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Cochise: Arizona’s legendary Chiricahua Apache leader

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Edward R. Sweeney’s fascination with Cochise began at 10 years of age. As a little boy, Sweeney says he read a biography about the tribe leader and became captivated by him as a warrior, man and leader of his people. Now, the author of three books on Cochise, Sweeney has dedicated his own life to learning about Cochise’s life. Sweeney’s 40-year dedication to his studies on Cochise has impacted the legacy of one of the most controversial Native American leaders in Arizona. Today, Sweeney is nationally recognized and referred to by journalists, researchers, and other historians as the head authority of Cochise, who Sweeney calls one of the bravest and most courageous Chiricahua Apache of all time. Fascinated by Cochise, soon after graduating college, Sweeney decided it was time to seriously pursue researching the figure he had been intrigued...

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People who care lost in the border rhetoric

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Political contenders jockey for attention on how tough their immigration policies are or what can be done to reform the system, while everyday people in Arizona go into the desert to provide humanitarian aid to migrants. One couple, John and Diane Hoelter, volunteer with Humane Borders to provide water to migrants crossing the Southern Arizona desert, a dangerous journey that has claimed many lives. According to the 2014 Annual Report from the Pima County Office of the Medical Examiner, they have received 2,330 recovered remains of suspected undocumented border crossers since 2001. There were 129 bodies recovered in 2014, the overall trend has been going down since a peak of 223 bodies were recovered in 2010. Because most of the bodies recovered are so badly decomposed or in skeletal remains only, 84 percent had undetermined causes of death. For...

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Senior drivers causing more crashes

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Senior drivers are causing a larger number of auto accidents, and the number is expected to increase in the years ahead. The number of licensed elderly drivers is the highest it has ever been, and that number is predicted to skyrocket as the Baby Boomer generation continues to age. Policymakers are worried that this growing elderly driving population will lead to surges in traffic accidents and, subsequently, injury to property and person. There were 36.8 million licensed senior drivers in 2013—a 27 percent increase from 2004. America’s 65-and-older population is expected to reach 83.7 million by 2050, almost double from the 2012 number of 43.1 million, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. According to Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, per mile traveled, fatal crash rates increase remarkably beginning at age 70-74 and peak among drivers 85 and older. In...

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Single mothers struggle for education

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The absence of on-campus daycare centers, the cost of tuition, and a traditional university structure are factors that tend to isolate single mothers attending college and challenge their success. According to the Institute for Women’s Policy Research, there are over 2 million single mothers attending college in the United States. Women with children tend to leave school with more student loan debt than students without children, according to the 2014 study. According to Lia Pierse, Helping Hands for Single Moms Tucson executive director, who is a single mother and supported herself through college, a college education is a reliable source of economic mobility for single mothers. Education, however, does not come without its obstacles. Helping Hands for Single Moms is a non-profit organization that serves low-income single mothers and their families. The organization was founded in 2002 to address...

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‘Super Fan’ leaves his mark at U.A.

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When he left the cold winters of Michigan in 1976 even Joe Flanarty himself didn’t realize the deep roots he would dig. He fell in love with a university and town and never left. Now a retired high school teacher and aspiring women’s basketball coach William “Joe” Joseph Flanarty acquired the nickname “Super Fan” among University of Arizona athletes years before he ever realized. Joe manages to assert himself as the most conspicuous fan of U of A athletics. Standing at 6 feet 3 inches tall with a head full of bright white hair and undoubtedly head-to-toe in U of A gear, he appears just about everywhere. He and his sidekick, Joe Johnson, pal around and attend open practices to critique new talent and offer unsolicited help where they see fit. They are often spotted sending off U of A athletes...

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Crumbling Tombstone buildings present problem

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It was supposed to be a busy Labor Day weekend for the Tombstone Oil and Vinegar Co. The holidays always brought a surge of tourists into the old western town. But when the wall of a next door business collapsed, so did the oil company’s revenue for the weekend. “We were forced to close because we were missing a side of our wall,” said Christine King, owner of the Oil and Vinegar Co. “It hurt us pretty bad because we lost out on a lot of profits.” But, the wall between the Vogan’s Alley Bar and the oil company isn’t the only neglected structure in town. Look around Tombstone and you’ll see dozens of weathered, abandoned buildings. Some like the Bella Union restaurant have been deserted for more than a decade. Others like the Tombstone Gourmet restaurant, located on Allen...

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No denying the green from marijuana

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The green being made from marijuana continues to grow across the country and state. Colorado reports nearly $24 million in marijuana taxes. Washington State predicts up to $190 million in four years. Arizona could generate up to $64 million in taxes from a fully phased adult-use marijuana program like Colorado, according to an independent analysis this year. Medical marijuana sales paid dividends last year in Arizona with 9.14 metric tons sold for about $200 million, funding nearly $20 million in state sales tax revenue, and foreshadows the green to be made in the pot industry. Now the push is on to join Colorado, Washington, Oregon and California as states that legalize all marijuana sales. Proponents are more than half way to gathering signatures needed to place adult-use marijuana legislation on the 2016 November ballot. In 2010, Arizona joined 19-states...

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Despite benefits, rural communities struggle to attract medical professionals

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When it comes to primary healthcare in rural communities, Arizona is falling short of health practitioners needed. Whether they’re located in the dense forests of Northern Arizona, the broad plains of the reservations located along the New Mexico border or in the remote eastern desert of the state, rural communities are subject to the least amount of practicing health professionals per capita. All throughout the United States, rural populations have a low percentage of health coverage and access to quality health services compared to economically thriving urban areas. Arizona’s estimated rural population in 2014 was 347,277, according to the Rural Assistance Center. Those lacking the most medical access in Arizona are the rural areas along the U.S./Mexico border and the Navajo and tribal reservations. Out of the 72 hospitals in Arizona, only 20 of them are in rural communities....

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Rocketing to space comes with a hefty price tag

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Booking beachfront villas on the Amalfi Coast and vacationing on private yachts for the 1 percent will soon be replaced by trips that rocket outside of Earth’s atmosphere as innovations in space tourism continue to flourish in Tucson and around the United States. Commercial space travel may become a realistic goal as early as 2017, according to the Tucson based company World View. And these trips do not come cheap. For $75,000 people can reserve their spot on a World View commercial launch vehicle and add to the soon to be growing number of people who have been to outer space. Around 20 commercial space companies in the United States are working to someday provide suborbital flights to space tourists. Although they vary on their methods from high-altitude balloons to small rockets, they all share one commonality: the hefty price...

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After gun show shooting Tombstone saying ‘no’ to blanks

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The town is noticeably quieter, the streets more empty. Allen Street hasn’t felt the same since the shooting in the Helldorado festival. “Tombstone just hasn’t felt like Tombstone without gun skits in the streets,” said Councilman Armando Villa. In a gun reenactment skit held by the Tombstone Vigilantes, a nonprofit that holds outdoor gun skits to honor the town’s rich history, live rounds were used instead of blank bullets. A report from the marshal’s office outlines what happened. Actor Tom Carter of the Vigilantes did not have his gun checked in at the staging area when he arrived late on set. Carter figured he had blank rounds in his .45-caliber pistol. It’s the same gun he uses for self-defense and he had not used the gun in over a month. During the skit, Carter fired five rounds. One struck...

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The little-known history of Arizona’s Chinese

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One insight struck Chia-Lin Pao Tao when she arrived in Tucson in 1976. She was most surprised by how few Asians she saw along with little, if any, marks of Chinese legacy in the area. Today, she knows differently. The Chinese have a long connection to Arizona’s past, playing substantial roles in the state’s development of transportation, agriculture and mining. But the era of a century past when Chinese communities thrived in Arizona is long gone, replaced by a history of discrimination and out-right hatred, according to scholars who study the Chinese and their time in the state. As a professor in UA’s East Asian studies department, Tao specified in teaching Chinese history, focusing on women. Throughout her time in Tucson, she has learned about the history of the Chinese in this state. Tao believes many would be surprised...

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Bisbee run a stairway to heaving

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  On a cold, rainy, Saturday morning that I would’ve rather spent in the comfort of my own bed, I drove two hours to Bisbee to compete in the only competitive stair climb in the United States. When I first agreed to participate in the 25th annual Bisbee 1000 Great Stair Climb to write this story, I had no idea what I was getting myself into. The 4.5 mile course that winds through the quaint town isn’t for the faint of heart. It features a 1,175 foot elevation change throughout the race as well as nine staircases that feature a total of 1,004 steps. Full disclosure: I had never run 1,000 steps in my life, and certainly not the uneven, cracked concrete variety that I’d come across in Bisbee. With my mouth dry, legs burning, and lungs gasping for...

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Historic flavors of Tombstone vanish

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Tombstone continues to work to preserves its Wild West roots, but has the historical town forgotten a piece of the puzzle? In a dusty town of miners, cowboys and wide-brimmed hats, fine dining is not the first image that comes to mind. But, with the success of the silver mines more than a century ago came immigrants from all over the world and classical French cuisine. “French food was trending all over America,” said Sherry Monahan, author of “Taste of Tombstone.” The collision of the Victorian era and the settling of the West in the late 1800s brought an entirely new paradigm of affluence and hospitality. The Occidental Chop House on Allen Street was known around town for its extravagant French delicacies, linen tablecloths, chandeliers and offering everything from soups to nuts. Patrons would sit through multiple courses noshing...

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‘Helldorado will still go on’

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 The weekend of Helldorado Day’s is a lifeblood for Tombstone.  But, many are asking, could that be threatened after the shooting during a staged street fight. Helldorado board member Barbara Furnas seems confident it won’t. “Helldorado will still go on.” The festival is Tombstone’s biggest event of the year. It symbolizes the end of a slow, tough summer and the beginning of its’ busy winter season. It’s a celebration of tradition and history that reunites people from all around the world.  “It’s a nice escape from all the negative and toxic stuff that’s out there in the world right now,” said Jan Robinson, who’s from Tucson and was a member of the Arizona Gunfighters for many years. Now, she attends for the pure fun of it and to catch up with old friends. She’s dressed head to toe in a traditional...

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Planning mitigates potential water crisis

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The looming specter of shortage on the Colorado River poses a serious concern for states relying on the precious source of water, but with foresight and planning, many parts of Arizona are prepared to endure for decades to come. Kelly Mott Lacroix, senior research analyst with the Water Resources Research Center at the University of Arizona, explains the difficulty of trying to summarize the condition of the state as a whole. “You can’t have a statewide statement that everyone is going to be fine because different areas have different water resources,” Mott Lacroix said. “And some areas, like Tucson, we have our Central Arizona Project water that we mix with the groundwater then we pump it back up. “If you’re in the Phoenix area, you have water from the Verde (river), water from the Salt (river), you have water...

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