Picture Rocks Pride

Volume 7, Number 12 December, 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 usually meets the third Tuesday of each month at 7:00 pm in the Picture Rocks Community Center, 5615 N. Sanders Road; however, there will be no regular monthly meeting in December. Instead, we invite you to come to our New Year's Eve Potluck Party (details below). Free and open to all neighbors.


Thursday, Dec. 31, 6:00 pm to 9:00 pm
Picture Rocks Community Center
Live music! Bring a dish to share! All neighbors welcome!
(There will be NO regular C4PR meeting in December.)



Construction is moving right along on the Picture Rocks BMX/Skate Park. The facility is being built with 2004 bond funds awarded by the Pima County Neighborhood Reinvestment Program for a proposal submitted by C4PR, with the support of Dist. 3 Supervisor Sharon Bronson and critical guidance from Bennett Bernal. Project Manager is Jason Bahe of Pima County Natural Resources, Parks and Recreation. M. Anderson Construction Corp. is the general contractor. Specialty work is being completed by California Skateparks. Local BMX bikers and skateboarders worked with Site Design Group on the design of the park. Monitoring the project for C4PR are Karen Zopf, Tom Allen and Greg Mattison.

Grand opening festivities for the new BMX/Skate Park are scheduled for February 13, 2010. To see more photos , click here. Photos by Jim Pethe.


Following election of Board members at the annual meeting in October, officers were elected at the November Coordinating Committee meeting and confirmed by the general membership at the last monthly meeting. At the helm as President is Pam Moseley. Continuing in their positions for the year are Tom Allen as Vice President, Jamie Kisthardt as Secretary, and Keith Winans as Treasurer.


The former Picture Rocks Economic Development Council has been renamed the Community Sustainability Council to better communicate its mission. The Council, working under the auspices of Citizens for Picture Rocks, will have 10 members and is expected to meet at least monthly. If you are a resident of Picture Rocks and interested in guiding the future of the community through serving on this Council, please contact C4PR President Pam Moseley at 400-9653.

Part Eight: Picture Rocks Today

Today Picture Rocks has about 10,000 residents, pretty evenly divided between women and men, about 60 percent of them married. It is considered a "very low density" area with 167 people per square mile, and an "average" household of 2.8 people. Most drive to work, alone. Before the current recession, the number of residents living below the poverty line was 7.5 percent, half the state average. Over 80 percent have high school (or higher) education, including 18 percent with college degrees. Republicans hold a small edge over Democrat voters, with Independents a close third.

While the trend towards the present population began in the 1970s, community facilities came a bit later. Following the fire deaths of two children, the Picture Rocks Fire District was formed in 1977, with construction of the Sandario Road station in 1983. A new station is expected to open in April 2010. Desert Winds Elementary School was also built in 1983, followed by Picture Rocks Community Center in 1990. Picture Rocks Intermediate School opened in 1996, and the Ortiz Health Center in 2004. The Park was also ready for the public in 2004, and Picture Rocks Pool opened for its first season in 2007. A Sheriff's station was also opened in 2007. As this is being written, construction of a BMX/Skate Park is underway. Picture Rocks advocates have won a number of grants, including upcoming construction of sidewalks and bike lanes for "Safe Routes to School," Adopt-a-Roadway cleanup tools, a directory of local services, shade covering for the children's playground, and a Community Faire, as well as this very website.

Picture Rocks has come a long way since the days of "Tweakerville," thanks to the many concerned neighbors who organized Citizens for Picture Rocks in 2002 and have worked together for a safe community, and for Picture Rocks pride, ever since. There are no movie theaters or supermarkets, but professional and amateur musicians sing and play weekly at the Community Center, hummin' 'n' strummin', and fresh fruits and vegetables are available at a produce stand near PRCCI. A caring community, Picture Rocks volunteers clean up roadways, go over the hill to get surplus food to distribute free to those in need, and walk the park nightly to keep it safe. When coyotes sing at night, Harris' hawks argue with great horned owls, or spadefoot toads noisily emerge after summer storms, they remember why they choose to live here.

(Last of an eight-part series. The author would like to thank those neighbors who shared their time, memories and knowledge. All mistakes and interpretations, however, are mine and mine alone. --AVL)


One hundred and fifty-three people consumed 20 large turkeys, three gallons of gravy, 26 pies, and "tons" of potatoes and green beans at Picture Rocks Community Center's annual Day-Before-Thanksgiving free dinner. Seven PRCC volunteers, with Bill Stedman directing traffic, joined 35 Picture Rocks Intermediate School students from Mrs. Thompson's class in serving food, while six Marana High School students offered free blood pressure screening in the library. Valor Hospice made information available. Tompkins Chiropractic donated 30 pies for seniors and food for 30 families. West Side Rides donated over 200 cans of food.

PRCC Coordinator Wanda Crawfod and her staff made sure it all happened,
and a grateful feast was had by all.


Donald L. Smith, a 20-year Navy veteran, was thrown into the air and gored by an aging dairy bull in Picture Rocks on Nov. 11, Veteran's Day. Smith and his wife, Susan, who live in the Snyder Hill area, were at a local ranch with two goats they had brought there to breed. While Smith was getting one of the goats into its pen, the dairy bull, a ten-year resident with a gentle disposition, wandered over and rubbed against him, pressing him into the fence. Smith grabbed the animal's horns and the bull apparently thought he was being playful. After running the bull off, the ranch owner and Susan applied a tourniquet and called for help. The Picture Rocks Fire Department responded, stabilized Smith, and brought him out to a waiting helicopter. Smith was taken to University Medical Center where he spent several days.

The 56-year-old Navy vet made it through 20 years of military service without getting hurt. It was ironic that he was injured on Veteran's Day. Smith, now up and around, visited the Picture Rocks Fire Department on Nov. 24 to express his gratitude. It was a happy Thanksgiving for all concerned.


Thanks to the volunteers who turned out on Nov. 7 to pick up 42 bags of trash along three sections of adopted roadway on Sandario, Rudasill and Picture Rocks Roads. Coordinators Chris Banks and Jan Pekelder were joined by Lorra Lytle, Dorothy Banks, Ken Kisthardt (pictured right), Mike Lytle, Dawn Rishel, Kira Martin, Tom Allen, Laura Fridahl, Robin Nicholson, Diane Mattison, Greg Mattison, Bonnie Pile, Terry Pile, and Jim Pethe. The amount of trash continues to decline as more people feel that Picture Rocks Pride!


Avra Water Co-op's Annual Meeting was held on Nov. 18 at Picture Rocks Intermediate School. There were 88 members in attendance. Colleen McDonald was newly elected to the Board of Directors, with Warren Thompson and Jack Wheat re-elected to another term; Thompson continues as President. Continuing on the Board are Doug Schneider, Eugene Boettcher, Joe Ketterle and William Klukosky. Co-op members also voted to reduce the number of Directors from nine to seven.


If you missed it, put it on your calendar for next year and get your tickets early. On Nov. 13 and 14, Marana High School presented its 7th Annual Tucson Hip Hop Show, featuring dancing by Super Seniors, Jazzy Juniors, Sassy Sophomores and Funky Freshmen, along with Showbiz Kidz, Flowing Wells, Ironwood Ridge High School and Arizona State University performers. The high-energy show was directed by Jennifer Barton, with technical direction by Brian Paradis. The Marana Dance Team has won several statewide competitions.


Fry's Foods customers can channel company donations to Desert Winds Elementary School by printing this bar code and presenting it with their Fry's card when checking out. Once a certain level of total sales is reached, Fry's will make financial donations to the school for supplies and programs not covered in the MUSD budget. And don't forget that Dec. 31 is the deadline for making Credit for Caring state tax credit donations.


Saguaro National Park's Tucson Mountain District (Saguaro West) will offer a 3-day Junior Ranger Wilderness Camp during the winter school break, Dec. 19-21, for kids 10-13 years of age. The camp will include a variety of fun hands-on activities, such as hiking, exploring, compass and map reading, radio telemetry tracking of desert tortoises, and a night hike with story-telling. Children will also learn how to select a campsite and pitch a tent, cook with a lightweight backpack stove, and hike safely in the wilderness. Space is limited and advance registration is required. To register, or for more detailed information, contact Ranger Chip Littlefield at 733-8612 or by email at chip_littlefield@nps.gov. The camp fee is $30 per child for all three days.

Will Present Resolution at Dec. 18 ADOT Meeting

In March, the Board of Directors for the non-profit Friends of Saguaro National Park adopted a resolution opposing the proposed Interstate 10 bypass through Avra Valley on a number of grounds, including that such a route would threaten the survival of native wildlife species, aggravate the spread of invasive plants, pollute the air and disturb archeological sites.

FOSNP staff plan to attend the next monthly meeting of the Arizona Department of Transportation on Friday, Dec. 18, at 10:00 am at the Pima County Board of Supervisors' meeting room, 130 West Congress Street, to present their resolution. They encourage friends and neighbors of Saguaro National Park to attend the meeting and voice their concerns about the State Transportation Board's plans.


Winter Solstice, falling this year on Dec. 21, has been marked by cultures throughout the world for thousands of years. The shortest day - and longest night - signal the slow lengthening of the days as spring approaches. Our neighbors, the Tohono O'odham Nation, call December Eda Wa'ugath Mashath, the Moon of the Backbone, when the sun divides the year in half. Huhugam and Archaic rock art dating back thousands of years mark the Winter Solstice with sun and shadow markers, often associated with spiral and concentric circle petroglyphs. It was important for early agricultural peoples to know the seasons. An example is the spiral on top of Signal Hill in Saguaro National Park.

December in the Sonoran Desert is normally cool, with several freezing nights. In 1949 there were high winds, and in 1947 a small tornado appeared near Phoenix. If the winter rains materialize, the desert will turn green. Ocotillo, brittlebush, creosote bush and triangle-leafed bursage come back to life as mesquite and acacia trees drop their leaves. Winter rainfall - known to the O'odham as gentle "female" rain - will determine the growth of spring wildflowers. Normally we can expect about an inch of rain spread over four or five days. Dozens of bird species forage for seeds, and Anna's hummingbirds frequent sugar-water feeders while curved-bill thrashers sing arias instead of their usual two-note territorial warning whistle. Snakes, lizards and desert tortoises are deep in their dens, although warm days may bring them out for a peek.

Winter is a great time for walking in the desert, and Saguaro National Park and Tucson Mountain Park have extensive trail systems for all abilities. SNP charges $10 a carload for visitors, but an annual pass can be purchased for $25. Senior passes cost $10, good for life at all national parks and monuments, plus half-off on camping. Disabled visitors can get a free pass.

An easy trail to limber up with is the Cactus Wren Trail, which leads to Signal Hill. The trailhead is at the corner of Sandario and Rudasill Roads, and it is about 1-1/2 flat miles to the petroglyph site, intersecting with other trails along the way. Maps are available at the Red Hills Visitor Center or online.

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