Pauls Note: Friday, January 29, 2021

Paul's Ward 3 News and Updates
 
Friday, January 29, 2021
 
News and Updates
Pet of the Week                 
Ward 3 Neighborhood Association/Coalition Meetings
Ward 3 Events
City Wide Events
Did You Know?
 
Someone in our office said last week, in response to a possible appearance of snow, that it’s too early in the year for Tucson to see snow on the valley floor. Well, someone was right. While the snow didn’t stick or stay but a few minutes, Ward 3 has some of the best views of the snow-capped Santa Catalina Mountains. The Ward 3 staff is certainly enjoying the view.
 
We’ve arrived to the end of the month and here’s a huge reminder:  Starting February 1, glass will no longer be accepted in your blue recycle bins. We ask that you take glass bottles and jars (empty and clean with lids/caps removed) to one of our drop-off sites. Go to http://tucsonaz.gov/glass for a map of locations and more information.
 
In this week’s Ward 3 newsletter we continue to bring you critical information, locally and nationally, regarding COVID-19. We are still seeing significant rates of COVID-19 cases even as new cases are beginning to plateau. We also have a success story of a Ward 3 small business that remained open during the pandemic with financial assistance channeled through the City and information on federal help for small businesses.
 
Have a safe weekend!
 
Jefferson Park Linear Heritage Trail
 
During and after the construction of Phase II of the Grant Road widening project, the Jefferson Park Neighborhood Association was active in the discussion of what to do about the remnant parcels that remained in the short stretch from Park Ave to Santa Rita Ave.
 
 
As a result of these discussions the site was included in the Prop 407: Parks + Connections bond program for the construction of a new park, which includes berms, preserved trees and saguaros, news trees and plants, walking path drinking fountain, and benches.
 
 
The neighbors said this about the new park:
 
“The park features a walking trail, natural vegetation, benches, and soon, historic markers. Jefferson Park neighbors are in the process of preparing the historical information and fabricating the stands upon which the signs will be mounted. Most importantly, the signs will be placed along the trail, educating visitors about the history of the area, including how the streets Grant, Fremont, and Campbell were named, what Tucson looked like in 1939 and 1943, and a bit about Annie Lester, the fearless young woman who homesteaded Jefferson Park in 1901.”
 
The new park is located next to a detention basin that was constructed by the Grant Road widening project to reducing flooding. A walking path and plantings round the basin. Both the basin and the new park are now under care of the Parks and Recreation Department.
 
A view of the adjacent basin
 
Shout Out to Mountain/1st Neighborhood
 
This past weekend a contingent of neighbors cleaned up trash and removed the invasive and potentially hazardous buffelgrass from the alleys. This comes on the heels a big Brush & Bulky clean-up. We want to acknowledge the great work of neighborhood president Sarah Studd in organizing this.
 
 
 
Small Business Relief
 
Days before the COVID-19 virus blew into Tucson in March, Joyce Feickert and Marvin Kirchler, the wife and husband team that own Hem & Her, a dress and tailor shop in Ward 3, were gearing up for their busiest month of the year: high school proms. In fact, much of the fabric and ready-to-wear dresses and tuxedos had been purchased months before to prepare for the big nights of dressing up.
 
But the pandemic struck, leaving Hem & Her, and virtually most businesses, with a trickle of customers. Joyce, who designs and creates the fashionable wear and Marvin, who promotes the stylish shop on North Stone near East Roger Road, were left holding the clothes.
 
They faced the unthinkable: close the shop which had opened in 2001 in a 1920s converted farmhouse which had become part of the fabric of the Limberlost neighborhood. The couple faced uncertainty like never before.
 
But before their dreams and livelihood could unravel like a spool of thread, Joyce and Marvin turned to a lifeline. The City of Tucson created We Are One/Somos Uno Resiliency Fund, a collaboration with the Community Foundation of Southern Arizona. This opened up financial assistance programs for small businesses with federal CARES Act funds. The assistance allowed businesses to pay their employees and to help pay utilities and rental costs.
 
Hem and Her applied for and received a loan from the City and a grant from the YWCA Southern Arizona. The funds kept the door open and Joyce’s sewing machine humming.
 
“As a small business,” said Marvin, “we are grateful to the City of Tucson.”
 
He said that the process of applying and securing the money was a positive experience. There were no hassles or hang ups. The infusion of relief funds not only staved off the store’s closing but it helped relieve the couple of stress.
 
“Every dollar helped,” he said.
Marvin Kirchler, Joyce Feickert and Yissel Mankel at Hem & Her
 
Small businesses can continue to apply for COVID-19 assistance. The federal Small Business Administration is administering funds. The SBA has several programs to help Ward 3 businesses weather the pandemic. Those efforts include:
SBA is preparing to offer:
Last Monday the City’s Office of Economic Initiatives held a webinar through its Connect Tucson effort in which the SBA programs, legislative actions and potential actions, and an economic forecast were discussed.
 
Andrew Greenhill, the City’s Manager of Intergovernmental Relations, said during the presentation that in addition to federal help the State has established assistance programs for small businesses. The Arizona Small Business Rent and Mortgage Relief Grant program will provide $10 million to support small businesses.
 
As for future assistance, the Biden/Harris administration has proposed the largest economic relief program totaling $1.9 trillion. It awaits Congressional action. It is designed, among other things, to provide grants to more than 1 million of the hardest hit small businesses across the country.
 
The public monies that have been directed to small businesses, which employ the bulk of workers have been invaluable. People have kept their jobs to pay their rent and mortgages or have received help with the expenses. Business doors have remained opened. Hope remained alive.
 
As Marvin put it: “Without the City’s help we would not have survived.”
 
COVID Updates
 
This week you will find local and national updates. Locally and throughout the state, we are still seeing significant rates of COVID-19 cases even as new cases are beginning to plateau.
 
 
The map above really hits home the fact that we must continue to closely adhere to CDC recommendations if we are to reduce the spread of the virus.
 
If you need to access COVID testing, the City's pop-up testing locations are available exclusively on a walk-up basis. The free saliva tests are administered by Rescue Me Wellness, and results are available in 3-5 days. Visit here for a list of times and locations.
 
Pima County is administering vaccines to those in categories 1.B.a-c. To learn if this applies to you and how to register visit the Pima County Health Department.
 
On the Federal stage, last week the new Biden/Harris administration took significant measures to reduce the spread of COVID-19 as well as deal with the related economic recession. So much happened, significant highlights are included below to ensure you do not miss them.
 
Day 1 Executive Actions highlights include:
 
• Required masks on federal property and federal workforce testing plan.
• Asked the general public to wear masks for 100 days as a patriotic duty.
• Extended to March 31, 2021 CDC’s eviction moratorium, foreclosure moratoriums at the Department of Housing and Urban Development, Veterans Affairs and Agriculture.
• Directed Education Department to extend pause on student loan payments and 0% interest rate until Sept. 30, 2021.
 
On Day 2 the administration announced President Biden’s COVID-19 vaccination plan and a series of additional actions. Highlights include:
 
• Directing agencies to use the Defense Production Act to address critical shortfalls in COVID-19 testing, vaccines, N95 masks, gowns, gloves, test supplies and kits, lab analysis machines, therapeutic drugs and other supplies.
• Issued FEMA memorandum to provide 100 percent federal cost share for PPE and disinfecting services and supplies for the safe opening and operation of eligible schools, child-care facilities, healthcare facilities, non-congregate shelters, domestic violence shelters, transit systems, and other eligible applicants.
• Issued executive order to improve collection/analysis of COVID-related data.
• Provide guidance on safely reopening schools and early childhood education centers through executive order.
• Signed executive order providing Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) guidance for keeping workers safe from COVID-19.
• Required face masks at airports, other modes of transportation through executive order.
 
Day 3 Executive Actions continued to address COVID-19. Some highlights include:
 
• Issuing an executive order to ask agencies to boost food aid and access to food stamp benefits:
• Asking the Department of Labor to consider clarifying that workers have a federally guaranteed right to refuse employment that will jeopardize their health and if they do so, they will still qualify for unemployment insurance.
• Directing the Veterans Affairs Department to halt collections on overpayments and debts, in a move the administration says could help as many as 2 million veterans.
 
More on Evictions
 
Of all the difficult challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, one potentially devastating repercussion has been the possible eviction of rental tenants from apartments and houses that individuals are facing. Going into the New Year, the Biden/Harris administration has sought to minimize harm from evictions. The Centers for Disease Control extended its eviction moratorium to March 31.
 
“The COVID-19 pandemic has presented a historic threat to our nation’s health. It has also triggered a housing affordability crisis that disproportionately affects some communities,” said CDC Director Dr. Rochelle P. Walensky, in a statement on Inauguration Day. “Despite extensive mitigation efforts, COVID-19 continues to spread in America at a concerning pace. We must act to get cases down and keep people in their homes and out of congregate settings — like shelters — where COVID-19 can take an even stronger foothold,” said the statement.
 
However, renters who are temporarily protected from eviction still must pay back rent. And renters should be proactive in seeking eviction protection. In a recent Ward 3 newsletter, presiding Pima County Constable Kristen Randall offered some advice and suggestions.
 
Here’s a brief recap:
 
The tenant needs to fill out a form for the landlord. Give the landlord a copy as soon as possible and keep a copy. Follow the requirements in the CDC letter, such as applying for rental assistance and requesting a partial payment plan. Keep records of these actions. Some judges are granting evictions because tenants did not follow guidelines in the CDC order. Constable Randall also advises tenants to who are struggling to pay rent to talk to the landlord. Offer a partial payment plan. Seek rental assistance. And if the tenant has to attend a court hearing for the eviction, do not skip the hearing. Attend the hearing to give an explanation and find out more information about the eviction.
 
Neighborhood Engagement Webinar Series
 
We hope that you have enjoyed our Neighborhood Engagement Webinar series as much as we have. Getting to know our constituents better has been beneficial and hearing directly from you helps the Ward 3 office serve you better.  
 
You can register for the next session that takes place next week, on February 4, at the link for COVID Compatible Events
 
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Pet of the Week
 
 
 
Kora is only a year old but already she’s a big girl. The Maine Coon is the largest domesticated cat breed. They have a distinctive physical appearance and valuable hunting skills. They are one of the oldest natural breeds in North America, specifically native to the US state of Maine, where they are the official state cat (from Wikipedia).
 
Kora is mellow but very sociable. She gets along great with kiddos and other cats, and is litterbox trained. 
 
To adopt Kora, please submit an adoption survey and schedule an appointment using the link found in the survey confirmation email. Please email pacc.adopt@pima.gov with questions.
 
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Ward 3 Neighborhood Association/Coalition Meetings
 
Limberlost
Saturday
January 30
Zoom email mray@dakotacom.net for info
 
Sugarhill
Wednesday
February 3
6-7:30 pm
zoom: https://arizona.zoom.us/j/85017048258
Join via phone:  +1 602 753 0140

Meeting ID: 850 1704 8258

 
Feldman’s
Thursday
February 4
6-7 pm
Zoom Kathy Bell katzinthesun@gmail.com for info
 
Alvernon Grant Initiative
Tuesday
February 9
6 pm
If you would like to attend the January Zoom AGI meeting, send an email to paloverdena@gmail.com Send your request by Tues. Feb. 9, at noon.
 
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Ward 3 Events
 
Vita at Ward 3 Council Office
 
Did you know that if you made $66,000 or less last year, you do not have to pay to file your taxes? Starting on February 1st, United Way of Tucson's Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program can help you file for free. Mindful of the COVID-19 pandemic, United Way is teaming up with www.GetYourRefund.org to provide free, online, one-on-one tax assistance from real, live IRS-certified tax preparers. VITA tax preparation saves taxpayers an average of $250 per return. The program helps taxpayers access all tax credits for which they are eligible – including the Child Tax Credit (CTC) and the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC).
There are three ways you can get your taxes done for free:
 
-GetYourRefund.org – taxpayers can connect with VITA volunteers online
-In-Person Assistance – limited in-person assistance is available at select sites
-DIY Self-Prep Software – online services for those who feel confident in filing on their own Click here for more information.
 
If you do not have access to the internet you can call 520-837-4231 to talk to VITA volunteers by phone. Be sure to leave your name and a good contact number so that they can reach out to assist you.
 
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City Wide Events
 
Council Meeting
Tuesday
February 9
Following an afternoon study session, regular session starts at 5:30. To view the meetings remotely, visit Tucson12.tv.
 
 
El Pueblo Center Testing
 
The City of Tucson and El Rio Health are offering free COVID-19 tests at the El Pueblo Center, 101 W. Irvington Road.
 
The testing takes place on Mondays and Wednesdays, 5-8 p.m., Thursdays, 1-4 p.m., and Saturdays, 7 a.m.-noon. To register for a test, call El Rio Health at (520) 670-3909 and schedule an appointment. A doctor’s order is not needed to get the test, but organizers do ask everyone to make an appointment. Follow on-site signage to the testing location.
 
Udall Center Testing
 
The free testing, administered by the Pima County Health Department and Paradigm Laboratories, is also available at the Udall Recreation Center, 7200 E. Tanque Verde Road by appointment only. 
 
To register for a testing appointment, go to pima.gov/covid19testing and click on the Schedule My Test link for Udall, or call 800-369-3584 to schedule an appointment. No walk-in tests will be conducted, people must have an appointment. The Testing Center will be open Tuesday-Sunday, 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Testing will continue at the Center until it is no longer needed to control the pandemic.
 
 
Community Pop-Up Testing Centers
 
The City's pop-up testing locations are available on a walk-up basis only. No appointment is necessary. The free, saliva tests are administered by Rescue Me Wellness. and results are available in 3 - 5 days. Full list of times and locations.
 
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Did You Know?
 
Blacklidge Bicycle Boulevard: Your Input Is Important!
 
The City has posted a survey and a public comment map to the Blacklidge Bicycle Boulevard website here. Both are available in English and Spanish. The survey and comment map will be open through February 27th.
 
Glass Recycling Begins February 1
Starting this Monday, glass will no longer be accepted in Tucson's blue bin recycling program, but will be collected at drop-off sites across the city. Click here for more information about the plan and drop-off locations.
 
Iskashitaa Fruit Harvesting
 
Iskashitaa harvesting efforts have diverted over 90,000 pounds of produce away from the landfill and into the hands of our community. There are two ways you can help them glean even more fruit in 2021!
 
If you are interested in donating your fruit, please fill out the Fruit Donor Form at www.iskashitaa.org/fruit-donor-form.
 
If you are interested in becoming a neighbor harvest liaison, please email Allison Doty at harvesting@iskashitaa.org  or call the Iskashitaa office at 520-440-0100.
 
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Council Member Paul Durham is on Social Media!
 
Follow us on Twitter: @CMPaul_Durham
 
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