|Volume 7, Number 10||October, 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 October 20, 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.
Citizens for Picture Rocks, at its September 15 meeting, voted to establish a Picture Rocks Economic Development
Council and named outgoing Board member Greg Mattison as Acting Chair. The decision followed a Community
Forum on several issues, including recent Pima County flood plain regulations which have
raised the cost of installing a manufactured home, the 37 percent drop in real estate values and lack of financing due
to the recession, and an evenly-divided debate on whether to try to attract grocery and other retail stores to the
Kiki Navarro, Executive Assistant to Dist. 3 Supervisor Sharon Bronson, urged residents to call her with their complaints about county rules. "Keep bothering us, if you want to try and change things," she said. Her number is 740-8051.
Pima County Economic Development and Tourism head Tom Moulton was also present to hear the discussion. A "draft Vision" was circulated, with room for written comments (see September Digest). C4PR President Kaitlin Meadows urged neighbors to make their opinions and concerns known to the new Council, make them known to our public officials, and continue to maintain a dialogue. Initial members of the PREDC are Greg Mattison, Keith Winans, Karen Zopf, Sheryl Volpone and Gene Meyers. Anyone interested in serving on a Citizens Advisory Board may contact Greg Mattison at 730-8581.
Responding immediately to flood plain concerns and the increased housing costs associated with the new regulations, Supervisor Bronson called Mattison the next day to set up a meeting between C4PR and Pima County Flood Control, which administers flood plain regulations, and the Supervisor. The results: an on-the-ground review of Picture Rocks will be done over the next six months to see what areas can be removed from the "sheet flow" designation. Questions about flood control permitting may be addressed to Eric Shepp, at 243-1810.
The Picture Rocks Fire District Governing Board voted on September 10,
2009, "to end all further study and talks with Northwest Fire District regarding a
possible merger or consolidation." According to the Fire District's statement, "...the Governing Board did not feel
comfortable with the issue of retaining the ambulance service's Certificate of Necessity (CON) should there be a
merger or consolidation." The statement said it was not clear if the CON, which allows Picture Rocks to maintain
local ambulance service, was transferable to a merged or consolidated entity, and there was concern that Picture
Rocks would lose its CON if it were not transferable.
The motion to end the process was made by Board member Doug Diezman and seconded by Board Chair Mike Lytle after reviewing the CON information in executive session. The vote was unanimous, after months of debate and division, much of it on the Fire District's web site. At a July 21 community forum on the merger organized by Citizens for Picture Rocks, Northwest Chief Jeff Piechura had laid out the possible benefits to the community if merger were effected. At that forum it was reported that a majority of firefighters favored the merger, while some had concerns, but community critics, including retired Fire Chief Chuck Hay, were not convinced. Opponents of merger/consolidation were most concerned about losing local control of a major community asset.
Despite disappointment and some remaining hard feelings, both Picture Rocks and Northwest made it clear that the basic issue of community protection remains intact, and that both fire districts will continue to work together in emergencies.
Introduced as "the best of the best" by National Park Service Regional Director Mike Snyder, Saguaro National
Park's new Superintendent, Darla Sidles, went to work in mid-June. Sidles said she has "immersed herself in this
It's been a mostly outdoor journey for this active hiker, runner and cyclist. Sidles grew up on a Texas farm and went to the University of Texas at Arlington. As a Student Conservation Association volunteer, she worked in Alaska, Washington, Utah, and at Big Bend in Texas. "I was not allowed to drive a vehicle," she recalled, "but I could run a chainsaw!" She got a paying job at Utah's Zion National Park doing biological and archaeological monitoring, and went on to work at Grand Canyon-Parashant National Monument on the Arizona- Utah border, ending up as Superintendent. Along the way she put in time as a Legislative Fellow in the nation's capitol.
Ms. Sidle's most recent NPS job was as Deputy Supt. of Philadelphia's Independence National Historical Park. She sees a "great opportunity to forge partnerships to do things we can't do individually - we can work together to get bigger things done." Climate change and buffelgrass are immediate threats, and Sidles told us that "we have to save this incredible landscape!"
Darla Sidles is the new Superintendent of Saguaro National Park. Sidles will be a guest at the October 20 C4PR meeting. (Photo courtesy of National Park Service)
The new superintendent also told Picture Rocks Digest that she had been talking to legislators in Washington about the proposed Avra Valley I-10 Bypass and found virtually no support for it. The Park, along with valley residents, has come out strongly against such a bypass. In December, 2008, former SNP Superintendent Sarah Craighead was finally allowed to present the Park's views to the State Transportation Board after a confrontational protest convinced the Board to allow at least a few of the dozens of people who had signed up to speak to be heard. SNP Chief Ranger Bob Love recently reaffirmed the Park's opposition at a Community Forum organized by Citizens for Picture Rocks. Craighead has moved to Death Valley National Park as their new superintendent. For information or reservations for Saguaro West programs, including local history and wildlife programs and Twilight Hikes, call 733- 5158.
With growing population came problems. While most people moved to Picture Rocks because of affordable
housing, or simply because they wanted to live in the desert, in nature, others came to avoid the eyes of the law.
Motorcycles and meth labs became the public face of the community to many people. In the 1980s the
Huns Motorcycle Club held motorcycle parades with up to two thousand "hogs," and raised
money for charities, but some bikers were accused of drug manufacturing and other illegal activities. Law
enforcement and residents were intimidated by the gangs, but eventually, with little money to be made in Picture
Rocks and their own internal disputes, most left the area.
There were other threats to the valley. In 1970 plans were discussed to build a giant airport that would accommodate the Concorde airliner, with freeways to town. The Central Arizona Project (CAP) canal, part of a 336-mile route for Colorado River water, was begun in 1973 and finished 20 years later, creating a barrier between neighbors on the western edge of Picture Rocks, along with construction dust and noise. Dorothy and Chris Banks, residents for 38 years, were involved in fighting a plan to build electric transmission lines through Picture Rocks in 2002. Neighbors and environmentalists, the CAP canal disruption still fresh in local memories, turned out at public meetings with firm opposition, and stopped the lines.
Neighbors and environmentalists are again closing ranks to oppose a proposed I-10 Bypass through the Avra Valley, a plan that could bring air pollution, hazardous cargo, traffic noise and community division. The Bypass would also seriously impact the Tucson Mitigation Corridor set up to allow wildlife movement when the CAP canal was built. The federal Bureau of Reclamation, Saguaro National Park, and Arizona Fish and Game, along with the Pima County Board of Supervisors, all oppose the Bypass. (To be continued.)
Students at Picture Rocks Intermediate School have a slogan: "We Soar!" Over a hundred sixth-graders had a
chance to virtually soar on October 1 when CarolAnn Garratt spoke to them. Garratt, with co-pilot Carol Foy, is the
world's record-holder for flying a single engine aircraft around the world. In December 2008 she went around the
world in 8-1/2 days, flying westbound from Florida for 24,000 nautical miles. Garratt flies herself around the
country regularly raising money through book sales, sponsorship and donations for ALS research; her mother died
of ALS, also known as "Lou Gehrig's Disease."
Picture Rocks Intermediate Principal Pam Beine met Garratt at a Tucson gathering, and convinced her to stay an extra day to talk to the students. The 54-year-old former triathlete told the assembled youngsters that she started flying when she was 17 years old, in high school. She loved math, which caused some expressions of disbelief from a few students, and went on to earn a degree in Mechanical Engineering at the University of Wisconsin. She worked making industrial equipment, and put her skills to use creating and building her own small aircraft.
Record-holding pilot CarolAnn Garratt told Picture Rocks Intermediate School students about flying around the world in her single-engine plane and shared her credo, "Live life, learn and share."
For her longer trips, including another trip around the world with
stops in many countries over 7-1/2 months and over 36,000 miles,
Garratt pilots a Mooney single-engine aircraft, the plane which she
landed at the Avra Valley Airport to visit here. Using PowerPoint
visuals, Garratt described her trip to the students, then answered
questions, and asked some of her own to test students' knowledge of
geography. One student asked how she went to the bathroom while in
flight. Garratt said that female flight suits had no zipper in the
necessary area, so she adapted a male flight suit, designed an
apparatus, and ran a tube through the bottom of the plane. Needing to
stay hydrated, she drank a lot of liquids, so the tube was well used.
Garratt told the students that there was no cause to worry -- it all
evaporated before it reached the ground!
The author of two books and a DVD about her journeys, copies of which she donated to the school library, has plans for a third round-the-world flight in 2011, travelling eastbound this time. She continues her ALS and volunteer activities, including Civil Air Patrol and Young Eagles, a program of the Experimental Aircraft Association that takes 8-17 year-olds into the skies. Click here to visit the website of Tucson Chapter 81. She hopes someday to parachute out of an aircraft, which she has never done. Her credo remains, "Live life, learn, and share."
For more on CarolAnn Garratt and the ALS fundraiser, "DASH for a Cure", including information on donating and ordering her books, click here. .