News Brief

By Christina Fuoco-Karasinski

Casino Del Sol ranks high on best casino list

Casino Del Sol has landed a spot on Business Insider’s list of 50 best casinos in America, coming in at No. 13 on the prestigious list.

Business Insider, the largest business news site on the web, compiled the ranking based on data from 360,781 TripAdvisor reviews. The top casinos that made the list had the highest proportions of five-star reviews. Casino Del Sol shares the limelight with others like the Wynn in Las Vegas, Beau Rivage Resort & Casino in Biloxi, Mississippi, WinStar World Casino in Thackerville, Oklahoma and Harrah’s in New Orleans.

“Providing our guests with exceptional experiences is at the heart of everything we do,” says Kimberly Van Amburg, CEO of Casino Del Sol. “(This) demonstrates our staff’s commitment to customer service, and we will continue to cultivate this high standard. Being named among casinos like the Wynn and Harrah’s is an incredible honor.”

Casino Del Sol boasts 794 five-star reviews, ranking significantly ahead of any other casino in the state. Casino Del Sol is one of only three casinos in Arizona that even made this year’s list.

County undertakes investigation of Legal Services building façade

The Pima County Facilities Management Department has launched an extensive investigation into the condition of the exterior of the Legal Services Building, 32 N. Stone Avenue, following several instances where pieces of the building’s terra cotta brick façade became dislodged and fell off. No injuries resulted on any occasion.

The work began August 17 with construction of protective scaffolding along the sidewalks on Stone Avenue and Congress Street as well as above the patio of the Nook restaurant. On August 26, consultant WJE Engineers and Architects and contractor Lloyd Construction began examining the façade, focusing on the building’s west and south sides.

“The safety of the public and our staff and contractors is our top priority,” Facilities Management Director Lisa Josker says. “Any bricks that are found to be unstable will be removed. Bricks that show cracks but no sign of coming loose will be marked for appropriate repair at a later date.”

Built in the 1960s and designed by Tucson architect Lew Place, the 20-story skyscraper originally served as the headquarters of Home Federal Savings and Loan. The county acquired the property in 1987.

Once the examination is complete Facilities Management will set another date for rehabilitation of the façade, with priority given to areas adjacent to nearby pedestrian and parking areas.

Rio Nuevo approves improvements to TCC

At an August 13 special meeting, the Rio Nuevo Board of Directors unanimously approved a $65 million improvement plan for the Tucson Convention Center and surrounding campus, including the Tucson Music Hall, Leo Rich Theater and the Eckbo Plaza and Fountain. Rio Nuevo officials will now solicit bids and select a project contractor.

The board also voted to proceed with a $126 million financing plan that will earmark about $70 million for the renovations and any contingency costs that could emerge, and refinance nearly $48 million in debt for the Rio Nuevo district. The funds will also establish an $8 million debt service reserve.

The TCC renovation plan is 20 years in the making. Rio Nuevo was created in 1999 with a mission to revitalize downtown Tucson, including the Convention Center, which was built in 1971.

“This is a great day,” said Fletcher McCusker, board chairman. “It’s been a long time coming.”

The projects include a full replacement of arena ice floor and ice plant, $3.2 million; Convention Center priorities, $14.7 million; TCC, renovation of convention spaces and existing meeting rooms, $7.6 million; entertainment priorities, $26.9 million; Music Hall renovation of restrooms, lobby, production lighting/sound and new seating, $6.6 million; and Leo Rich renovation of restrooms, lobby, production lighting/sound and new seating, $2 million.


County’s Agua Caliente Park closes for extensive pond restoration

Pima County Natural Resources, Parks & Recreation closed Agua Caliente Park, 12325 E. Roger Road, on August 19 for an extensive restoration of Pond 1. The purpose of the pond restoration is to conserve water by minimizing seepage from the pond and to improve habitat by deepening the pond and adding additional features.

The park closure, which included closure of the Ranch House Visitor Center and Art Gallery, is expected to last several months.

Staff have been slowly draining the main pond to prepare for the pond restoration project’s construction phase. Well water is no longer being pumped into Pond 1 and the remaining water from Pond 1 has been gradually siphoned into Pond 2.

The restoration project’s first stage involved removing select palm trees and invasive cattails, which will help restore the historic view of the pond and allow native species at the park to thrive in a healthier environment.

In this next phase, workers will excavate the pond to deepen it and install a polymer-amended soil lining to the bottom and sides of the pond to reduce water loss. This phase will also include installation of a wildlife island and replacement of the bridge to the current island.

More information on the Pond 1 restoration may be found on the Agua Caliente Park website. During the time the park is closed, dog walkers who enjoy using the park can visit McDonald Park at 4100 N. Harrison Road.

HomeWell Senior Care changes name to HomeWell Care Services

HomeWell Senior Care of Pima has been rebranded to HomeWell Care Services.

“Our new brand strategy will foster our ability to further expand our services, gain access to new markets and customer segments and further drive growth for our local HomeWell agencies,” says Crystal Franz, vice president of brand strategy for HomeWell corporate.

“Our owners and caregivers serve our seniors and all our clients with relentless dedication and compassion and now we have a name and brand that matches the excellent operations we have seen our owners provide to their communities for many years.”

In addition to the name change, the rebrand includes the launch of a new brand slogan, “Trusted Care. True Compassion,” an updated logo, a refreshed visual identity and a new focus on the value HomeWell provides to its clients.

“Our HomeWell family has always been here to serve our community with personalized home care plans designed to suit each of our client’s specific needs,” says Karen Heyse, owner of HomeWell Care Services of Pima.

“We have care managers in place whose sole purpose is to ensure our clients are receiving the highest level of care. We identify our client’s needs and wants, and we are advocates for our clients by helping to connect-the-dots and bridge the gap between family, health care and other community providers. Our new name helps us to better market to a wider audience that could benefit from our services and our new brand better reflects the compassion, care and services that set us apart from others in the home care industry.”

Stroke care nets awards for St. Mary’s Hospital

Stroke care provided at Carondelet St. Mary’s Hospital is being recognized with the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association’s Get with The Guidelines-Stroke Gold Plus Quality Achievement Award and Target: Stroke Honor Roll Elite Plus Award.

Stroke is the fifth cause of death and a leading cause of adult disability in the United States, and nearly 795,000 people suffer a new or recurrent stroke each year, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

A stroke, also called a “brain attack,” occurs when blood flow to an area of the brain is restricted, brain cells are deprived of oxygen and start to die. A stroke is a medical emergency. It can cause lasting brain damage, long-term disability or even death, according to the CDC website.

A primary stroke center, Carondelet St. Mary’s Hospital qualified for recognition on the Target: Honor Roll for meeting quality measures developed to reduce the time between the patient’s arrival at the hospital and treatment with the clot-buster tissue plasminogen activator, or tPA, the only drug approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to treat ischemic stroke.

Terracon presents Tucson Clean & Beautiful $3,500 foundation grant

The Tucson office of engineering consulting firm Terracon recently presented a $3,500 check from its foundation to Tucson Clean and Beautiful, which will use the money for its youth environmental leadership mentoring program.

The Terracon Foundation Board selected TC&B as its grant recipient. Terracon Senior Associate and Tucson Office Manager Derek Koller submitted the nomination.

The funds will be used to support the Youth Environmental Leadership, Learning and Action (YELLA) school mentoring program.

YELLA allows high school students to mentor school-based youth groups to develop and implement action projects that result in environmental improvements on campus and changes in environmental attitudes and behaviors of students.

“It was my honor and privilege to present this wonderful organization with a Terracon Foundation grant,” Koller says. “Our Tucson office has been involved with TC&B for more than 10 years. We have sponsored and maintained a 1-mile stretch of road where our employees help pick up litter.”


Tucson Foundations grants $220,000 to domestic violence coalition

The Risk Assessment Management and Prevention (RAMP) Coalition of Pima County thanked the Tucson Foundations for its grant of $220,000 for the coalition’s continued work in the effort to save the lives of domestic violence victims.

The RAMP Coalition is comprised of a number of Pima County agencies dedicated to serving victims and holding offenders accountable.

This year, the funding will pay for victim advocates and shelter, as well as for training on strangulation detection and forensic strangulation examinations. The grant funding on strangulation detection will pay overtime for training of EMTs and other emergency first responders on how to best identify and document strangulation symptoms on domestic violence victims. Some symptoms of strangulation may mimic the symptoms of intoxication.

Employee artistic talents on display at gallery

The Roche Tissue Diagnostics, in partnership with the Southern Arizona Arts & Cultural Alliance (SAACA), presents the ninth annual RTD Campus Exhibition, an art show featuring the work of Roche employees, contractors and their immediate family members.

Beyond the walls of the Roche Tissue Diagnostics, many of the staff members are practicing artists in various media including printmaking, furniture design, painting, fashion arts and photography.

This year’s campus exhibition runs through October 9 and features 97 works of art from 46 artists. The Ventana Gallery is open to the public, by appointment, Monday to Friday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. and on the first and third Saturday of each month from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. To schedule an appointment, call SAACA 48 hours in advance at 797-3959 ext. 1.


Tucson Knights of Columbus completes Operation Ultrasound

The Tucson Knights of Columbus, Roy Champeau Council No. 8077, recently presented State Deputy Tom Kalisz with a check for $19,000 for the purchase of an ultrasound machine for a crisis pregnancy center in Arizona.

“Not only did the members of this council, based at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton parish in Tucson, conduct a highly successful fundraiser, they did it with the help of every parish organization, the complete support of their pastor and the assistance of Diocese of Tucson’s Bishop Weisenburger,” Kalisz says.

The funds were raised in conjunction with a dinner held on Mother’s Day, a date the council chose because mothers are life givers.

“Brothers, people do respect life and want to help, and this is a great example of what can be done when a council and an entire parish come together for the perfect cause,” Kalisz says. “The money raised will ultimately be matched by the Supreme Council of the Knights of Columbus on a dollar-for-dollar basis so that an ultrasound can be purchased.”

NRPR selling Canoa Ranch recipe books

Pima County Natural Resources, Parks and Recreation is selling Canoa Ranch recipe books for $10 to help restoration efforts of the Tradesman House at Historic Hacienda del la Canoa at Raúl M. Grijalva Canoa Ranch Conservation Park.

The book, “Recuerdos y Recetas: Memories and Recipes of the Mexicano Families of Rancho de la Canoa,” includes authentic recipes and stories from the families who lived at Canoa Ranch between 1951 to 1964.

The book was a collaboration between Amanda Salcido Castillo, a child of Canoa, and Patricia Preciado Martin, a native Arizonan author known for documenting Arizona’s Mexican American history and culture in publications such as, “Songs my Mother Sang to Me” and “Beloved Land: An Oral History of Mexican Americans in the Southwest.”

To purchase a copy, visit NRPR’s main office at 3500 W. River Road. Cash, check and credit cards accepted.


Gomez to lead discussions at area libraries

The Tucson Symphony Orchestra continues to reach out beyond the concert hall to all Tucsonans with a free series of discussion groups led by Music Director José Luis Gomez at three libraries in the fall.

When he announced the TSO’s 2019-20 season would celebrate the 250th anniversary of Beethoven’s birth, Gomez suggested patrons prepare for it by reading the book, “Beethoven’s Hair.”

Now, everyone is invited to join him at discussion groups at the Joel D. Valdez Main Library Saturday, September 7; the Joyner-Green Valley Library on Sunday, September 8; and the Oro Valley Library on Tuesday, September 10.

“Eight Beethoven symphonies in one season is a milestone for the TSO because of the challenges of the repertoire,” Gomez says. “Beethoven is a musical god, a presence that is so strong for everyone. He has influenced everybody-artists, conductors, orchestra, historians and writers. This will be a good way for us all to discover things about this great musician that perhaps we didn’t know.”

The basis for the movie of the same name, Russell Martin’s “Beethoven’s Hair” is a tale of one lock of hair and its amazing travels — from 19th century Vienna to 21st century America.