Picture Rocks Pride

Volume 7, Number 9 September, 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 September 15, 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.


(iced tea social time starts at 6:30 p.m.)

Picture Rocks Community Center
5615 N. Sanders Road

Citizens for Picture Rocks is helping to form a Picture Rocks Economic Development Council (PREDC). The Council will assess community interest in the development of a strong economic base in the area, which could have a positive effect on property values and on our sense of community, as well as provide more convenient access to a variety of basic goods, services and employment opportunities.

If, and only if, there is strong community support for some basic, small-scale commercial development, PREDC will use its organized influence to assist and encourage economic development and help stabilize real estate values. We will do this by working with interested neighbors; with existing business owners, including home-based businesses and cottage industries; and with Pima County to reduce barriers, overcome obstacles, and develop support for Picture Rocks.

The draft "Vision for Picture Rocks" below will be the focus of discussion at the Forum. Your comments are encouraged at the meeting, on our website at CitizensforPictureRocks.org, or via email to PictureRocksDigest@comcast.net. For more information, contact Greg Mattison (730-8581) or Keith Winans (444-2182).


The community of Picture Rocks is located bounded on the east by
Saguaro National Park (photo courtesy of Jim Pethe)


In accord with Citizens for Picture Rocks' revised Bylaws, elections will be held at the October 20 C4PR Annual Meeting. There are four seats on the C4PR Board of Directors to be filled. A call went out in August for those members interested in serving on the Board to make themselves known. Stepping forward, with the approval of the C4PR Coordinating Committee, are incumbent Tom Allen, and members Pam Moseley, Chris Banks, and Jim Pethe. Nominations may also be made from the floor at the Annual Meeting. Continuing on the Board are Jamie Kisthardt, Karen Zopf, and Keith Winans.


Lt. Scott Martin, Commander of the Tucson Mountain District Sheriff's Station for the past 2-1/2 years, has taken a new job as the swing shift Force Commander, overseeing police work in all of unincorporated Pima County between 4 p.m. and midnight. Lt. Martin came to the Aug. 18 C4PR meeting to say goodbye and to thank the members for their support and good work. He noted that, "a lot of felons have been put away in the last six months," and that several Deputies are actively targeting criminal activity rather than responding to calls. His replacement at the Station is Lt. Willie Belin.


The non-profit Marana Foundation for Educational Excellence invites the community to their annual "Summer's Last Splash -- A Day of Fun for All." The fundraising event will be held at Breakers Water Park, 8555 W. Tangerine Road, on Sunday, September 13, 11:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. All park attractions and water activities will be open and there will be performances by MUSD school bands, choirs, orchestras, jump rope teams, and other groups throughout the day. Proceeds will benefit the Marana Foundation and MUSD schools.


With unemployment high and foreclosures continuing to rise, many communities are seeing more and more abandoned animals - dogs, cats, horses - and wondering what can be done. Pima Animal Care Center's Public Service Supervisor Jayne Cundy brought some answers to community questions at the Aug. 18 C4PR meeting. A major interest was in dangerous dogs and roaming dog packs.

Cundy recommended calling 911 in any life-threatening situation, and said that such attacks were PACC's top priority. Unfortunately, there are only six officers in the field covering a huge area, so, while all calls will be responded to, response time may not always be quick. They will come out and issue citations. She noted that the term "vicious dog" is a legal definition that has to be declared by a court, while PACC can declare a dog "dangerous." A dog can be mean if it is within a fenced and gated property, but if the gate is open and the dog can come out, it is a violation of leash laws.

Jayne Cundy of Pima Animal Care Center answered questions about animal control at the August C4PR meeting

Cundy recommended taking a photo of the offending animals, noting the date and time and their home address, and contacting PACC to issue a citation against the owner. Alternatively, two unrelated witnesses can file reports. Several neighbors gave their own suggestions for dealing with trespassing dogs, including using a BB gun or pepper spray. Barking dog complaints are often handled through a mediation process. PACC helps fund the Animal Welfare Alliance of Southern Arizona, which has a list of low-cost spay/neuter programs. They can be reached at 319-1169, or by email at info@awasa.org. Their website is at www.awasa.net, and notes that free spay/neutering may be available for Picture Rocks neighbors with companion animals. Cundy said that anyone not satisfied with a PACC response may call her directly at 243-5920.


In times of frustration and anger over the ills and wrongs of our world, people often give up fighting, in the mistaken belief that one person can't really change anything. Consider this true story:

For years Dex, Yellowbook and Verizon phone directories have been "delivered" to Picture Rocks by dumping them on the ground near mailboxes. The result has been unsightly litter, and a lot of inconvenience to Adopt-A-Roadway volunteers (those books are heavy!). So one resident decided to do something about it. He contacted Dex and Qwest, but nothing happened. Then he called the Pima County Dept. of Environmental Quality's 24-hour Illegal Dumping Hotline (622-5800). DEQ issued a complaint against Dex. Those left-over phone books were picked up and Dex now mails them to its customers.

Verizon also ignored emails and phone calls, so this neighbor, after serving notice on Verizon that he would take direct action, collected a load of their books, trucked them to the closest Verizon office, and dumped them in their doorway. That, and another call to the Illegal Dumping Hotline, got Verizon's books off the ground.

Local neighbors have taken action to stop this kind of dumping of phone books in Picture Rocks (photo courtesy of Jim Pethe)

Most recently, Yellowbooks were dumped all around Picture Rocks. The neighbor again called DEQ, but got no response, perhaps because of short-staffing and budget cuts. So he emailed Yellowbooks, asking them to pick up their litter or have it returned to their Tucson office. Two days later this neighbor received a phone call from Yellowbook's area rep, saying he had dispatched several crews to retrieve all the unwanted books and that he would drive out himself to make sure it was done.

There's an old saying: "Direct action gets satisfaction." Now, if one person could get that done, imagine the possibilities of many neighbors working together. Wow!

Part Six: Founding Picture Rocks

Picture Rocks Road, aka Route 202, was built in 1929 and was the only paved road in the area until the 1950s. The creation of the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum in 1952 helped bring attention to the valley and to the need for infrastructure. The area was known then as Avra Valley, with Picture Rocks the name of the site of Huhugam petroglyphs over the hill at the Redemptorist Center.

In 1958 Mamye Smith, first owner of the Wagon Wheel, bought land here and founded the Rancho Del Conejo Community Water Cooperative with 35 families, most of the local population. The co-op built the dirt roads from Sanders to Avra Roads, and Orange Grove to El Lobo, as water line easements. When Pima County wouldn't continue Rudasill from Avra to Sanders in 1969, the co-op's grader opened the road all the way to Sandario.

Blaine Lord founded the Avra Valley Water Co-op at about that time. Water was found at about 100 feet down in those days; now it's at least 350 feet below the surface. Luckily, the Avra Valley has the largest underground aquifer in Southern Arizona, which is why the city of Tucson tried to buy it all up in the 1970s, pushing ranchers out. While housing development began in the 1940s and '50s, the "wildcat boom" which created our present community and brought the name Picture Rocks into widespread use, took place in the 1970s.

Eddie Neufang, who built his ranch by hand in 1966 when it was still mostly open range, still calls it Avra Valley. He recalls how he, George Richardson and Duane Batten teamed up to show movies on Friday nights in 1968, stretching a sheet between two telephone poles outside the Wagon Wheel, which sold sodas and candy while a 16 mm projector showed "Eldorado" and other movies for about a year. Other diversions came in the form of horse races and illegal dog fights. (To be continued)


The non-profit Direct Center for Independence, with state, county and federal grants, can provide home modifications for the elderly and disabled in rural Pima County. This includes ramps, widened doorways, grab bars, low-rise steps, etc. Manufactured homes are eligible if not in a mobile home park. There are income limitations: Call Martha Schuetz at 624-6452 for more information and intake. Deadline for applying is Oct. 31.

The Picture Rocks Digest is written by Albert Lannon (email: bluemoon@dakotacom.net; phone: 622-3561).
Additional materials and design by Karen J. Zopf.