|Volume 7, Number 8||August, 2009|
Welcome to the Picture Rocks Digest,
a free newsletter about issues and events in the community. The print
version of this all-volunteer publication is distributed at area
businesses and community sites. If you have calendar events or news
items, or if you would like to be added to our email
list, please contact us at PictureRocksDigest@comcast.net.
The Picture Rocks Digest is a publication of Citizens for Picture Rocks, Inc., a nonprofit 501(c)(4) civic organization dedicated to improving the quality of life in the community. Citizens for Picture Rocks meets the third Tuesday of each month at 7:00 pm in the Picture Rocks Community Center, 5615 N. Sanders Road. Meetings are free and open to the public. The next meeting is August 18, 2009. Everyone is welcome to attend. Membership not required, but highly recommended. Dues are $20/year for an individual or $25/year for a family.
Pursuant to the revised bylaws, Citizens for Picture Rocks calls on any and all members who may be interested in being nominated for the C4PR Board of Directors to make themselves known by contacting Coordinating Committee Chair Jackie Hale, 682-7974. A slate of officers will be prepared for the September meeting, and additional nominations may be made from the floor at the Annual Meeting in October.
With local businesses often frustrated by County rules and regulations, C4PR is helping to form a new Picture Rocks Economic Development Council (PREDC). The Council will inform neighbors about things that affect property values, including having a solid economic base; assist present businesses, including home-based, with networking and resources; and look at ways to bring in new businesses and services that will benefit the community. A presentation on the PREDC will take place at the September 15 C4PR monthly meeting. For more information, contact Greg Mattison at 730-8581 or Keith Winans at 444-2182.
Sixty-five people, including a contingent of working firefighters, attended a Citizens for Picture Rocks
(C4PR) community forum July 21 on the merger currently being studied by Picture Rocks
and Northwest Fire districts.
Despite strong views on both sides of the merger issue, forum participants and audience all responded to C4PR President Kaitlin Meadows' call for civility and mutual respect. Meadows noted that, as a non-profit community improvement organization, C4PR cannot take a position, but has a responsibility to help the community become more informed.
Forum guests were Kathy Duff-Stewart, Picture Rocks Fire Chief; Stephen (Jeff) Piechura, Northwest Fire Chief; Charles (Chuck) Hay, retired Picture Rocks Chief and merger opponent; and Firefighter Alan Douglas, representing the Picture Rocks firefighters. C4PR Board member Greg Mattison moderated the discussion, calling for a "positive, constructive and cooperative" discussion.
Forum guests gave opening statements and then responded to a series of questions that had been formulated
by the community, ending with brief closing statements. C4PR Vice President Tom Allen acted as
Among the points made by Chief Piechura were:
Retired Picture Rocks Chief Chuck Hay, a founder of the district in 1977 and a vocal opponent of merger,
quipped that he was "almost convinced...but not." Picture Rocks, he said, was a rural community and
doesn't need an urban fire department. Picture Rocks' response time was six minutes, he noted, while
Northwest's was eight. Our firefighters, he said, "give 110 percent... our people take care of each other,
neighbors help neighbors." He warned that Northwest was really after the Certificate of Necessity that
allows Picture Rocks to provide full ambulance service. Access to that certificate would allow Northwest to
expand, he said, and they have already budgeted for seven ambulances while denying raises to their
firefighters. He noted that when Flowing Wells Fire merged with Northwest 13 years ago, the end result
was a majority of Flowing Wells personnel transferred, with few staying at Northwest and even fewer
making it to retirement.
Firefighter Alan Douglas said that the employees were divided on the merger issue, although a majority favored it. Some are apprehensive about working in a larger department (Picture Rocks has one station, Northwest has nine). There are pluses in the ability to advance in a larger organization, but also concern about having to meet new qualifications. Douglas said that citizens should be pro-active, attend meetings, ask questions, and know that whatever happens, "the firefighters will give their best."
PR Fire Chief Kathy Duff-Stewart said that no decisions were being made at this time, that the PR Board was gathering data to see if a merger would work for the people of Picture Rocks. Phase 1 of the merger study showed that operating systems were compatible, and the Board voted on July 9 to start Phase 2, a study of merging the districts economically. If both Boards unanimously agree after the full study, the merger would happen; if there were dissent, the decision would go to the voters. The Picture Rocks Fire board has already pledged to let voters make the decision. Marana also has to approve a merger.
Northwest does not issue burn permits or do rattler removal, except in emergencies, while Picture Rocks had 213 permits in 2008 and 93 so far in 2009, along with 93 snake removals last year and 53 so far this year. Duff-Stewart warned, however, that these both might have to be looked at again with or without a merger. The population of the PRFD has more than doubled in recent years.
In response to a question about the bond indebtedness for the building of a new station, now under construction, Duff-Stewart said their attorney stated any obligations would be spread over the entire (new) district, which would also own all assets.
The meeting concluded with a round of applause for all firefighters. The debate will continue at Picture
Rocks Fire board meetings, held on the second Thursday of each month, 7 p.m., at 12121 W. Picture Rocks
Road, and on their website www.picturerocksfire.org where the public can also post comments and
Arizona Daily Star reporter Shelley Shelton was at the forum and wrote an article that was published July 30.
...That's what is going on at PRCCI five days a week. The photos shows some of the surplus food - donated by Safeway and trucked over the hill by volunteers - that is available free to all. Arrive before 9 a.m. Monday-Friday to get a number for a place on line. PRCCI is at 6691 N. Sandario, just south of Picture Rocks Road. Their thrift store is open 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Donations of all kinds welcome!
Students at Picture Rocks Intermediate School have a new principal this fall. Pamela Beine has replaced Patricia Cadigan, who is now the principal at Mountain View High School. Ms. Beine has over 20 years experience with public education at the elementary and junior high school levels, 13 years as a principal. She was born in Illinois and was educated there and in Saskatchewan.
Pamela Beine, new principal of Picture Rocks Intermediate School, welcomes parental and community involvement
Ms. Beine (rhymes with shiny) and her husband bought property in the Catalina Foothills awhile back, and
have built a home there, complete with bobcats, deer and javelina. Moving from Washington state to
Newport Beach, California, and then to Picture Rocks, she "loves the feel of this community," noting "the
support and high level of commitment to each other and to the children-I've heard nothing but great
things about (PRI's) hard-working staff."
Picture Rocks Digest (PRD) recently met with Ms. Beine (PB) to ask a few questions.
PRD: In a time of budget crises and cuts in public education funding, how do you see meeting the challenges of educating our youth?
PB: We have to do more with less, find ways to educate without increasing costs. My number one budget item will be the instruction of the kids. Any "extras" have to directly impact learning.
PRD: Do you have any ideas on how to involve more parents in school affairs and their children's education?
PB: We're starting a Parent-Teacher Organization (PTO), which has been tried before. There are Desert Winds children moving into Picture Rocks Intermediate, and parent volunteers willing to help build a PTO. Parents can be a bridge between Desert Winds, Picture Rocks Intermediate, and Marana High School. We will continue with Family Nights four times a year, perhaps start "parent think tanks"- with guest speakers and materials which can be a parent resource center, bring back Community Time assemblies with students receiving awards, setting goals. We can share and celebrate together to unify.
PRD: What, in your view, can the community do for the school, and what can the school do for the community?
PB: Children need "service hearts," learning to give. We're looking at recycling, litter teams, showing that Picture Rocks stands for something important. We welcome community help at things like Career Day, reading to kids, reciting poetry, and sharing their gifts with the children. Maybe running and fitness clubs-we learn better in a healthy body. I want to expand and enrich our children's lives, and fulfill Patricia Cadigan's legacy.
The Marana Unified School District offers free and reduced-price meals for children served under the National School Lunch Program and School Breakfast Program. Household size and income are used to determine eligibility. For example, a family of four with income of $3,400 a month may be eligible for reduced price meals. Children covered by the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, or Food Distribution on the Indian Reservation, are eligible for free meals. Applications are available at the MUSD offices at 11279 W. Grier Road, and at school offices and cafeterias. DESERT WINDS ELEMENTARY SCHOOL is providing breakfast in the classroom for every child at no cost. If a child has food restrictions or allergies, please contact the Health Aide at 616-4000.
Trico Electric Cooperative has added online ordering for its Operation Cool Shade tree program. Up to three, five-gallon mesquite, Arizona ash, southern live oak and desert willow trees can be purchased for $11 each by Trico customers, and picked up in November. Attending a Master Gardeners class at Trico offices earns a $5 per tree discount on your bill. Order online at www.trico.coop, or download an order form and mail it in, or call 744-2944, ext. 1605, to request an order form. Tree orders are filled on a first-come, first-served basis.