PICTURE ROCKS DIGEST

Picture Rocks Pride


Volume 9, Number 1 January, 2011

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. C4PR meets on the third Tuesday of the month at 7:00 p.m. at the Picture Rocks Community Center, 5615 N. Sanders Road. The next meeting is January 18. Meetings are always free and open to the public. Membership is not required, but strongly encouraged. Annual member fees are $20/individual or $25/family.



We offer our thoughts and prayers to Gabrielle Giffords and the other victims of Saturday's tragic shootings.
It is our hope that we, and people everywhere, will always seek to resolve differences peacefully, with love and respect for each other.



CITIZENS FOR PICTURE ROCKS MEETING

January 18, 2011
Meeting begins at 7:00 p.m.
Social time at 6:30 p.m.
Picture Rocks Community Center
5615 N. Sanders Road
Guest Speakers:
Eric Shepp, Pima County Regional Flood Control Dist.
Lt. Tim Hughes, Tucson Mountain Sheriff's Station
Free. All welcome.


PICTURE ROCKS FIRE BOARD FILLS SEATS

When PRFD Board member Doug Diezman resigned because of lack of time, Board veteran Peggy McCool, who had not run for re-election, was appointed unanimously to his seat. Former Fire Chief Charles Hay won a seat and attended his first meeting as a Board member on December 9.

Since state law requires that Board members who miss three consecutive meetings be dropped for non- attendance, Mike Lytle's seat was declared vacant at a special meeting on December 10, and David Seese was appointed unanimously. Lytle is on the road as a long-haul trucker. Seese, a 19-year Picture Rocks resident, is a construction project manager with a degree in construction engineering. He worked with the local Boy Scout troop for years, and says of his interest in serving on the PRFD Board, "I owe it to the community to help out where I can."

George "Jesse" James and David Putnam are continuing Board members. New Board officers were elected December 9: George "Jesse" James, Chair; Charles Hay, Vice Chair; Peggy McCool, Clerk; David Putnam, Treasurer; David Seese, At-Large.


RANCHO DEL CONEJO WATER ANNUAL MEETING

Meeting on December 11, Co-op members heard from President David Putnam that the Board is exploring becoming a Drinking Water Improvement District, subject to a supervised membership vote at a later date, and that their arsenic removal system went on line in June and is doing its job of keeping naturally- occurring arsenic levels well-below the federal and state limits. The system, financed by a State Water Infrastructure Authority loan and designed and built locally under the direction of Operator Bob Evans and Tres Rios Engineering's Jeff Bowers, has become a recognized model, with visitors coming from as far as Texas to check it out.

Naturally-occurring arsenic became a major problem for many water companies a few years ago when the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency reduced the allowable limits in drinking water by 80 percent, from 50 milligrams per liter (mg/L) to 10 mg/L. Long-term consumption of high arsenic levels can cause a number of health problems.

David Putnam was re-elected to the one open Board slot. Continuing directors are Peggy McCool, Randy Chambliss, Paul "Teepee" Haid and Donovan Hemway. The co-op serves about 320 homes.


SUN VALLEY GROWERS
TREES-SHRUBS-SOIL
in Picture Rocks
East off Sandario at
11205 W. Ina Road
Open Tue-Sun. 8am-5pm

PICTURE ROCKS CARES - HOLIDAY SNAPSHOTS

SANTA CLAUS ARRIVED on a Picture Rocks Fire Department engine at the local Community Center on December 17 with about 50 children waiting to tell him their wish lists.

When asked who was wearing the red suit, Fire Department personnel said they thought his name was Kris Kringle. Your Intrepid Reporter was able, with due diligence, to find out from one of Santa's elves, PRCC staffer Christina Longo, that it was really her fiance', Matt Hinte, also a Pima County Parks and Recreation employee. Not a single "Bah, humbug!" was heard. That's because Scrooge lives in Marana.

SANTA'S ELVES included members of Boy Scout Troop 218, Cub Scout Pack 218 and family members, who spent a Saturday morning wrapping presents for children in need. Picture Rocks Fire Department Division Chief Elf Debbie Trimble provided guidance, wrapping paper and donuts.

The presents came from PRFD's Toys for Tots holiday drive. Off-shift PRFD firefighters volunteered and collected over $5,000 from motorists stopping at Picture Rocks and Sandario Roads for toys for families in need, and dozens of neighbors brought new toys to the fire station. Jo Weger, a former PRFD Board member, made and donated two afghans. A red-nosed mule deer was reported seen outside the Wagon Wheel, where free Christmas trees were available just before the holiday.

ANOTHER ELF was Flossie Balicki, who made and donated ten quilts. She started making quilts over 50 years ago with leftover material after sewing clothes for her four children, and later for thirteen grandchildren and five great-grandchildren. Ten years ago she began quietly donating her quilts to the Pima County Health Dept., the Pima Council on Aging's Stuff the Bus, and then to PRFD's Toys for Tots. Using thrift store materials, Flossie has donated well over 1,000 quilts over the past decade! She retired in 2003 after working for 27 years at adult day care facilities, including 15 years with Alzheimer's patients. She says, "I've been blessed in many ways... We have to give back and help each other as the Good Lord teaches us." And that is the spirit of Christmas.

SANTA AND HIS HELPERS DELIVERED gifts to 50 children by horse-drawn carriage and fire truck on December 23. The pair of Draft/Persian-cross horses was wrangled by Maranans Brad and Donna Dewey, with sons Brandon and Colton, joined by firefighters, fire trucks and neighbors singing carols. Brad says he'd like to make it a tradition. There were no Grinches to be seen, although one was rumored to be living on Lak-a-Yucca.

SANTA'S FIRST STOP was a delivery to six-year-old Caitlin Dunbar. The photo below shows the family of Jennifer and Stephen McClintock and children Cora, Savannah and Johnny Stewart, and Tyler, Devon, Logan and baby Arianna McClintock as Santa's entourage came down Sanders Road. Santa, aka PRFD Paramedic Tim LaPorte, and his helpers completed their rounds into the night.

THANKS TO Picture Rocks Fire Department and the generous people of our community for making it a truly Merry Christmas for so many.

SENDING OFF THE OLD YEAR, about 80 people went to the annual New Year's Eve Citizens for Picture Rocks pot-luck dinner on December 30, actually New Year's Eve Eve, to share good food and good fellowship, with the songs of the Hummin' & Strummin' musicians welcoming in the new year.

The room rocked as most joined in singing Woody Guthrie's "This Land Is Your Land," which some call our "other national anthem."

HAPPY NEW YEAR to all our friends and neighbors in our wonderful, caring, community of Picture Rocks.



SUNZIA POWER LINES IN THE AVRA VALLEY CHALLENGED

The federal Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and New Mexico's SunZia Southwestern Power Group, based in Phoenix, are working to have a Draft Environmental Impact Statement ready by April, 2011. The SunZia/BLM proposal, marketed as needed to deliver New Mexico-generated "green" energy to California through southern Arizona, threatens serious impacts on the San Pedro River valley, the Aravaipa and Galiuro Wilderness areas, and on the Avra Valley and Picture Rocks. One proposed route would follow the Central Arizona Project canal on the western edge of Picture Rocks, within shouting distance of many homes and just over a mile from two schools and a community center. The project is designed to have two 460-mile-long 500-kilovolt (KV) lines, with a right-of-way of 400 to 1,000 feet plus access roads that will end in Phoenix. Also under consideration is a mile-wide corridor to allow for future lines.

In an October 27, 2010, letter to the Arizona Corporation Commission, Cascabel Working Group member Norman Meader challenged not only the proposed route, but also the claim that the project is needed to promote wind energy. Noting that all Arizona environmental groups and affected communities oppose the proposed routes, Meader expressed concerns that a "bitter conflict" could result in a "hard-fought legal fight."

The Cascabel Working Group, which succeeded in deflecting a proposed I-10 Bypass away from the San Pedro River Valley, has built a reputation for serious and effective research and advocacy. Meader continues that tradition by demonstrating that the SunZia Project is far less about renewable energy than about filling the capacity of the Southwestern Power Group's natural gas Bowie power plant, and meeting the needs of four other natural gas power plants in southern New Mexico. The wind-power generators that would power-up the SunZia Project have not even been built yet, and Meader's research shows that 50 percent of the transmission lines' power would come from non-renewable sources. Southern Arizona, he states, "will bear all of the impact of this project (with) almost no benefit."

Instead of just sounding the alarm, Meader asks for "serious consideration" of an alternative northern route which the BLM and SunZia dropped from their list of possible routes. That route would pass through Springerville and follow existing 345-KV and 500-KV transmission lines to Phoenix. That route would also allow the development and addition of central Arizona wind resources with "far less environmental conflict." Such a route could actually create Arizona jobs, he claims. The full letter and the six volumes of research behind it can be accessed here.


MEET OUR LOCAL BUSINESSES: GREEN DESERT TAX SERVICE

Green Desert Tax Service came into being after Karen Zopf spent years doing taxes for the honey business she and her husband, Malcolm Schmerl, operate. She took classes with H&R Block, worked for Block a season to gain experience, and launched her home-based business in 2003. Hailing from Kankakee, Illinois, Karen moved to Arizona in 1982 and has lived in Picture Rocks for 20 years. Daughter Emily is a graduate of Desert Winds Elementary, Picture Rocks Intermediate, Marana Middle and Marana High School.

Karen's first year as Green Desert Tax Service was in an office at Picture Rocks Realty, who gave her an affordable rent to help her get started. She prepares taxes for about 50 clients a year, many of them repeat customers, including three generations in one family. A basic return starts at $50, and if something goes amiss - usually through the client forgetting to include something - Karen will assist the client in straightening it out with the IRS. She uses the available computer software, but double-checks the return herself.

An early member of Citizens for Picture Rocks, Karen assisted with the non-profit incorporation process and was one of the first elected Board members, a position she still holds. She also formats and edits the Picture Rocks Digest. She wants people to know that free tax assistance is available through AARP and United Way, with Wednesday afternoon sessions at the Abbett Library scheduled to start February 2. For more information, call the library at 594-5200.

A tip from Karen: You cannot deduct veterinary bills as a medical expense, no matter how much a part of the family that dog or cat or horse is... unless your animals are part of an income-producing business. Karen Zopf and Green Desert Tax Service can be reached at 682-8760, or by email at kzopf520@comcast.net. She works by appointment only.


SUSPICIOUS FIRE MAKES FOR A NOT-SO-MERRY-CHRISTMAS

A fire of uncertain origin broke out suddenly in a detached garage on El Lobo Road west of Chaparral about 1:30 a.m. on December 22. The Picture Rocks Fire Department responded within 15 minutes to several 9-1-1 calls but could not save the structure. Firefighters were able to pour water on the roof of the adjacent home which the high heat threatened to ignite. No humans or animals were injured, and PRFD Fire Marshall Joe Ketterle is investigating the cause of the fire, which began with a sudden loud whoosh that woke up neighbors.

Property owner Kaye Hastings, who was awakened by neighbors after the fire broke out, said that all of her father's tools, her saddle and all the garage contents were destroyed by the fire. One neighbor said that this was the third suspicious fire in the neighborhood recently, and that residents should be alert.




The Picture Rocks Digest is written by Albert Vetere Lannon (email: bluemoon@dakotacom.net; phone: 622-3561). Design/format and editing by Karen J. Zopf. Contributors: Elizabeth Paxton and Jim Pethe. For ads, contact Jamie Kisthardt at 682-0287. Malcolm Schmerl puts it on the web and can be contacted at mjs355@comcast.net.



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