Unpaid bills and a missing woman in Green Valley

A woman who hailed a taxi from Las Cruces, New Mexico, to Green Valley skipped out on three days’ worth of hotel bills and the cab fare, according to the Pima County Sheriff’s Department.

Nancy Germany left the Wyndham Green Valley Canoa Ranch Resort without paying a bill for $381.27, according to the department.

Detective Jonathan Rupp was at the hotel Tuesday for an unrelated matter when manager Brian Wright reported the theft.

Germany is also on the hook for a $600 cab fair owed to Green Valley Taxi Cab Services, according to the complaint. Green Valley is about 280 miles from Las Cruces.

Read the entire Green Valley News article here. Originally published on May 31, 2018.

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Green Valley library poetry slam wants to put you on stage

The best part about running a poetry slam is hearing other artists perform, said Enrique Garcia Naranjo, of Spoken Futures Inc.

Green Valley residents will have a chance to showcase their poetic prowess on Friday.

“There’s not a lot of spaces that allow for creativity to flow, so when there’s space and time for creativity, it brings me joy to be a part of that process,” he said.

The art of slam poetry is an emotive delivery of a poem in a competitive environment, which compels audience participation. The appropriate venue for this art form is a poetry slam; the term “slam” is used because of the audience’s ability to make or break a performance.

The Joyner-Green Valley Branch Library will host a free Poetry Slam on Friday from 3 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. Anyone interested in attending is asked to register at the library or on the Pima County Public Library website. Space is limited to 40 participants.

Read the entire Green Valley News article here. Originally published on May 30, 2018.

McSally: Bill will battle VA bureaucracy for veterans

The U.S. House passed the VA Mission Act of 2018 on May 16, and President Trump hopes the bill reaches his desk by Memorial Day. The bill’s next stop: the Senate.

The new legislation would provide another year of funding for the Veterans Choice Program, an initiative that allows vets to receive healthcare services from community providers when treatment at a VA hospital isn’t the best option. The bill would then create a modernized system to supplement VA healthcare options.

The VCP could run out of funding as early as May 31. However, the program will continue until funding is exhausted.

This new legislation was co-sponsored by 21 congressional leaders in the House, including Rep. Martha McSally, R-Ariz.

As a veteran and an elected official representing 80,000 veterans, McSally said consolidating the VA’s community care healthcare options is about serving U.S. soldiers.

“It’s hard enough to fight the diagnosis, or disease, so the last thing a veteran needs to battle is bureaucracy for health services,” McSally said in a phone interview Tuesday.

Although the legislative process is frustrating, streamlining this cumbersome process is long overdue, she said. “It’s common sense, and I’m glad we are getting it done,” McSally said.

Read the entire Green Valley News article here. Originally published on May 23, 2018.

Green Valley Library getting a two-week makeover

The Joyner-Green Valley Branch Library is ushering in a new chapter with a modern layout and upgraded shelving. And that’s just for starters.

The library will close for two weeks starting June 3 during the first phase of the renovation.

The project comes with a $200,000 price tag, with $197,000 going to replace shelving; the extra money will pay for housekeeping expenses associated with the renovation.

During the second leg of the project, during which the library will not be closed, worn furniture will be replaced and computers used for catalogue searches will be added to the children and teen sections. Having a separate space for adults and children using library computers can help when, for example, a parent is applying for a job.

“It just creates a better experience for parents and children,” said Kathy Konecny, manager at Joyner-Green Valley.

Read the entire Green Valley News article here. Originally published on May 20, 2018.

Despite vote, road sales tax likely to go nowhere

The Pima County Board of Supervisors voted, 3-2, on Tuesday to approve an ordinance that determines how to spend a half-cent sales tax for road repairs. But the chances of it crossing the finish line are virtually zero.

The fate of the Sales Tax Implementation Plan, which must pass the board unanimously because it’s a tax increase, will be decided June 19. Supervisor Ally Miller, who voted against Tuesday’s ordinance, has already said she would not back a tax increase to fix roads. Miller, who represents District 1 north of Tucson, says the county has enough money for road repairs if it eliminates wasteful spending.

Supervisor Steve Christy also voted against the plan. Christy, who represents District 4, which includes Green Valley, said he voted against the ordinance because of the caveat introduced by Supervisor Richard Elías, which would allocate more than $3 million annually for countywide social service programs over the course of the 10-year tax.

Christy said he would vote against the final resolution in June.

He said that leaves a comprehensive plan to fix Pima County roadways “non-existent in the short-term.” Currently, the only viable hope is if the state Legislature allows the county to increase the RTA tax to one cent, he said. Repairs for unincorporated roads will cost at least $330 million, according to county estimates. Christy said bringing all of the county’s roadways up to speed will cost $800 million to $1 billion. The 10-year tax hike would provide $353 million to repair unincorporated county roads and another $550 million to city and town transportation infrastructure maintenance projects.

Read the entire Green Valley News article here. Originally published on May 15, 2018.

Czech performer whips through first stateside visit

The last gunfight at the Old Tombstone Western Theme Park, on Sunday, April, 15, began with a safety warning. Then, Lee McKechnie explains the code of the West: the “good guy” always wins. McKechnie wants a louder response from the audience, so he cracks a round from his pistol, jolting the crowd with a bang.

Next, he introduces a special guest performer, who reigns from Eastern Europe.

Anny Barvínková, 21, takes center stage armed with two 8-pound western revolvers. When the music starts, the handguns begin orbiting her body like foreboding satellites. Barvínková’s radiant appearance and graceful technique hushes the crowd. Then, she pivots, catches her gats and shocks the spectators awake when she squeezes the trigger.

During her second act, Barvínková is brandishing two whips. She begins by swirling the weapons simultaneously, creating a swooshing hurricane of cracks that center around her blood-red corset. Her father, Monty Barvinek, steps to the stage for the grand finale. He places a dandelion in his mouth, arches backwards — then Barvínková strikes, splintering the flower to bits.

Barvínková, is from Zálesí, the Czech Republic, a small village located about 81 miles southeast of Prague. She started training with whips when she was 14 years old. One year later, she added gun twirling to her repertoire.

Her first trip to America was supposed to be a birthday gift. But when Barvínková and her father arrived for their five-week vacation, she got an impromptu invite to perform in Tombstone.

They were lodging at the Tombstone San Jose House, which is owned by Eddie and Anne McKechnie. Eddie’s brother, Lee, owns Old Tombstone Western Theme Park. When the McKechnie brothers found out they had an award-winning gun twirler in their midst, they asked Barvínková to perform for two days.

The father and daughter team are artists in the best sense of the word, whereas they’re concerned about showmanship but are simultaneously gracious, says Lee McKechnie, adding they are always welcome to perform on his stage.

“They are very humble people, we like that about them,” he says. “And those are the kind of people we like to work with.”

Moreover, he’s excited to watch Barvínková’s career evolve, considering how talented she is at such a young age.

She’s played roles on various European television shows and has won multiple competitive accolades for her gun twirling and whip routine. And most of time, she’s competing against men, Barvínková says.

Whether it’s lacerations from a whip or blows to the body from a falling revolver, bruises are part of her daily life. Each of her revolvers weighs more than 3 pounds; the heavier guns she used in Tombstone were loaners. From a woman’s perspective, the only drawback to her work is she can’t have fingernails, she says, playfully.

At first, Barvínková trained at least four hours each day, but now practice lasts about an hour or two. She choreographs her entire routine, which is essential for an entertainer.

“It’s necessary for you to have a personal performance, so you can create something you enjoy,” she says.

America is beautiful, she adds, and she would love to stay. Regardless, having the opportunity to perform was a fantastic highlight to her first stateside visit.

Competing in a male-dominated industry gives Barvínková a sense of freedom, she says.

Looking forward, Barvínková will continue to take on roles in television, and she would love to become a full-time stunt double. But her ultimate goal is to star in a major motion picture playing a “bad gun,” she says.

Tombstone merchants corral profits, ideas for tomorrow

Statistics don’t tell the story of a community.

Reports can’t capture how a town’s aesthetic woos the bond between patron and merchant. Institutional determinations made from afar will always fail to paint the picture of what a city feels like, or how its streets sound under moonlight.

The mileposts that say Tombstone is facing economic hardships are cropping up, but local merchants know differently.

For the last seven years, the Old Tombstone Western Theme Park has turned a profit every week, said co-owner Lee McKechnie.

“We’ve had bad days of course, you have to, but we’ve never had a bad week,” said McKechnie. “And every year business has been growing.”

Lee McKechnie playing “Ringo” at the Old Tombstone Western Theme Park daily gunfight. (Photo by: David J. Del Grande / Arizona Sonora News Service)

When he starts the performance, McKechnie lays the ground rules for the audience. The “good guys” will be wearing a blue sash, and the “bad guys” wear an opposing red sash. And no matter what, the good guy always wins, he explains. If the crowd doesn’t seem lively, he fires off a round in order to rouse the spectators.

McKechnie actively promotes the gunfight reenactment at the O.K. Corral Historic Complex, he said, and that should be the first stop for new visitors.

But in order to stand out, McKechnie’s troop offers a “hysterically correct” account of the Old West, which blends history and comedy throughout the routine.

Read the entire article via the Arizona Sonora News Service. Originally published May 2, 2018.