Paul's Note - February 15, 2019

I had an opportunity last week to have a sit down with T. Van Hook, Chief Executive Officer of Habitat for Humanity Tucson. I learned a bit more about their business model and how the city could be an even better partner with them in the future.

Most of us know about Habitat's main work, building houses for families who couldn't otherwise afford them. They also have many other programs to help lower income families maintain their houses and continue to contribute as home owners.

One program is called Brush with Kindness. A Brush with Kindness partners with residents to improve the appearance of the neighborhood, strengthen connections within the community and help preserve affordable housing stock. The program also helps low-income homeowners who struggle to maintain the exterior of their homes, allowing residents to reclaim their homes with pride and dignity. Partners repay a portion of cost of materials based on a sliding scale and ability.

Work that can be done includes painting, landscaping, yard work and minor repairs. If you know someone that owns a home that is up to code that will benefit from this program, make sure to get in touch with Habitat at 326-1217 ext. 209 or on the web at HabitatTucson.org/apply.

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You may remember back in December I mentioned the tremendous work of the personnel at Fire Station #9. They had helped out Clarence Ellquist, a Pearl Harbor Veteran, by not only coming to his aid when he had fallen off a ladder, but returned to his house to complete the yardwork he had been doing when he had his accident.

This week, it was announced that the station, first built in 1966, will be getting a complete rebuild as part of the half-cent sales tax that you and your neighbors passed in 2017.

The original station was designed only to accommodate a crew of six for what was, at that time, a more sparsely populated area of Tucson. Building a more modern station will start in 2020.

The firefighters won't have to wait that long for another improvement. A new paramedic unit was unveiled in a ceremony of Wednesday. This is one of four that is also part of the sales tax program.

Our firefighters do tremendous work and are part of one of the best departments in the country. That sales tax money is a small way we can make sure that they can continue the level of service for people like Mr. Ellquist and all of our neighbors.

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In colder parts of the world, you'll often see wanna-be daredevils plunge into some near-frozen lake as part of a "Polar Plunge." Yes, it's not as cold here, but we can still do that, especially if it's for a worthy cause.

On Saturday, March 9th, Special Olympics Arizona will host its 11th Annual Tucson Polar Plunge. Special Olympics athletes, families, friends and fans will all be "Freezin' for a Reason" in support of athletes living in southern Arizona.

This year's event will be at Highland Vista Pool, 315 N Woodland Avenue. For more information, visit http://give.classy.org/2019tucsonpolarplunge