Fitness instructor learns better living from his students

Having a well-rounded approach is the key to helping someone recover from an injury or maintain an active lifestyle, said Todd Lutz, Get Fit program coordinator at Splendido at Rancho Vistoso.

After working almost a decade at Oro Valley’s premier retirement community, Lutz has remained committed to keeping his clients living at their highest potential.

“I want to help them enjoy the activities they appreciate as long as possible,” said Lutz. “And I think fitness is big first step in a lot of those things.”

Some Splendido residents moved into the community in order to take advantage of the fitness programs and facilities, and will often act as role models for their neighbors, Lutz said.

Conversely, some of Lutz’s clients are affected by a life event like a fall or heart attack.

No matter the circumstances, Lutz said staying fit can keep folks on the hiking trails, traveling or maintaining their independence.

There’s an unofficial requirement penciled into Splendido’s various fitness training classes: laughter. Lutz said he keeps the mood light whenever possible.

“I don’t want people to think fitness is a serious thing. We can have fun and still be fit,” he said.

Read the entire Tucson Local Media article here. Originally published Jan. 31, 2018.


GOP tax overhaul includes some big changes for business tax filers

If you haven’t met your maker by April 15, Uncle Sam will be expecting his annual tax settlement.

But small business owners throughout Arizona may appreciate some of the changes to the federal tax code, which was ratified by Congress in December 2017.

The federal Tax Cuts and Jobs Act aimed to simplify individual filings, slash the federal corporate tax rate and offer temporary tax deductions for comparatively small proprietors.

By 2027, the federal tax overhaul will also add more than $1.4 trillion to the national deficit, according to the Congressional Budget Office.

While local tax preparers are waiting to see if Arizona will conform to the new federal law, here’s what some professionals had to say about the changes.

Small businesses eligible for 20 percent deduction

Under the new federal tax law, pass-through entities—which include sole proprietorships, partnerships, LLCs and S corporations—will be eligible for a 20 percent tax deduction on qualified income.

Even though owners of pass-through entities may get a significant savings from the new 199A deduction, it’s a more complex and time-consuming calculation, said Marshele Scherrer, marketing manager at R&A CPAs.

Read the entire Inside Tucson Business article here. Originally published Jan. 18, 2019.

ON THE STREET: SAV recruits support deputies, community

At the entrance of Sunrise Pointe Vistas, Larry Walsh hits the lights on his Sheriff’s Auxiliary Volunteer squad car.

Walsh and his partner for the day, Field Operations Division Director Linda Rundel, pull behind two cars stopped along South Abrego Drive in Green Valley.

The owner of a German Shepherd is trying to corral their pet, which is crisscrossing the street.

Rundel hops out of the truck, throws on a reflective vest and offers a hand.

Being on a leash for the first time spooked the year-old puppy, the dog owner tells Rundel. So she keeps the traffic at bay while the man grabs hold of his dog.

Then she jumps back in the squad car and they continue on their southern Green Valley beat.

Whether it’s checking on a home that’s vacant for a holiday or directing traffic while deputies work a car accident, one of the best parts of SAV work is being a “force multiplier” for sworn peace officers, Walsh says.

Not only can you increase a general sense of safety, you get to serve the people, he says.

“And if you don’t greet and meet people three or four times a day on your route, you’re not doing your job.”

Read the entire Green Valley News and Sun article here. Originally published Jan. 1, 2019.

A FINE MESS: He’s 96, alone and at the bottom of a ravine

Moments after Lyman “Jay” Gage left the GVR Canoa Hills Center for home Dec. 20, he found himself on the floorboard of his golf cart at the bottom of a ditch.

He’d passed out behind the wheel and the vehicle bounced 40 feet down a ravine just south of the social center parking lot.

Gage, who’s 96, says tacking on an extra round of Bocce ball had pushed him to his limit.

Calling for help wasn’t an option. He’d left his cell phone and urgent response clicker at his home about a quarter-mile away.

His cane was jolted from the vehicle from the impact, so walking up the 45-degree hill wasn’t going to happen. Instead, he hoisted himself out of the cart, flopped onto his left hip and spent an hour inching up the hill.

“I just made up my mind that I had to get out because nobody was going to find me,” he says. “And I was out of energy already, so the fact that I made it is a miracle.”

Read the entire Green Valley News and Sun article here. Originally published Dec. 29, 2018.

Sheriff Napier: This might be last chance at Stonegarden funds

If the Board of Supervisors turns down a federal Operation Stonegarden grant next year, the county may never get a shot at the money again, Pima County Sheriff Mark Napier said Thursday in Green Valley.

“I cannot buy us any more forbearance,” Napier said at a Green Valley Council Board of Representatives meeting. “All of that money, despite what the activists think, doesn’t go away. It goes to other people and the county should really be on the front lines.”

The federal grant promotes cooperation among Customs and Border Protection, U.S. Border Patrol and local law enforcement agencies. It also finances overtime and mileage costs and equipment for joint operations among agencies tasked with securing international borders.

In September, the county board rejected the federal grant, 3-1. District 4 Supervisor Steve Christy, who represents Green Valley and part of Sahuarita, voted in favor of accepting the funding.

The amount of Stonegarden money will only increase in the future, Napier said. Last fiscal year, the grant offered $3.2 million to the county sheriff and its regional partners, including the Sahuarita Police Department. In FY 2018 that amount jumps to $3.8 million; and for FY 2019, the projection is $5 million.

“The federal government is all but begging me to take this money,” Napier said. He said it is essential for purchasing equipment and deploying deputies to rural, underserved areas in the county that are susceptible targets for trafficking and transnational crime.

Napier applied for almost $2 million in Stonegarden money for next fiscal year. He expects to get a response from the federal government in January or February.

Read the entire Green Valley News and Sun article here. Originally published Dec. 23, 2018.

HISTORY ON DISPLAY: Toy horses reach across 150 years to tell story

About 12 years ago, Cheri Raftery popped out of an eatery in Glenrock, Wyoming, and noticed a rickety toy horse outside a nearby thrift store.

Within minutes, she dropped about $80 on the mechanical horse, which dates back to the 1880s.

“It could have been hundreds for all I care, because it was unique and I’ve never seen another one like it,” she said.

Now, she has eight mechanical horses, commonly called toy horses, that span from pre-Civil War through the 1960s.

Rocking horse is a modern term for this type of toy, because in the 18th and 19th centuries most people owned real horses. With the advent of the motor vehicle, rocking horses became the catch-all phrase for the toy.

Every mechanical horse Raftery adds to her collection has a different motion. A gray horse from Connecticut and a mustang from Texas move like a real horse, she said. Both have a “fluidity” that mirrors a life-like feel, similar to the floating sensation of a horse-drawn buggy.

“That motion is something you’ll never forget,” she said. “And that’s why these old toys, all being of different mechanical motion, got me excited and got me into collecting them.”

Read the entire Green Valley News and Sun article here. Originally published Dec. 19, 2018.

She’s making sure Pueblo Estates puts on a great Christmas show

During the last few years, Marie Chavez noticed that enthusiasm for the annual light show at Pueblo Estates in Green Valley had dimmed.

Her mission to buck the trend this year has sparked a Christmas like no other.

“We’re kind of getting away from the community feel in this neighborhood that we used to have,” Chavez says. “And I really wanted to push that ‘help your neighbor’ mentality. If you know they’re not up to it, throw some lights on their cactus.”

Chavez and her “army of elves” decorated 36 homes at Pueblo Estates this year, and their work has sparked most everyone to deck the halls this season.

She also convinced a few curmudgeons to green-light her efforts — as long as Chavez would keep their enthusiasm under wraps.

“There’s been a couple that have said, ‘Don’t let anybody know that this was OK.’ Because it would ruin their reputation as being grumpy old men,” she says.

Read the entire Green Valley News and Sun article here. Originally published Dec. 21, 2018.

GVR pickelball center design unveiled – with bigger price tag

GVR unveiled the final design for its 24-court Pickleball Center on Thursday, with a much higher price tag than when first discussed four years ago.

The next step is finding $2.2 million to fund the new facility, which is 59 percent more than WSM Architects’ original 2014 estimate.

Following the presentation, the GVR Planning and Evaluations Committee agreed to send the plan to the Board of Directors and the Fiscal Affairs Committee.

The board will decide whether to direct WSM to send the development plan to Pima County for permitting; Fiscal Affairs will determine how to fund the project in its current iteration.

The permitting process will cost $2,500, according to GVR documents. It will take the county six to eight weeks to respond to GVR’s development proposal.

WSM hopes to break ground for the new center in April and complete the project next December.

Read the entire Green Valley News and Sun article here. Originally published Dec. 15, 2018.

All Souls Procession — ‘Remembering Together’

I never expected to feel like a foreigner in a city that’s been my second home for the last two decades. But it happened. A blend of joy and sadness erupted from my gut when I verbalized this particular contradiction. And I knew turning away wasn’t an option. In between gawking at the spectacle and sheer amount of people, I caught up with a couple I met shortly after first relocating to the Old Pueblo.

I also snapped a few photos when the mood struck me and my timing felt appropriate.


Taking part in the All Souls Procession as a photog feels like you’re shooting a citywide funeral, collectively capturing two hundred thousand people in mourning. The event started in 1990 by local artist Susan Johnson, who commemorated the passing of her father via the artistic mode. ‘From the beginning, it was different people’s ethnic groups, different cultures, but also it was all these different art forms put together,’ Johnson said, during an interview for the procession website. From Johnson’s personal, artistic memorialization, the procession now spans an entire weekend and attracts more than 150,000 people annually.   

The mood concurrently feels celebratory, festive. And this balloon tailed me all evening, I snickered to myself while editing my images.

When the ocean of people began floating south, I waltzed on tempo — only breaking my stride if my shutter beckoned.   

We all appear the same and cry similar tears when the light vanishes. This ultimate meeting of Tucson’s tribes drove home that fact. Then, the temperature dropped, making the sound of footsteps echo and visualized an exhaled breath.

By the close of the night, my legs wobbled with a pleasant ache. And my heart gushed as I slipped through the shadows of Barrio Viejo, thinking, ‘Obrigado, meu amigo.’

‘The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes.’ — Marcel Proust