Who's representing Marana?

Name: Alexis Hayes
Age: 16
Incoming grade: 11
What book are you reading: "Mr. Popular And I"
If you can meet one person, who would it be? Christina Aguilera
What do you want to be when you grow up? Teacher
What do you love most about Marana? The people. They're so nice. 

Name: Malachi J. Brewster
Age: 16
Incoming grade: 11
What book are you reading: "A Farewell to Arms"
If you can meet one person, who would it be? Nelson Mandela
What do you want to be when you grow up? I want to be in the Marines marching band. 
What do you love most about Marana? The supporting community and the arts programs. 

Name: Evanna Rouhani
Age: 16
Incoming grade: 12
What book are you reading: "Grapes of Wrath" and "Les Miserables"
If you can meet one person, who would it be? Julie Andrews
What do you want to be when you grow up? I want to work in social services or family therapy, or anything that I can help to build strong family units.
What do you love most about Marana? I love the environment of love and mutual support that surrounds the Marana community. 

Name: Tyler Godowski
Age: 16
Incoming grade: 12
What book are you reading: "The Mountain"
If you can meet one person, who would it be? Mozart
What do you want to be when you grow up? Writer
What do you love most about Marana? The community love

Name: Iliana Vasquez
Age: 15
Incoming grade: 11
What book are you reading: Nothing at the moment
If you can meet one person, who would it be? Albert Einstein
What do you want to be when you grow up? Surgeon or economist
What do you love most about Marana? How kind everyone is

Name: William Z. Klein
Age: 16
Incoming grade: 11
What book are you reading: "The Hobbit"
If you can meet one person, who would it be? NIkola Tesla
What do you want to be when you grow up? Photographer/writer
What do you love most about Marana? The community

Name: Angie Muscoreil
Age: 15
Incoming grade: 11
What book are you reading: "Me, Earl and the Dying Girl"
If you can meet one person, who would it be? Barack and Michelle Obama
What do you want to be when you grow up? Something to do with music
What do you love most about Marana? The sense of community

Name: Cody Smith
Age: 15
Incoming grade: 10
What book are you reading: "Harry Potter"
If you can meet one person, who would it be? Payton Manning
What do you want to be when you grow up? NFL player
What do you love most about Marana? The music programs

Name: Katie Nixon
Age: 15
Incoming grade: 10
What book are you reading: "Me Before You"
If you can meet one person, who would it be? Audrey Hepburn
What do you want to be when you grow up? Neo Natal Surgeon
What do you love most about Marana? The community and love that they spread

Name: Jonathan Emmerick
Age: 16
Incoming grade: 12
What book are you reading: "An Abundance of Katherines"
If you can meet one person, who would it be? Harriet Tubman
What do you want to be when you grow up? I am interested in singing, fashion, acting, and theatre. 
What do you love most about Marana? I love the diversity and acceptance. 

Name: Hannah Stock
Age: 16
Incoming grade: 11
What book are you reading: "It's Kind of a Funny Story"
If you can meet one person, who would it be? N/A
What do you want to be when you grow up? Pediatric oncology nurse with eccentric hobbies
What do you love most about Marana? The opportunities

Name: Jose Gonzalez
Age: 17
Incoming grade: 12
What book are you reading: "The Martian"
If you can meet one person, who would it be? Elvis Presley
What do you want to be when you grow up? Comedian or computer engineer
What do you love most about Marana? How close everyone is. 

Name: Emma Winters
Age: 16
Incoming grade: 11
What book are you reading: I really like reading the back of the Chipotle cups
If you can meet one person, who would it be? Adele, for sure
What do you want to be when you grow up? I'm not sure yet, but I'm figuring it out
What do you love most about Marana? How connected we are as a community

Name: Mariano Hinojos
Age: 17
Incoming grade: 12
What book are you reading: "Holes"
If you can meet one person, who would it be? Toby Mac
What do you want to be when you grow up? Game tester
What do you love most about Marana? The music programs

Name: Dimon Sanders
Age: 16
Incoming grade: 11
What book are you reading: "Thirteen Reasons Why"
If you can meet one person, who would it be? Misty Copeland
What do you want to be when you grow up? Pediatric nurse
What do you love most about Marana? The arts programs

Name: Mauro Grijalva
Age: 17
Incoming grade: 12
What book are you reading: "Breakfast at TIffany's"
If you can meet one person, who would it be? Louis Armstrong and Audrey Hepburn
What do you want to be when you grow up? Doctor and artist
What do you love most about Marana? The music programs

Name: Arianna Nuno
Age: 16
Incoming grade: 11
What book are you reading: N/A
If you can meet one person, who would it be? Barbra Streisand
What do you want to be when you grow up? Singer/Actress
What do you love most about Marana? How great of a community it is

Name: Nick Victoratos
Age: 14
Incoming grade: 10
What book are you reading: "Romeo and Juliet" by William Shakespeare
If you can meet one person, who would it be? Beethoven
What do you want to be when you grow up? I would like to be a choir director
What do you love most about Marana? The schools and Marana's career and technical programs and arts programs. 

Name: Taylor Nixon
Age: 17
Incoming grade: 12
What book are you reading: "Life of Pi"
If you can meet one person, who would it be? Tom Hanks
What do you want to be when you grow up? Elementary school teacher
What do you love most about Marana? How we all support one another

Name: Moises Hernandez
Age: 16
Incoming grade: 11
What book are you reading: A big fat SAT practice book
If you can meet one person, who would it be? Bill Nye
What do you want to be when you grow up? An actor. Or maybe a computer hardware engineer
What do you love most about Marana? The teachers

Name: Iona Isachsen
Age: 15
Incoming grade: 11
What book are you reading: "Memory Keepers Daughter"
If you can meet one person, who would it be? My grandfather, Yngvar Isachsen
What do you want to be when you grow up? Biomedical engineer
What do you love most about Marana? Everyone is incredibly friendly and you never feel unsafe

Name: Madison Miller
Age: 18
Incoming grade: freshman in college
What book are you reading: The original Grimm Fairytales
If you can meet one person, who would it be? I really want to meet President Obama, but if it's allowed to be someone that's gone, I'd choose MLK.
What do you want to be when you grow up? My dream is to be a foreign service officer for the United States, but I want to first be a pediatric physical therapist. 
What do you love most about Marana? I love that they want to see you do well. I know that no matter where I am in the future, I have my whole town behind me. 

Name: Alexis Gibbs
Age: 16
Incoming grade: 12
What book are you reading: "Looking For Alaska"
If you can meet one person, who would it be? Lea Michele
What do you want to be when you grow up? Actress
What do you love most about Marana? Very welcoming to everyone

 

Program Spotlight: Marana Citizens Forum gives a voice to community members

An actively engaged community is a strong community for children to feel supported to succeed in school and life.  Established by Town Council in 2011, the Marana Citizens' Forum is a new model for civic participation. The forum includes up to 32 delegates from throughout the community, including representatives from Marana Unified School District, Marana Health Center, Arizona Youth Partnership, Marana Chamber of Commerce, and Northwest Fire District. 

The Marana Citizens' Forum replaces the typical commission format that used to focus on single topics, such as police or parks and recreation. Instead, the Marana Citizens' Forum delegates bring their unique viewpoints and expertise to the discussion to develop recommendations for broad town-wide issues. When completed, the group presents its recommendations to Town Council for adoption and staff action. 

The forum was inspired by the highly successful Arizona Town Hall program, which has created statewide groups that guide Arizona's civic, political, business, and community leadership for more than 50 years. 

The Marana Citizens' Forum goals are to:

  • Increase the number of informed and engaged citizens
  • Develop feasible action plans for recommendation to Town Council on important issues
  • Connect ideas and action plans to the Towns' planning documents (Strategic Plan, General Plan, Economic Development Strategic Plan)
  • Establish and maintain a positive feedback loop between the Marana Citizens' Forum and Town Council
  • Promote civic dialogue in order to implement community action plans from Marana Citizens' Forum recommendations
  • Provide Town staff with direction on various projects based on citizen input and engagement

Over the past two years, the Marana Citizens' Forum has presented recommendations for business retention, development services process efficiency, marketing and communications, zipcode issues, and citizen engagement in the strategic planning process. 

Northwest Firefighters Association Fans the Flames of Marana’s All-America City Efforts

The firefighters of the Marana region are experts in putting out blazes, but in at least one way, they are helping to light a fire.  The Town of Marana is competing to become an All-America City, and the Northwest Fire Fighters Association, I.A.F.F. Local 3572, proudly supports this effort.  By signing on as an All-American Hero sponsor, the Northwest Fire Fighters Association will help send the Marana delegation to Denver to compete for this honor.

The Northwest Fire Fighters Association has long played a crucial role in ensuring public safety in and around Marana.  Dedicated to honoring the traditions of the International Association of Fire Fighters, they provide leadership, representation, and protection to members through unity, support, and education.  Through their affiliation with the Professional Fire Fighters of Arizona, they ensure the safety, welfare, and quality of life of members and the community they serve. 

Beyond providing direct member support, the Northwest Fire Fighters Association is also committed to supporting a number of local causes.  They actively contribute to the Muscular Dystrophy Association, the National Fallen Fire Fighters Association, the Flowing Wells Family Resource Center, the Marana Community Food Bank, and now, the campaign to make Marana an All-America City. This kind of support speaks to the investment this organization is making in Marana, not just for today, but for many years to come.

The Northwest Fire Fighters Association is not alone in making this commitment.  A number of local businesses and organizations in this region have joined this effort, and you can, too.  Please consider donating to help send our delegation to Denver next week.  By making Marana an All-America City, Marana can attract new businesses, increase tourism, and strengthen the community’s presence as a welcoming, inclusive Town where anyone can put down roots for life.  

Silver Bell Mine Helps make Marana an All-America City

A wide variety of industries thrive in the Marana region, but few are more closely intertwined with Arizona’s history than the local copper mines.  As one of Arizona’s 5 C’s, copper mining has played an important role in the state and local economy. The Silver Bell Mine, operated by Asarco, has maintained an extensive operation in this area for over 60 years, and in that time, their impact on the community has been tremendous.  In 2015 alone, they employed a workforce of almost 200, pumping over $16 million back into the local economy through their salaries. 

In 1951, Silver Bell Mine opened its first two pits west of Marana.  The El Tiro and Oxide mines have yielded tremendous outputs ever since, while at the same Asarco has doubled their operations to open two more copper extraction sites nearby. 

Pima County is home to a number of mining operations, and together, they all contribute significantly to the local economy.  More than 2,500 Pima County residents work in the mining industry, and an economic impact study from Arizona State University indicates that more than 10,000 jobs are supported indirectly by this sector. 

Marana is deeply grateful to Asarco for their meaningful contributions to our community.  Recently, Asarco has signed on as an All-American Hero sponsor of the Town’s efforts to become an All-America City.  This prestigious title will help boost tourism and attract even more businesses to Marana.   Due to the support of sponsors like Asarco, Marana will send a delegation to Denver in just a few short weeks to compete in the final round of this competition.  Please consider joining Asarco in supporting this effort.

Marana Delegation presents to Town Council on progress

Pictured above: Will Klein, Heidi Barker, Jose Gonzalez, Hannah Stock, Taylor Nixon, Emma Winters, Jonathan Emmerick, Sarah Ross

Pictured above: Will Klein, Heidi Barker, Jose Gonzalez, Hannah Stock, Taylor Nixon, Emma Winters, Jonathan Emmerick, Sarah Ross

On June 7, representatives from the Marana Delegation provided Marana Town Council with an update on their progress in anticipation of next week's competition. Their ten minute entry to the All-America City judges will showcase programs from around the Marana community that support children to succeed in school and life. In addition to the competition, the Marana Delegation will also participate in the National Civic League's cultural and city showcase, which includes performing in a talent show and setting up a booth. 

"We have singers, actors, painters, dancers, slam poets, writers, and construction workers [here tonight]," Marana High School Choir Director Sarah Ross said to the council. "We just love Marana with all of our hearts, and we're so happy to be involved."

The Marana Delegation has been working throughout the month leading up to the competition, spending hours constructing their presentation set pieces, rehearsing their lines, and practicing songs. 

"Today we had a six hour rehearsal," said Ross, "the amount of civic engagement they're getting is incredible, and they get to talk about incredible programs."

The Marana Delegation opened up the council meeting with an a capella performance of the National Anthem, before introducing themselves to Town Council. 

Town planner and Marana Delegate Shannon Shula also presented a special map that the delegation will use as they travel to Denver. 

"This interactive mapping software tracks our progress from Marana up to Denver," said Shula, "It's a sixteen hour drive, so we will have a lot of fun on that bus! We plan to make this an academic educational trip, and you can see pictures of us on our route."

The Marana Delegation closed their presentation with a sample of "Haleluyen", a traditional Native-American song that acknowledges and celebrates Marana's Native-American history, and will be showcased at the All-America City competition. 

"The students are incredible representatives of this community," said Town Manager Gilbert Davidson. "I think we have a very good shot of winning this All-America City award."

The Marana Delegation leaves for the All-America City Competition on Wednesday, June 15. The competition is on Saturday, June 18, and the winners are announced on Sunday, June 19. 

Marana Delegation uses Career and Technical skills to prepare for All-America City

The Marana delegation, made up of students from Marana Unified School District students, have been putting their Career and Technical skills to good use while preparing for the All-America City competition. View the gallery below to see them in action. 

Click on images to enlarge

Red Point Development Contributes to Marana's All-America City Efforts

As one of the fastest growing communities in Arizona, Marana’s network of developers is helping to shape this Town both today and for many years into the future.  Red Point Development understands the role they play in Marana’s constantly evolving landscape.  For more than 20 years, they have not only constructed homes and commercial buildings in Marana, but have also helped make this community a beautiful and desirable place to call home.

Red Point completed its earliest project in Marana when it built 42 homes in Continental Ranch in 1994. Today, Continental Ranch is now one of Marana’s core residential neighborhoods.  Nestled among its quiet streets and picturesque homes are outstanding schools, inviting parks, and convenient shops and restaurants.  This development has grown considerably since Red Point’s earliest home construction here, but the communal feeling of neighbors helping neighbors, of camaraderie and community, remains. 

In all its projects, Red Point aims to create “sustainable and timeless communities and projects that are in balance socially, economically and environmentally.”  Creating sustainable communities requires more than simply building homes, though, and Red Point is committed to investing in the intangible factors that knit a neighborhood together.  That’s why they’re sponsoring the Town’s efforts to become an All-America City.  In a few short weeks, a delegation of students from Marana High School will travel to Denver to compete for this prestigious honor.  Red Point Development is supporting this effort through their generous All-American Hero sponsorship. 

The Town of Marana is deeply grateful for Red Point Development’s support.  You, too, can be part of this effort by sponsoring Marana’s delegation to Denver.  Marana embodies the spirit of an All-America City in countless ways, and every one of them starts with you, our residents.  Please consider contributing to this cause.

Hughes Supports Marana's Bid to Become an All-America City

 
 

Hughes Federal Credit Union is much more than just a financial institution that serves Marana.  They’re an essential member of this community who recognizes the importance of investing in the people around them.  That’s why they’re supporting Marana’s efforts to become an All-America City, and the Town of Marana is deeply grateful for their support.

Established in Tucson in 1952, Hughes FCU has made a positive difference in the financial lives of more than 97,000 members.  To Hughes, though, these members aren’t just customers.  They are families who are trusting Hughes with some of their most important resources.  These are the resources their members will use to buy a home, to send their kids to college, to plan for retirement.  At Hughes, every member knows that they can rely on their credit union to manage their assets with care and accountability.

Currently, Hughes manages more than $900 million in assets.  Membership is open to anyone who lives, works, worships, or attends school in Tucson.  The Credit Union is federally insured by the National Credit Union Administration and boasts a BauerFinancial 5-Star Superior rating, as well as A+ Certification by the BBB.

Marana thanks Hughes Federal Credit Union for their contributions. This donation will help send Marana’s delegation to Denver to compete for this award in June.  You too can help support this effort by donating to the Town today.  Marana is a community full of outstanding residents and business owners.  Together, we all make Marana an All-America City.  Please join us in helping us achieve this recognition.

Behind the scenes: Practice makes perfect

The Marana Delegation is officially less than a month out from the competition date, and everyone has been hard at work finishing the script and props for the ten-minute presentation. Town and Marana High School staff first met frequently to develop the scope of the script (above), and then Choir Director Sarah Ross and Drama Director Heidi Barker worked with the teen delegation to create the props (below). 

The delegation had its first rehearsal this week, which helped the writers determine the length of the presentation, the use of props, and preliminary blocking. With just under a month left to go, the students are excited to present Marana's programs to the All-America City competition. 

Keep following us, as we continue to post updates to the Road to All-America City 2016 news feed. 

#MakingOurMark: Opening Doors for Marana students

 

As we count down to Marana's trip to Denver for the All-America City gathering, we're highlighting all the ways Marana is making its mark. Inspired by our farming and ranching heritage, we'll be highlighting Marana's official Branding Iron alongside many of the incredible people who make this Town an All-America City. Are you Making Your Mark on Marana?  Let us know by using #MakingOurMark, and we may feature your story here.

Marana's Career and Technical Education (CTE) classes offer more than just vocational training for their students.  With dozens of programs spanning all kinds of different careers, Marana Unified School District gives its students the chance to discover a hidden passion for welding, perhaps, or an abiding love of early childhood education.  Cathie Raymond directs this program, and there are few things she loves more than visiting the classes in action.  

"Every one of our programs is offering teenagers a chance to figure out what they want to do after high school," she explains.  "Visiting the early childhood classroom is especially exciting, because I see two levels of learning happening: the experience of our high schoolers working with young children, and the experience of those young children themselves as they begin their educational careers."

Cathie is making her mark on Marana through her tremendous contributions to the CTE programs.  Her efforts are part of what make Marana an All-America City.

#MakingOurMark: Marana Planning and Code Enforcement Staff Team Up to Improve Local Neighborhood

 

As we count down to Marana's trip to Denver for the All-America City gathering, we're highlighting all the ways Marana is making its mark. Inspired by our farming and ranching heritage, we'll be highlighting Marana's official Branding Iron alongside many of the incredible people who make this Town an All-America City. Are you Making Your Mark on Marana?  Let us know by using #MakingOurMark, and we may feature your story here.

***

There are lots of ways to fight poverty. Efforts to improve schools, create innovative social programs, and ensure food security often grab headlines, as well they should.  The Town of Marana realizes, though, that these aren’t the only tools the government can use to help its poorest residents.   Sometimes, that effort starts in the Town’s planning department.

Shannon Shula’s desk is in a row of cubicles on the second floor of the Marana Municipal Complex.  Down the hall, behind a locked door, are decades of records documenting the Town’s official approval for developments, stretching back to Marana’s original incorporation in 1977.  Buried in this archive is the original plan for a small property called Yoem Pueblo. 

Owned by the Pascua Yaqui Tribe and located just steps from town hall, Yoem Pueblo is home to a tightly knit community of Yaqui tribal members.  Though the residents of Yoem Pueblo often struggle to make ends meet, their community has persevered.  Along its one-lane street, grandparents live within earshot of grandchildren, and many of those grandparents grew up on this same street. The neighborhood’s longevity, though, has come at a high cost.  Aging homes stand in desperate need of repair.  Weeds grow thick between the houses.  Wide, deep cracks cut across driveways. 

Shannon Shula is trying to change all that.     

Every year, the federal government makes funding available to local governments across the country in the form of Community Development Block Grants, or, in government-speak, CDBG.  A formula determines how much a municipality will receive.  In Marana, these funds help support housing rehabilitation projects, but with one mandatory string attached: any home benefiting from CDBG dollars must be owner-occupied.  In most cases, this regulation makes perfect sense.  If a tenant occupies a home, then the landlord should make improvements without a government subsidy.  Yoem Pueblo, however, is the rare exception to this rule.

The landlord of these residents is the tribe itself, and many of the community members pay little or no rent.  The Pascua Yaqui Tribe, like many Native American tribes and nations across the country, has limited financial resources. Consequently, it cannot afford to undertake the costly repairs required in many of these homes.  However, neither can the tenants.  Unless, of course, those tenants can become owners.

“When the Yaquis first established Yoem Pueblo years ago, they purchased two parcels of land, and, until recently, that was still the official layout of this neighborhood,” explains Shannon.  “Our idea, however, was to re-plat the community, subdividing Yoem Pueblo so that each home occupies its own lot.  Once we’ve re-drawn the map, essentially, the Pascua Yaqui can deed over the property to the residents themselves.  Suddenly, they’ve gone from tenant to property owner.”

Easier said than done, however.  Marana’s efforts to improve conditions in Yoem Pueblo began four years ago.  Countless setbacks and challenges, though, have plagued the project.  Shannon’s own effort began when she first joined the Town’s planning department in 2014, an effort which is finally starting to pay off. 

Part of what has slowed progress in the past is the process itself.  Replatted projects must conform to Marana’s zoning regulations, but Yoem Pueblo was constructed long before those regulations existed.  Therefore, the only way for this land to be replatted is to receive variances from Marana’s Board of Adjustment.  The neighborhood’s age meant that it would need many of these variances, each one requiring, at a minimum, several months.

Navigating this process demands persistence, and any number of obstacles can derail it at any point.  Shannon, though, remained steadfast in her efforts to push forward, partly because of her own background. As a member of Hopi Nation herself, she shares many of their cultural traditions.

“Many of these residents are elderly. The Hopi and the Yaquis share a deep commitment to honoring our elders.  We believe elders hold a wealth of experience and wisdom, and we owe them profound respect.  I feel like it is my duty to serve these residents.”

During a Town Council meeting on April 5, Shannon’s replatting of Yoem Pueblo became official.  A unanimous vote of the Council has allowed this project to proceed to the next stage, in which it is submitted to the Pima County Recorder’s Office.  Once that office has processed the paperwork, the Pascua Yaquis can then deed over each lot to the current resident.  At that point, the residents will then be eligible for CDBG dollars.

The replatting process has not happened overnight. Not content to wait idly during this time, the Town of Marana for years has offered a variety of services to Yoem Pueblo residents.  For example, Code Enforcement Officer Lori Sheppard has spent many months working closely with these residents to provide landscaping assistance.  She advises them about how far back vegetation must be cleared to be in compliance with the fire code.  She coordinates neighborhood clean-ups, often with the help of a dumpster provided by the Town. Finally, Lori has collaborated with PPEP, Inc., a local non-profit, and Napa Auto Parts to help these residents dispose of old tires and motor oil. 

“While we can’t use CDBG funding to help this community yet,” says Lori, “there are other ways we can improve this neighborhood.  Most importantly, that means working with the residents to identify how we can be most helpful.  The last thing we want to do is to just tell them what to do.  This is their community, and we want to be a resource for them.”

Thick vegetation clogs one section of Yoem Pueblo prior to Lori Sheppard's work with residents to clear this section.

Same section after vegetation cleared away.  

Marana strongly believes in ensuring the highest quality of life for our residents.  While that is always the goal, the Town is also not blind to the deep pockets of need in the community.  Yoem Pueblo presents just such an opportunity, and the Town is pursuing efforts to address their needs through creative avenues.  Replatting and compassionate code enforcement may not generate flashy headlines, but they do help demonstrate why Marana is an All-America City.

#MakingOurMark: Exploring careers in law enforcement

 

As we count down to Marana's trip to Denver for the All-America City gathering, we're highlighting all the ways Marana is making its mark. Inspired by our farming and ranching heritage, we'll be highlighting Marana's official Branding Iron alongside many of the incredible people who make this Town an All-America City. Are you Making Your Mark on Marana?  Let us know by using #MakingOurMark, and we may feature your story here.

***

Photo Credit: JD Fitzgerald

Visitors to the Marana Municipal Complex on a Monday afternoon may be surprised to see a group of young men and women running laps, or counting out push-ups. Their sweat-drenched gray shirts spell out in boldface type "Police Explorers," and that's exactly what they're up to: exploring the possibility of a career in law enforcement.  

Photo Credit: JD Fitzgerald

Throughout the year, this class of Police Explorers will participate in law enforcement exercises to practice their skills.  They'll learn how to fill out official reports, manage high-risk traffic stops, and even negotiate in a hostage situation.  More than anything, though, they'll learn about the culture of law enforcement in Marana to determine if this is a career path they want to pursue.  

Photo Credit: JD Fitzgerald

The Marana Police Explorers give aspiring law enforcement officers a chance to learn about one possible path for their future.  They are making their mark on their community by learning how to provide "unparalleled service" and "unwavering protection" not just today, but for many years to come.  They are part of what makes Marana an All-America City.  

Meet your Marana delegation

This year at the 2016 All-America City competition, it's ALL about the kids. 

We've kept you informed on the amazing programs that help youth in Marana, and now you can meet the youth that are going to compete on behalf of the Marana community for the All-America City award! These Marana High School students will join the Marana delegation, and present to the All-America City judges in June. Keep following the Town of Marana on Facebook and Twitter to learn more about each of them as they get closer to competition, and help them get there by donating to our GoFundMe fundraiser.

#MakingOurMark: Food for the Soul

 

As we count down to Marana's trip to Denver for the All-America City gathering, we're highlighting all the ways Marana is making its mark. Inspired by our farming and ranching heritage, we'll be highlighting Marana's official Branding Iron alongside many of the incredible people who make this Town an All-America City. Are you Making Your Mark on Marana?  Let us know by using #MakingOurMark, and we may feature your story here.

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Caleb Baker volunteers often at the Marana Community Food bank.  For years, this local non-profit has provided healthy, nourishing food for needy families.  Every year, they collect items at a number of Marana events, including the Holiday Festival and Christmas Tree Lighting.

"Volunteering for the Marana Community Food bank makes me feel like not only am I a part of Marana's community, but the community is part of me," says Caleb.

The Marana Community Food Bank's impact on children's health in Marana is remarkable.  When children can go to school having eaten a full breakfast, they are much more ready to learn for the whole school day.  Furthermore, during weekends and school vacations, when students can't rely on their school's cafeteria, the Food Bank helps make sure that these kids still have access to healthy meals.

Linda Hampton, director of the Food Bank, is dedicated to ensuring food security for all members of the community.  Her organization is making its mark on Marana and is helping make us an All-America City. 

#MakingOurMark: Marana PD Carry the Torch for Special Olympians

 

As we count down to Marana's trip to Denver for the All-America City gathering, we're highlighting all the ways Marana is making its mark. Inspired by our farming and ranching heritage, we'll be highlighting Marana's official Branding Iron alongside many of the incredible people who make this Town an All-America City. Are you Making Your Mark on Marana?  Let us know by using #MakingOurMark, and we may feature your story here.

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In just a few days, the Arizona Special Olympics will kick-off in Glendale, Arizona. Before they can begin, though, they will need their ceremonial Torch, which is currently making its journey from Bisbee to the Opening Ceremonies.

Helping it along the way are law enforcement officers representing agencies from across the state, including four officers from Marana.  On one of the first hot days of the year, Officer John Perryman, Officer Jose de la Torre, Sergeant Will Hess, and Lead Officer Kevin Trapp embarked on a 8.6-mile run along Casa Grande Highway, from Tangerine Road to Pinal Air Park Road.

Marana's officers received the torch from Tohono O'odham Nation police, greeting them with eager high-fives and back slaps.  

Torch firmly in hand, it was now Marana's turn to carry it on its journey.

As the four runners made their way up to frontage road, the mercury slowly ticked upwards: 93°, 94°, 95°.  The runners persevered, though, their faces drenched with sweat.

A few miles into the run, as a police incident developed elsewhere in Marana, the runners' attention quickly shifted from the hot sun to the police radio emanating from the SUV driving slowly beside them.  Eventually, Sgt. Hess and Lead Officer Trapp were called to the scene, leaving Officers de la Torre and Perryman to finish the run.  With a grin (or was it a grimace?), they pushed onward.

Several miles later, the pair finally arrived at mile marker 232, where an officer from the Arizona Department of Public Safety awaited their hand-off.

On Friday, the Torch will arrive in Glendale, where it will mark the official opening of this year's Arizona Special Olympics. Several athletes from Marana will compete in this year's event, and Marana's Police Department is a proud supporter of their efforts.  In April, they hosted the annual Tip-A-Cop event, where Marana officers served up delicious meals at Texas Roadhouse. All proceeds from that event helped fund the travel and event expenses of Marana's Special Olympians.  Through Tip-a-Cop and the Torch Run, Marana PD not only demonstrate their commitment to these athletes, but also to forming strong relationships across the community. Officers Perryman and de la Torre, Lead Officer Trapp, and Sgt. Hess are part of what makes Marana an All-America City.

Chamber of Commerce Helps Make Marana an All-America City

The Marana Chamber of Commerce has been a huge supporter of Marana's efforts to become an All-America City. For local businesses, the Marana Chamber serves as a valuable advocate.  They support businesses through the Shop Marana program, encouraging residents and visitors alike to support our local economy.  

The Chamber also helps coordinate Partners in Education, a program which connects students with internships in the private sector.  This program supports experiential learning that gets kids thinking about what they want to do after high school. 

The Marana Chamber of Commerce works tirelessly every day to improve commerce in Marana. Because of their efforts to strengthen local businesses and to provide creative educational opportunities, they are a crucial part of what makes Marana an All-America City.

#MakingOurMark: Marana, through Jordan's eyes

As we count down to Marana's trip to Denver for the All-America City gathering, we're highlighting all the ways Marana is making its mark. Inspired by our farming and ranching heritage, we'll be highlighting Marana's official Branding Iron alongside many of the incredible people who make this Town an All-America City. Are you Making Your Mark on Marana?  Let us know by using #MakingOurMark, and we may feature your story here.

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For the past year, Jordan Idler has been applying his creative touch to Marana's Communications and Marketing team.  As a high school senior at Marana High School, he has participated in the first year of Marana 2.0, an internship program that gives students a chance to learn about their local government by working within it.  This experiential learning opportunity allows students to see how government operates, and even to provide input on how Marana can better serve its residents.  

During his internship, Jordan has spent many hours recording interviews with Town staff, filming special events, and taking photos across the Town.  His efforts are providing the Town with a wealth of footage that can be used to promote future special events and to market the Town as a high-quality destination for residents and tourists alike.

Programs like Marana 2.0 are giving students new opportunities to explore potential careers.  In the fall, Jordan will enroll at Pima Community College, and he will begin thinking about what professional path he wants to pursue. "I've always been into the technical aspect of visual production, but I never thought of local government as a place where I could apply those skills. Marana 2.0 has helped me understand this profession in a new way," says Jordan.  

Marana is making its mark on Jordan by teaching him about local government, and Jordan is making his mark on Marana through his creative efforts to capture images from across the community.  This is what it means to be an All-America City.

A different kind of food truck brings the cafeteria to children

Volunteer Kari Barney helps serve free lunches on the Marana Cares Mobile. 

When summer arrives, kids in low-income neighborhoods won't have to worry about what to eat for lunch. The Marana Cares Mobile, a repurposed school bus that has been retrofitted as a full diner, will be stopping by to serve free, healthy lunches to all children under the age of 18. 

Hundreds of children who attend Marana schools depend on their cafeterias for lunch every day.  However, when they’re on vacation, it can be challenging to figure out how to get those meals.  Though many schools still offer lunches during breaks, it can still be difficult for the students to get to school.  Now, the cafeteria can come to them.

Marana Unified began distributing meals from Marana Cares Mobile during Thanksgiving break in 2015.  Harnessing the power of the food truck movement, this chic ‘50s diner on wheels made a dozen stops during the winter break.  They’ve already handed out almost 100 meals to Marana kids, and every day, the number showing up for a tasty bite is growing. 

Kari Barney works as a site supervisor for food services at Rattlesnake Ridge Elementary School, and has volunteered to help staff the bus as it makes the rounds.  “I love working with the kids, and this is a great opportunity for me to help out.  What’s really great is seeing the same kids come back day after day.  I know they need the meal, and I’m so happy it’s becoming part of their routine.”

Beyond simply providing a crucial meal, the staff at MUSD are particularly proud of the quality of food they’re distributing.  “We’ve got chicken sandwiches, PB and J’s, fruits, and veggies.  We’ve got chicken nuggets, too, but these are much healthier than anything you’ll find at McDonalds,” says Russ Federico, Executive Director of Operations at MUSD. 

Back in March 2015, this project was just an idea which quickly received widespread support.  Whenever MUSD retires an old school bus, it sells it at auction, typically receiving around $2,000.  When this bus reached that point, though, the auto shop mechanics for MUSD realized that it would be a strong candidate for Marana Cares Mobile. 

“Most of our buses have an AC that runs off the engine,” explains Federico, “but this one has a separate generator.  That means that we can continue to run the AC, even when the engine is turned off.  When we’re distributing meals in the summer, that’s going to be an incredibly important feature.”

Once the district identified this bus as a strong candidate for its project, it worked with RWC International, from whom MUSD purchases many of its buses.  In its reconstruction of the bus, RWC added a gray water system, a side door with lift, an awning on the outside, and sleek chrome stools inside. 

Since the bus first hit the streets, the community response has been resoundingly positive.  From a front page story on the Arizona Daily Star to coverage from local TV news outlets, it appears that hungry kids aren’t the only ones excited about this new addition to the district’s fleet.

With interest growing rapidly, the district anticipates that soon, one bus won’t be enough to meet demand.  With that in mind, another bus is already in the works which will offer even more services.  The second bus will be outfitted with help from the welding program at Marana High School, which is part of the district’s larger Career and Technical Education efforts.  It will also include space for a mobile dental clinic in the back.  That area will be designed with help from the CTE students who work in the dental offices of the Marana Health Center. 

Marana Cares Mobile is just one of the many creative ways in which MUSD is working hard throughout the year to make sure that its students are not just getting the education they deserve, but getting opportunities both in and out of school to learn, grow, and prosper.  “Inspiring students to learn today and lead tomorrow,” reads the slogan on the front of the bus.  Through this initiative, the district not only leads with a powerful message, but indeed, leads by example.  For more information, visit http://www.maranausd.org/mcm.  

New school design prepares students for learning

When the 2016-2017 school year kicks off next August, an eager class of kindergartners won’t be the only new additions to Marana Unified School District. A new elementary school in Gladden Farms will open its doors for the first time.  Recently, Chasse Building Team, the firm contracted to construct the new school, offered a tour of this new site, and the Marana Newsroom is ready to provide you with a glimpse inside these new walls.

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Reading is perhaps the most important skill for young students to learn, which is why this reading nook is at the heart of the new school.  Located just behind the main entrance, teachers will be able to take their students to this comfortable spot for dedicated reading time.

This new school embraces the importance of collaborative learning.  Every classroom enjoys one moving glass wall which teachers can configure in different ways in order to create the perfect learning environment for every lesson.  The walls will be among the final installations, but this open space shows where one of them will soon stand.

Classrooms are far from the only places where learning can happen, and this new school is well equipped to provide creative spaces for students to engage with each other and their teachers.  This central staircase will conveniently double as bleachers, allowing students to use this area for presentations and assemblies.

School safety is always a top priority, and this new school includes some of the latest technology to keep students secure.  Double doorways on arterial hallways are magnetized, so that all doors can be closed with the push of a button.

Just off the cafeteria and auditorium space is a music room.  Soon, it will echo with the cacophony of children plucking their first violin strings and tooting their first horns.  Across the hall is a PE room, where students can exercise when it’s too hot or cold to go outside.

Throughout the school year, Arizona’s weather means that students can enjoy comfortably eating their lunch outside, but sometimes, it’s just too hot or cold.  This canopy offers the best of both worlds.  With a roof two-stories above the ground and large roll-up doors, this feature will provide extensive opportunities for students to get outdoors.  However, when the weather doesn’t cooperate, all the school has to do is roll down those doors and enjoy the climate-controlled inside space.

During the early stages of construction, Chasse built a “mock-up wall,” allowing the firms of BWS Architects and Winslow & Partners to provide early feedback.  After all, it’s much easier to alter a wall before it’s built than afterwards.

Throughout construction, this site has seen up to 133 workers industriously laboring to complete the school by June 15.  Not only are they on target to meet that goal, but they recentlycelebrated 100 straight days without an accident.  Safety is a priority for the Town, Marana Unified School District, and the Chasse Building Team, so this accomplishment is certainly worthy of a burger and a hot dog.

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On August 8, 2016, an army of young scholars will descend on this new elementary school.  Just a year ago, this site was nothing more than a graded patch of dirt.  Soon, though, it will begin educating a new generation of Marana students.  This innovative building will provide a creative space for kids to explore new knowledge and engage with the world around them.  The Chasse Building Team offered nearly 100 visitors a glimpse into this new school, and it was clear that more than a few of them wanted to figure out how they themselves could re-enroll in kindergarten.  Unfortunately for them, they’re probably a little too big for the desks.

In order to bring this project to fruition, Marana Unified School District has worked closely with the Town of Marana.  Staff from the Town’s planning department has provided input at every stage in order to ensure that this new building fits into the long-term vision for this community.  With this strategic mindset, this school is well-positioned to serve students for generations.  That achievement is only possible due to the close relationship between MUSD and the Town of Marana, a relationship which embodies what makes Marana an All America City.

Marana High School students share ideas with Town Council

Before interning at the Town of Marana, Marana High School senior Jordan Idler didn't know how marketing, video, and local government came together. Now, eight months later, he's had a front row seat promoting Town events, and has even participated in behind-the-scenes development for community outreach and education. His projects have included documenting events, researching other municipalities, and developing a marketing plan. 

"It's been a lot of fun," Idler says of his time at the Town of Marana. "I've learned a lot about time management and organizational skills through the program."

Idler is one of a dozen high school students interning at the Town of Marana as part of "Marana 2.0", a new program that combines local government with the public school system. This program offers seniors at Marana High School the chance to learn about local government not by reading a textbook, but through practical, lived experiences. Departments from across the Town, from Police to Special Events to Technology Services, have mentored these students and in turn benefited from their unique contributions. Their year-long curriculum came to a close on April 5, when the students presented to Town Council on their internship experiences. Topics ranged from summarizing their projects, to presenting recommendations on new event ideas and mobile applications. 

 

Idler presented footage from the Marana Cotton Festival, a Town event that occurred last fall. 

"I learned how quickly everything moves, and you have to constantly adjust to fit the fast-paced environment," Idler explains of his time filming at the event. "Very different from anything I've experienced before."

After the presentations, each Councilmember took a few moments to congratulate the students on all they had achieved.  “What I got from listening to you,” extolled Councilmember Dave Bowen, “is how much ability you have, how ready you are to take on the challenges that you will face. It’s been great hearing from you.”

Councilmember Carol McGorray echoed Councilmember Bowen’s remarks.  “I spoke to each of you before the meeting, and I’m so impressed because you’re all part of this same program, and yet you bring such a different viewpoint from your particular experiences to us here on the Council tonight, and I really appreciate that.”

The Town of Marana is pleased that the first year of this program was so successful.  “We had nine students present tonight, and these kids worked hard all year to get to this point,” says Town Clerk Jocelyn Bronson, who spearheaded the program.  “We’re looking forward to watching this program grow and get better every year.”

As this school year winds down, the Town of Marana is already brainstorming ways to improve the program for next year.  During the presentations, Town Management intern Trent Tolton suggested expanding this opportunity to juniors, instead of just seniors.  While these plans are strictly preliminary at the moment, there is little doubt that this program will grow and flourish in the years to come. 

As for Idler, he will continue to intern at the Town of Marana as part of the summer internship program, and hopes to learn more about the different services provided in local government and the skills required for a future career.