[ {"id":"eb32c611-70c0-5b48-9316-d7a8bf54cca0","type":"article","starttime":"1488169800","starttime_iso8601":"2017-02-26T21:30:00-07:00","lastupdated":"1488172124","priority":41,"sections":[{"football":"sports/arizonawildcats/football"}],"flags":{"editors_pick":"true","top_story":"true"},"application":"editorial","title":"Openly gay football recruit My-King Johnson will make history with Arizona Wildcats","url":"http://tucson.com/sports/arizonawildcats/football/article_eb32c611-70c0-5b48-9316-d7a8bf54cca0.html","permalink":"http://tucson.com/sports/arizonawildcats/football/openly-gay-football-recruit-my-king-johnson-will-make-history/article_eb32c611-70c0-5b48-9316-d7a8bf54cca0.html","canonical":"http://tucson.com/sports/arizonawildcats/football/openly-gay-football-recruit-my-king-johnson-will-make-history/article_eb32c611-70c0-5b48-9316-d7a8bf54cca0.html","relatedAssetCounts":{"article":0,"audio":0,"image":1,"link":0,"vmix":0,"youtube":0,"gallery":0},"byline":"By Zack Rosenblatt\nArizona Daily Star","prologue":"Tempe High School product was 12 years old when he came out to his friends and family.","supportsComments":true,"commentCount":0,"keywords":[],"internalKeywords":["#latest","#toptwo","#top5sports"],"customProperties":{"arm_id":"74036"},"presentation":"","images":[{"id":"8d505019-b917-5420-8f1c-7672a50b8853","description":"UA football recruit My-King Johnson of Tempe High School poses at the school\u2019s football field on Thursday, Feb. 23, 2017.","byline":"Ralph Freso / for the Arizona Daily Star","hireswidth":1811,"hiresheight":1144,"hiresurl":"http://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/tucson.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/8/d5/8d505019-b917-5420-8f1c-7672a50b8853/58b0b7ef4f7ee.hires.jpg","presentation":"","versions":{"full":{"type":"image/jpeg","width":"620","height":"392","url":"http://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/tucson.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/8/d5/8d505019-b917-5420-8f1c-7672a50b8853/58b0b7ef4ebfc.image.jpg?resize=620%2C392"},"100": {"type":"image/jpeg","width":"100","height":"56","url":"http://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/tucson.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/8/d5/8d505019-b917-5420-8f1c-7672a50b8853/58b0b7ef4ebfc.image.jpg?crop=1811%2C1018%2C0%2C62&resize=100%2C56&order=crop%2Cresize"},"300": {"type":"image/jpeg","width":"300","height":"169","url":"http://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/tucson.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/8/d5/8d505019-b917-5420-8f1c-7672a50b8853/58b0b7ef4ebfc.image.jpg?crop=1811%2C1018%2C0%2C62&resize=300%2C169&order=crop%2Cresize"},"1024":{"type":"image/jpeg","width":"1024","height":"576","url":"http://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/tucson.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/8/d5/8d505019-b917-5420-8f1c-7672a50b8853/58b0b7ef4ebfc.image.jpg?crop=1811%2C1018%2C0%2C62&resize=1024%2C576&order=crop%2Cresize"}}}],"revision":29,"commentID":"eb32c611-70c0-5b48-9316-d7a8bf54cca0","body":"

TEMPE \u2014 \u201cKing!\u201d a teammate shouts from across Tempe High School\u2019s crowded weight room.

My-King Johnson, an imposing figure even in a room full of football players, looks up mid-push-up, and responds to the summons to the coach\u2019s office. He glides across the room in seconds, then slides into a chair in coach Brian Walker\u2019s office. The chair stresses to contain his 6-foot-4-inch, 225-pound frame.

Johnson leans back, breathes and smiles. It\u2019s been a couple weeks since Johnson signed a national letter of intent to play at the University of Arizona, and he says he\u2019s \u201cstill excited to be a Wildcat.\u201d

The UA is happy to have him too \u2014 after all, the senior defensive end has the potential to make an impact on the team the moment he arrives. Johnson\u2019s physical ability and potential attracted attention and offers from college football\u2019s blue-blood programs. He verbally committed to UCLA before flipping to Arizona.

Johnson talks about football, family and his future.

Also this: He is set to become the first active openly gay scholarship player in major-college football history.

When Johnson told UA assistant Vince Amey about his sexuality while being recruited, the coach\u2019s reaction \u2014 \u201cWe want you to be a Wildcat\u201d \u2014 was exactly what he wanted to hear.

Now, the 17-year-old is an unintentional trailblazer.

\u201cI do feel like when I say that, it can put a target on my back,\u201d Johnson said about being open about his sexuality.

\u201cBut whatever.\u201d

An \u201cold soul\u201d

Nadette Lewis is ecstatic that her only son has a full-ride college scholarship.

\u201cWhere I grew up, I didn\u2019t have any kind of opportunities,\u201d she said. \u201cNobody told me about these things, and I grew up in the \u2019hood, where nobody went to school.\u201d

Lewis attended South Mountain High School in the mid-1990s. She put her athleticism to good use, playing both basketball and volleyball, all while navigating one of Phoenix\u2019s most gang-infested neighborhoods.

Less than two years into high school, her athletic career ended.

\u201cI was pregnant,\u201d Lewis said, \u201cso I didn\u2019t get to play too much sports.\u201d

At age 16, Lewis had her first of three daughters, Lonnie.

When Lewis had her son three years later, his father wanted to name him My-King. A few years later, they named his sister A-Queen. The youngest sibling is 10 years old and named Nadette.

Neither mom nor son say they know the reason for his unusual name. Johnson\u2019s father has been in and out of jail since his son was born. The two are not close.

Lewis juggled two, and sometimes three jobs to keep herself and her family afloat, she says, \u201cto make sure we weren\u2019t on welfare, that we weren\u2019t a statistic.\u201d

Two years ago, Lewis moved to Seattle. She gave her son the option of staying in Tempe with his grandmother as long as he kept his grades up and focused on his future. So Johnson carries a 3.8 GPA.

Johnson has always been smart and quick-witted; his mom calls him an \u201cold soul\u201d with a maturity beyond his years. Johnson played tuba in the Tempe High School band for two years, performing at halftime while wearing his football jersey and cleats. Johnson loves music \u2014 for a time, he considered quitting football to focus on his other passion.

Walker convinced him otherwise.

\u201cI knew athleticism was in his family, and he\u2019s got all the tools,\u201d Walker said. \u201cHe\u2019s always had a work ethic. You couple that, along with his frame, and the sky\u2019s the limit.\u201d

Coming out

Johnson was 12 years old when he came out to his friends and family.

He barely remembers how he did it, just that he recalled it being difficult. He called family and friends, and told others in person. He saved his mom for last.

Johnson told her during a trip to the grocery store.

Her response?

\u201cI love you for who you are as a person,\u201d Lewis told him. \u201cSexuality? It doesn\u2019t matter. \u2026 That\u2019s how I teach my children. Love who you are no matter what you are, or what you look like. You have to love yourself. If you love yourself first, then everybody else will respect that and have no choice but to love you.\u201d

Being gay, Johnson says, is simply a part of who he is.

\u201cI\u2019m a very honest person,\u201d he said. \u201cI just don\u2019t see how I could be living an honest, truthful life and have that in the background.\u201d

By the time Johnson arrived at Tempe and went out for the football team, he already knew most of his teammates from playing middle school football together.

And they knew him \u2014 Johnson was, and is, open about his sexuality.

Teammate and friend Alfonso Arispe calls Johnson\u2019s honesty \u201ccool.\u201d

\u201cI love how open he is,\u201d Arispe said. \u201cHe doesn\u2019t care because he\u2019s focused on what he\u2019s doing, and he\u2019s focused on himself. Clearly, it shouldn\u2019t affect anyone else, but no matter what, he doesn\u2019t care about that. It doesn\u2019t bother him one bit.\u201d

A welcoming coach

When Amey played college football and in the NFL, the idea of a teammate coming out of the closet was taboo.

That\u2019s starting to change. Esera Tuaolo came out in 2002 after an eight-year NFL career. Missouri\u2019s Michael Sam came out as he prepared for the 2014 NFL Draft. Arizona State offensive lineman Chip Sarafin, a walk-on, told his teammates he was gay later that year. Princeton\u2019s Mason Darrow did the same in 2015.

Those handful of names are it.

\u201cIt is going to, until many generations die off, it is still going to be a stereotype, that gay men are weak and can\u2019t play sports and can\u2019t play big, tough sports like football,\u201d said Cyd Zeigler, the co-founder of OutSports.com. \u201cEven with defensive ends like Esera Tuaolo and Michael Sam \u2014 big, strong, masculine men \u2014 coming out, we still have the stereotype. \u2026 (Johnson) will chip away at that, but that takes generations to go away.\u201d

Amey lights up when he talks about Johnson, mostly because he believes he can be an impact player. But the idea that Johnson will be a pioneer in being an openly gay athlete also has the coach \u201cpretty excited.\u201d

\u201cWhen I found out, I really couldn\u2019t sleep,\u201d Amey said. \u201cAnd it wasn\u2019t like I was uncomfortable with it. I was just like, all right, it\u2019s different, it\u2019s new. \u2026 I said, \u2018Look, you are who you are, I am who I am, and I\u2019m going to coach you the same way. I\u2019m going to treat you the same way. I\u2019m going to get on you the same way as everybody else. There\u2019s no difference. You do what you do.\u2019 I said, \u2018When the players find out, especially my room, I\u2019m going to tell (those) dudes: \u2018Look, you gotta have his back.\u2019\u201d

Amey\u2019s enthusiasm for Johnson joining the team isn\u2019t surprising. Arizona was the first college to offer Johnson a scholarship, and Amey \u2014 the former Arizona State standout turned Wildcats assistant \u2014 led the recruiting effort.

Amey gave Johnson his space when USC, UCLA, Oregon, Texas A&M, and Arizona State showed interest. But the UA coach let Johnson know that he was there for him.

Arizona reappeared after Johnson and UCLA parted ways just before signing day. He flipped to the Wildcats soon after.

The Wildcats need him. Johnson amassed 22 sacks as a junior, including 6\u00bd in one late-season game against Seton Catholic. He added 21\u00bd more sacks, 19 tackles for loss and three forced fumbles as a senior.

The scouting report on Johnson: he\u2019s big, he\u2019s strong, he\u2019s fast, he\u2019s physical. More than anything, though, it\u2019s his motor that sticks out. The kid never gives up on a play. His highlight reel is filled with plays where an offensive lineman brings him down, or shoves him to the side, and Johnson emerges to make a play.

Johnson\u2019s Tempe team traveled to Tucson in August for a game against Catalina Foothills. Tempe was defeated quite handily \u2014 final score: 35-7 \u2014 but the Falcons had trouble containing Johnson, who sacked the quarterback three times and hurried him twice.

That quarterback? Rhett Rodriguez, an Arizona signee and the son of UA coach Rich Rodriguez.

On one hit, Johnson sped around an overmatched defender and floored Rodriguez\u2019s blind side. The force of the hit knocked the ball out of Rodriguez\u2019s hands before he could throw it, and it took him a few seconds to stand up and gather himself for the next play.

\u201cI play football,\u201d Arispe said, \u201cbut he\u2019s a football player.\u201d

Johnson will fit in nicely on the Wildcats\u2019 revamped defense, Amey said. Amey likes to talk about the underdogs and overlooked athletes who fill his defensive line room.

\u201cIt\u2019s no different than (nose tackle) Parker Zellers: OK, he\u2019s only 5-10, 240, but he\u2019s a football player,\u201d Amey said. \u201cEverybody\u2019s got their own background. Who they are, what they are. \u2026 I\u2019m fine with it, and honestly I can\u2019t wait to get him here and get it going.\u201d

Amey has reason to be excited. Those kids of are a rarity. Rarer still are the ones that choose Arizona.

\u201cI can\u2019t wait to be like, \u2018Yeah, I got to coach the first openly gay kid to be an All-Pac-12 defensive end,\u2019 \u201d he said.

mother-and-son bond

It\u2019s Wednesday, and Johnson\u2019s track and field practice is starting. He finishes his workout and darts outside.

In Seattle, his mom is finishing up her shift as a nurse. As always, Lewis is thinking about her son and what his future holds.

Mother and son speak every day. She worries about him. She worries how he will be treated.

Lewis wondered how he would be welcomed in a high school football locker room. Tempe\u2019s players accepted Johnson, but that\u2019s no guarantee that things will be the same in college. Factor in opposing fans, message boards and the spotlight that comes with making history, and Johnson could face a hard road.

\u201cIt\u2019s hard enough being a black kid in America,\u201d Lewis says. \u201cThen I worry about him being a football jock, then I worry about him being gay because it\u2019s still not so accepted. Everybody perceives him as a dumb jock because he is a football star, which he\u2019s not, but then you\u2019re gay and a football player? That\u2019s not heard of yet, and maybe it\u2019s still not accepted in the football world.\u201d

The support Johnson has received doesn\u2019t surprise Zeigler, the co-founder of OutSports.com.

\u201cUnfortunately, we continue to talk about it in sports as if gay athletes should be afraid. We perpetuate that fear,\u201d he said. \u201cThe reality is, when LGBT athletes come out, it is the rare exception that it is not accepted by their teammates. So his experience, whether he came out at 12 or 20, it\u2019s going to be pretty much the same thing.\u201d

Johnson says he\u2019s ready for whatever comes.

When he was a baby, a doctor heard his name and his eyes widened.

\u201cThat\u2019s one hell of a name for a guy to have to live up to,\u201d the doctor told Lewis.

\u201cHe\u2019s done an excellent job living up to his name,\u201d his mother says.

Johnson is aware of the expectations his name carries.

\u201cMy name definitely motivates me,\u201d Johnson said.

\u201cWhen someone\u2019s looking down at a roster, or they\u2019re looking at a page, they\u2019re going to say \u2026 let me see what he\u2019s about.\u201d

"}, {"id":"59dc49e6-98e9-58bc-a055-e859fbfa47b4","type":"article","starttime":"1488168900","starttime_iso8601":"2017-02-26T21:15:00-07:00","lastupdated":"1488168921","priority":45,"sections":[{"crime":"news/local/crime"},{"watchdog":"news/local/watchdog"}],"flags":{"watchdog":"true","top_story":"true"},"application":"editorial","title":"Records: Tucson woman accused of scalding child was able to adopt despite abuse warnings","url":"http://tucson.com/news/local/crime/article_59dc49e6-98e9-58bc-a055-e859fbfa47b4.html","permalink":"http://tucson.com/news/local/crime/records-tucson-woman-accused-of-scalding-child-was-able-to/article_59dc49e6-98e9-58bc-a055-e859fbfa47b4.html","canonical":"http://tucson.com/news/local/crime/records-tucson-woman-accused-of-scalding-child-was-able-to/article_59dc49e6-98e9-58bc-a055-e859fbfa47b4.html","relatedAssetCounts":{"article":0,"audio":0,"image":1,"link":0,"vmix":0,"youtube":0,"gallery":0},"byline":"By Caitlin Schmidt and Patty Machelor Arizona Daily Star","prologue":"A relative warned the adoption agency that she was unstable and abusive, sheriff's records show.","supportsComments":false,"keywords":[],"internalKeywords":["#latest","#watchdog","#bigmedia"],"customProperties":{"arm_id":"73992"},"presentation":"","images":[{"id":"ccb61def-3388-5810-82cf-382374043fdf","description":"Samantha Osteraas","byline":"Pima County jail photo","hireswidth":null,"hiresheight":null,"hiresurl":null,"presentation":"mugshot","versions":{"full":{"type":"image/jpeg","width":"480","height":"600","url":"http://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/tucson.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/c/cb/ccb61def-3388-5810-82cf-382374043fdf/5875637c7a005.image.jpg?resize=480%2C600"},"100": {"type":"image/jpeg","width":"100","height":"56","url":"http://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/tucson.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/c/cb/ccb61def-3388-5810-82cf-382374043fdf/5875637c7a005.image.jpg?crop=480%2C270%2C0%2C193&resize=100%2C56&order=crop%2Cresize"},"300": {"type":"image/jpeg","width":"300","height":"169","url":"http://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/tucson.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/c/cb/ccb61def-3388-5810-82cf-382374043fdf/5875637c7a005.image.jpg?crop=480%2C270%2C0%2C193&resize=300%2C169&order=crop%2Cresize"},"1024":{"type":"image/jpeg","width":"1024","height":"576","url":"http://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/tucson.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/c/cb/ccb61def-3388-5810-82cf-382374043fdf/5875637c7a005.image.jpg?crop=480%2C270%2C0%2C193"}}}],"revision":25,"commentID":"59dc49e6-98e9-58bc-a055-e859fbfa47b4","body":"

A Tucson woman was allowed to adopt the foster child she is accused of scalding, even though a relative says he warned the adoption agency she was unstable and abusive.

Samantha Osteraas, 28, was arrested Jan. 5 on child-abuse charges after the 5-year-old girl she adopted last year with her husband, Justin Osteraas, suffered third-degree burns over 80 percent of her body.

In an interview with Pima County sheriff\u2019s detectives, Justin Osteraas\u2019 brother said he had advised the adoption licensing agency, Christian Family Care, that \u201cSamantha had mental issues and had a breakdown in the past.\u201d

He said he told them his sister-in-law had been physically and emotionally abusive toward his brother for years and that he was \u201cvery frustrated\u201d when the agency \u201clicensed them anyway.\u201d

Mark Upton, president and chief executive officer of Christian Family Care, said the agency is grieving the child\u2019s suffering and praying for her quick recovery.

\u201cIn 2015, our agency was involved with St. Nick\u2019s and the Arizona Department of Child Safety in the certification of the family to adopt (the girl),\u201d Upton said in an emailed statement. \u201cWe all are concerned about the welfare of Arizona\u2019s children and no one wants to see ... any child suffer.\u201d

The other adoption agency he referred to, St. Nick\u2019s or St. Nicholas of Myra Center, has since closed.

Records on licensing for foster care and adoption are private and state officials cannot discuss the Osteraas case, said Darren DaRonco, a public information officer with the Arizona Department of Child Safety.

The brother interviewed by sheriff\u2019s detectives said Justin Osteraas confided that \u201cSamantha had made death threats\u201d toward him and that his brother was \u201ctruly afraid of Samantha.\u201d

He said Justin Osteraas kept a journal about his wife at his workplace and instructed relatives that if he were found dead to \u201cget his journal because it would be Samantha.\u201d

Additionally, Samantha Osteraas accumulated a high level of debt, her brother-in-law said, and would threaten to \u201cbeat herself up and claim domestic violence\u201d whenever Justin Osteraas threatened divorce. She drank daily, he said.

A friend of Justin Osteraas\u2019 also was interviewed by detectives and said he and his wife had distanced themselves from the Osteraas family in the last two years because of Samantha Osteraas\u2019 increasingly erratic behavior. The couple would no longer let their children play at the Osteraas house because of Samantha Osteraas, the friend said, who had \u201cnot been very stable lately and has mental issues.\u201d

The Osteraases moved here from Seattle and were married in 2010, according to court records.

They became foster parents to the girl in October 2015 and adopted her the next summer, according to law enforcement and DCS records. The couple have three biological children, as well.

When paramedics arrived at their home shortly after 8 p.m. Dec. 29, they reported that Samantha Osteraas was hysterical, saying she didn\u2019t realize she had bathed her daughter in scalding water.

One deputy who responded to the 911 call reported he was \u201ctaken aback on the color of the girl\u2019s skin,\u201d which was bright red and almost a purplish hue.\u201d

Deputies also noted bruises to the girl\u2019s neck and left arm, and saw blood and signs of trauma on her upper lip.

Her feet began turning black after she arrived at the hospital, and doctors believed they were at risk for amputation.

A doctor interviewed in the report said she was in organ failure due to extreme heat. Her major veins were clotted and her body was unresponsive to re-hydration \u2014 all of which were indications she had been left for five hours without treatment, the doctor wrote.

There were also \u201cno indicators that the extensive burns were accidental.\u201d

\u201cThe child should have been able to react by screaming or quickly attempting to get out and there were some indicators, in his opinion, that the child was held down,\u201d the report said, quoting the doctor.

After the girl\u2019s hair was cut during surgery, doctors found bruising on her head, and noted signs of new and old injuries.

Sheriff Mark Napier called it \u201ca tragic incident that hits all of us very hard.\u201d

The child remains hospitalized in stable condition and is alert and undergoing therapy, said Chief Deanna Johnson, head of the Sheriff Department\u2019s investigation bureau.

Inconsistencies

When detectives interviewed Samantha Osteraas, they encountered inconsistencies about what had happened to her daughter and what she was doing at the time.

She told detectives that she turned on the faucet and plugged the bathtub drain before leaving the room to do laundry and watch a TV show, and that when she returned to the bathroom 15 minutes later, the child was slumped over the side of the tub after getting in on her own.

\u201cI asked Samantha to explain how she could do the laundry and watch half an episode of \u2018Grey\u2019s Anatomy,\u2019 which would be about half an hour, (and) the water to the tub ... had not overflowed,\u201d a detective wrote in a report.

She told the responding deputy that she went to the bathroom because she heard whimpering, but later told a detective that she didn\u2019t hear any screams or cries coming from the bathroom because she was \u201cdoing a lot of things at the same time\u201d and had also turned on music.

She told detectives that after she pulled the girl out, she burned her own hand in the bathwater while pulling the drain plug and had to rinse it under cold water for several seconds.

Photographs of Samantha Osteraas taken at the scene showed \u201cwhat appeared to be small scratch marks\u201d on her forearms, but there was no coloration indicating she had been burned, a detective noted.

In addition to caring for her four children that day, Samantha Osteraas was baby-sitting two other children who had gone home with their father between 3 and 4 p.m.

She told detectives she has a prescription for Aderall, which she takes twice a day \u201cso she can better focus,\u201d and drank two beers that night. A search of the home found two empty beer bottles near the top of the trash can, and a half-empty bottle of whiskey on the kitchen counter.

Detectives asked questions about how she disciplined her children, which she said included timeouts and spanking under the clothes, \u201con their skin.\u201d

She denied any problems in her marriage but said she\u2019d previously had an affair and had sent text messages to other men.

Cellphone records revealed that she called her husband and a neighbor multiple times before dialing 911 that night.

Detectives also found previous text messages with a man in which Samantha Osteraas discussed divorcing her husband and asked how much money she could get for child support.

On Jan. 12, detectives met Justin Osteraas at the hospital while he was there for a visit with his daughter, who opened her eyes and \u201cgrinned at Justin upon seeing him.\u201d At that point, the girl was answering yes or no questions by nodding her head.

Justin Osteraas told detectives he was shocked by his wife\u2019s cellphone records and that while he couldn\u2019t believe she would intentionally hurt their child, \u201cwhat Samantha had told him happened did not make any sense to him, and he had to question her how it happened.\u201d

He also said that he\u2019d had to remove Samantha Osteraas from their checking account because of her wasteful spending.

When detectives asked about life insurance policies for the family, Justin Osteraas said that they had $10,000 policies for each of the children.

As part of the investigation, a plumber was brought to the home to examine the hot water heater and test the water temperatures from faucets, which tested between 130 and 140 degrees.

The plumber noted that the hot water control knob had been turned to the hottest level, and said owners are typically advised \u201cnot to turn the heat setting higher than 120 degrees, as anything hotter will cause scalds.\u201d

A detective who spoke to a DCS employee noted that part of a foster parent\u2019s required training includes inspection of the home\u2019s hot water heater. Before January 2016, foster parents were required to have their water heater set under 120 degrees, and the Osteraases became licensed while that rule was in effect.

During interviews with employees from Children\u2019s Advocacy Center, the Osteraas\u2019 3-year-old son said he didn\u2019t see anything but heard \u201cbig cries\u201d coming from the bathroom when his sister was taking her bath. Their 5-year-old said that he heard his mom put toys in the tub and his sister falling on the toys, after which he heard his mom tell the girl to \u201cbe quiet.\u201d

Next steps

The Osteraases\u2019 three biological children were removed from the home after the incident and have been placed in foster care, according to DCS records.

The DCS did not take custody of the victim, and her adoptive parents still have control over medical decisions, the sheriff\u2019s report says.

Samantha Osteraas, who was released from Pima County jail on Jan. 26 on a $25,000 bond, petitioned the court Thursday to modify her conditions of release, which bar her from having contact with the victim and any other minor children.

In a motion filed Feb. 14 in Pima County Superior Court, her attorney, Jeff Rogers, said his client wishes to reunite with her other children, and can\u2019t begin taking the necessary steps with the DCS until she\u2019s allowed supervised contact with her children.

The motion also said that Samantha Osteraas is planning to move out of the home she shares with her husband, so that he can regain custody of their children \u201cas soon as possible.\u201d

\u201cThe defendant anticipates that she will be required to move out of the home by DCS and will have to live with a friend,\u201d the motion says. \u201cIn those circumstances, the defendant may have incidental contact with minors but always in the presence of other adults.\u201d

Samantha Osteraas attends church every week and will also have \u201cincidental\u201d contact with minors in those situations, the motion said.

The motion did not seek visitation with the victim.

Superior Court Judge Jane Eikleberry granted Osteraas\u2019 motion, saying that the visitation with her three biological children would be controlled by Pima County Juvenile Court and the DCS, Rogers said Thursday.

\u201cThis doesn\u2019t mean that visitations will happen, it just means that we won\u2019t have to come back to Superior Court with this issue,\u201d he said, adding that Juvenile Court will make the final decision.

Before living with the Osteraases, the child was removed from her biological parents in 2013 and placed by state authorities in the Sierra Vista home of foster parent David Frodsham, where she lived with other foster children until 2015.

Frodsham was arrested last year after federal authorities accused him of sexual misconduct with children and of providing a child to an alleged child pornographer for sexual contact. Frodsham pleaded guilty to counts involving a child over the age of 15.

The burn victim\u2019s biological mother, whose rights to the child were severed by a judge in 2015, petitioned Juvenile Court last week to remove the girl from the Osteraases\u2019 legal custody and declare her a ward of the court under DCS control. Her motion was denied.

\u201cWe all are concerned about the welfare of Arizona\u2019s children
and no one wants to see ... any child suffer.\u201d Mark Upton, president and chief executive officer of Christian Family Care
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UCLA has three losses this season, and the Bruins have now avenged each one of them: To USC, Oregon and Arizona.

\u201cThat doesn\u2019t happen very often in sports, especially in men\u2019s basketball,\u201d Bruins coach Steve Alford said after UCLA beat the Wildcats 77-72 on Saturday.

\u201cThat\u2019s probably where I am most pleased and proud of our guys.\u201d

UA coach Sean Miller hopes he can say the same thing about the Wildcats in a couple of weeks.

While the UA isn\u2019t likely to see the two nonconference teams it lost to (Butler and Gonzaga) again unless it meets them deep in the NCAA Tournament, the Wildcats\u2019 loss Saturday means they could have a shot at revenge with both UCLA and Oregon in the Pac-12 Tournament.

Oregon is now in position to gain the conference tournament\u2019s No. 1 seed because the Ducks are tied with UA at 15-2, own the tiebreaker based on their Feb. 4 win over Arizona and only have to play at last-place Oregon State the rest of the regular season.

If Oregon hangs on to No. 1 and the other top Pac-12 Tournament seedings hold up, that means Arizona would face UCLA in a No. 2-vs.-No. 3 semifinal on Friday, March 10 \u2014 likely for the right to face Oregon in the championship game the next night.

Assuming Oregon beats OSU, Arizona will be the No. 2 seed in the Pac-12 Tournament if it beats ASU or UCLA loses either of its home games to the Washington schools next weekend. UCLA will be the No. 2 seed if it sweeps the weekend and the UA loses to ASU, because the teams then would be tied at 15-3 and UCLA would get a tiebreaker edge because it owns a win over top-seeded Oregon.

Miller was already discussing the idea of a rematch after Saturday\u2019s game, hoping that his Wildcats could learn from it the way UCLA may have learned from its Jan. 21 loss to the UA in Pauley Pavilion.

\u201cI know the team that we lost to and they\u2019re a great team and just like when we went to Pauley Pavilion and beat them there, I\u2019m sure it was a tough moment for them,\u201d Miller said. \u201cBut they found a way to respond and I\u2019m sure in some ways they\u2019re probably better because it happened.

\u201cWe have to do the same thing. In two weeks, we could find ourselves in Las Vegas playing this very same team, and hopefully we\u2019ll be more ready.\u201d

The difference is that while UCLA\u2019s defense and bench players have become more productive since the Jan. 21 game than they were before that point, the UA fell backward Saturday in some areas where it has been strong: It struggled to keep UCLA off the rebounding glass, especially when the Bruins were on offense, and couldn\u2019t consistently penetrate or shoot over the UCLA zone defense.

Miller told his players \u201cwe didn\u2019t do a good job of defensive rebounding and it cost us the game,\u201d guard Allonzo Trier said. \u201cIt\u2019s pretty clear-cut.\u201d

The good news for the UA is that the Wildcats were given a full week in between the UCLA game and their regular-season finale at ASU on Saturday. That means plenty of rest \u2014 particularly for guard Kadeem Allen, whose previously dislocated pinkie remains an issue \u2014 and time for some brush-up work in practice.

Also maybe some time to gain perspective.

\u201cI think we can control that,\u201d Miller said. \u201cWhen you\u2019re in a situation like ours, when you\u2019re 26-4 and 15-2, there are a lot of great moments that we\u2019ve had and every once in a while people can distract players on your team. It\u2019s \u2018You need to play more minutes.\u2019 \u2018Coach doesn\u2019t know what he\u2019s doing.\u2019 Etcetera, etcetera.

\u201cI think my worry and any coach at this time when you enter March with a lot at stake, is to keep our team on point, to make sure we have our circle and our locker room and we\u2019re focused like we\u2019ve been getting better, preparing for the next game. And in moments like this you learn a lot about the character of your team, about the character of the families that you coach, you learn a lot about yourself as a coaching staff.\u201d

A 15-2 conference mark, of course, usually is good enough to cut down some nets. Miller\u2019s first three Pac-10/12 champions only lost four (2011), three (2014) and two (2015) games, and yet this season \u2026 Oregon is still right there with the Wildcats. That doesn\u2019t surprise Miller, since the Ducks retained most of the key players from their Elite Eight team a year ago and added even more talent. They were even picked to finish first in the Pac-12\u2019s official media poll.

\u201cWe knew before the season started that Oregon was a 1 (NCAA Tournament) seed a year ago and they return a lot,\u201d Miller said. \u201cThe players they\u2019ve added in addition to who they\u2019ve returned are really good so I think you\u2019re looking at a one (NCAA Tournament) seed. And I\u2019m not sure if you\u2019re look at UCLA that they\u2019re not in the conversation for those types of seeds.

\u201cObviously our season speaks for itself. But it\u2019s up to us to put this behind us in some way and in the other ways to learn from it and a week from today to be better, healthy and ready to go.\u201d

"}, {"id":"e8a20c08-a3ed-5083-8945-6058a7cbba83","type":"article","starttime":"1488166200","starttime_iso8601":"2017-02-26T20:30:00-07:00","lastupdated":"1488171321","priority":42,"sections":[{"lifestyles":"lifestyles"},{"health-med-fit":"lifestyles/health-med-fit"}],"flags":{"top_story":"true"},"application":"editorial","title":"Finding a good nursing home","url":"http://tucson.com/lifestyles/article_e8a20c08-a3ed-5083-8945-6058a7cbba83.html","permalink":"http://tucson.com/lifestyles/finding-a-good-nursing-home/article_e8a20c08-a3ed-5083-8945-6058a7cbba83.html","canonical":"http://tucson.com/lifestyles/finding-a-good-nursing-home/article_e8a20c08-a3ed-5083-8945-6058a7cbba83.html","relatedAssetCounts":{"article":0,"audio":0,"image":1,"link":0,"vmix":0,"youtube":0,"gallery":0},"byline":"By Greg Dill\nSpecial to the Arizona Daily Star","prologue":"Website helps distinguish between higher- and lower-performing facilities.","supportsComments":true,"commentCount":0,"keywords":["nursing home"],"internalKeywords":["#latest","#health","#top5"],"customProperties":{"arm_id":"73920"},"presentation":"","images":[{"id":"7f1be035-1e86-58d4-b210-810a8b4a1ff3","description":"Greg Dill is Medicare\u2019s regional administrator for Arizona, California, Hawaii, Nevada, and the Pacific Territories. You can always get answers to your Medicare questions by calling 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227).","byline":"Medicare","hireswidth":1247,"hiresheight":1662,"hiresurl":"http://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/tucson.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/7/f1/7f1be035-1e86-58d4-b210-810a8b4a1ff3/58a4ed69af421.hires.jpg","presentation":"","versions":{"full":{"type":"image/jpeg","width":"465","height":"620","url":"http://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/tucson.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/7/f1/7f1be035-1e86-58d4-b210-810a8b4a1ff3/58a4ed69ad8bc.image.jpg?resize=465%2C620"},"100": {"type":"image/jpeg","width":"100","height":"56","url":"http://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/tucson.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/7/f1/7f1be035-1e86-58d4-b210-810a8b4a1ff3/58a4ed69ad8bc.image.jpg?crop=1247%2C701%2C0%2C442&resize=100%2C56&order=crop%2Cresize"},"300": {"type":"image/jpeg","width":"300","height":"169","url":"http://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/tucson.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/7/f1/7f1be035-1e86-58d4-b210-810a8b4a1ff3/58a4ed69ad8bc.image.jpg?crop=1247%2C701%2C0%2C442&resize=300%2C169&order=crop%2Cresize"},"1024":{"type":"image/jpeg","width":"1024","height":"576","url":"http://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/tucson.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/7/f1/7f1be035-1e86-58d4-b210-810a8b4a1ff3/58a4ed69ad8bc.image.jpg?crop=1247%2C701%2C0%2C442&resize=1024%2C576&order=crop%2Cresize"}}}],"revision":24,"commentID":"e8a20c08-a3ed-5083-8945-6058a7cbba83","body":"

One recent Sunday morning, I woke up to a text message from a co-worker saying she\u2019d been up all night with her mother in the emergency room.

Her mom had fallen, broken her hip, and was getting admitted to the hospital for surgery. As you can imagine, my colleague was exhausted, worried, and facing some important decisions. Even as her mom was being prepped for surgery, the hospital\u2019s care coordinator was asking which rehabilitation facility she should be sent to afterward.

As a fellow official of the U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), my associate has a better-than-average understanding of the health-care system. But she\u2019d never had to find a rehabilitation facility for a loved one. So she turned to an online tool CMS developed to help people find a suitable nursing home when they need one.

The tool is called Nursing Home Compare and you can find it on our www.Medicare.gov website. Just click on the button that says \u201cFind nursing homes.\u201d Enter your ZIP code or city and you can begin your search.

Nursing Home Compare assigns from one to five stars to every nursing facility that participates in Medicare or Medicaid, with five stars being the highest rating. These star ratings give you and your family an easy-to-understand summary of three important dimensions of nursing home quality: health inspection results, staffing information, and quality of care.

The goal of our Five-Star Quality Rating System is to help people distinguish between higher- and lower-performing nursing homes. CMS also wants to help nursing homes identify problem areas and to improve their quality. Nursing facilities receive an overall star rating based on three types of performance indicators, each of which has its own star rating:

Health inspections
Staffing levels
Quality measures

A facility\u2019s overall star rating is a composite of the ratings on the measures above. The core of the overall rating is the health inspection rating, which is adjusted up if the facility receives high staffing or quality-of-care ratings, or down if those ratings are low.

You can compare multiple facilities on Nursing Home Compare, as my colleague did when looking for the best spot for her mother. But keep in mind that star ratings are intended to be combined with other sources of information (such as a doctor\u2019s recommendation) and shouldn\u2019t substitute for visiting the nursing home in person.

At www.Medicare.gov, you\u2019ll also find \u201ccompare\u201d websites for hospitals, home health services, dialysis facilities, medical equipment suppliers, and Medicare-approved health and prescription drug plans.

Choosing a nursing home for yourself or a loved one is a complex, personal, and often emotionally draining decision. With that in mind, we developed a detailed brochure, \u201cYour Guide to Choosing a Nursing Home or Other Long-Term Care,\u201d which you can find online at medicare.gov/Pubs/pdf/02174.pdf

Among other things, the brochure provides a checklist of questions to ask nursing home managers, alternatives to nursing home care, and the legal rights and protections of nursing home residents.

I\u2019m glad to report my colleague\u2019s mother is on the mend!

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PHOENIX \u2014 Arizona motorists have a lot of things they want to tell everyone else on the road.

Like \u201cSnowbirds R crazy / so buckle up / for your safety.\u201d

\u201cTraffic weaving / is deceiving.\u201d

And \u201cDon\u2019t be a stinker / use your blinker.\u201d

In fact, they submitted more than 7,000 ideas they want posted on those electronic signs operated by the state Department of Transportation that adorn urban freeways.

And the list of suggestions, obtained by Capitol Media Services, shows everything from anger at those who aren\u2019t paying attention to a sense of humor designed to get people to be more courteous.

A few even rhyme.

Those freeway signs are designed to warn motorists of hazardous conditions, road closures and driving times. But at other times, ADOT posts messages to gently remind motorists to be nice. So rather than relying solely on their own staff ideas, the agency asked Arizonans for their suggestions.

There were some constraints. For example, the signs only accommodate three lines, with no more than 18 characters per line, spaces included. And profanity is off-limits.

Within those constraints, Arizonans found a lot they could say.

Some took ideas from the current political headlines, like a proposal from Mike Shaldjian saying, \u201cNot fake news: / driving safely / saves lives.\u201d

Others were personal, like the proposal by Susie Lopez: \u201cI do want to / live forever.\u201d

Carol Sanders had a message for motorcyclists, \u201cNo helmet? / Become an / organ donor!\u201d

If there was one theme that showed up repeatedly it was the frustration that other motorists were talking on cellphones or texting as they sped down the road.

\u201cPull your head out / of your apps. Don\u2019t / text and drive\u201d wrote Jody Hild, who admitted her idea was not original but something she saw in Iowa.

ADOT staffers will review all the submissions and pick what they think are the 15 best and post them on the agency\u2019s website, where people can vote. The winning message will appear on signs for two days in April.

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Heading into the Sunday finals of the La Fiesta de los Vaqueros Tucson Rodeo, Dave Mason had a steep grade to climb.

Ranked 11th out of 12 bull riders who made it back to Sunday\u2019s short-go, Mason needed a big performance, and he got one. Turns out, he didn\u2019t even need much of a big performance \u2014 just needed to stay on, for the most part.

Yet he gave the crowd a thrill with his 86-point ride atop Record Rack\u2019s 90 Proof, winning $2,700 for the day\u2019s work and another $3,394 for the aggregate on two bulls.

\u201cHaving a big win at the beginning of the year keeps you up, but at the end of the day, if you\u2019re not having fun doing what you\u2019re doing, it doesn\u2019t matter when you do it,\u201d said Mason, a former Professional Bull Riders rider.

Mason, a native of Australia who has only been competing in the United States for a few years, was one of just two bull riders to last all eight seconds on Sunday; Jeff Askey, of Athens, Texas, also held on but had a tame bull that landed him just a 69-point ride. That, however, was good enough for nearly $5,000 worth of winnings on Sunday, including his aggregate second-place finish.

Like Mason, Askey entered the day on the bottom of the totem poll but ended up flush because none of the other 10 riders made it through.

\u201cI don\u2019t ever look at the scoreboard or who\u2019s getting on what bull,\u201d said Mason, whose uncles were Australian rodeo champions.

\u201cMy job is to ride the bull they gave me, and I go home happy if I\u2019ve done my job. My battle isn\u2019t against the other guys, it\u2019s against the bull they gave me.\u201d

One Mason to Another

Unlike the two long-lasting bull riders, Mason Clements entered Sunday\u2019s bareback championship near the top of the standings, figuring he had a good shot at a payday.

And while he didn\u2019t have the best showing \u2014 Steven Dent of Mullen, Nebraska, had the day\u2019s high score of 85.5 atop Little Jet \u2014 Clements scored an 83 nonetheless to take home the aggregate title.

\u201cMy mindset for the year was rodeo hard in the winter and spring, relax and get healthy and rest in May and then crave it more,\u201d Clements said. \u201cThis was my big moment for the year so far. It\u2019s exciting. I\u2019ve never been more excited for the rodeo than this year.\u201d

Other Tucson Rodeo winners

A pair of locals won the team-roping championship as Erich Rogers of Round Rock and Cory Petska of Marana finished at 12.7 seconds on two runs, winning nearly $6,000 for the aggregate score and another $1,407 for Sunday\u2019s round.

Tyler Pearson won the steer wrestling aggregate with a standout 15.9 seconds for three attempts, taking home a $4,385 payday and another $809 for finishing fourth in Sunday\u2019s short-go behind Sunday winner Ty Erickson.

Tyler Corrington followed up a big day yesterday with an 84.5 on Sunday, pushing him up to the top spot on the saddle bronc riding leaderboard, and tie-down roper Ace Slone also had a big day, winning both the aggregate and short-go.

Stevi Hillman won both the aggregate and short-go in barrel racing, too, winning nearly $4,800 after a two-day score of 34.95 seconds.

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Arizona is off to a potent start at the plate, and no Wildcat is hitting the ball with more authority than junior center fielder Jared Oliva.

Oliva had three hits and five RBIs, including a three-run homer, in Arizona\u2019s latest victory \u2014 a 12-5 triumph over McNeese State on Sunday at Hi Corbett Field. The Wildcat are 8-0 for the first time since 2007.

The talented Oliva began to touch his potential late last season, making the College World Series all-tournament team. He appears to be reaching it now.

The secret to his success? One huge factor is a slight tweak he made to his batting stance. The right-handed hitter realized that he was right-eye dominant. To give himself a better view of the ball, Oliva opened his stance slightly. He also cut down on the degree to which he turns his shoulders before swinging.

As a result, Oliva is seeing the ball more clearly. He leads Arizona in doubles (seven), home runs (two), RBIs (13), total bases (31) and slugging percentage (.886) while batting .457.

\u201cI\u2019m not trying to do too much,\u201d said Oliva, whose fourth-inning homer erased a 4-1 deficit. \u201cI\u2019m literally saying, \u2018See the ball well, swing at a good pitch, I\u2019ll let the results dictate themselves.\u2019

\u201cIt\u2019s all about the process. I\u2019m 100 percent committed to my plan when I step to the plate.\u201d

Oliva had two doubles in the decisive seven-run seventh inning \u2014 one leading off the frame, the other driving in the last two of Arizona\u2019s six two-out runs. All three of his hits came with two strikes against right-handed pitchers.

\u201cHis discipline\u2019s better; he\u2019s not chasing out of the zone,\u201d UA coach Jay Johnson said of Oliva, who is striking out once every 11.7 at-bats so far \u2014 compared to once every 4.8 at-bats last season.

\u201cHe\u2019s recognizing pitches earlier, and that\u2019s also helping him hit mistakes really well.

\u201cIf I\u2019m a (scout), that\u2019s the guy my eyes go to immediately with his tools. He\u2019s starting to come into his own.\u201d

Oliva isn\u2019t doing it alone, of course. Arizona is hitting .378 as a team with a .477 on-base percentage and 40 extra-base hits. The Wildcats have scored at least eight runs in seven consecutive games.

The UA outscored McNeese State 41-14 in sweeping a four-game series. The Cowboys were 4-0 when the series began Thursday.

\u201cYou can\u2019t ignore the offense \u2014 the consistent, quality at-bats,\u201d Johnson said. \u201cStrike-zone discipline. Still executing the bunting game, hit-and-run game at a high level. A lot of extra-base hits. There\u2019s a lot of different ways we can score runs, which I like.\u201d

McNeese State took the lead in every game, requiring Arizona to rally. Six of the Wildcats\u2019 eight wins have featured a comeback from an early-inning deficit.

\u201cWe\u2019ve had some rocky play, but we seem to pick each other up throughout the ballgame, especially late in the ballgame,\u201d said junior Cameron Ming, who pitched 2\u00aa shutout innings to close Sunday\u2019s game and improve to 2-0.

\u201cWe have a lot of poise in the dugout, even when we\u2019re down. We know how good we can be. Sometimes it\u2019s just a matter of time until things click.\u201d

Inside pitch

\u2022 Arizona shortstop Louis Boyd got hurt in the first inning and had to leave the game. Boyd landed hard after chasing a popup in shallow left field. He appeared to be favoring his left elbow or shoulder. Johnson said Boyd would be evaluated Monday.

\u2022 The 3-hour, 45-minute game was called after the top of the eighth because it encroached on McNeese State\u2019s flight time.

\u2022 Alfonso Rivas III lasted only two-thirds of an inning, falling victim to poor defense for the second straight start. Rivas has allowed nine runs in 2\u00aa innings, but only one earned run.

\u2022 Arizona faces the NC Dinos in an exhibition game at 3 p.m. Tuesday.

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Drivers heading in either direction were rerouted onto U.S. 191 and U.S. 70, according to the Arizona Department of Transportation Facebook page.","supportsComments":true,"commentCount":0,"keywords":[],"internalKeywords":["#latest"],"customProperties":{},"presentation":"","images":[{"id":"5f4c9e56-fc66-11e6-a5ee-1f8c6e365508","description":"","byline":"","hireswidth":null,"hiresheight":null,"hiresurl":null,"presentation":"","versions":{"full":{"type":"image/png","width":"571","height":"514","url":"http://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/tucson.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/5/f4/5f4c9e56-fc66-11e6-a5ee-1f8c6e365508/58b341d847079.image.png?resize=571%2C514"},"100": {"type":"image/png","width":"100","height":"56","url":"http://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/tucson.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/5/f4/5f4c9e56-fc66-11e6-a5ee-1f8c6e365508/58b341d847079.image.png?crop=571%2C321%2C0%2C102&resize=100%2C56&order=crop%2Cresize"},"300": {"type":"image/png","width":"300","height":"169","url":"http://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/tucson.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/5/f4/5f4c9e56-fc66-11e6-a5ee-1f8c6e365508/58b341d847079.image.png?crop=571%2C321%2C0%2C102&resize=300%2C169&order=crop%2Cresize"},"1024":{"type":"image/png","width":"1024","height":"576","url":"http://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/tucson.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/5/f4/5f4c9e56-fc66-11e6-a5ee-1f8c6e365508/58b341d847079.image.png?crop=571%2C321%2C0%2C102"}}}],"revision":2,"commentID":"5cb4ffd0-fc66-11e6-b965-33b620ae2b28","body":"

Interstate 10 near San Simon was closed in both directions due to three crashes involving eight vehicles and blowing dust Sunday, but reopened at about about three hours later 4:30 p.m., according the Arizona Department of Safety.

Drivers heading in either direction were rerouted onto U.S. 191 and U.S. 70, according to the Arizona Department of Transportation Facebook page.

The National Weather Service issued a Blowing Dust Advisory at 1 p.m., which was in effect until 4 p.m.

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A produce distributor in Nogales, Arizona was banned from the industry after failing to pay nearly $1.8 million to four growers in Mexico and Arizona.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture banned Nogales-based Sandia Distributors, Inc. from participating in the produce industry until Jan. 14, 2019. The owner of Sandia, Raul Paez, was banned until Jan. 14, 2018.

The USDA announced the ban on Feb. 16 after Sandia failed to pay three growers in the Mexican states of Jalisco and Sonora and one grower in Waddell, Arizona for 23 million pounds of watermelons between April 2014 and May 2015.

Paez cannot work for any company licensed under the Perishable Agricultural Commodities Act, which regulates fair trading practices among produce businesses, according to the USDA. In the past three years the USDA has resolved approximately 3,500 PACA claims worth $58 million.

The USDA said the agency is required to publish \u201cwillful, repeated and flagrant violations of PACA.\u201d

Paez filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in September 2015, according to federal bankruptcy court documents.

Paez\u2019s lawyer and the Sandia company could not be reached for comment.

Sandia, which has had a PACA license since 1985, may reapply for a license in 2019. According to trade publications, the company was founded in the 1960s and Paez bought the company in the 1980s.

After January 2018, Paez can return to the produce industry, but only with a USDA-approved surety bond, the agency said.

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says","url":"http://tucson.com/news/local/education/article_7016c27e-a97f-557f-a0e2-bf9f20e2fa45.html","permalink":"http://tucson.com/news/local/education/arizona-lgbtq-students-face-hostility-survey-says/article_7016c27e-a97f-557f-a0e2-bf9f20e2fa45.html","canonical":"http://tucson.com/news/local/education/arizona-lgbtq-students-face-hostility-survey-says/article_7016c27e-a97f-557f-a0e2-bf9f20e2fa45.html","relatedAssetCounts":{"article":0,"audio":0,"image":1,"link":0,"vmix":0,"youtube":0,"gallery":0},"byline":"By Leah Merrall\nFor the Arizona Daily Star","prologue":"They report regularly hearing negative remarks, being victimized at school.\u00a0","supportsComments":true,"commentCount":0,"keywords":["lgbtq","arizona schools","lgbtq students","glsen","lesbian","gay","bisexual","transgender","queer","tucson unified school district","rincon high school","lesbian and straight education network"],"internalKeywords":["#latest","#top5","#topstory"],"customProperties":{"arm_id":"74111"},"presentation":"","images":[{"id":"cf38e5f0-a7a6-539e-87c5-29af14e51a6d","description":"Rincon High School junior Rikki Woods, 16, and senior Hector Pacheco, 18, identify themselves as being part of the LGBTQ community. A recent report shows that Arizona schools are still hostile places for LGBTQ students.","byline":"A.E. Araiza / Arizona Daily Star","hireswidth":1804,"hiresheight":1148,"hiresurl":"http://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/tucson.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/c/f3/cf38e5f0-a7a6-539e-87c5-29af14e51a6d/58b0b0aa5792d.hires.jpg","presentation":"","versions":{"full":{"type":"image/jpeg","width":"620","height":"395","url":"http://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/tucson.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/c/f3/cf38e5f0-a7a6-539e-87c5-29af14e51a6d/58af7444ed614.image.jpg?resize=620%2C395"},"100": {"type":"image/jpeg","width":"100","height":"64","url":"http://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/tucson.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/c/f3/cf38e5f0-a7a6-539e-87c5-29af14e51a6d/58af7444ed614.image.jpg?resize=100%2C64"},"300": {"type":"image/jpeg","width":"300","height":"191","url":"http://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/tucson.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/c/f3/cf38e5f0-a7a6-539e-87c5-29af14e51a6d/58af7444ed614.image.jpg?resize=300%2C191"},"1024":{"type":"image/jpeg","width":"1024","height":"652","url":"http://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/tucson.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/c/f3/cf38e5f0-a7a6-539e-87c5-29af14e51a6d/58af7444ed614.image.jpg?resize=1024%2C652"}}}],"revision":13,"commentID":"7016c27e-a97f-557f-a0e2-bf9f20e2fa45","body":"

Arizona high schools remain hostile environments for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer students due to a lack of support and resources, according to findings from a recently released survey.

The Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN), which has administered the survey since 1999, argues that the presence of school-based supports for LGBTQ students results in lower levels of harassment and better educational outcomes.

For Arizona specifically, the report found that the vast majority of LGBTQ students regularly heard anti-LGBTQ remarks and had been victimized at school. It also found that many LGBTQ students in Arizona reported discriminatory policies or practices at their schools.

\u201cWe have so much work to do, but we have seen what works in Southern Arizona to improve school climates for LGBTQ students: supportive educators, anti-bullying policies that specifically protect LGBTQ students, inclusive student clubs and school curriculum that positively reflects LGBTQ topics,\u201d said Benjamin Lebovitz, chair of GLSEN Tucson.

Rikki Woods, a Rincon High School junior who is bisexual, participated in this year\u2019s GLSEN survey. While she wasn\u2019t exactly surprised by the results, Woods said the problem is larger than she would have guessed.

\u201cA lot of people who don\u2019t really know much about this issue don\u2019t really understand how many problems the LGBTQ community does face,\u201d the 16-year-old said. \u201cA lot of people assume that it\u2019s not really a big deal because people can get married now.\u201d

Woods said that schools could work toward making the environment more welcoming for LGBTQ students by raising awareness of these issues, especially by administrators.

\u201cIt\u2019s not always directly toward me, but I hear gay as a derogatory term more than I would like to hear it,\u201d Woods said. \u201cAlso a lot of men talking about being OK with women being lesbians but not men being gay. I\u2019ve seen a lot of people sexualizing lesbians, which I don\u2019t really like.\u201d

Ethan Smith Cox, director of development for the Southern Arizona Aids Foundation, suggests that the nature of Arizona\u2019s conservative government and public school system is partially to blame for the lack of healthy conversation and discussion.

Just last week at the federal level, transgender students lost protections that allowed them to use school bathrooms and locker rooms matching their gender identities.

The Trump administration came down on the side of states\u2019 rights, lifting Obama-era federal guidelines that had been characterized by Republicans as an example of overreach.

Without the Obama directive, it will be up to states and school districts to interpret federal anti-discrimination law and determine whether students should have access to restrooms in accordance with their expressed gender identity and not just their biological sex.

\u201cObviously no one chooses to be gay and nobody chooses to feel like they\u2019re a different gender than they are,\u201d Cox said. \u201cSo it\u2019s one of those things that they just need a lot of support, and not talking about it at school is implicitly saying there\u2019s something wrong with this.\u201d

WORK IS UNDERWAY

Tucson\u2019s largest school district is working to implement positive resources for its students in light of the survey results.

An ongoing challenge has been students not realizing the impact of what they say, said Tamara Hille, coordinator of the Tucson Unified School District\u2019s guidance and counseling department.

\u201cSome things I think we should continue increasing is more self awareness at our schools, working with our students to increase awareness of what they\u2019re saying and how others could possibly perceive that,\u201d Hille said. \u201cThat could happen through classroom guidance, through clubs and doing lunchtime activities to support this.\u201d

In May, all counselors will be trained on LGBTQ issues. The hope, Hille said, is that the counselors can then work with teachers and support staff to aid students.

One specific finding in the GLSEN study was that LGBTQ students in Arizona did not have access to in-school resources and supports.

Hille said that all students in TUSD are allowed to participate in activities related to LGBTQ issues, and that clubs like Gay-Straight Alliance are present in a number of schools. Counselors are also available to students, either to provide individual support or to refer students to community resources.

Additionally, TUSD has a zero-tolerance policy for bullying and harassment, Hille said. Earlier this month, the district implemented a new hotline and website where students can report bullying or harassment . From there, the issue could be addressed on-site.

The nine major school districts in the Tucson area all have nondiscrimination policies, but only five specifically mention sexual orientation.

Hector Pacheco, an 18-year-old Rincon senior who is gay, said he personally hasn\u2019t experienced discrimination at school based on his sexual orientation, but he could understand that it might be different for LGBTQ students at other campuses.

Brenda Kazen, a counselor at Rincon who advises the Gay-Straight Alliance Club and has been a member of GLSEN for 15 years, said the biggest issue she sees is microaggressions toward LGBTQ students. She also said she thinks that the classified support staff, like monitors and bus drivers, should receive the same kind of training on LGBTQ issues that teachers do.

For students in need of support, there are a number of programs available within the Tucson community, including a youth center that will be available this summer.

The Southern Arizona Aids Foundation is opening the Thornhill Lopez Center on 4th, which will support LGBTQ youth.

The center, at 526 N. Fourth Ave., will provide a safe space as well as skills-building, advocacy and culturally competent care to LGBTQ youth and their allies ages 13 to 26.

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For one last game, five seniors on the Arizona women\u2019s basketball team played at McKale Center.

The game had a lot of meaning, especially coming off a lackluster performance in Friday night\u2019s loss to UCLA.

Coach Adia Barnes started all five \u2014 LaBrittney Jones, Malena Washington, Lauren Evans, Dejza James, and Breanna Workman \u2014 for the first time this season. And it was a game-changer, as the Wildcats jumped out to a big lead and held on to defeat USC 67-62 Sunday.

\u201cWhen I decided to do it (start all five seniors) I told my staff either this will be awesome or it will be horrendous,\u201d said Barnes. \u201cThey played with toughness and a sense of urgency and they were physical tonight.\u201d

Arizona finishes the regular season at 14-15 overall and 5-13 in the Pac-12. The Wildcats will be the 11th seed for the Pac-12 Tournament, and will face No. 6-seeded Oregon at 9:30 p.m. Thursday in Seattle.

The Wildcats will need another spirited effort to get past the Ducks. The intensity Sunday was dialed up on both the offensive and defensive ends of the floor right from the tip-off.

\u201cWe were feeling it tonight,\u201d said Washington, who finished with 14 points. \u201cWe got a big lead and got to do more things. We were going from the start and that freed us all up a bit.\u201d

It didn\u2019t take long for Washington to find her shooting hand. On three consecutive possession in the first quarter she knocked down the three to give UA a 22-6 lead. On the very next possession she drew a foul and added another point from the free-throw line.

\u201cI was feeling it,\u201d Washington said of her shot. \u201cI\u2019ve had a rough couple of games, yet never stopped believing I could hit it.\u201d

Arizona led 24-14 after the first quarter but USC managed to cut the margin to 32-27 by halftime.

In the third quarter it was James\u2019 turn. For four minutes, she was all over the court \u2014 taking shots, drawing a charge, getting rebounds, and oh, yeah, there was that behind-the-back pass by Washington on a fast-break that started it all off.

\u201cI know Malena was looking for me the whole third quarter,\u201d said James. \u201cWe all had our little moments. It was our last game at McKale and didn\u2019t want any regrets.\u201d

In the end as the game grew tight \u2014 the Trojans were down one, 63-62 with 15 seconds left \u2014 this was where the experience paid off. Junior JaLea Bennett made a pair of free throws to put UA up 65-62.

USC\u2019s Courtney Jaco, who finished with 12 points, missed a three and Jones grabbed the rebound and was fouled. The senior made both for the final points.

\u201cWe made a couple of mistakes on back-to-back possessions,\u201d said Jones, who finished with 18 points. \u201cWe turned it up a notch and it helped us get the win.\u201d

The Wildcats finished with four players in double figures. Workman had 12 points and 10 rebounds.

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Consumers often search for products and services online. Geographic proximity is important to many consumers, so search engines like Google deliver results that are close by.

For example, if a user in Oro Valley searches for a plumber, the results will tend to favor plumbers who service the Oro Valley area. This is only possible because Google knows the general location of the person searching and the plumber has observed local Search Engine Optimization (SEO) guidelines. The local SEO guidelines differ slightly for companies who provide services at the customer\u2019s location, as opposed to businesses where the customers come to the business for products and services.

SCORE spoke with Johnny Wyatt, CEO of The J3 Effect, to get some important information business owners need to know about local SEO.

Wyatt recommends you start with your website. Make sure your \u201ctitle tags\u201d for each page of your website begin with the keyword customers use to find the services featured on that page. Then add a title tag for your business name and geographic location, in that order. For example: Leak Detection | Best Plumber in Tucson | Oro Valley. No two title tags should be the same.

Be sure all links, to internal and off site locations work. Broken links hurt SEO. Look at the structure of your website. Is it logical, easy to navigate with information visitors need? Adding fresh content helps your SEO, too. Once your website is complete, add new content by writing new blog pages.

Your website must be mobile device friendly, and it must load fast, on both mobile devices and desktops. Google offers a free online analyzer.

Your Google My Business listing and other local listings matter. Online reviews are important too. Get reviews on multiple sites including Google+, Facebook, Better Business Bureau and Yelp.

For more information on local SEO, contact Wyatt at 404-1087.

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WASHINGTON \u2014 A sobering report to governors about the potential consequences of repealing the Obama-era health-care law warns that federal spending cuts probably would create funding gaps for states and threaten many people with the loss of insurance coverage.

The Affordable Care Act has two main components for expanding coverage: subsidized private health insurance available in all 50 states, and an optional Medicaid expansion that has been accepted by 31 states and the District of Columbia. Those two components of the health law cover more than 20 million people.

A report by the consulting firm Avalere Health concluded that the changes under consideration by the GOP-led House would reduce significantly federal dollars for Medicaid and subsidized private insurance.

The effect on Medicaid would be far-reaching. The federal-state program for low-income people covers more than 70 million Americans, many of whom have high health-care needs.

The Associated Press obtained a copy of a slide presentation made by Avalere to governors meeting this weekend in Washington.

The report said the combination of phasing out Medicaid expansion money from the U.S. government, plus transforming the overall program from an open-ended federal entitlement to one that operates under a cap would likely result in state funding gaps. States that expanded Medicaid would face cuts.

States would get more flexibility to design their programs, but the money crunch could lead to cuts in eligibility, benefits, or payments to hospitals and other service providers. The impact of federal spending reductions would compound over time.

The private insurance subsidies provided under Barack Obama\u2019s law would also be scaled back, according to the report.

Although states would get some additional safety-net funding, reductions in federal insurance subsidies would expose some consumers to new costs for their coverage. That would probably result in fewer people covered, as some consumers drop their plans.

According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, Medicaid consumed an average 19 percent of state budgets in 2015, the most current year available, ranging from 7 percent in Utah to 41 percent in New Hampshire.

Budget hawks including House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., support the kind of program flexibility GOP governors are seeking, but chiefly want to spend less on Medicaid.

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Sanchez listens as members of the audience speak out on the question of him remaining as the superintendent at a meeting of the TUSD board, Tuesday, February 21, 2017, Tucson, Ariz. 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It all started with a single, last-minute agenda item \u2014 at least in the public\u2019s eyes.

The Tucson Unified School District Governing Board has contemplated \u2014 for at least two weeks now \u2014 the future of its chief administrator, H.T. Sanchez, who was hired in 2013 to lead the area\u2019s largest school district.

Much of the discussion has been happening behind closed doors \u2014 in executive sessions and private meetings between several board members and a lawyer who was previously dismissed by the superintendent.

That attorney, Bill Brammer, has now been retained by the five-member board to provide counsel as Governing Board members deal with issues surrounding the superintendent\u2019s job.

Public discussions on the matter were tabled twice \u2014 once at the Feb. 14 board meeting and another time the following week. More than a 100 people, including teachers, parents and district residents, showed up at both meetings to speak about the issue.

Board President Michael Hicks said last week the matter of the superintendent\u2019s employment will be discussed by the board again Tuesday, Feb. 28. The issue is to be discussed again in executive session. (See box above.)

But for now, the board remains publicly divided, with two members seeking an apparent change in district leadership, two supporting Sanchez, and one, Hicks, who won\u2019t say much more than he will do what makes sense, though he has often aligned with board clerk Mark Stegeman on issues.

Sanchez was hired in 2013 and his contract is up for renewal in 2018. He is paid a base salary of $270,000 to oversee about 52,000 students in schools across the city.

Issues brought by new board member

When new board member Rachael Sedgwick first requested to review Sanchez\u2019s employment at the Feb. 14 meeting, she said in an interview that she wanted to see about creating a performance plan for the superintendent.

\u201cIt\u2019s always been my intention to bring it to the superintendent\u2019s attention that things can be improved,\u201d she said.

She had been critical of the superintendent ever since she started campaigning for election to the school board.

Upon taking office Jan. 1, she launched an effort to get Sanchez certified as a teacher in Arizona and later requested the district create an anonymous community survey that would include, among other things, a question about \u201cperceived administrator efficacy and support,\u201d according to an email she wrote to a board assistant Feb. 12.

Sedgwick said what she calls a \u201cmiddle of the road\u201d discussion about the superintendent\u2019s job performance has evolved into something else. \u201cThings have definitely developed,\u201d she said.

\u201cMy presence on the board has completely changed the dynamic,\u201d she said.

\u201cWe\u2019re getting to know each other. We\u2019re discussing a personnel item, and that makes things tense.\u201d

Stegeman has been questioning Sanchez\u2019s leadership for much longer. He said in an interview that he first began having concerns about Sanchez in late 2013, when the state Attorney General\u2019s Office began an investigation into a TUSD procurement contract.

The investigation did not result in charges or a judgment, but aroused some clear questions, Stegeman said. He has pointed out his concerns regarding Sanchez on multiple occasions. Those include high administrative spending, low student achievement, declining enrollment, student discipline issues and staff turnover.

\u201cThere are some serious performance issues,\u201d he said last week.

In looking into those issues, Stegeman sought the help of attorney Brammer, who formerly represented TUSD in the decades-long desegregation court case on a contract basis, but was not affiliated with the district at that time. Brammer was eventually dismissed by Sanchez.

Brammer helped Stegeman compile a list of Sanchez\u2019s performance issues, Stegeman said. \u201cI was aware of legal implications and of course I needed to go to a lawyer to understand legal implications.\u201d

The attorney also met with Sedgwick and Hicks, according to an email obtained by the Star that was written by Todd Jaeger, the district\u2019s current general counsel, who recommended the board seek outside counsel.

Those meetings happened before Brammer was officially appointed last Tuesday to advise the board on Sanchez\u2019s employment. Jaeger expressed his discomfort at the possible conflict of interest involving Brammer in the email addressed to board members.

Stegeman said he didn\u2019t think it was a conflict of interest. He chose Brammer because he is familiar with the district.

\u201cConflict of interest means that my goals were in conflict with the board\u2019s goals,\u201d Stegeman said. \u201cI don\u2019t personally think that\u2019s true.\u201d

A DIVIDED BOARD

Board President Hicks previously said he wouldn\u2019t support a measure to terminate Sanchez that doesn\u2019t come with plans for doing what\u2019s best for the district. On Friday, he said it would all depend on whether whatever plan of action comes forward makes sense for the district.

Board members Adelita Grijalva and Kristel Foster both have shown support for Sanchez. They won\u2019t support a board decision to fire him.

\u201cI think that Dr. Sanchez does a good job. You can see that based on the people who are coming out to support him. He has cross-community support,\u201d Grijalva said.

Should Sanchez get fired, a new superintendent search would cost about $60,000, said Stefanie Boe, a district spokeswoman. The attorneys advising the board through the process to review Sanchez\u2019s employment are paid about $250 to $500 per hour.

Michael Varney, president of the Tucson Metro Chamber of Commerce, said he believes Sanchez has a great track record in boosting high school graduation, engaging with the private sector and minimizing enrollment declines. He has spoken out at different board meetings against terminating the superintendent.

\u201cI support him for a lot of reasons, not the least of which is that he has been a tremendously effective superintendent,\u201d Varney said.

The other issue is the lack of continuity and stability in the superintendent\u2019s job.

TUSD has had seven superintendents in the past 20 years, and a divided board with \u201cpolitical angst\u201d doesn\u2019t create an optimal atmosphere for an executive, Varney said.

When asked about the perceived animosity among board members, Grijalva said, \u201cI think we have to establish trust, and that trust has been broken for me, specifically with Dr. Stegeman.\u201d

Hicks said his goal is to not allow the relationships among board members to get too damaged.

\u201cI want to make sure that we all are working together for a common goal, which is the betterment of education for our students.\u201d

Varney said he hopes for the same.

\u201cThe entire board needs to find a way to work together to create more effective policy. They have not found a way to work together, and I think that\u2019s regrettable,\u201d he said.

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River Road, in Tucson, Ariz. on Nov. 16, 2016.","byline":"Mike Christy / Arizona Daily Star","hireswidth":3000,"hiresheight":1921,"hiresurl":"http://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/tucson.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/8/4b/84b87fd2-de50-5861-9f86-896e3e85f007/582e2b40acae6.hires.jpg","presentation":"","versions":{"full":{"type":"image/jpeg","width":"620","height":"397","url":"http://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/tucson.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/8/4b/84b87fd2-de50-5861-9f86-896e3e85f007/582e2b40526fc.image.jpg?resize=620%2C397"},"100": {"type":"image/jpeg","width":"100","height":"64","url":"http://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/tucson.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/8/4b/84b87fd2-de50-5861-9f86-896e3e85f007/582e2b40526fc.image.jpg?resize=100%2C64"},"300": {"type":"image/jpeg","width":"300","height":"192","url":"http://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/tucson.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/8/4b/84b87fd2-de50-5861-9f86-896e3e85f007/582e2b40526fc.image.jpg?resize=300%2C192"},"1024":{"type":"image/jpeg","width":"1024","height":"655","url":"http://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/tucson.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/8/4b/84b87fd2-de50-5861-9f86-896e3e85f007/582e2b40526fc.image.jpg?resize=1024%2C655"}}}],"revision":1,"commentID":"9a831ec2-faf0-11e6-87f2-c7c795f559a4","body":"

A team from BASIS Tucson North was proclaimed the winner of MATHCOUNTS' regional competition.

MATHCOUNTS is a national math enrichment, coaching and competition program.

The winning team's members are: Tom George, Michael Zhang, Trey Allen and Joseph Wang. The team will represent Southern Arizona in the state-level competition, which will be held in Vail on March 18.

Orange Grove Middle School's team won second place and Sonoran Science Academy's team, third.\u00a0

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When he opens his mouth, you are sent to another time.

Wayne Brooks just has one of those voices.

Could be the Old West, could be a Folger\u2019s commercial from 1972, but it darn sure doesn\u2019t feel like 2017.

It is rich like mahogany, thick like molasses. He says it\u2019s one of the few things God blessed him with, \u201ca pretty decent voice.\u201d Sure wasn\u2019t his riding, as the former Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association short-timer calls himself \u201cthe best 3-second bareback rider that ever was.\u201d

He laughs, and it sounds like an old truck hiccupping.

His dad sounds the same, his uncles, too. This deep bass. A lullaby in his hands would be a sleeping pill.

\u201cWelcome to the 92nd annual La Fiesta De Los Vaqueros!\u201d he booms into his microphone high atop his perch in the press box of the Tucson Rodeo grounds. \u201cHow you feeling out there? Make a little noise. Look at this crowd today! Welcome everybody, we\u2019re so glad you\u2019re here.\u201d

Two hours later, he\u2019ll put yet another performance in the books. A five-time Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association announcer of the year, Brooks signs off and takes a gulp of water. For a man who\u2019s voice is his livelihood, water is his salvation, like a man wandering the desert.

He\u2019ll be on the road 240 days this year, a full two-thirds, and though it\u2019s only February, his voice is a bit hoarse, almost gravelly. Smoky. In rodeo, that\u2019s not necessarily a bad thing.

\u2022\u2022\u2022

As a child, Brooks was taken by Rex Allen, the Arizona Cowboy, an actor, singer and all-around showman who also narrated Disney nature and Western programs.

Born in Prescott, Brooks fell for the cowboy way. But it\u2019s not as if he yearned to use his voice himself. Didn\u2019t even think it was special.

No, he sort of fell backwards into this.

Years ago, a rodeo at Estrella Park outside Phoenix was left without an announcer. Someone had bailed at the last minute. A woman walked around eavesdropping on conversations, tapping people on the shoulder. \u201cHello!\u201d she\u2019d say, and \u201cHello,\u201d they\u2019d squeak back, and she\u2019d move on.

Then she heard Wayne Brooks.

\u201cShe said if you\u2019ll announce our jackpot today, we\u2019ll give you a free practice horse,\u201d he said. \u201cThat was 20 bucks at the time! I said, sounds good. No clue what I was doing.\u201d

At the time, he was a young bareback rider on the PRCA and Arizona circuit. Not a very good one, he\u2019ll tell you, but he \u201csoaked up the lifestyle\u201d just the same.

\u201cTo compete in the rodeo world you have to be in the top 5 percent from a physical fitness standpoint, being rock solid, where you can take the beating and get up the next day,\u201d he said. \u201cI was never that tough.\u201d

But he did have this voice, and boy, a passion for the rodeo.

He barely did more than announce the names of the contestants that day, but a seed was planted. A number of weeks later, the president of the Arizona high school rodeo paid him $100 to announce the event, and, \u201cI thought I was never going to see another poor day. I was rich.\u201d

He was maybe 24, and as time went on, he thought, \u201cGood grief, I could pay some of the bills by doing this.\u201d Rodeo at that point was not a full-time gig \u2014 he worked construction, drove a truck, \u201cwhatever to make a buck\u201d \u2014 but he says he wouldn\u2019t trade that time for the world. \u201cThe greatest fun,\u201d he calls it. \u201cWe were there for the beer and the fun and the girls and the partying,\u201d he said.

Eventually he settled down, married a beautiful woman named Melanie, had two daughters and moved to Casa Grande. He started picking up more and more gigs, especially in the winter, when he could work his regular jobs and announce on the weekends.

One spring, it had to be 1990 or \u201991, Brooks says, he and Melanie sat down and hashed it out. She was a teacher and homemaker who could take off for the summer, the kids were young, and they figured: He could stay in Casa Grande for the summer, or they could go on the road and make four times as much.

\u201cLike any blue-collar, hard-working family, that was like found money,\u201d he said. \u201cYou can work doing whatever for $10 a hour or this job and make $500 a day for two or three days. It was like Christmas. I had no idea they paid for people to talk, to brag on their friends. No idea.\u201d

It took about 10 years of that annual summer grind for Brooks to line up enough regular gigs to give it the full go.

Nearly two decades ago, Brooks got his start in Tucson announcing the rodeo\u2019s royalty banquet, dubbing the rodeo queen. Long-time general manager Gary Williams said he just wanted the committee to hear him a little. He took over full-time duties for the rodeo more than a dozen years ago and considers Tucson among his favorites.

\u201cTo this day, I still sometimes wake up and am surprised I\u2019m in Tucson, or Salinas, or Reno,\u201d he said. \u201cI\u2019m still not even 100 percent sure how it happened.\u201d

He laughs.

\u201cHey, blind hogs find acorns, too.\u201d

\u2022\u2022\u2022

To watch a Tucson Rodeo performance in the hands \u2014 and voices \u2014 of Brooks and barrel man Justin Rumford is to watch Laurel and Hardy reincarnate. Abbott and Costello in spurs. Farley and Spade, only both are likable.

There is a dash of irreverence in their otherwise saddled-down humor. It\u2019s a little subversive. Rumford talks about being at a rodeo in Colorado for a week and they joke about the, umm, high altitude.

\u201cWhat happens in Vegas stays in Vegas, but what happens in Colorado stays in your system for 30 days,\u201d they riff.

They\u2019ll manage 30 performances a year, a quarter of the schedule or so, turning little girls in pink cowboy hats into silly putty.

\u201cWe work together well because we\u2019re just two regular dudes,\u201d Rumford said. \u201cWe don\u2019t have a fake voice, anything fake. We\u2019re who we are, having fun together.\u201d

Theirs is a dance, much like a bullfighter teasing a bull, weaving in and out of trouble. In a politically hostile climate, they know their audience but don\u2019t pander to it.

They are unabashedly Western, and Brooks frequently talks about the military, the cowboy lifestyle, rodeo heritage. But between the music and the Justin Timberlake references, it\u2019s clear they have modernized what can sometimes be a rather bland show.

\u201cWayne does a very good job of understanding the different demographics,\u201d Williams said. \u201cThere are some rodeos he does where you\u2019ve got a bunch of ranchers and it doesn\u2019t matter what he does, they just sit there. If you try to play down to what you perceive is the level of the audience, it\u2019s going to bite your butt.\u201d

Williams, who\u2019s known to spin a yarn or two, recalls one such occasion.

\u201cA very famous barrel man worked a rodeo in Arkansas for the first time,\u201d Williams said. \u201cHe thought he would try what he perceived was Southern humor \u2014 \u2018How do you compliment a rodeo fan from Arkansas?\u2019 Announcer said, \u2018I dunno,\u2019 and he said, \u2018Nice tooth!\u2019 There was dead silence.\u201d

Brooks and Rumford are careful to never target the audience, and to aim their sights on bigger targets.

\u201cWe never say anything political, religious, racial \u2014 we try not to say anything at all to offend anybody,\u201d Rumford said. \u201cThat\u2019s why so often we try to make fun of each other.\u201d

Rumford, who tears off his rodeo gear to reveal a skin-tight Evil Knievel outfit for a comedy motorbike routine, bears the brunt of it.

\u201cI\u2019ve known him since he was 10, used to announce for his dad, and I remember when he and his little sister Haley, a past rodeo secretary of the year, would lay on the grass and do leg wrestling,\u201d Brooks said. \u201cThey\u2019re great communicators. Fabulous communicators. You can take him anywhere anytime any day, take him off an airplane, stick him in arena, and he\u2019ll do the job.\u201d

Most important, Brooks said, is for the two of them to have an open dialogue with the audience, typically half of which is first-time rodeo fans.

\u201cIn rodeo, we have an opportunity to take our fan base and bring them in to our family,\u201d Brooks said. \u201cWhat I\u2019ve learned from my predecessors is I want these people to walk away feeling they\u2019re part of the group. That they can be a cowboy today.\u201d

\u2022\u2022\u2022

Brooks is a cowboy today, yesterday and forever.

He has the scars to prove it.

\u201cWhen you\u2019re 20-something, you don\u2019t realize the pain that\u2019s gonna come back when you\u2019re 40-something,\u201d Brooks said.

His shoulder aches, courtesy of a wreck on a bareback horse down near the border. Tore his rotator cuff, and, \u201cIt\u2019s shot,\u201d Brooks says.

He\u2019s been in a wreck or two himself, but he\u2019s also cursed with the unenviable task of sometimes ushering a half-novice audience through horrific sights.

\u201cReno, Nevada, 10 years ago, a six-horse hitch with 2,000 pound Percheron horses, whirling around the arena, and one of the horses stumbled and fell and it was just like wadding up a piece of paper. All six horses went down, hitch, leather and lines, people flying off of the wagon. The worst wreck you could ever see with animals involved.\u201d

He remembers the time bullrider Cody Hancock got kicked by a bull in Clovis, California, outside of Fresno. Took his ear off, Brooks said. \u201cYou don\u2019t realize how tough these players are until you see eight or 10 of them kicking around the dirt looking for an ear and then saying 10 minutes later we can\u2019t find it, let\u2019s go on.\u201d

Tucson Rodeo Committee chairman Jose Calderon chimes in.

\u201cThat\u2019s why cowboys don\u2019t wear earrings,\u201d he says, as Brooks and Williams laugh.

He handles these rough crashes with dignity and respect for the rider and the animal, having been there before.

\u201cIn 2017, more now than ever, we as cowboys hold our heads up and are proud of the tradition and heritage that surrounds it,\u201d he said.

If it sounds like a commercial, don\u2019t be surprised: Brooks also does voice work, making use of his gift.

He may have even passed it on to his son, Ace.

Ace is 15 \u2014 he was born on 9/11; Brooks remembers being in the Scottsdale hospital when the nurse checked Melanie\u2019s blood pressure as the buildings crashed down \u2014 and his voice is changing. Who knows if it\u2019ll settle in the deep pit like his father\u2019s.

\u201cUntil you\u2019re 20 you have no idea,\u201d Brooks said.

It sure is a good thing he found out, though.

\u201cWe couldn\u2019t have a better representative than Wayne,\u201d Williams said. \u201cHe is studious, he knows his stuff, and he has a passion for it. You can\u2019t fake that passion.\u201d

"}, {"id":"87ae9ab3-e04c-5698-b7bc-751c4cf7d240","type":"article","starttime":"1488150000","starttime_iso8601":"2017-02-26T16:00:00-07:00","lastupdated":"1488163325","priority":44,"sections":[{"local":"sports/local"}],"flags":{"editors_pick":"true","top_story":"true"},"application":"editorial","title":"Tough guy George Yost says goodbye to Tucson with the round of his life","url":"http://tucson.com/sports/local/article_87ae9ab3-e04c-5698-b7bc-751c4cf7d240.html","permalink":"http://tucson.com/sports/local/tough-guy-george-yost-says-goodbye-to-tucson-with-the/article_87ae9ab3-e04c-5698-b7bc-751c4cf7d240.html","canonical":"http://tucson.com/sports/local/tough-guy-george-yost-says-goodbye-to-tucson-with-the/article_87ae9ab3-e04c-5698-b7bc-751c4cf7d240.html","relatedAssetCounts":{"article":0,"audio":0,"image":1,"link":0,"vmix":0,"youtube":0,"gallery":0},"byline":"Greg Hansen \nArizona Daily Star","prologue":"At age 84, he shot an 84 at Dell Urich 10 days ago.","supportsComments":true,"commentCount":0,"keywords":[],"internalKeywords":["#top5sports","#latest","#editorspick"],"customProperties":{"label":"hansen"},"presentation":"","images":[{"id":"7818a118-512c-5fe0-a1d0-8f02fef24cc7","description":"","byline":"","hireswidth":null,"hiresheight":null,"hiresurl":null,"presentation":"","versions":{"full":{"type":"image/jpeg","width":"289","height":"139","url":"http://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/tucson.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/7/81/7818a118-512c-5fe0-a1d0-8f02fef24cc7/54154c70abd84.image.jpg?resize=289%2C139"},"100": {"type":"image/jpeg","width":"100","height":"48","url":"http://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/tucson.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/7/81/7818a118-512c-5fe0-a1d0-8f02fef24cc7/53c48463aa2e5.preview-100.jpg"},"300": {"type":"image/jpeg","width":"300","height":"144","url":"http://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/tucson.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/7/81/7818a118-512c-5fe0-a1d0-8f02fef24cc7/53c48463ab4ab.preview-300.jpg"},"1024":{"type":"image/jpeg","width":"1024","height":"492","url":"http://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/tucson.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/7/81/7818a118-512c-5fe0-a1d0-8f02fef24cc7/53c4846390c62.preview-1024.jpg"}}}],"revision":10,"commentID":"87ae9ab3-e04c-5698-b7bc-751c4cf7d240","body":"

On the day George Yost meets his maker, the conversation won\u2019t take long.

GOD: \u201cDid you live a good life?\u201d

GEORGE: \u201cDamn right.\u201d

GOD: Would you do anything differently?

GEORGE: \u201cDon\u2019t give me any trouble.\u201d

Sometime this week, George Yost, my golf partner for 15 years and one of the most unforgettable characters I\u2019ve ever met, will get in his car and drive to Grand Junction, Colorado, to live near his daughters and extended family.

He says his new neighbor in a 55-over community in the Grand Junction suburb of Fruita has promised to bake him some cookies.

It will be the sweetest thing to happen to him in 84 years because there is no sugarcoating the story of George Yost.

I was randomly paired with George in my first week as a member of the Sunrise Golf Club and, typical of strangers playing golf, the early conversation was strained. He didn\u2019t make a peep.

At mid-round, I asked another golfer what George did for a living.

\u201cHe\u2019s a minister,\u201d I was told.

And then the dam burst. SOB this. SOB that. After a missed putt, George\u2019s putter went helicoptering off the green, end over end, into a sand trap.

I looked at the other golfers. \u201cA minister?\u201d

You could hear laughter all the way to the 19th hole.

I\u2019ve spent my adult life writing about so-called tough guys: linebackers, old-school coaches and third basemen playing in on the grass. But I don\u2019t think I\u2019ve ever come across a tougher sucker than George Yost, a former quartermaster for the USS Firecrest, a minesweeper that was almost always in harm\u2019s way during the Korean War.

Once, before the Firecrest left Japan for a 90-days-at-sea mission, George told the company doctor that he had a killer pain in his side.

\u201cIt\u2019s just a bellyache, dammit,\u201d the doctor said. \u201cGet out of here.\u201d

The next day George\u2019s appendix burst. He was back on the ship a week later.

George played golf like his appendix was about to burst, but you\u2019ll never find anyone more determined to get the damn golf ball into the cup, if you\u2019ll pardon the French.

Ten days ago at the Dell Urich Golf Course, after a life in which he has survived three heart surgeries, the death of two wives, and the news that his son fractured his spine and would spend the rest of his life in a wheelchair, George had the round of his life.

He shot 41 on the front nine and as he neared the 18th green all he needed was a bogey to shoot 84. It would be the lowest score of his life. He would also shoot his age, an 84 at 84. Hallelujah.

When George drained the 5-footer for an 84, he didn\u2019t tell a soul what it meant or what he had done.

Finally, two days later, after some digging, he let it out.

\u201cBest round of my life,\u201d he said.

\u201cWere you nervous?\u201d

\u201cYep.\u201d

End of story.

George Yost was born and grew up on the bad side of the street in Salt Lake City, a just-barely-made-it member of the West High School Class of 1951.

His father, Newton, a product of the Great Depression, moved from Illinois to Utah to find work. While cutting timber in the Wasatch Mountains, Newton Yost met the company cook, Selma, a young Mormon girl from nearby Brigham City.

They would get married, have four kids and raise a family as Newton worked for an oil company and a concrete outfit. Middle America, 1940s.

George was a talented basketball player, but making the powerful West High Panthers basketball team, one of the few Utah schools with minority students, required more than just basketball skills.

\u201cSometimes it depended on who you could whip,\u201d says George.

Did you whip anybody?

\u201cLet\u2019s just say I got whipped a few times myself,\u201d he says.

Don\u2019t let this out, but the man known more for his bark than his bite is a softie inside. He wouldn\u2019t want anyone to know.

George joined the Navy after high school, spent five years overseas, and returned to Utah where he found work with Chevron.

It was the job of a lifetime. He started at the bottom, manning the gas pumps and fixing flat tires for 60 cents an hour. Pretty soon he was the manager of a Chevron station.

What was it Billy Joel sang about drinking a lot of his take-home pay? Until his heart almost conked out, George did a lot of that, too.

In 1982, Chevron transferred him to Tucson so he could be the lubricant representative for Arizona, New Mexico and West Texas. That\u2019s when George started to golf, becoming one of the earliest members of the Sunrise Club.

As he would say, it took him 35 damn years to have the round of his life.

Between all the work and all the golf, he met his wife, Jean Champion, during a business meeting at the old Tri-Arc Hotel in Salt Lake City. They built a house near Silverbell Road and got on with life.

She worked for the Yellow Pages. He wore a Chevron shirt to work. Life was good.

Tragically, Jean died of pancreatic cancer in 2007. After that, George lived alone, playing golf three or four days a week, overcoming three heart surgeries, toughing it out. Finally, he gave in and agreed to move closer to his daughters in Colorado.

When George walked into the pro shop Sunday morning at the Randolph Golf Complex, everyone knew it would be his last day of golf in Tucson.

In 30 years, he probably played more than 3,000 rounds at El Rio, Dell Urich, Randolph, Fred Enke and Silverbell.

When George reached for his wallet, a man behind the counter waved it off.

\u201cNo charge for you today,\u201d the man said. \u201cWe\u2019re going to miss you.\u201d

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About 3\u00bd years after Phase 1 of the Grant Road Improvement Project was finished, Phase 2 is just weeks away from getting underway.

The Road Runner got a hold of the preliminary construction schedule to help readers plan for the substantial remaking of the major east-west arterial between North Stone and Park avenues.

Once complete in 2023 \u2014 according to current estimates \u2014 the massive six-phase project will provide six lanes of travel, as well as bike lanes and pedestrian safety features, from North Oracle to Swan roads at a cost of about $100 million in 2008 dollars. The engineering estimate for Phase 2 was a little over $17 million, but Phoenix contractor Markham won with a bid of $14.5 million, the money for which will come from the sales-tax-funded Regional Transportation Authority.

Before we dive into the details, an important qualifying note: All of the dates you\u2019re about to read are tentative, meaning they are subject to change and vulnerable to the vagaries of Southern Arizona\u2019s often extreme weather, among other factors.

\u201cIt\u2019s the best-case scenario,\u201d David Burbank, the Tucson transportation department\u2019s Phase 2 project manager, said of the preliminary schedule, before graciously walking the Road Runner through each of the project\u2019s six stages \u2014 many of which run concurrently with other stages \u2014 and how they will likely impact the motoring public.

Construction is slated to start March 20, when Markham gets the first stage going, which includes building a retention basin, clearing vegetation along the work area, utility research and laying the new eastbound lane. These elements of the project will have little impact on traffic flow and will last through June 2018, according to Burbank.

\u201cTraffic\u2019s going to flow as if no one\u2019s there,\u201d he said.

Construction was originally expected to start in 2015, but delays with utility companies moving their communication lines held that up, according to city engineer Fred Felix.

The second stage will kick off May 22, and will involve substantial work to Stone Avenue north and south within a block or two of its intersection with Grant.

Markham will build new sidewalks and access points, among other things. Unlike stage one, the work on Stone, which is expected to last until early August, will come with some lane restrictions.

The following stage, expected to stretch from June 8 to Aug. 18, will be more or less the same as the Stone work, but at First and Euclid avenues, further east.

The fourth stage will deal with westbound Grant, and last from late August through mid-December. Initially, there will be a fair amount of utilities work, and toward the end crews will build the new third lane.

\u201cThis will impact travel, where we\u2019re temporarily putting it down to one lane, using the new eastbound Grant Road and moving traffic onto that,\u201d Burbank said.

The fifth stage will also have significant traffic impacts as Markham builds the raised median in the middle of Grant from mid-November through early January 2018. To accommodate that work, the lane closest to the median for both directions will be closed, though there will still be two lanes of travel open through much of the project area.

And finally, from late November through early March 2018, Markham will finish off work on westbound grant from Stone west to Castro Avenue. Through all the phases, Burbank said business access would be maintained.

\u201cIt won\u2019t be as painful as everybody thinks,\u201d Burbank said, adding later: \u201cBe patient with us, we will deliver a roadway that\u2019s going to be very usable, it\u2019s going to improve traffic movement, it\u2019s going to improve safety, and it\u2019s going to look modern by the time were done with it.\u201d

In addition to the features described above, when all is said and done Grant will have two new indirect left turns, which are also known as Michigan lefts, at Stone and First, in addition to the one that is already at Grant\u2019s intersection with Oracle.

When Tucson drivers first got a taste of the novel intersections, which are intended to improve traffic flow and safety, many took a dim view of them. However, while 80 percent of respondents to a 2013 Star poll said they disliked the traffic innovation, that number fell to 50 in a similar poll conducted last year.

To keep an eye on how they function in the real world, the RTA\u2019s Jim DeGrood said baseline data on the intersections was recently collected to compare it to the intersections after the indirect lefts are constructed. When the data is available, the Road Runner will certainly give it a look.

To promote economic development after Phase 2 is complete, city officials are contemplating what is known as an Urban Overlay District, which allows a degree of regulatory flexibility when it comes to certain zoning requirements. For example, Rebecca Ruopp, who is overseeing land-use planning for Phase 2, said that parking-space requirements could be loosened in exchange for additional landscaping work at a business.

For some of the parcels the city acquired leading up to Phase 2, it is considering soliciting requests for proposals for that land. If you\u2019re interested in this side of the project, there will be a public meeting on March 2 at 5:30 pm at the Donna Liggins Recreation Center, 2160 N. Sixth Ave.

DOWN THE ROAD

It\u2019s not coming next week, but county residents near Colossal Cave Road should mark their calendars with the following dates.

Between March 13 and March 26, there will two separate closures of the road\u2019s railroad crossings with more or less the same traffic impacts.

On March 13-14, the crossing at the northbound tracks will be closed, and from March 15 through March 26, the closure will be at the southbound tracks.

In both cases, motorists trying to get to Colossal Cave Road north of the tracks from Interstate 10 will have to take the Houghton Road exit (275), travel north to Mary Ann Cleveland Way and head east to Colossal Cave. The business center just south of the tracks on Colossal Cave will be the last point of access.

Access to both Acacia Elementary School and Old Vail Middle School will be maintained.

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An Esperero Canyon Middle School student won the Pima County Spelling Bee.

Jillian Smith won first place by correctly spelling \"wilderness.\" The event, hosted by the Pima County School Superintendent's Office, took place on Saturday, Feb. 18 at the Arizona School for the Deaf and Blind, 1200 W. Speedway Blvd.\u00a0

Nihal Josyula of BASIS Tucson Primary won second place and Beckett Ott of Cross Middle School, third.\u00a0

"}, {"id":"5f819c04-9dbc-5ac1-98ee-40c36c02eb1f","type":"article","starttime":"1488146400","starttime_iso8601":"2017-02-26T15:00:00-07:00","lastupdated":"1488155408","sections":[{"washington":"ap/washington"},{"national":"news/national"}],"flags":{"ap":"true"},"application":"editorial","title":"Pentagon seeks to expand fight against extremists in Somalia","url":"http://tucson.com/ap/washington/article_5f819c04-9dbc-5ac1-98ee-40c36c02eb1f.html","permalink":"http://tucson.com/ap/washington/pentagon-seeks-to-expand-fight-against-extremists-in-somalia/article_5f819c04-9dbc-5ac1-98ee-40c36c02eb1f.html","canonical":"http://tucson.com/ap/washington/pentagon-seeks-to-expand-fight-against-extremists-in-somalia/article_5f819c04-9dbc-5ac1-98ee-40c36c02eb1f.html","relatedAssetCounts":{"article":0,"audio":0,"image":1,"link":0,"vmix":0,"youtube":0,"gallery":0},"byline":"By Lolita C. Baldor\nThe Associated Press","prologue":"WASHINGTON \u2014 The Pentagon wants to expand the military\u2019s ability to battle al-Qaida-linked militants in Somalia, potentially putting U.S. forces closer to the fight against a stubborn extremist group that has plotted attacks against America, senior U.S. officials say. The recommendations sent to the White House would allow U.S. special operations forces to increase assistance to the Somali National Army in its struggle against al-Shabab militants in the fragile Horn of Africa nation, the officials said. They said the proposal would give the military greater flexibility to launch airstrikes against extremists that appear to be a threat.","supportsComments":true,"commentCount":0,"keywords":["government and politics","special forces","armed forces","military and defense","war and unrest","general news","terrorism","militant groups"],"internalKeywords":["#latest"],"customProperties":{},"presentation":"","images":[{"id":"433db176-955e-5905-8200-718e075d7302","description":"In this Jan. 2, 2017, file photo, a Somali soldier patrols the area of a suicide car bomb attack in Mogadishu, Somalia. The Pentagon wants to expand the military\u2019s ability to battle al-Qaida-linked militants in Somalia, potentially putting U.S. forces closer to the fight against a stubborn extremist group that has plotted attacks against America, senior U.S. officials said. (AP Photo/Farah Abdi Warsameh, File)","byline":"The Associated Press","hireswidth":6900,"hiresheight":4600,"hiresurl":"http://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/tucson.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/4/33/433db176-955e-5905-8200-718e075d7302/58b33bf92f21d.hires.jpg","presentation":"","versions":{"full":{"type":"image/jpeg","width":"512","height":"341","url":"http://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/tucson.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/4/33/433db176-955e-5905-8200-718e075d7302/58b33bf932dc1.image.jpg?resize=512%2C341"},"100": {"type":"image/jpeg","width":"100","height":"56","url":"http://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/tucson.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/4/33/433db176-955e-5905-8200-718e075d7302/58b33bf932dc1.image.jpg?crop=512%2C287%2C0%2C26&resize=100%2C56&order=crop%2Cresize"},"300": {"type":"image/jpeg","width":"300","height":"168","url":"http://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/tucson.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/4/33/433db176-955e-5905-8200-718e075d7302/58b33bf932dc1.image.jpg?crop=512%2C287%2C0%2C26&resize=300%2C168&order=crop%2Cresize"},"1024":{"type":"image/jpeg","width":"1024","height":"574","url":"http://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/tucson.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/4/33/433db176-955e-5905-8200-718e075d7302/58b33bf932dc1.image.jpg?crop=512%2C287%2C0%2C26"}}}],"revision":5,"commentID":"5f819c04-9dbc-5ac1-98ee-40c36c02eb1f","body":"

WASHINGTON \u2014 The Pentagon wants to expand the military\u2019s ability to battle al-Qaida-linked militants in Somalia, potentially putting U.S. forces closer to the fight against a stubborn extremist group that has plotted attacks against America, senior U.S. officials say.

The recommendations sent to the White House would allow U.S. special operations forces to increase assistance to the Somali National Army in its struggle against al-Shabab militants in the fragile Horn of Africa nation, the officials said. They said the proposal would give the military greater flexibility to launch airstrikes against extremists that appear to be a threat.

Beefing up the military effort in Somalia fits with President Trump\u2019s broader request for a Pentagon plan to accelerate the U.S.-led battle against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria and defeat other extremist groups, including al-Qaida and its affiliates.

U.S. concerns about al-Shabab escalated in recent years as young Americans from Somali communities traveled to training camps in Somalia, raising fears they might return to the United States and conduct terror attacks.

Somalia was one of the seven predominantly Muslim countries included in Trump\u2019s travel ban last month. The executive order has since been suspended by federal courts.

Somalia is \u201cour most perplexing challenge,\u201d Gen. Thomas Waldhauser, the head of U.S. Africa Command, said in an interview with The Associated Press.

The United States is \u201ctrying to take a look at Somalia from a fresh perspective in the way ahead,\u201d he said, describing the need to weaken the decade-old al-Shabab insurgency so that the African nation\u2019s military can defeat it.

Waldhauser declined to provide details of the new options that have been proposed.

But other officials said elements include giving U.S. special operations forces greater ability to accompany local troops on military operations against al-Shabab and easing restrictions on when the U.S. can conduct airstrikes against the group. The officials weren\u2019t authorized to publicly discuss the confidential review and spoke on condition of anonymity

Currently there are about 50 U.S. commandos rotating in and out of Somalia to advise and assist the local troops. The new authorities could result in a small increase in the number of U.S. forces in Somalia, officials said.

Defense Secretary Jim Mattis approved the recommendations and sent the plan to the White House earlier this month, they added. But no final decisions have been made, and the proposal could prove politically sensitive because of the disastrous downing of two U.S. helicopters over Mogadishu in 1993 that killed 18 American troops.

The White House declined to comment, deferring questions to the Defense Department.

Somalia has been without a truly functioning government for two-and-a-half decades. After warlords ousted dictator Siad Barre in 1991, they quickly turned on one another, making Somalia infamous for its extreme rates of violence and the proliferation of pirates operating off its coasts. Security has improved in recent years as international efforts against al-Shabab gained ground.

After the bodies of American soldiers were dragged through the streets of Mogadishu when the helicopters were shot down, the U.S. withdrew from the country. Since then, Islamist hard-liners have vied for power and al-Shabab\u2019s attacks have spread to Uganda and Kenya.

Some of the U.S. officials with knowledge of the new military proposal said it is aimed at improving the U.S. advisory mission because the African Union is planning to pull its 20,000 peacekeeping troops from Somalia in 2020. Observers say Somali troops are unprepared to fight the extremist threat on their own.

Currently, U.S. forces can transport and accompany local troops. But they must keep their distance from front lines and can only engage the enemy if they come under attack or if Somali forces are in danger of being defeated. The new proposal would give U.S. forces the ability to move with Somali troops into the fight if needed.

While the American military right now can conduct airstrikes in self-defense or to protect Somali troops if they come under attack and request help, the new rules would be broader.

Officials said that under the new recommendations, the military would be able to launch airstrikes against militants on a more pre-emptive basis. For example, the U.S. could target al-Shabab fighters gathering for an attack rather than waiting until friendly forces were under fire.

Al-Shabab has been ousted from most Somali cities and towns, but its suicide bombers continue to kill across large parts of the south and center of the country. That includes Mogadishu, the capital.

Somalia\u2019s new president, Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed, inaugurated Wednesday, warned that it will take another two decades to \u201cfix\u201d his country. Mohamed, who also holds U.S. citizenship, won election earlier this month as Somalia tries to restore effective governance.

Waldhauser said the U.S. sees an opportunity to work with Mohamed to \u201ctrain the Somalia national security forces to a level that they can take on al-Shabab on their own.\u201d

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WASHINGTON \u2014 When Republicans say they want to lower taxes and get rid of loopholes to make up the lost revenue, they\u2019re talking about eliminating some very popular tax breaks enjoyed by millions of people.

That\u2019s why making big changes to tax laws is so hard \u2014 and why it hasn\u2019t been done for 30 years.

Unless Congress simply cuts taxes for everyone, there will be winners and losers, and the losers won\u2019t go quietly. If Congress does cut taxes for everyone, lawmakers risk exploding an already large budget deficit.

Republican leaders in the House and Senate say they don\u2019t want a tax overhaul to add to the national debt. That\u2019s what they mean when they say \u201crevenue neutral\u201d: The new system would raise the same amount of tax revenue as the old one, after taking into account some broader economic effects.

President Trump has said he will make public a tax proposal in the coming weeks. Republicans in Congress are also working on plans, with the House GOP taking the lead.

Last year, House Republicans released a blueprint that would lower income-tax rates and reduce the number of tax brackets. The gist of the plan is to lower tax rates for just about everyone and make up the lost revenue by scaling back exemptions, deductions and credits.

Here\u2019s a look at the biggest tax breaks enjoyed by individuals, along with The Associated Press\u2019 assessment of how safe they are as Congress works to overhaul taxes. All estimates are from the nonpartisan Joint Committee on Taxation, the official scorekeeper for Congress.

RETIREMENT SAVINGS

Contributions to pension plans are tax-exempt, including defined benefit plans and defined contribution plans, such as 401(k)s. This exemption saved taxpayers $180 billion in 2016, making it the biggest tax break for individuals.

RATING: Safe.

EMPLOYER-PROVIDED HEALTH INSURANCE

Nearly half of all those in the United States get their health insurance from an employer. The value of those insurance policies is exempt from taxation, saving taxpayers $155 billion in 2016.

Proposals to start taxing at least some health benefits are dividing House Republicans as they struggle to replace ex-President Barack Obama\u2019s health law. Some see it as another version of Obama\u2019s \u201cCadillac\u201d tax on high-cost health insurance, which has been delayed until 2020.

RATING: In danger.

CAPITAL GAINS AND DIVIDENDS

Investors pay reduced tax rates on long-term capital gains and qualified dividends, saving them $131 billion in 2016. The tax rate for investment income is 15 percent for most investors, though the very wealthy pay a top rate of 20 percent. The top tax rate on regular income is 39.6 percent.

In 1986, President Ronald Reagan raised taxes on investments and used the revenue to dramatically reduce tax rates for regular income. Today, few Republicans embrace the idea of increasing taxes on investments.

RATING: Safe, as long as Republicans are in charge.

EARNED INCOME CREDIT

Nearly 30 million families claimed the earned income tax credit in 2016, which targets low-income working families with children. They saved a total of $73 billion. Republicans like the credit because it rewards work. Democrats like it because it is one of the federal government\u2019s largest anti-poverty programs.

RATING: Safe, but there could be changes.

STATE AND LOCAL TAXES

More than 43 million families deducted their state and local income, sales and personal property taxes from their federal taxable income in 2016. The deductions reduced their federal tax bills by nearly $70 billion. More than 90 percent of taxpayers who itemize take advantage of this deduction. Nevertheless, the House Republican blueprint would repeal it to help pay for lower tax rates.

RATING: In danger.

MORTGAGE INTEREST

Nearly 34 million families claimed the mortgage interest deduction in 2016, reducing their tax bills by $65 billion. Some economists say the deduction is an inefficient way to promote home ownership. But it has strong support among homeowners and every industry associated with buying and building homes. Recognizing the political peril of targeting this deduction, the House GOP blueprint would keep it.

RATING: Safe, but it could get a haircut for high-priced homes.

CHARITABLE CONTRIBUTIONS

Nearly 36 million families claimed deductions for charitable contributions in 2016, reducing their tax bills by more than $57 billion. Most tax overhaul proposals, including the House GOP blueprint, would spare this deduction.

RATING: Safe.

CHILD TAX CREDIT

More than 35 million families claimed the $1,000-per-child credit in 2016. They saved more than $54 billion.

RATING: Safe. Some proposals would increase it.

SOCIAL SECURITY AND RAILROAD RETIREMENT

Most Social Security and railroad retirement benefits are not taxed, saving these people $40 billion in 2016. Individuals with a combined income below $25,000 do not have to pay taxes on Social Security. The income threshold for married couples is $32,000.

RATING: Safe.

PROPERTY TAXES

Nearly 35 million families deducted their taxes on their home or other real estate from their federal taxable income in 2016. They saved a total of $33 billion. This deduction makes it easier for school districts to raise money from property taxes. It is, however, targeted for elimination in the House GOP blueprint.

RATING: In danger.

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Marana High School's choir director was recognized for her leadership and service.

Sarah Ross was awarded the George C. Wilson Leadership and Service Award from the Arizona Music Educators Association.\u00a0

Ross, who has been teaching at Marana High since 2007, conducts six ensembles in concerts, collaborates with other teachers around the campus and participates in community service.\u00a0

She was previously named the Circle K Teacher of the Year in 2012, recognized as Teacher of the Year by the Marana district in 2013 and represented the state as a Yale Distinguished Music Educator.

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The Arizona Daily Star\u2019s Sportsmen\u2019s Fund Send a Kid to Camp program raises money so children from low-income households and military families can attend overnight YMCA, Boy Scout and Girl Scout camps and Camp Tatiyee, for school-age children and older teens with special needs, at little or no cost to their families.

We kicked off our annual fundraiser on Rodeo Parade day, Feb. 23, with a donation envelope in the Star.

Our goal is to raise $190,000 and send 650 local boys and girls to area camps this summer.

Since 1947, the Arizona Daily Star Sportsmen\u2019s Fund has helped pay for 38,551 children to go to camp. We\u2019re one of the oldest 501(c)3 charities in Arizona.

Your contribution qualifies for the Arizona tax credit of up to $800 for donations to qualifying charitable organizations. That tax credit was increased starting for tax year 2016; donations made through April 18, 2017, qualify. Donations are welcome throughout the year.

Recent donations include:

Gregory Andrews, $50.

Jack L. Arnold, $50.

John Barkley, in memory of Deb Childers, $100.

L. and J. Botzong, $25.

Patricia Brady, in memory of Dr. James E. Brady Jr., $50.

George Bray, $25.

Walter Brem, $100.

Thomas and Claire Brown, $150.

Hugh M. Caldwell, $200.

Allan Cameron, $100.

John and Joan Curran, $100.

Janice Darrell, $50.

Desert Bloom Designs, $50.

Steven Dirks, $800.

Janice Dowling, $100.

Larry and Judith East, $250.

Charles Falbo, $40.

Thomas Ferguson, $200.

Michael and Karen Fisher, $500.

Kathrine Flanagan, $100.

Robert D. Fusinati, $200.

Gail and Robert Garin, $600.

Lois Handley, $100.

Arrah Jane Hill, $200.

Karen L. Hively, $100.

Joe Huerta, $200.

Alan Kohl, $200.

Adrienne Lapella, $50.

Don Lewis, $400.

Patricia McElroy, in loving memory of my father, Robert A. McElroy Sr., $500.

Hugh S. McKenzie, $1,000.

Sandra Meaker, $100.

Sonya K. Merrill, $400.

Barbara J. Mueller, $50.

Gayle Prather, $100.

Richard Replogle, $100.

Pamela Shanahan, $100.

Bob and Donna Swaim, in memory of brother Bill, who loved the mountains, $200.

Jim and Ginny Williams, $200.

Marty Wurth, $25.

One anonymous donation of $3,000.

More donations will be acknowledged in the coming week.

"}, {"id":"2b1aa41a-3ffb-5f5c-a692-6a778c9ff1b5","type":"article","starttime":"1488123000","starttime_iso8601":"2017-02-26T08:30:00-07:00","priority":35,"sections":[{"entertainment":"entertainment"},{"recreation":"lifestyles/recreation"},{"travel":"travel"}],"application":"editorial","title":"Reader's dream trip ended early when London flight was canceled","url":"http://tucson.com/entertainment/article_2b1aa41a-3ffb-5f5c-a692-6a778c9ff1b5.html","permalink":"http://tucson.com/entertainment/reader-s-dream-trip-ended-early-when-london-flight-was/article_2b1aa41a-3ffb-5f5c-a692-6a778c9ff1b5.html","canonical":"http://tucson.com/entertainment/reader-s-dream-trip-ended-early-when-london-flight-was/article_2b1aa41a-3ffb-5f5c-a692-6a778c9ff1b5.html","relatedAssetCounts":{"article":0,"audio":0,"image":0,"link":0,"vmix":0,"youtube":0,"gallery":0},"byline":"By Christopher Elliott\nThe Travel Troubleshooter","prologue":"When Leslie Hammond's flight to London is canceled, she calls off her vacation. Why won't American Airlines refund her ticket?","supportsComments":true,"commentCount":0,"keywords":[],"internalKeywords":["#latest"],"customProperties":{"arm_id":"74164"},"presentation":"","revision":5,"commentID":"2b1aa41a-3ffb-5f5c-a692-6a778c9ff1b5","body":"

Q: I recently booked round-trip airline tickets on British Airways to fly from Albuquerque, New Mexico, to Inverness, Scotland, on British Airways. I made the reservation through Expedia, which included one night\u2019s lodging at the Culloden House Hotel. I also booked five nights at the Ullinish Country Lodge directly.

My flight from Albuquerque to Dallas was operated by American Airlines. I was scheduled to connect with another American Airlines flight to London, but my overseas flight was delayed because of a mechanical problem. That meant missing the only daily flight to Inverness.

An American Airlines representative made a tentative reservation for me to fly to Inverness on the next available flight. I asked if I could be rerouted through Dublin, but all flights were booked. It became clear to me that once my American Airlines flight arrived at the gate at London, American\u2019s responsibility to me would be finished. I would be stuck in London for the next 24 hours with no luggage.

My dream trip for my 67th birthday had come to an end.

An American Airlines representative at Dallas was able to book me on a flight home at 9:30 p.m. I arrived back in Santa Fe at 11 p.m. The representative also agreed to initiate a refund request for the unused portion of my ticket. She told me that I would receive a refund in six to 10 days.

When no refund appeared, I called American Airlines. Another agent made another request for a refund. It\u2019s been almost four months, and I\u2019m still waiting. Can you help? \u2014 Leslie Hammond, Santa Fe, New Mexico

A: I\u2019m sorry to hear about your 67th birthday trip. That\u2019s what folks in the travel industry call a \u201ctrip in vain.\u201d You flew to Dallas, only to have to return home .

I\u2019m troubled by the perception that American Airlines didn\u2019t care about getting you to your final destination. American and British Airways are codeshare partners, which means they are taking responsibility for each other\u2019s flights. No one from American should have left you with the impression that the airline was \u201cfinished\u201d with you when you arrived in London.

A call to your online travel agency, Expedia, or to British Airways might have yielded a different result. As your travel agent, Expedia should have figured out a way to fix your dream vacation \u2014 that\u2019s what good travel agents do.

\u201cTrip in vain\u201d policies vary from airline to airline, but generally, they should offer a refund of the unused portion of your ticket. The money would be sent to your travel agent, which then would return it to you.

I list the executive contacts for American Airlines, British Airways (elliott.org/company-contacts/british-airways) and Expedia (elliott.org/company-contacts/expedia) on my consumer-advocacy site. I think you could have successfully appealed this delayed refund to one of them.

As best I can tell, your refund followed a confusing path. If British Airways ticketed you, then it had your money. American would have had to ask British Airways for the refund, and then it would have been sent to Expedia. That may account for the delay, but it doesn\u2019t fully explain it.

At my suggestion, you reached out to one of Expedia\u2019s executives. Within a week, you had a full refund for your unused tickets.

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DEAR DR. ROACH: I hope you can answer some questions about a disease called multiple system atrophy. What does it do to your body? Is the cause known? Is there a cure? \u2014 D.B.

ANSWER: Multiple system atrophy is a group of related degenerative diseases of the nervous system. All of them can cause any of three symptoms: ataxia (a specific type of loss of muscular coordination); Parkinsonism (the specific abnormal muscle control and rigidity that usually is seen in Parkinson\u2019s disease); and problems with the autonomic nervous system (the part that regulates blood pressure on standing and bladder control, among many other functions).

MSA with predominant ataxia is also called \u201colivopontocerebellar atrophy\u201d; MSA with predominant Parkinson\u2019s features is also called \u201cstriatonigral degeneration\u201d; and MSA with predominantly autonomic symptoms is also called \u201cShy-Drager syndrome.\u201d

The cause is unknown, though there is promising research being done. Unfortunately, no medication treatment effectively slows or stops the progression of MSA. Treatment is used to help manage symptoms, and it may include physical therapy as well as medications.

MSA is a rare condition, and few doctors are expert in it. I strongly recommend you contact The MSACoalition, an organization devoted to education, support and advocacy for MSA, at www.multiplesystematrophy.org.

DEAR DR. ROACH: About your recent column on melatonin: At 70 years old, I was taking melatonin three to four nights a week for several months. Sometimes it helped; other times not. While purchasing a new bottle, I noticed fine print that read: \u201cConsult a physician if using for more than four weeks.\u201d I asked the pharmacist why, and she said, \u201cIf you are having trouble sleeping, talk to your doctor.\u201d I thought melatonin was not addictive or harmful. Why the warning? \u2014 K.W.

ANSWER: Low-dose melatonin is relatively safe, and it almost certainly is substantially safer than most over-the-counter and prescription sleeping medications. Melatonin is proven to be beneficial in people adjusting to new time zones and in people with low melatonin levels. Despite absence of proven benefit in all people, many physicians recommend it for long-term use. I do agree with both your low dose and that you are not taking it every night. I think these will minimize the already small risks.

Why consult a physician? Several potentially serious medical conditions can have insomnia as a symptom, so it is wise to discuss your problem with your doctor. This is not so much because melatonin is dangerous as it is to make sure there\u2019s not some other cause (such as high thyroid level) for your insomnia.

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Dear Amy: I am a happily married man with two wonderful children (ages 6 and 8).

Recently, a close friend and his wife (who are Catholic) asked me to be the godfather to their child.

I instantly reminded them that I am an atheist. My children weren't baptized and my understanding is that a godparent is a religious mentor, indeed, in a recent column, you noted that a godparent provides a spiritual backdrop to a child's life.

Although I am not Catholic, religious or spiritual, I would be delighted to be a mentor, close confidant, friend, uncle, etc., to the child.

If anything happened to my friend and his wife, assuming it was consistent with their wishes, my wife and I would happily provide for and love the child and raise it as our own, on equal footing with our children.

Nonetheless, in my head the question remains, is it appropriate for me to be a godfather?

\u2014 Atheist Godfather

Dear Atheist: First there is this: Are you willing to participate in the church service during the child's baptism, and swear in front of your friends, priests, and the congregation not only to renounce the devil (my favorite part) but to also uphold the tenants of the church?

The following is from Catholic Church canon regarding the role of godparents: A godparent will \"... help the baptized to lead a Christian life in harmony with baptism, and to fulfill faithfully the obligations connected with it.\"

If you are not comfortable participating at this level, it would be most ethical to decline.

If you are comfortable participating in the baptism service and, occasionally, other church services, and if you feel able to fulfill this role for the child, then you should accept.

The second hurdle is the church itself.

Christian churches differ regarding the godparent role and rite. But a Catholic priest might not be willing to administer this rite to a non-Catholic, non-Christian, non-believer. Your friend should check with his priest.

If you are NOT comfortable fulfilling religious-oriented roles as a godfather, you should thank your friend for this honor and gesture of friendship and trust. Ask him if you can be given an alternate status, whereby you will forge a special friendship with the child. Perhaps you could be the Goshfather, a special friend and honorary uncle.

Dear Amy: My son is getting married soon.

We have invited dear friends and their two adult children and spouses.

The wedding is 800 miles away. The one young couple has a baby that will be 6 months old at the time of the wedding. My friend informed me that the baby would be coming.

Is it just assumed now that babies are also invited to weddings?

The mom is breastfeeding the baby and I guess she would have to bring him along. However, I have visions of the baby crying during the ceremony, etc.

Am I out of sync with wedding etiquette? How would you handle this, or is there nothing to handle?

\u2014 Wondering

Dear Wondering: The young couple is traveling 800 miles to attend this wedding. That's a fairly heroic (and expensive) undertaking. The mother will need to be near the baby in order to feed him. You might help by seeing if the church or reception facility has an available person to watch over the child during the ceremony, but basically, this baby will likely sleep through a lot of this, tucked away in a car seat or in a parents' arms. If it cries during the ceremony, the parent or grandparents will attend to it.

Nursing babies should be considered part of the package when their mothers are invited to weddings, especially when they are traveling several hundred miles to get there. Don't give this too much traction.

Dear Amy: \"Mom\" was wrestling with how to encourage her underachieving daughter to succeed at an expensive college.

I, too, had a child who skated under the wire in high school, and I thought too immature for college.

They should let her go to her dream school, under the caveat that she apply for and use student loans for tuition. If she achieves the C's her parents want, then they can reimburse her, semester by semester. If not, it's her dime. It worked for us. Having some skin in the game can make a big difference.

\u2014 Been There

Dear Been There: This seems potentially expensive and risky (if the student doesn't get Cs, stays in school, and continues to compile debt), but I agree that this student must have skin in the game.

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Arizona Opera made history Saturday night with \"Riders of the Purple Sage,\" its first world premiere of its first ever commissioned opera.

It now has a seat at the big-boys' table among companies three, four times its size in opera-friendly cities like Chicago and New York.

Companies the size of Arizona, which mounts productions in Tucson and Phoenix, don't normally put themselves on the shaky limb of \"new works.\" It's a risky, expensive venture. Not many companies can raise the money to support a commission. Not many companies our size can foot the $1.1 million bill that came with creating a new work from scratch. And not many companies would risk turning off the audience who might be hesitant to buy into a never-before-heard Western opera based on a nearly 100-year-old novel about a devout Mormon woman conflicted about following the church line and losing her independence by marrying a church-picked man she didn't love.\u00a0

But at the big boys table, taking a chance is the price of admission, and on Saturday night, with some 1,400 people in the audience, Arizona Opera took that challenge with \"Riders of the Purple Sage\" \u2014 and it paid off.

The audience loved it; they cheered the introduction of the composer Craig Bohmler and librettist Steven Mark Kohn, sitting in the fourth or fifth row, center stage at Tucson Music Hall.\u00a0They cheered when the curtains opened, showing off Arizona artist Ed Mell's brilliant landscapes projected on a mind-bogglingly enormous LED screen. They laughed when baritone Morgan Smith, singing the role of Lassiter, put Elder Tull (baritone Keith Phares) in his place and rescued Bern Venters (tenor Joshua Dennis) from certain death by whipping.

But mostly, the audience sat in the darkened Tucson Music Hall in a state of amazement. Amazed that the little company they've come to rely on to bring them opera's golden oldies alongside newer or never-before-seen-in-Arizona works had taken this mighty leap and that what they saw and heard was a pretty terrific piece of opera/music theater.

Bohmler is a veteran of music theater; that genre strongly informs \"Riders of the Purple Sage,\" based on the seminal novel by Zane Grey. Kohn's book plays out like singing theater. The arias and duets don't belabor recitatives; they are more like singing dialogue that moves the story along at a faster pace. And the singers' diction was so crisp and clear that you could understand everything they sang. You found yourself ignoring the supertitles above the stage, which are required reading for most operas \u2014 even works written and performed in English.\u00a0

Bohmler's score had strong references to classic Western film themes \u2014 the graceful calm of a cattleman tending his herd at sunset; the quiver of strings and woodwinds when the lone gunman rides in and disturbs the status quo; the dramatic whodunnit feel when Lassiter guns down Bishop Dyer (bass-baritone Kristopher Irmiter) during services in the Mormon church. Conductor Joseph Mechavich brought out dramatic flourishes in the Arizona Opera Orchestra, which did justice the music and Bohmler's intent that it remind us of the Silver Screen era Westerns without imitating them.

Saturday night's cast included standout performances from Dennis, Smith, soprano Karin Wolverton in the role of Jane Withersteen and soprano Amanda Opuszynski as Bess.

But the biggest applause of the evening went to Mell's scenery, which subtly changed in a blink of an eye and was almost like an additional character in the action. Clouds moved like they were breathing; bright sunlight faded to nighttime dark; mountain ranges cast long shadows against a moonlit night.

\"Riders\" repeats at 2 p.m. Sunday at Tucson Music Hall, 260 S. Church Ave. Click here for ticket information.

It moves to Phoenix Friday for a three-day run. Special guests expected to attend the Phoenix shows include descendants of Zane Grey and celebrated American opera composer Carlisle Floyd, who is Bohmler's former teacher and mentor.

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