Picture Rocks Pride

Volume 8, Number 3 March, 2010

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. The next meeting is March 16. Meetings are free and open to the public. Membership is not required, but strongly encouraged. Dues are $20/year for an individual or $25/year for a family.


The Marana Unified School District will hold a special budget override election on March 9. The District has experienced over $8.6 million reduction in revenue due to state budget cuts over the past two years. Proposition 400 requests voter authorization for MUSD to exceed the Maintenance and Operations Budget by 15 percent. That includes the 2007 override plus five percent. The additional five percent would lessen the impact of state budget cuts and assist the District in maintaining current levels of service. This was the message brought by MUSD's Mark DeWeerdt to the February 16 C4PR meeting.

The impact to taxpayers is an additional 36 cents in the secondary tax rate, bringing the total to $1.03. The additional tax means an increase of $36 per $100,000 of assessed valuation. MUSD, however, intends to utilize cash from their existing debt service fund to eliminate the increase for the 2010-2011 tax year, and anticipates minimizing future impacts to taxpayers in subsequent years.

DeWeerdt, a former aide and teacher now in administration at Coyote Hills Elementary School, said the most important levels of service the override will protect are appropriate class sizes, full-day kindergarten and programs that support student success. If the budget override does not pass, there will be more pay cuts and layoffs. Cost-cutting measures MUSD has already put in place include a $2,000 pay cut for teachers, furlough days for staff and teachers, and a substantial decrease in all operational expenses. More information is available from Mark DeWeerdt at (520) 349-9897, or visit the MUSD website.

- by Elizabeth Paxton. We welcome Liz to our writing team. A long-time Tucson-area resident and former newspaper staff writer, Liz lives in Avra Valley with her rescue pets and enjoys the music of Hummin' and Strummin'.


The Pima Association of Governments (PAG) is holding open houses where the public can review and comment on their proposed 2015 Transportation Improvement Plan and 2040 Regional Transportation Plan. The closest to Picture Rocks will be Wednesday. March 10, 4:30-6:30 p.m. at the Foothills Mall Food Court. It's an appropriate time and place to voice concerns on the proposed I-10 Avra Valley Bypass and the need for public transportation in Picture Rocks.


Tuesday, March 16, 2010
Social time at 6:30 p.m.
Meeting starts at 7:00 p.m.

Picture Rocks Community Center
5615 N. Sanders Road

Guest: Robin Riley, artist for the Safe Routes to School Project
Other Topics to be Announced

All neighbors welcome!


Citizens for Picture Rocks and the Picture Rocks Community Center are gearing up for the annual Picture Rocks Community Fair to be held on Saturday, May 8, 4-8 p.m. at PRCC. To participate or volunteer to help, please call Jamie Kisthardt at 682-0287.


Starting with the April issue, the Picture Rocks Digest will double in size and carry ads for local businesses. A business card-sized ad will cost $50 and run for three months. For information, contact Jamie at 682-0287.


Free Reiki mini-sessions, Wednesdays, 10-11:30 a.m.

PRCC is located at 5615 N. Sanders Road. For more information, call 682-7166.


About 150 people, more than half of them young boys and girls on two or four wheels, welcomed the dedication of the new Picture Rocks BMX/Skate Park on February 13. As the ceremony opened with Boy Scout Troop #218 presenting the colors and leading the Pledge of Allegiance, the youth waited more or less patiently, clearly chomping at the bit to try out the new park-within-a-park.

Citizens for Picture Rocks (C4PR) President Pam Moseley opened the Dedication, calling the new park "a jewel in our community (that was) years in the making." She credited the "many people who made this happen," including District 3 Supervisor Sharon Bronson who, she said, "has always been an advocate for our community."

C4PR member Greg Mattison (top left) and Dist. 3 Supervisor Sharon Bronson (bottom left) were among the speakers to an estimated 150 in attendence for the ribbon cutting cerimony to open the new Picture Rocks BMX/Skate Park

Supervisor Bronson called the day "a celebration of our community, with special thanks to the many young people who got involved in the 2-1/2 year-long process, to Citizens for Picture Rocks, and to the County's Neighborhood Reinvestment Program," as well as to the County officials and construction and design companies involved. She also noted that $30,000 of the $383,000 grant will go for a security camera system in Picture Rocks Park.

C4PR Board member and grant writer Karen Zopf called the park "a truly cooperative effort" and told the youngsters, "You made this happen. When you work together you have power. It's up to you now to take care of the park." Greg Mattison, who, with Zopf and C4PR VP Tom Allen, served as community liaison with the county, said: "We are blessed with young people who will step up and speak up." He read off a list of youth who participated in the planning process and invited them to be the first users of the 10,000 square foot facility.

One of the young men who stuck with the project was Arnold Tellez who told the assemblage, "It's up to us now to make it run good, keep it clean. I'm excited and I know everyone else is."

BMX rider Arnold Tellez, a featured speaker at the BMX/Skate Park opening, helped design the new park

After the ribbon-cutting, 18 Picture Rocks skaters and bikers cut loose, joined by professionals from AZPX Skateboards. Soon there were over 75 kids of all ages, races, ethnicities and genders flying through the park's elements.

A sampling of youthful opinion found the park "nice, - good, - awesome," and "the best." It was a gorgeous morning and, in a community where there has been a lack of activities for young people for too long, a very proud one.


The Picture Rocks Fire District recently went through an Insurance Services Office (ISO) rating inspection which lowered their rating of an 8B to a split rating of 5/8B. The class 5 rating applies to properties within 5 miles of the fire station and 1000 feet of a fire hydrant. The 8B applies to all properties further than 1000 feet from a fire hydrant or more than five miles from the fire station. Properties that are within the boundaries of Picture Rocks Fire District and 1000 feet of a fire hydrant and within 5 miles of the fire station should contact their homeowner's insurance company. They may qualify for a reduction in their insurance premiums.


Almost a decade ago, residents of the Avra Valley including Picture Rocks united with environmentalists in opposition to a project that would have run a power line to Mexico through their communities and the Tucson Mitigation Corridor (TMC), land set aside for wildlife to travel when the CAP canal was built. Neighbors oppose the proposed I-10 Bypass for the same reasons. Now SunZia and the Bureau of Land Management are studying construction of a New Mexico-to-Casa Grande 500-kilovolt power line along essentially the same route, placing the TMC and communities at risk again. This route is being studied because other communities opposed the power line coming through their neighborhoods. Comments can be emailed to the BLM website which has a "contact us" link.


Desert Dwellers Disposal, Pima Waste of Tucson and Arizona City Trash Service, all owned by Bill Killian, were sold to Houston-based Waste Management Inc. effective the first of the year. Killian, who said in 2008 that local companies are more responsive to customer needs, now says in a letter to customers that, "I chose Waste Management because I know they are the company most capable of providing our customers with...high quality service."

Killian refused to disclose the sale price to reporters. Waste Management's Phoenix-based spokesperson, Melissa Quillard, also refused to discuss the price of the sale, but said that WM "does not anticipate any price increase" for the 8,000 customers of the former Killian companies. This creates a two-tier pricing structure for WM customers, with former DDD customers paying less than long-time WM customers. WM is the largest waste-handling company in North America, with almost 46,000 employees and over $13 million in sales in 2008.

Waste Management has been in other news recently. While promoting itself as a "green" company, WM is currently under investigation at its "state of the art" Kettleman City, California, hazardous waste landfill where a cluster of birth defects and infant deaths has alarmed local citizens, the Environmental Protection Agency, and Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. WM's President and Chief Operating Officer, Lawrence O'Donnell, appeared on a new reality TV show following the Super Bowl, Undercover Boss. The show has management posing as entry-level workers for their own companies. O'Donnell was fired after his first day sorting paper.

How long WM will keep the present price structure remains to be seen. One customer was told the current DDD rates would stay in effect for a year. Waste Management quoted the Digest a Picture Rocks rate for new service of $17.50/month, including recycling, plus a $35 set-up fee. Their local number is 744-2600. Meanwhile, Marana-based Talkin' Trash, a ten-year-old company owned by Richard Sanders, is soliciting business in Picture Rocks and gave us a quote of $18/month flat rate without any contract, fuel surcharge or setup fee. They do not recycle. Their number is 616-0719, or go to their web site to sign up for service. Both companies provide a large trash bin, with more at additional cost.


As March temperatures reach the 80's under an intense sun, it is full-blown Spring in the Sonoran Desert. The late rains in January and February have turned the desert green and brought out wildflowers. There may still be a few days with precipitation, and even a chance of a freezing night, but Spring is definitely here! Pink fairydusters are in full bloom, with yellow brittlebush popping flowers. Watch also for yellow marigolds, orange poppies and mallows, purple lupine, white chicory and daisy. Green leaves and red tops on ocotillo are brightening hillsides and flatlands.

A nice hike, with great views to compensate if there's any lack of spring foliage, is the Brown Mountain Trail in Tucson Mountain Park. The main trail is reached from either the picnic area or parking turnout near the Brown Mountain signs on the west side of Kinney Road. The total trail length is 2.8 miles, but can be reduced to any desired length if the modest elevation gain is tiring, or if spring winds are too taxing. From the ridge you can see 50 miles up and down the Avra Valley. Keep an eye out for snakes emerging from hibernation, especially on the sun-bathed southern slopes. Remember that if you avoid them, they will avoid you.

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.