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NewsNet 08-21-14

ELEPHANT CALF BORN AT REID PARK ZOO ON TUCSON'S BIRTHDAY - African elephant Semba gave birth last night to a female calf, and both are doing well. This is Semba's third calf, but the first elephant ever born at the Reid Park Zoo. It's also the only African Elephant birth in any zoo this year. “This birth, literally the largest in the history of the State of Arizona, represents a significant milestone for the Zoo,” said Zoo Administrator Jason Jacobs. “This birth would not have been possible without the vision and partnership of the City of Tucson, Reid Park Zoo, Reid Park Zoological Society, and San Diego Zoo Global.” The first 48-72 hours following the birth are the most essential for Semba and her as-yet-unnamed calf to form a strong physical and emotional bond. Although Semba and the calf are not currently on exhibit, they may be viewable soon on the Zoo Cams between the hours of 10 a.m.-2 p.m. The rest of the herd members will remain on exhibit intermittently throughout the day. Check out the Reid Park Zoo and City of Tucson Facebook and Twitter sites for late-breaking information.
Reid Park Zoo Twitter
Reid Park Zoo Facebook
City of Tucson Facebook
City of Tucson
 
TUCSON POLICE PART OF MULTI-AGENCY CRIMINAL STREET GANG ARRESTS - The Tucson Police Department (TPD) joined other agencies in Southern Arizona in serving 16 arrest warrants yesterday at nine Tucson locations. TPD said the Eastside Crips (ESC) is an organized group whose members are suspected of homicides, narcotics trafficking, money laundering, trafficking in firearms, and committing violent crimes. The case was initiated based on information gathered by TPD, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, and the Arizona Department of Public Safety's Gang Immigration Intelligence Team Enforcement Mission. The case is being prosecuted by the Criminal Division of the Arizona Attorney General’s Office in Tucson. Read more on TPD Facebook page.
 
AN INSIDE VIEW OF THE 2014 TUCSON FIRE ACADEMY - It takes a lot of hard training and plenty of long hours to be a firefighter with the Tucson Fire Department (TFD). To give the public an idea of what that training entails, TFD put together a video of its most recent 21-week training academy, start to finish. The video was produced Capt. Jim Grimes.
TFD Facebook page
 
FRIDAY NIGHT CONCERT SERIES CONCLUDES TOMORROW AT UA - Tomorrow is the final concert in the "Friday Night Live!" series at Main Gate Square at the University of Arizona. Presented by the Southern Arizona Arts and Cultural Alliance, tomorrow's 7 p.m. performance features Jazz saxophonist Kelland Thomas. Main Gate now is easily accessible via the Sun Link Tucson Streetcar.
 
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.

NewsNet 08-20-14

TUCSON FIRE DEPARTMENT PERFORMS ANOTHER SWIFT WATER RESCUE - For the second time in three days, Tucson Fire Department (TFD) personnel performed a swift water rescue, using a fire truck ladder to help a woman trapped in her car in a wash near Broadway and Camino Seco. A single firefighter walked out on the ladder and handed the woman a lifejacket. She was then able to climb out of the window and onto the ladder to walk to safety. The woman was assessed on scene, but did not require medical attention. TFD urges motorists to stay away from flowing washes during thunderstorms, saying moving water 1-2 feet deep will carry away most vehicles. See video of the resuce on TFD Facebook page.

CEREMONY OF FLAGS TO MARK TUCSON'S BIRTHDAY -  The five flags that have flown over Tucson – American, Spanish, Mexican, Confederate, and the State of Arizona – will be presented in a ceremony tonight to celebrate Tucson’s 239th birthday. The Tohono O'odham Nation and Pascua Yaqui Tribe flags also will be presented, as will a replica of the 28-star American flag that was brought by the Mormon Battalion and flown over Tucson in 1846. The celebration begins at 5:30 p.m., with a performance by Mariachi Los Changuitos Feos de Tucson at Presidio San Agustín del Tucson Courtyard (SW corner of Church Avenue and Washington Street). The flag ceremony begins at 6:30 p.m., followed by proclamations and a reading of Hugo O’Conor’s letter designating Tucson as the site of a new presidio. Those attending are encouraged to dress in “period” costumes and sample a piece of Tucson’s birthday cake. Read the news release for more information.

TUCSON AND OTHER CITIES WIN LATEST ELECTION BATTLE AGAINST STATE - An appellate court ruling says the State of Arizona can't make Tucson, Phoenix and other cities move their municipal elections to even-numbered years. Monday's ruling by the Arizona Court of Appeals upholds a trial judge's ruling that the 2012 law improperly intrudes on the constitutional authority of charter cities. The State had appealed a 2013 ruling by Judge James Marner of Pima County Superior Court. Cities claim they have the right to set their own elections, while opponents suggest turnout would be greater and cost less if local elections were held at the same time as presidential and gubernatorial elections. There was no immediate response from the Arizona Attorney General’s Office about a possible appeal to the State Supreme Court. Read more from the Arizona Capitol Times and the Associated Press via Tucson News Now.

NEXT WEEK IS DEADLINE TO SUBMIT REQUEST FOR PROPOSALS FOR REDEVELOPMENT OF TRANSIT CENTER - The City of Tucson is looking for a developer for a 4.7-acre site in the heart of downtown (Congress Street and Sixth Avenue) to create a distinctive multi-modal, mixed-use development incorporating a modern transit center. Adjacent to the Sun Link Tucson Streetcar line, the area currently consists of the Ronstadt Transit Center and two surface parking lots. More than $930 million in recent private and public investment - including new restaurants, shops, businesses, and housing - are near the site. Upcoming investments near the area include a grocery store, a new hotel, additional housing, and roadway improvements. The City’s goal is to transform the development site from a single-use transit center into a mixed-use development that contributes to an active, economically-robust downtown. Requests for Proposals are due Aug. 28, 2014. More information is available from the City of Tucson Office of Integrated Planning.

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 PSA about the app.

NewsNet 08-19-14

PIMA COUNTY COMBINED PROPERTY TAXES TO INCREASE 12 PERCENT - Most Pima County homeowners will see an increase in their property tax bills this year. In a 3-2 vote yesterday, the Pima County Board of Supervisors set the County’s combined tax rate at $5.76 per $100 of assessed valuation - an increase of about 12 percent from last year. Supervisors also  approved tax rates set by dozens of municipalities, school boards, fire district boards, and other special taxing districts. The exact increase varies depending on where a person lives, but the owner of a $150,000 house in Tucson and the Tucson Unified School District can expect to pay, on average, an extra $123 next year. Read more from the Arizona Daily Star.
 
TUCSON PROGRAM SAVES WATER AND HELPS WITH ENVIRONMENTAL PROJECTS -Tucson Water customers have saved 3.6 million gallons of water while contributing to community enhancement projects through Conserve to Enhance (C2E), a program started at the University of Arizona. Tucson participants have saved water through conservation strategies, ranging from behavioral changes to rainwater harvesting installations. Tucson C2E has received nearly $40,000 in donations since the program began. Donations have come directly from participant water savings and the “Riparian Enhancement and Open Space” check box on Tucson Water monthly bills. The program has funded numerous projects, including the Atturbury Wash restoration. Now, the effort has expanded beyond state boundaries, looking to help Colorado and California start their own water conservation and community enhancement programs under the umbrella of the UA-based sustainability program. Read more from Yuma News Now.
 
DEVELOPER ALLAN NORVILLE WINS RIGHT TO NEGOTIATE POSSIBLE LAND PURCHASE FOR DOWNTOWN HOTEL PROJECT - The Rio Nuevo Board voted yesterday to enter into negotiations with developer Allan Norville to have him buy and develop 8.5 acres of Rio Nuevo Land currently occupied by the Greyhound Bus Depot. Norville beat out Ron Schwabe of Peach Properties. Although Norville won a chance to negotiate with Rio Nuevo, the Board still must vote on whether it wants to open talks or scrap the plan and start over. Board discussion is set for next Tuesday. Norville’s plan - offering to pay $5.6 million for the land - calls for a 140-room hotel, a 96-unit apartment complex, a visual arts center, three museums, and a theater. Norville also says he'd build a 120,000-square-foot exhibition hall on his property adjacent to the Rio Nuevo land. Read more from the Arizona Daily Star.
 
TRAFFIC ALERT: KOLB ROAD STREET LIGHT REPAIRS - Beginning tomorrow, crews from the City of Tucson Department of Transportation Streets and Traffic Maintenance Division will replace lamps and repair all of the street lights on the west side of Kolb Road, from Tanque Verde Road to Speedway Boulevard. Crews will be working from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. The work is scheduled to be finished in one day. For the safety of the work crews and motorists, the southbound curb lane on Kolb Road will be closed during the work. Residential and business access will be maintained at all times. Expect delays if driving through the area during work hours.
 
FARE OPTIONS FOR STREETCAR
- There are many fare options available to ride the streetcar. Cash is not accepted on the car, but you can use it at machines at the stops to buy a $4 one-day pass. In addition, you can buy SunGO passes online or at regular Sun Tran merchants. Discount fares are available for certain students, low-income residents, seniors and disabled passengers. University of Arizona faculty, staff, and students can ride streetcar for free, through Sept. 14, if they sign up for a special U-pass. The City of Tucson has a video that tells you everything you need to know about how to ride the streetcar
Cómo viajar video

NewsNet 08-18-14

TUCSON FIRE DEPARTMENT RESCUES TWO FROM FLOODED WASH - Two people were rescued early Sunday morning after floodwaters swept their car into a wash. The Tucson Fire Department (TFD) says the vehicle became stuck in a wash near East 22nd Street and South Kolb Road, near Palo Verde High School. The incident occurred after the driver of the car tried to cross the wash from a nearby road. The vehicle stopped near a pedestrian bridge and the two females were able to climb to the roof and call 9-1-1. Firefighters were able to lower a 14-foot ladder to the car from the pedestrian bridge. Both people were able to climb to safety. TFD urges motorists to stay away from flowing washes during thunderstorms, saying moving water 1-2 feet deep will carry away most vehicles. Read more from the Arizona Daily Star, and see video on TFD Facebook page.
 
HOW TO REPORT TRANSPORTATION CONCERNS AFTER STORM DAMAGE (OR AT ANY TIME) - Is there a tree in the road after a thunderstorm? Is there a pothole you'd like to see fixed? Is a street sign missing? 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.
 
TUCSON IMPROVING PEDESTRIAN ACCESS CITYWIDE - Starting today, the Tucson Department of Transportation, is beginning work to improve pedestrian access along various city arterial streets. The work involves making ADA improvements along stretches of roadway. Crews will work Monday through Friday, from 5 a.m. to 3 p.m. During the work, curb lane restrictions will be in place for the safety of workers and the traveling public. Crews will be working at each location for approximately two weeks. All the work is scheduled to be complete in early October 2014. The first area slated for improvements is Alvernon Way, between 22nd Street to 33rd Street. Future improvement areas are listed at the link below. Read the
TDOT news release and schedule.
 
LOCAL GOVERNMENTS ADVISED TO BUY LAND FOR AFFORDABLE HOUSING - A San Francisco-based economist is urging the City of Tucson and Pima County to buy land while it's available to build future affordable housing. Jacob Bintliff of BAE Urban Economics recently released a study that shows land values tend to soar once high-capacity transportation corridors are established. Dozens of local planners, architects, developers, and housing advocates attended Friday's presentation at the Drachman Institute, which commissioned the study. In the coming decades, much of the new housing development in Pima County should be placed near public transit to meet anticipated demand, the study says. The Drachman Institute says a local employee survey of transportation preferences is due to be released next month. Read more from the Arizona Daily Star.
 
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.

NewsNet 08-15-14

UA COMMUNITY CAN RIDE STREETCAR FREE FOR 30 DAYS - Starting today, students, faculty, and staff at the University of Arizona can ride the new Sun Link Tucson Streetcar and all Sun Tran buses for free, through Sept 14. The promotion requires a special U-Pass that can be ordered online at the link below. After the 30 days end, the card can be loaded with one-day and 30-day monthly passes. In addition, the UA is offering a 50 percent discount for those who buy semester or annual passes. The streetcar travels a nearly 4-mile route through parts of the UA campus, 4th Avenue, Downtown Tucson and the Mercado District west of I-10. If you don't have a UA affiliation, you can buy a SunGO monthly pass for unlimited rides on the streetcar and bus system.
How to Ride the Streetcar
Take a virtual 5-minute ride on the streetcar, produced by Tucson 12

'PULL ASIDE & STAY ALIVE:' MONSOON RAINS CAN THREATEN LIFE & PROPERTY, CAUSE HAVOC ON ROADS - The Tucson Fire Department (TFD) has been busy this year with several swift water rescues during and after thunderstorms, but some of those situations could have been avoided. In the latest KGUN9's "No Bad Days with Barrett," TFD Captain Barrett Baker says the motto this time of year is to "pull aside, stay alive."
 
TRAFFIC ALERT: 12TH AVENUE ASPHALT WORK - Crews from the Tucson Department of Transportation (TDOT) Streets and Traffic Maintenance Division will be performing asphalt maintenance work for the next two weeks on 12th Avenue, between Santa Paula Street and Bilby Road. The work begins on Monday and is scheduled to be complete by Friday, Aug. 29. Work hours will be 6 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., Monday through Friday. During the project, at least one lane of travel will be maintained in each direction.
 
MERMAIDS UNITE DOWNTOWN - Tomorrow's the day mermaids, pirates, jellyfish, and other sea creatures will be washed ashore on downtown's pop-up beach on the MLK Lot at North Fifth Avenue at East Congress Street, and at Fourth Avenue’s Haggerty Plaza, 316 N. Fourth Ave. The "Return of the Mermaids" event begins at both locations at 7 p.m. The Haggerty's Plaza location is more family-friendly, featuring face painting, crafts, games, island music, and a visit with a professional mermaid. The downtown location will have a staged coronation of King Neptune and a goddess of the sea at about 9:30 p.m. or later. The festivities (accessible by streetcar) will then move to Hotel Congress for a beach-themed party from about 10 p.m. to 2 a.m. The event is part of the Downtown Tucson Partnership's Summer in the City Celebration, complete with entertainment and food trucks. Read more from the Arizona Daily Star.

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 08-14-14

GREEN PAINT PROTECTS, GUIDES CYCLISTS ALONG PARTS OF STREETCAR ROUTE - Perhaps you've seen the green bike boxes at some Tucson intersections, guiding bike riders across streetcar tracks or into boxes at red lights? That green paint also appears at four passenger stops along the Sun Link Tucson Streetcar corridor. The green designates where the bike lane continues and wraps behind the streetcar stop. This type of bike lane treatment allows cyclists to circumnavigate the streetcar when it is stopped. "The City is looking at installing more of these types of bike lanes at transit stops, and some could even appear at bus stops," said Tucson Bicycle and Pedestrian Coordinator Ann Chanecka.The bike lane treatments at transit stops are the latest tool from the City to make it safer for bicyclists along the 3.9 mile streetcar corridor between the University of Arizona and the Mercado District west of Interstate 10.

DEADLINE TOMORROW TO REQUEST EARLY BALLOT - If you want to vote early in Arizona's Aug. 26 Primary Election, you have until 5 p.m. tomorrow to request a vote-by-mail ballot. If you're on the permanent list for an early ballot, you should have received yours in the mail. Voters who are not registered with one of the major political parties can choose one political party's ballot to vote in the Primary - Democrat, Republican, Libertarian or Green Party. Selecting a political party ballot will not change your voter registration. If you're an Independent or Party Not Designated voter, call the Pima County Recorder's Office at (520) 724-4330, and let the operator know which party ballot you would like to receive. You can also request a ballot online.

FLAGSTAFF USING BOND MONEY TO HELP FIGHT WILDFIRES - With the cash-strapped U.S. Forest Service falling behind in treating its land to prevent wildfires, Flagstaff - which experiences about 300 fires a year - is using its own money to pay for treatment on nearby federal lands. The community is spending millions of dollars to thin 15,000 acres of forest, in an effort to make Flagstaff more resilient in the face of big forest fires, floods, violent storms, and temperature extremes. The money comes from a 2012, $10 million voter-approved bond package funded by a property tax hike. Work on State-owned land already has started, but the biggest share of the effort, in the Coconino National Forest, could start as soon as next spring. Flagstaff leaders say it appears their community is the only city in the United States using bond money for wildfire prevention. Read more from Emergency Management, and learn more about the Flagstaff Watershed Protection Project.
 
MOVIES IN THE PARK SERIES CONTINUES AT REID PARK - Looking for some family-friendly entertainment on a Friday night? Movies in the Park, a Tucson summer staple since 2003, continues tomorrow at Reid Park with a free showing of "Night at the Museum." Residents are encouraged to bring blankets and chairs to enjoy a free movie every other Friday at the Demeester Performing Arts Pavilion, 900 S. Randolph Way. The event 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.

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NewsNet 08-13-14

STREETCAR RECEIVES MORE NATIONAL PRAISE - NationSwell - a digital media company focused on American innovation and renewal - says the American-made, zero-emissions Sun Link Tucson Streetcar is a great example of a community creating an environmentally-friendly, seamless public transit experience, complete with buses. The company's website makes reference to the $1.5 billion of public and private investment along the entire route, including housing developments, restaurants, and retail. The Downtown Tucson Partnership quantifies $930 million in investment since 2008 just in the Downtown Reporting District. Sun Link connects the University of Arizona with the 4th Avenue Business District, Downtown Tucson, and the Mercado District under development west of Interstate 10. Meanwhile, a recent study by the Arizona Public Interest Research Group (ArizonaPIRG) shows the importance of public transit, saying the number of trips in Tucson increased by nearly 25 percent between 2005 and 2010. Much of the shift is being led by people between the ages of 18 to 34.
Relive the video of opening day of streetcar service from Tucson 12
 
BUSINESSES SEEING INCREASE IN SALES ALONG STREETCAR ROUTE - The Sun Link Tucson Streetcar only has been carrying passengers just shy of three weeks, but businesses along the 3.9-mile route say they're already seeing a increase in customers. "We normally close at six, but we've had a lot of people coming up to the door when we're ready to leave. So, we come back in and take care of them," said Mark Levkowitz of the downtown Chicago Music Store on East Congress Street. "So, we may consider changing our hours." Operators of nearby Tucson Olive Central say people are getting off the streetcar to browse and buy. Read more from KGUN9.
 
RIO NUEVO BOARD DELAYS DECISION ON PROPOSED DOWNTOWN HOTEL - The Rio Nuevo Board of Directors didn't take any final action yesterday on proposals by two downtown developers competing to build a $100 million-plus hotel project. Each developer hopes to win the chance to build on about 8.5 acres of Rio Nuevo district land near the Tucson Convention Center (TCC). The board voted 3-2 to take a few days to think about how members will individually score the proposals. The board will then vote on whether to open negotiations with a winner at a future meeting. Allan Norville, manager of Nor-Generations, and Ron Schwabe of Peach Properties, hope to develop the land behind the TCC along Granada Avenue, east of Interstate 10 and north of Cushing Street. Both proposals include plans for a hotel, parking garage and some mix of apartments, office space, restaurants, and shops. Read more from the Arizona Daily Star.
 
STATE REGULATORS OKAY SALE OF TUCSON ELECTRIC POWER'S PARENT COMPANY - The Arizona Corporation Commission yesterday unanimously approved the $4.3 billion sale of UNS Energy Corp. to Fortis Inc., a Canadian utility. The deal is expected to be finalized by the end of the month and not have any dramatic effect on ratepayers. However, Tucson Electric Power (TEP) customers will see small billing reductions - about a $1 month on average for residential customers and $200 for commercial users - under a provision of the merger deal that calls for $30 million in credits to be distributed among ratepayers over five years. Under other conditions of the merger, Fortis has committed to maintain or improve service quality, keep its current charitable commitments for at least five years, and in future rate cases filed through 2020, the company must show any proposed increases in bills are lower than they would have been without the acquisition. Read more from the Arizona Daily Star.
 
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NewsNet 08-12-14

NEW PROGRAM IN TUCSON AIMED AT BOOSTING HOMEOWNERSHIP - A new program is offering $5.5 million to increase homeownership and strengthen neighborhoods in Tucson. Wells Fargo, NeighborWorks America®, the Primavera Foundation, Tucson Mayor Jonathan Rothschild, and South Tucson Mayor Paul Diaz announced the Tucson NeighborhoodLIFT® program yesterday. Down payment assistance of $15,000 will be available for eligible homebuyers with annual incomes that do not exceed 120 percent of the Tucson area median income – about $68,400 for a family of four – with income maximums varying depending on family size and type of loan. Among other things, potential buyers must complete an eight-hour homebuyer education session with The Primavera Foundation or another HUD-approved counseling agency. “This program can help qualifying homebuyers from any approved lender,” said Mayor Rothschild. "I’m extremely grateful to Wells Fargo for their generous donation of stabilization funds. That’s good corporate citizenship.” Participants must commit to live in the home for five years and qualify for a first mortgage. The Tucson NeighborhoodLIFT® program begins with a free homebuyer event Sept. 5-6, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., at the Tucson Convention Center. Registration is required at the link below. Read more from Market Watch/Wall Street Journal.
 
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, seniors 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.
Watch How to Ride video for streetcar
Cómo Viajar video
 
TUCSON RECEIVES PERFECT SUSTAINABILITY SCORE FOR COMMUNITY WATER SYSTEMS
- Tucson is the fifth city in the United States to earn four out of five stars from the STAR Communities Rating System for leadership in sustainability. And in the Community Water Systems category of the STAR rating, Tucson received a perfect score. Stand out initiatives cited by STAR (Sustainability Tools for Assessing & Rating Communities) include drought preparedness, rainwater harvesting rebates, water quality initiatives, and the Sweetwater Wetlands. The Sweetwater Wetlands is a key facet of Tucson Water's reclaimed water system, where treated wastewater is filtered through recharge basins, replenishing the local aquifer. The reclaimed wastewater is then distributed for reuse at Tucson's golf courses, parks, and schools. In addition, the wetlands is an urban wildlife habitat that the public can visit seven days a week. Read Tucson's STAR report.
 
NEVADA BUSINESSES WANT INCENTIVES TO LURE TESLA; TUCSON STILL COMPETING - Nevada business leaders want their state lawmakers to consider holding a special session early next year to put together an incentive package to help lure Tesla Motors' $5 billion battery factory to the state. However, legislative leaders reportedly aren't sold on the idea. Nevada appears to have a head start in competition for the "gigafactory" after Tesla officials confirmed they have a graded dirt pad in place east of Sparks, Nevada, near Reno. Tesla says its keeping its options open with possible plans to also break ground in Tucson, or cities in Texas, California, or New Mexico. Tucson Mayor Jonathan Rothschild recently sent Tesla a building permit to start construction on a one-story building of up to 5 million square feet in size at an address “to be determined." Tesla officials have said previously that the company wants to pick one or two sites this year and begin battery production at one of them by 2017. Read more from KGUN9 and the Reno Gazette-Journal.
 
SCORE A DEAL ON CITY SURPLUS ITEMS - Need a wheelchair or crutches? Maybe some University of Arizona baseball caps and sunglasses? How about a digital camera, or some Blu-ray movies? You can find these items and more on the City of Tucson's surplus auction website.

NewsNet 08-11-14

CITY SEEKING DEVELOPER FOR REDEVELOPMENT OF TRANSIT CENTER - The City of Tucson is looking for a developer for a 4.7-acre site in the heart of downtown (Congress Street and Sixth Avenue) to create a distinctive multi-modal, mixed-use development incorporating a modern transit center. Adjacent to the Sun Link Tucson Streetcar line, the area currently consists of the Ronstadt Transit Center and two surface parking lots. More than $930 million in recent private and public investment - including new restaurants, shops, businesses, and housing - surround the site. Upcoming investments near the area include a grocery store, a new hotel, additional housing, and roadway improvements. The City’s goal is to transform the development site from a single-use transit center into a mixed-use development that contributes to an active, economically-robust downtown. Requests for Proposals (RFP) are due Aug. 28, 2014. More information is available at the City of Tucson Office of Integrated Planning.
 
RENOVATION OF PORT OF ENTRY AT NOGALES EXPECTED TO BE FINISHED BY END OF THIS MONTH - The Mariposa Port of Entry, built in 1973, is undergoing a nearly $200 million renovation that will substantially increase the number of inspection booths and spaces. The changes are expected to speed up the flow of commerce and visitors through the port of entry.  A 2008 study from the University of Arizona found that 5.2 percent of total taxable sales in Pima County were due to Mexican visitors. Every day, Mexican visitors to Arizona spend more than $7 million in hotels, malls, restaurants and other businesses, the report found. “We really need to nurture that clientele,” said Juan Padrés, the City of Tucson's economic development specialist for international trade. The faster visitors get through customs checks at ports of entry, like Mariposa, the more time and money they can spend in Tucson and other parts of Arizona, he said. The City of Tucson relies on sales tax to help fund basic services such as public safety, transportation, parks and recreation, and more. Read more from the Arizona Daily Star.
City of Tucson Economic Initiatives Office
 
REID PARK ZOO JOINS IN "WORLD ELEPHANT DAY" TOMORROW - As the Reid Park Zoo awaits the birth of the African elephant Semba's calf, the Zoo is joining with individuals and organizations around the world to demonstrate support for programs that protect elephants in the wild. They say increasing demand for ivory has created a crisis in wild elephant populations, which could drive the species to extinction. The website for World Elephant Day says 96 elephants are killed each day in Africa for their ivory tusks. The social media hashtag for the campaign is #GoGrey.
 
TOMORROW IS DEADLINE TO SIGN UP FOR CITY PARKS AND RECREATION CLASSES - Whether you like gymnastics for your children, aerobics, arts and crafts, ceramics, photography, or have some other type of interest, Tucson Parks and Recreation probably has a class for you. If you haven't already registered for a spot, you have until tomorrow to do so. You can view the Program Guide & Class Catalog online, and even register for classes.

BACK-TO-SCHOOL SAFETY TIPS FROM TUCSON FIRE DEPARTMENT - Now that classes are back in session, it's a good time to brush up on some safety tips. In the latest edition of KGUN9's "No Bad Days with Barrett," Tucson Fire Department Captain Barrett Baker visited an elementary school classroom to teach parents and children how to stay safe while walking to school.

NewsNet 08-08-14

SUN TRAN AND TEAMSTERS ANNOUNCE NEW CONTRACT - Sun Tran and Teamsters Local 104 union members agreed on a new one-year contract last night, averting a possible work stoppage. The new contract, which stayed within the adopted 2015 budget, was ratified with a union vote of 292 to 93 in favor of the $1 million plan, which gives a one-time wage adjustment for all bargaining unit employees who have been employed longer than six months and are not in the top-rate wage level. Both parties acknowledged the importance of Sun Tran bus service to the community. On an average weekday, Sun Tran provides about 60,000 passenger trips. Read more from the Arizona Daily Star.
 
TUCSON POLICE FOUNDATION SEEKING 'UNSUNG HERO' NOMINEES - Do you know a Tucson Police officer, civilian, or volunteer with the department who has taken that extra step to help you or others? If so, please consider nominating that person for an "Unsung Hero" award. Past recipients of the awards traditionally have been nominated by Tucson Police Department members. This year, the Foundation decided to open the nominations to the public. The deadline to submit a nomination is Sept. 30, and the award ceremonies will be held Jan. 24, 2015.
Tucson Police Department Facebook page
Tucson Police Department website
 
TWO BIG BICYCLING EVENTS GEAR UP FOR FALL - Living Streets Alliance is getting ready for its big Cyclovia event Nov. 2. The route will connect the North 6th Avenue area with the North 4th Avenue- North Fontana Bike Boulevard. Volunteer opportunities are still available to help make the twice-a-year event a success. Meanwhile, organizers are nearing the end of their campaign to raise $15,000 by Aug. 15 to help pay for costs associated with the family-friendly event. Another big bicycling event in the planning stages is the Special Olympics El Tour de Tucson on Nov. 22. Registration already is underway for the annual racing event, which organizers say attracts 9,000 cyclists of all ages and abilities from throughout the United States and worldwide.
 
HOW TO BICYCLE IN THE STREETCAR ZONE - With the Sun Link Tucson Streetcar in operation, bicyclists need to be extra attentive when riding near the streetcar tracks. New markings - including green bike boxes, bike dots, and shared-lane markings - help guide cyclists where they need to be to stay safe and more visible. The City of Tucson produced a video that describes the safest ways to ride.

NEW FEMALE CAPYBARA INTRODUCED TO EXHIBIT MATE AT REID PARK ZOO - Rosie the capybara was introduced to her new exhibit last month, and after quarantine ended last week, she was able to meet Wesley, her male exhibit companion. Rosie arrived at the Reid Park Zoo in late May from the Alameda Park Zoo in Alamogordo, New Mexico. Zookeepers say the two seem to be getting along just fine. Rosie is a couple months shy of her second birthday and Wesley is 4-years-old. Capybaras are the world's largest rodents.
Photos of the two capybaras from Reid Park Zoo Facebook page
Tucson 12 / Zoo News video of Wesley

NewsNet 08-07-14

TUCSON WATER DIRECTOR: SUFFICIENT WATER SUPPLY THROUGH 2050; PLANNING FOR FUTURE - While Tucson Water Director Alan Forrest says the city has enough water to meet demands for the next 36 years, he also says it's critical to start planning for the future beyond that point. In a guest opinion in the Arizona Daily Star, Forrest says "To ensure longer-term supply goals, and to address the threat of intermittent shortages on the Colorado River, we must continue to develop additional renewable water supplies." One of those resources is expanding the use of recycled purified water to integrate into the drinking water system, similar to the way Tucson Water currently blends Colorado River with potable water by recharging it into the ground. "Additional purification processes will be included to ensure the water being delivered to our customers meets all drinking-water standards," Forrest writes. "Throughout this process, we will continue to provide information and ask for input from you — our customers." Read the Recycled Water Master Plan Executive Summary.
 
TUCSON'S LINCOLN PARK TO HOST JENNIE FINCH SOFTBALL CAMP
- The City of Tucson Parks and Recreation Department, Visit Tucson, and Pima Community College will host the Jennie Finch Softball Camp at the Lincoln Park Softball Complex, 8116 E. Escalante Road, Nov. 8-9. The camp is open to all girls in the third grade and up. Former UA Softball standout Jennie Finch and her Olympic and professional softball teammates will offer two full days of personal instruction covering all aspects of softball. Advanced registration is required and participation is limited for the fee-based camp, which follows a successful ASA 18U Girls’ Fastpitch Class A West National Championship tournament that was in Tucson last week. Of the 17 teams that participated, 12 teams traveled from outside of Tucson, and seven of them from out of state. On Championship Sunday, the Tucson Scramblers defeated the West Coast Predators twice to claim the title as the ASA/USA 18U A West National Champion. Read more details in the news release from Tucson Parks and Recreation.
 
RIDE THE STREETCAR TO 2nd SATURDAYS DOWNTOWN - The monthly, free, family-friendly event this Saturday begins with gallery shows at 9 a.m. and entertainment later in the day. At 6:30 p.m., the main stage at Scott Avenue and Congress Street features musical groups, and there are plenty of activities for children. Food from vendors and downtown eateries will be available. This will be the first 2nd Saturdays with the streetcar in operation, so you can park not only in the downtown area, but at the University of Arizona, and along 4th Avenue to catch a ride downtown (regular streetcar fares apply - see story below). There are 11,000 parking spaces along the 3.9-mile route. Street parking downtown is free on Saturdays, or you can pay to park in one of the garages.
 
FARE OPTIONS FOR STREETCAR - There are many fare options available to ride the streetcar. Cash is not accepted on the car, but you can use it at machines at the stops to buy a $4 one-day pass. In addition, you can buy SunGO passes online or at regular Sun Tran merchants. Discount fares are available for certain students, low-income residents, seniors and disabled passengers. University of Arizona faculty, staff, and students will be able to ride the streetcar for free for 30 days beginning August 15, if they sign up for a special U-pass.
Watch How to Ride video
Cómo viajar video
 
GET THE LATEST 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 Twittter for timely, concise updates throughout the day.

NewsNet 08-06-14

CITY FINALIZES ANNEXATION OF 163 ACRES ON SOUTHEAST SIDE - In a unanimous vote yesterday. the Mayor and Tucson City Council adopted the final ordinance for the annexation of Century Park Marketplace. The annexation includes approximately 163 acres at the intersection of Kolb and Valencia Roads. The site has the potential for development of 1.3 million square feet of retail space, which would generate construction sales tax, retail sales tax, and impact fees. "Annexation is a great opportunity for the City of Tucson, because it allows the City to collect additional sales tax, control growth, and capture more of the state-shared revenue," Annexation Project Manager Mike Czechowski told NewsNet.
 
MAYOR AND COUNCIL TO HOLD PUBLIC HEARING ON MEDICAL MARIJUANA RULES CHANGE - The Mayor and Tucson City Council yesterday voted unanimously to hold a public hearing to discuss recommendations from the City's Planning Commission to allow home delivery of medical marijuana to qualifying patients, extend dispensary hours, and expand limits on "infusion kitchens" that produce marijuana-infused food products. The public hearing on the proposed amendments will be held Sept. 9 during the Mayor and Council meeting, and the new rules could take effect the next day if approved. Read more from the Arizona Daily Star.
 
PIMA COUNTY APPROVES PLAN TO TRAP, STERILIZE, RELEASE FERAL CATS
- With the intention of reducing the number of feral cats, the Pima County Board of Supervisors yesterday unanimously approved a plan to capture, sterilize, vaccinate and release cats who live in the wild. The $1.5 million Community Cats program is a partnership between the Pima Animal Care Center, the Best Friends Animal Society, and PetSmart Charities. The goal is to sterilize 5,000 cats in each of the next three years. Animal-care workers want to decrease the euthanasia rate of cats by about 30 percent. Pima County will contribute $600,000 to pay for the spay and neuter surgeries. Read more from the Arizona Daily Star.
 
JOB OPPORTUNITY: TUCSON WATER CHEMIST
- Do your conversations include discussions of Solid Phase Extraction methods, volatile organic compounds and GC/MS analysis? Then a career as a Tucson Water Chemist may be perfect for you. The utility is looking for a highly-qualified individual with a chemistry background to analyze drinking water, surface water, and wastewater utilizing EPA-approved methods. The application deadline is Aug. 17. Read the job description.
 
BEWARE OF BABY RATTLESNAKES THAT DON'T RATTLE
- The Arizona Poison and Drug Information Center is urging hikers, gardeners and others to be on the lookout for deadly baby rattlesnakes who don't rattle until they first shed their skins. That makes them particularly dangerous, the Center says, because they can't warn people and animals of danger. Also of note, adult rattlers don't always give warning before striking. Read more from KGUN9.

NewsNet 08-05-14

CITY OF TUCSON’S RETIREMENT SYSTEM RECOGNIZED FOR EXCELLENCE - The Chicago-based Government Finance Officers Association has awarded the City of Tucson a Certificate of Achievement for Excellence in Financial Reporting for the Tucson Supplemental Retirement System (TSRS). The award, which covers the Comprehensive Annual Financial Report for the fiscal year that ended June 30, 2013, is the highest form of recognition in governmental accounting and financial reporting. It represents a significant accomplishment by a government and its management. TSRS is under the direction of City of Tucson Pension Administrator Michael Hermanson.
 
PEDESTRIAN DIVERSION PROGRAM FOR CITATIONS BEING DISCUSSED - A pedestrian advisory subcommittee met yesterday to talk about ways to better educate Tucson pedestrians on how to avoid violations and stay safe. One idea is to give them an opportunity to erase or reduce fines, much like drivers and bicyclists have, by attending a defensive driving course. "We have had people ticketed with fairly expensive fines - low-to-mid hundreds of dollars - and there isn't a way around that," says B.J Cordova, Vice Chair of Tucson's Pedestrian Advisory Committee. "And other than the police officer talking to them, there's not an educational opportunity to learn from that." For now, a diversion/education program for pedestrians is just an idea, Cordova said, similar to programs offered in the state of Oregon. Read more from KVOA.
 
ELECTRONICS COLLECTION AND PAPER SHREDDING EVENT THIS WEEKEND - The Ward 4 Tucson City Council Office is hosting the shredding and electronics recycling event this Saturday, from 8 a.m. - 11 a.m. at 8123 E. Poinciana Dr. The electronics recycling from Desert Metals Recycling will benefit Tucson Clean & Beautiful.  Paper shredding from Shred It will benefit the DM-50, a nonprofit, volunteer service organization that supports and funds initiatives to improve the quality of life for the personnel at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base. Items accepted for free at the joint event include computers, printers, cell phones, stereo equipment, copiers, fax machines, telephones, a single box of paper, and more. There is a $5 charge for computer monitors and anything beyond one box of paper. Read more about the event at Ward 4 Facebook page.
 
REDUCE CLUTTER, SAVE TREES, 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:
 
CITY OF TUCSON IS REMOVING ABANDONED SHOPPING CARTS - If you see a shopping cart off store property, abandoned along the street, or sitting in a wash, call the City of Tucson's Environmental Services 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 08-04-14

TUCSON POLICE DEPARTMENT (TPD) HOSTS NATIONAL CONFERENCE FOR WOMEN - TPD is hosting the 2014 National Association of Women Law Enforcement Executives (NAWLEE) Conference this Wednesday through Sunday. NAWLEE is a nonprofit 501(c)(6) organization sponsored and administered by law enforcement personnel whose mission is to serve and further the interests of women executives and those aspiring to be leaders in law enforcement. The organization promotes the ideals and principles of women of all ranks within law enforcement by conducting training seminars in leadership, management, and overall wellness.
 
POLICE UNION DROPS PENSION LAWSUIT AGAINST CITY - The Tucson Police Officer's Association (TPOA) dropped its lawsuit against the City over the sick leave sell-back program. In June, the TPOA sued the City after it stopped counting the selling back of unused sick days toward police and fire employees’ pensions. The union decided to suspend the lawsuit, since it - and the City’s other three unions -  will enter comprehensive labor negotiations with the City of Tucson within the next few weeks. Newly-appointed Interim City Manager Martha Durkin will be part of those negotiations. Read more from the Arizona Daily Star.
 
TUCSON'S TRANSPORTATION PAST LIVES ON, AS MODERN ERA BEGINS - While the modern era of streetcars debuted in Tucson last month, a symbol of the city's past is on display for everyone to see. Locomotive 1673 is housed at the Historic Train Depot downtown. In the early 1900s, the steam locomotive was part of the Southern Pacific rail network from California to the small desert outpost of Tucson. That meant cheaper goods and faster transportation. In later years, the train was used in the movie "Oklahoma," filmed in Elgin, AZ. Southern Pacific donated the train car to the City of Tucson in 1955. In 1962, it was moved to Himmel Park where it succumbed to the elements and vandalism. Locomotive 1673 eventually was restored and is now residing at the Southern Arizona Transportation Museum, 414 N. Toole Ave. Watch the history of Locomotive 1673, from the Tucson 12 archives.
Tucson Historic Depot timeline for Locomotive 1673

ALWAYS BE PREPARED FOR POWER OUTAGE DURING MONSOON SEASON - The Tucson Fire Department works closely with Tucson Electric Power to get power restored as soon as possible after a thunderstorm, but you should always be prepared. In the latest edition of KGUN9's "No Bad Days with Barrett," Tucson Fire Captain Barrett Baker says, at the minimum, keep your refrigerator closed when the power goes out and make sure you have flashlights with fresh batteries.
 
FOLLOW THE PROGRESS ON THE DOWNTOWN LINKS PROJECT - The City of Tucson and the Regional Transportation Authority (RTA) have a 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.

NewsNet 08-01-14

MARTHA DURKIN BEGINS HER SERVICE AS INTERIM CITY MANAGER - The City of Tucson administration welcomes a new leader today.  Assistant City Manager, Martha Durkin, was appointed by Mayor and Council recently as the interim replacement for Richard Miranda, whose retirement became effective yesterday. "I am honored to serve as Interim City Manager and build upon the City's mission to provide excellent service delivery," Durkin tells NewsNet. "This is a time of great synergy between our organization and the community as we all work toward a more vibrant and prosperous Tucson." Durkin is the first woman to hold the leadership post, and she will serve as Interim City Manager until a permanent Manager is hired by Mayor and Council. Durkin has worked in local government since 1984.

RESIDENT THANKS TUCSON FIRE DEPARTMENT FOR SAVING HER LIFE - Sandy Goodsite recently suffered a stroke at work.  Fortunately, she was treated within three minutes by Tucson Fire Paramedics Bill Nielson and Robert Smith, and her life was saved.  Goodsite showed her appreciation this week with a full-catered meal for the entire fire station. "I appreciate everything they did, and I don't know how often people come and say 'thank you' to them but I wanted them to see me, that I wasn't just laying on a bed looking like I was about to go out," Goodsite said. The Goodsites also visited the doctors and nurses who helped Sandy at Tucson Medical Center. Read more from KGUN9.

NEWSPAPER HIGHLIGHTS FUN THINGS TO DO ALONG THE STREETCAR LINE - The Arizona Daily Star yesterday published a 16-page pullout section highlighting the places for fun, food, and drinks along the 3.9-mile streetcar route. The "Caliente" insert gives a little background about the Sun Link project, while focusing on all of the new development and places to eat and explore along the line, from the University of Arizona, 4th Avenue, downtown, and the Mercado west of I-10. There's even a story about the redevelopment of Tucson's birthplace, nestled near the base of Sentinel Peak. Meanwhile, the latest report from the Downtown Tucson Partnership highlights more than $900 million of public and private investment along the streetcar route.
 
RECYCLING DURING STREETCAR WEEKEND AND AT THE STOPS HELPS OUR ENVIRONMENT - More than 30,000 bottles of water were given out during the opening of the Sun Link Tucson Streetcar last weekend, and more than a thousand pounds of those empty bottles and other recyclable materials were diverted from the landfill. “Each of the streetcar stops has a permanent dual trash/recycling container for passenger use,” said Francis LaSala, Tucson’s Waste Diversion Manager. “Until now, public transit stops have not been outfitted with recycling containers. Most of the waste generated by transit passengers are recyclable things, like beverage containers and newspapers.” In addition to the dual containers at Sun Link stops, the City recently installed trash and recycling bins downtown to allow residents the opportunity to “Do More Blue” while on the go. Read the news release.
 
TUCSON POLICE TO TEACH CAR SAFETY TOMORROW - The Tucson Police Department’s nationally-certified car seat technicians will teach parents and guardians about the proper use of car seats at the "Kidz Expo Back to School" event. The event will be held tomorrow at the El Pueblo Regional Center, 101 W. Irvington, from 10 a.m. - 4 p.m. Three classes will be held during the four-hour event - two in Spanish and one in English. After attending the hour-long class, parents will be given a car seat. Registration for the classes will begin at 10:00 a.m.

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