Picture Rocks Pride

Volume 8, Number 4 April, 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 April 20. 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.

with the

WHO: Homeowners struggling to make mortgage payments
WHEN: Saturday, April 10, 2010
9:00 a.m.: Sign-in
9:30 a.m.: Presentation
11:30 a.m.: Refreshments and one-on-one discussions with resource people
WHERE: Picture Rocks Community Center
5615 N. Sanders Road
Phone: (520) 682-7166


Citizens for Picture Rocks
Picture Rocks Community Center
Picture Rocks Community Center, Inc.
Don't Borrow Trouble Pima County, a program
of the Southwest Fair Housing Council
Fannie Mae
Pima County Community Development &
Neighborhood Conservation Department
Affordable Housing Program


Contact Don't Borrow Trouble Pima County at
(520) 792-3087 or info@dbtaz.org; or the
Homeowners HOPE Hotline sponsored by the
U.S. Treasury and Department of Housing &
Urban Development
at 888-995-HOPE.


The Picture Rocks Fire District invites the public to attend the Grand Opening of the new Picture Rocks Fire Station at 7341 N. Sandario Road on Saturday, May 8. A brief opening ceremony will begin at 10:00 a.m. with a symbolic uncoupling of two fire hoses, followed by tours of the new state-of-the-art facility. Vendors will be set up inside the bays and refreshments will be served.

The public is invited to tour the new Fire Station located at 7341 N. Sandario Road on May 8


The 4th Annual Picture Rocks Community Fun Day celebrating Picture Rocks Pride has been rescheduled for Saturday, May 15, 4-8 p.m. at Picture Rocks Community Center and Park. Co-sponsored by Citizens for Picture Rocks, Picture Rocks Community Center, Picture Rocks Community Center Inc., and Ortiz Community Clinic, the event is free (donations accepted). There will be food, games, prizes - including four reconditioned computers - community information and a few surprises. Volunteers are needed; call Jamie Kisthardt at 682-0287.


Tuesday, April 20, 2010
Social time at 6:30 p.m.
Meeting starts at 7:00 p.m.

Picture Rocks Community Center
5615 N. Sanders Road

Topics and speakers to be announced

Free and open to all neighbors.


C4PR has adopted three sections of local roads - on Picture Rocks, Sandario and Rudasill - to keep litter-free. The next twice-yearly cleanup will be on Saturday, April 24, beginning at 8 a.m. at Picture Rocks Community Center, 5615 N. Sanders Road. Tools, gloves, safety vests, trash bags and lunch will be provided. For more information, call Chris Banks at 682-7229.


In a letter to parents of Program Participants, Rafael Payan, Director of Pima County Natural Resources, Parks & Recreation (NRPR) said that the State is proposing a change to child care licensing rules which could force NRPR to spend millions of dollars it does not have. Community Centers offer free youth programs, like TOTS, after-school and summer recreation.

As public centers, NRPR sites were exempt from certain regulations since the programs are free, but the proposed rule change would redefine anything that public money was spent on as not free. Since centers were designed as multi-use facilities and not as day care centers, millions in modifications would be required for the programs to continue. The children's programs would either be discontinued or become "at-will" where school children ages 5-14 could come and go as they please without supervision. To view the proposed changes, click here. Public comments can be made to Thomas Salow, Acting Manager, Office of Administration and Rules by email: salowt@azdhs.gov, with a copy to NRPR at PCPR@pima.gov.


Wanda Crawford, Coordinator of the Picture Rocks Community Center, has been garnering awards lately. The most recent came from her bosses at Pima County Natural Resources, Parks and Recreation. They presented her with the 2009 "Above and Beyond Award" honoring an employee who "consistently shows initiative and exceeds expectations."

PRCC Recreation Leader Christina Longo dressed as "The Cat In the Hat" (right) for the Dr. Seuss Birthday Party on March 5 at Picture Rocks Community Center, which featured crafts for the little ones and a dinner of green eggs and ham. This was just one of the many community events organized by PRCC Coordinator Wanda Crawford.


Picture Rocks Community Center, Inc. has chosen new Board members. Mike Davied is now President, with Carlene Bordelon and Bob Blais filling out the Board. Surplus bread and produce continue to be distributed Monday-Friday at 9 a.m., and the Thrift Store is open 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at 6691 N. Sandario Road. PRCCI has donated 18 gowns for high school prom-goers.


While Spring is still in the air and it is not too hot to hike, consider exploring the area off Box Canyon on the west side of the Tucson Mountains. The large parking area is at the bottom of Contzen Pass, where Picture Rocks Road crosses the Tucson Mountains. Around the parking area and beyond is one of the best places around for viewing wildflowers.

Spring is a great time for hiking in the Tucson Mountains, where many wildflowers are now in bloom

The increasingly warm days will have lizards hugging sunny rocks to absorb the warmth - spiny lizards doing pushups to make themselves look bigger, zebra-tails waving their tails to distract predators, whip-tails and side-blotched lizards scooting out of sight in a blink. Snakes are about, but are easily avoided if hikers pay attention.

There are actually several routes to try. One is to proceed down the wash, possibly alongside people on horseback, until it meets a larger cross-wash. Turning right here will take you to Picture Rocks Road on the east side of the pass. Carefully crossing the road, follow the wash to the petroglyph panels below the labyrinth of the Redemptorist Center.

Or go exploring off the beaten path. As you proceed down the wash from the parking area, the land on the left is a mix of Saguaro National Park and State Trust land. On the right is private land, with rock alignments built by hand many hundreds - perhaps thousands - of years ago to control water for farming.

The people known today as the Huhugam* were master engineers. With sticks and rocks they built many miles of canals off the Santa Cruz River (as well as the Salt and Gila Rivers in the Phoenix area) to irrigate corn, bean and squash crops, and dug reservoirs to maintain villages west of the mountains. There are terrace structures, known as trincheras, on area mountainsides where monsoon rainwater was diverted or captured. These were built by moving many tons of rocks. The rains carried dead plants and such onto the terraces which helped create nutritious soil for planting. Tumamoc Hill in Tucson is a prime example.

When you reach a sandstone monolith rising on the right side of the wash, turn left and follow your nose. There is no formal trail, and you can choose terrain as easy or difficult as you feel like hiking. You may stumble onto ancient petroglyphs, more modern-era stone rooms, prehistoric agricultural rock alignments, geoglyphs, and who-knows-what? With a mountain on one side and major washes on two sides, it's really hard to get lost.

*Archaeologists invented the word Hohokam to label prehistoric people from this area. It is a corruption of an O'odham word, Huhugam, referring to their ancestors. It is said to mean "all used up," possibly referring to the land, or to changes in the culture. For really interesting and readable looks at the First Peoples of the Southwest, try Stephen Lekson's book, A History of the Ancient Southwest, and The Hohokam Millenium, edited by Suzanne and Paul Fish, both from SAR Press.


The debate about the proposed Marana Landfill has come to Picture Rocks. Marana's Planning Commission voted 3-2 on February 24 to proceed towards rezoning land so that a privately owned landfill could be built on property owned by Marana Vice Mayor Herb Kai and his brother John. While Vice Mayor Kai has recused himself from any official discussions or votes on the project, the Town Council favors moving ahead. The 1200 acres, between Sanders and Trico Roads, north of Avra Valley Road, would be annexed to the town and a 590-acre landfill owned by DKL Holdings built over the next two years. John Kai opposes the landfill.

On March 2, Pima County Supervisors also voted 3-2 vote to called on Marana to slow down the process until answers are provided for a number of questions, including the effect of the landfill on the Avra Valley water aquifer. The Arizona Daily Star has publicly agreed with the Supervisors, and quotes District 3 Supervisor Sharon Bronson as saying that, "We're asking for transparency; we're asking for the process to slow down." The Supervisors' action is not binding on Marana.

The current county-run landfill for the area, on Tangerine Road, is scheduled to close in 2020, although many believe the closure will come sooner. Much of the land around the proposed dump site is owned by the State, and the State Land Department has requested a 45-day delay so it can assess the potential impact.

Following a detailed presentation and discussion at the Citizens for Picture Rocks regular meeting on March 16, two dozen residents of Picture Rocks took an informal straw poll. Twenty people, 83 percent of participants, supported the Pima County Board of Supervisors' call for delay, agreeing that the landfill "should be put on hold until water, environmental and road capacity questions are satisfactorily answered." Two expressed "no opinion," and one said the landfill "should proceed as quickly as possible." One person thought that impacted homeowners should be compensated.

Most concerns are about water issues, with the landfill just 200 feet above a rising Avra Valley aquifer and one-half mile from Brawley Wash. High density polyethylene (HDPE) liners are required under landfills, but the manufacturer, Phillips Petroleum, warns that the plastic breaks down faster if in contact with certain kinds of waste, many of them common household items. Since HDPE liners were only developed in the 1980s, there are no long-term studies of their effectiveness. The Environmental Protection Agency has said that all liners will eventually leak.

There are still a lot of questions to be answered, including the capacity of present roads to handle the expected additional trucks heading to the landfill and whether waste would be brought in from outside Marana, outside Pima County, or outside the state. Readers who might like to express their own opinions can phone the Marana Town Clerk at 382-1999, or the Pima County Board of Supervisors Reception at 740-8126. Supervisor Sharon Bronson can be reached by email at district3@pima.gov.

The new Picture Rocks BMX-Skate Park, which opened last month, is full of high-flying action

Schools Struggle With What's Next

By a 54-46 percent margin, the proposed Marana Unified School District Budget Override was defeated on March 9. The final tally was 420 "yes" to 771 "no." Voter turnout was only about 22 percent, and a majority of those going to the polls voted for it, but not by enough to overcome the two-to-one opposition of those who voted by early ballot. Further cuts are expected on top of the pay and staff cuts already put into effect last year when MUSD funding from the State was cut by over $3 million. This year another $5 million reduction in funding is expected.


Veterinarian Cynthia Hudman checks animals and administers vaccinations on the first Saturday of each month, 8 a.m. to 1 p.m., outside the Post Feed Store at the corner of Sandario and Avra Valley Roads. Most shots cost $10.


Saguaro National Park is offering a summer Youth Conservation Corps Program (YCC) for youth ages 15-18 from June 14 through August 6. YCC is an 8-week youth employment program for boys and girls consisting of three main components: conservation work, environmental education and outdoor recreation. YCC enrollees will have the opportunity to work on a variety of conservation projects in Saguaro National Park and the surrounding region, including trail work, environmental restoration work, campground maintenance and resource management. YCC enrollees will be expected to work 40 hours a week, usually camping in the backcountry Monday through Friday. Occasional weekend recreational trips will be offered as well. Enrollees will be paid minimum wage. In addition to work, enrollees will explore some of the most beautiful places in the region, learn about the natural and cultural history of the region, gain leadership skills, and have lots of fun! No previous work experience is required. Applications for the summer 2010 season are due April 30 and can be found on-line here, or at either of Saguaro's visitor centers. Enrollees will be selected at random. For additional information, contact Linnaea Renz at (520) 733-5185 or by email at linnaea_renz@nps.gov.


This is the first issue of the new and larger Picture Rocks Digest. In addition to providing more news and photos, advertising from local businesses is now being accepted. Business card-sized ads cost $50 for three months. For ad information, contact Jamie Kisthardt at 682-0287.

The Picture Rocks Digest is written by Albert Lannon (email: bluemoon@dakotacom.net; phone: 622-3561),
with photos by Jim Pethe, additional material by Elizabeth Paxton and design by Karen J. Zopf.