK STREETCAR PRE-REVENUE SERVICE TESTING UNDERWAY - The public launch of the Streetcar is only a month away, and Sun Link is now testing the vehicles as if there were passengers on board. The testing will run during scheduled service hours, and the streetcars will travel the entire route and stop at random passenger stops for the next 30 days. Sun Link passenger service is set to begin July 25th with a kickoff celebration downtown. Rides will be free to the public for the first three days of operation.

FORECLOSURES DROP IN ARIZONA - The number of residential foreclosures and short sales continues to drop in Arizona. In May, 19.6 percent of homes sold in Tucson were in those categories, according to RealtyTrac, a real estate data company. Last year, that figure was 29.3 percent. The city ranks 24th in the country for the highest percentage of distressed home sales. A year ago, Tucson ranked 10th. Statewide, 21.4 percent of all homes sold in May were distressed, the third highest percentage among states. That number dropped from 24.4 percent last year. Read more from Arizona Public Media.

ADOT NOW RECYCLING AT SELECT HIGHWAY REST STOPS - The Arizona Department of Transportation (ADOT) is implementing a new recycling program at three rest areas along the state's highways. A news release says the program will cost nothing for ADOT to implement, since recycling vendors will be overseen by Infrastructure Corporation of America (ICA), the company in charge of operation and maintenance of the rest areas. ICA is a public-private partnership with the Arizona Department of Transportation. Currently there are three rest stops participating in the new recycling program: McGuireville near I-17, Hassayampa near U.S. 60, and Ehrenberg along I-10 near the California border. There are plans are to expand the program to include all rest stops in Arizona. Read more from Tucson News Now.

HOW TO MANAGE HARD WATER AND OTHER TIPS FROM TUCSON WATER - Get tips on how to manage hard water, increase dishwasher efficiency, flush your water heater, check faucet aerators and more. Information is available in English and Spanish. You can download, print, or request a mailed copy of the tips. You can also learn how to pay your water bill online and stop and start service. Read more from Tucson Water.

Saguaro National Park East Programs

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.

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.

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