Wednesday, December 11, 2019

Mountain View Teacher Resigns After Alleged Relationship With Student Discovered

Posted By on Wed, Dec 11, 2019 at 3:38 PM

Mountain View High School
  • Mountain View High School
Mountain View High School teacher Derrick Chipres resigned Monday after it was discovered he allegedly entered into an inappropriate relationship with a student.

Chipres, who was an automotive instructor at the school, began working at Mountain View Feb. 8, 2016, according to MUSD Director of Public Relations Tamara Crawley, who confirmed his resignation with Tucson Local Media.

According to the district, school administrators immediately contacted the Pima County Sheriff’s Department Monday, Dec. 9 when students reported an alleged relationship between Chipres and an 18-year-old student.

Following an investigation by the Pima County Sheriff’s Department, no arrest occurred, though the school district immediately acted and Chipres resigned from his position.

“We recognize that you may have questions and may also feel a range of emotions surrounding this,” wrote Mountain View Principal Todd Garelick in a Dec. 11 letter to parents. “However, due to confidentiality and personnel laws, we are extremely limited in the information that can be publicly disclosed. I can tell you that this student was not a student in the teacher’s class and the criminal investigation did not result in an arrest.”

Pima County Sheriff’s Department Deputy James Allerton confirmed that detectives investigated Chipres on Monday, and found no criminal activity.

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Tuesday, December 10, 2019

Thunder & Lightning Air Show Returning to Tucson in 2021

Posted By on Tue, Dec 10, 2019 at 3:33 PM

  • Logan Burtch-Buus
The Thunder & Lightning Over Arizona Air Show is returning to Tucson in 2021, hosted by the 355th Wing at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base.

The air show, featuring the famous United States Air Force Thunderbirds, will take place April 24 and 25, 2021. The Thunderbirds most recently flew in Tucson at a March 2019 demonstration at D-M, drawing more than 150,000 spectators.

The Thunderbirds fly six F-16 Fighting Flacons in formations as close as 18 inches of separation. Additional performers at the air show will be announced next year.

Admission to Thunder & Lightning Over Arizona is free, though there are several premium seating areas. Tickets to those areas, including the exclusive “Thunderbolt Club,” will be available for purchase beginning March 2020.

For more information, click here.

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Supreme Court rejects Brnovich attempt to fast-track opioids lawsuit

Posted By on Tue, Dec 10, 2019 at 2:00 PM

Arizona officials had urged the U.S. Supreme Court to hear their case against the Sackler family, owners of opioid manufacturer Purdue Pharma, which filed for bankruptcy in the face of thousands of lawsuits over the opioid epidemic. - (PHOTO BY JOHANNA HUCKEBA/CRONKITE NEWS)
  • (Photo by Johanna Huckeba/Cronkite News)
  • Arizona officials had urged the U.S. Supreme Court to hear their case against the Sackler family, owners of opioid manufacturer Purdue Pharma, which filed for bankruptcy in the face of thousands of lawsuits over the opioid epidemic.
The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday rejected Arizona’s attempt to fast-track a case against the owners of Purdue Pharma in an effort to protect assets of the company for victims of the opioid crisis.

The justices without comment turned down Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich’s motion that the court should consider the state’s suit against the Sackler family.

Brnovich had claimed that family members were “looting” Purdue Pharma at a time when thousands of lawsuits are pending that accuse the company of helping create the opioid crisis.
Legal experts at the time called Arizona’s filing a long-shot—cases typically come to the high court only after they have been heard in lower courts—and Purdue has since filed for bankruptcy protection. But Brnovich said Monday he was disappointed with the high court’s decision.

“Today’s ruling will not end our efforts to hold Purdue and the Sacklers accountable for their role in the opioid crisis,” he said in a statement released by the attorney general’s office. “We will continue to fight for Arizona’s interests in the Purdue bankruptcy proceedings.”

The judge in that bankruptcy case has ruled that Purdue and the Sacklers are protected from lawsuits while the bankruptcy proceeds, an order that has been challenged by dozens of states with lawsuits pending.

In its petition to the Supreme Court in July, Arizona called the opioid crisis the “worst man-made disaster in American history.”

“There have been almost 400,000 opioid-related deaths in the United States in the last two decades,” the state’s complaint said, adding that “prescription opioid misuse costs the U.S. economy at least $78.5 billion annually.”

The Arizona Department of Health Services reported last week that there had been 3,768 opioid deaths in the state since June 15, 2017. That’s almost 400 more deaths than had been reported when the state filed its complaint with the Supreme Court on July 31.

The complaint claimed that Purdue has transferred more than $4 billion to eight Sackler family members since 2008, a year after the company pleaded guilty to federal charges that that it misled the public about the addictive properties of its drug, OxyContin.

Purdue now faces “thousands of lawsuits in which plaintiffs, including counties, cities, towns and nearly every state in the country, are seeking to recover billions of dollars under consumer protection and tort law,” the state said in its complaint then.

Purdue reached a tentative settlement this summer that would have included the Sacklers giving up control of the company, selling off foreign drug companies and putting $3 billion toward settlement of claims. The company filed for bankruptcy protection soon thereafter.

The company then tried to block Arizona’s Supreme Court appeal, arguing that “black letter bankruptcy law” mandated that “any and all fraudulent transfer claims against Purdue or the Sackler defendants may only be brought by the bankruptcy trustee.”

In a November response, Arizona argued that letting bankruptcy law dictate what cases the court could hear “strips this court of its jurisdiction to decide this controversy.” It called the opioid epidemic “an unprecedented public-health crisis” in need of a national solution.

“Only this court can enter a judgment that will be respected internationally when Arizona and other creditors inevitably pursue the assets that the Sacklers have stashed overseas,” the November filing said.

Cronkite News reporters Miranda Faulkner and Vandana Ravikumar contributed to this report.
For more stories from Cronkite News, visit

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Friday, December 6, 2019

Down Thru the Chimney, But Where's Saint Nick

Posted By on Fri, Dec 6, 2019 at 4:13 PM

Just a little after noon today, residents near Waverly Street and Grant Road heard a sound coming from the chimney of one of the homes.

No, this wasn't Santa making an early delivery stop in the Old Pueblo; it was a man in his 30s who, by his own account, had been stuck in the chimney for several hours.

Tucson Fire Department responded to the 911 call just after 12:20 p.m. and it soon became a full-on technical rescue.

The technical rescue team utilized a rescue ring and rope to remove him from the chimney and then he was able to use the ladder with assistance to get back down to the ground. 

The man got out of the chimney unscathed, though he is currently in police custody.

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Thursday, December 5, 2019

An Axe to Grind: Axe Throwing World Championship comes to town

Posted By on Thu, Dec 5, 2019 at 9:58 AM

A shot from last year's championship. - COURTESY WORLD AXE THROWING LEAGUE
  • Courtesy World Axe Throwing League
  • A shot from last year's championship.
The sport of axe throwing is nothing new, but over the last 10 years the sport has spread across North America, growing in popularity and becoming more accessible than ever before.

Just last year, Tucson saw two ranges come to town, including Splitting Timber Axe Range on 6401 W. Marana Center Blvd., which will play host to the world’s best throwers this weekend during the 2019 World Axe Throwing League (WATL) Championship.

The championship takes place on Dec. 8 and will pit 64 of the world’s best against each other for the title of world champion.

Evan Walters, commissioner of the World Axe Throwing League, said that Splitting Timber has applied to host competitions in the past as an affiliate member, and proved to be the perfect location for their biggest event.

He’s looking forward to seeing who the competition will bring out.

“There are so many awesome things about our tournaments such as seeing familiar faces, meeting new axe throwers, and just having fun with everyone in the axe throwing community, but for this competition it's much more high stakes,” he said. “All of the best axe throwers from around the world are competing for the title of world champion and it's going to be such a close competition. I'm very excited to see who takes it.”

Walters himself started out as an axe throwing coach just as a way to get out of the office before meeting the founder of the league and getting offered the role of commissioner. He’s involved in all aspects of the league, which has been around since 2017.

“Our vision is to prove that indoor axe throwing isn't just a unique experience; it can be a competitive sport,” he said. “We want to unite indoor urban axe throwing facilities from around the world under one professional axe throwing association.”

Walters said the sport is exploding fairly quickly.

“From just three years ago to being on ESPN, it's taking the world,” he said. “When we first started we had about six affiliated companies in four countries join, and now we have over 150 companies in 19 countries. We very well expect that to continue growing for some time.”

The championship will be a double-elimination tournament with the top 64 players from all of the league's seasons and tournaments over the past year. They'll face off in three-match rounds, with the best of the three matches moving on to the next round. If they lose they go into a B-bracket, and the winner of the B bracket and A bracket will compete at the end for the title of 2019 World Axe Throwing Champion. Along with the title, the winner will receive a cash prize.

Splitting Timber co-owner AJ Hughes loves to see people having fun and looks forward to introducing new people in Tucson to the sport this weekend.

“Axe throwing is all about the community and the people are the best part,” she said. “They’re all so welcoming, encouraging and supportive of one another.”

She’s especially excited to see some local axe throwers from the range have qualified to compete in the championship.

Tom Lickliter starting throwing about five years ago in his backyard for fun before joining leagues in January. He won his last three local regional championships, competed in two national events and qualified to compete in the World Championships a few weeks ago.

“I have been practicing four to five days a week since then,” he said. “My best advice is learn how to throw from an axepert at Splitting Timber then practice, join the leagues and most of all have fun.”

Shaun Thrush works at Splitting Timber and has been competing for about nine months. He will be competing in the Wildcard and Duals tournaments taking place Dec. 6 and 7.

“I had seen my friend’s video on Facebook last December, wanted to go, we went the following week and I was hooked,” he said.

To prepare for the championship, he has focused on “Lots and lots of practice and clearing his mind.”

Hughes, who runs Splitting Timber with daughter Bethany Buckmaster, is excited to share the fun of this sport with the community.

“I’m looking forward to see the axe throwers coming from around the world,” she said. “The people are what makes axe throwing so fun.”

For more information on the championship, including a full schedule, visit

The event is free to spectators and there will be a beer garden and several food trucks.

For those who can’t make the championship in person, it will be broadcast on ESPN.

How to get started with axe throwing
Some of Tucson’s local axe throwers from Splitting Timber shared their best tips for getting started with axe throwing.

“The best advice I can give for a new thrower is be patient at first and just figure out where to stand each time so the axe naturally hits the wood edge first.” - Jules Mondeau

“Best tip... find an axe, find a throw and stick with it. Consistency is key.” - Josh Brill

“It’s not about strength, it’s about finesse. If you throw too hard, the axe will over rotate.” - Bethany Buckmaster

“I always tell people that come in (to Splitting Timber) randomly to just do it. They come in and say they want to try it sometime. I tell them let’s do it now. Don’t be afraid and come as much as you can afford the money and time wise.” - Shaun Thrush

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Wednesday, December 4, 2019

Where Have All The Teachers Gone? (Long Time Passing)

Posted By on Wed, Dec 4, 2019 at 2:52 PM

  • Courtesy of BigStock

A long time has passed since my first year of teaching. Fifty years ago this September I began my 30-plus year career as a high school teacher. (Yes, I'm that old.) I taught in a one-high-school district outside of Riverside, California. The district wasn't my first choice, but it was the only job I was offered. Teaching jobs were scarce.

The next year I applied for a job in the Portland, Oregon, area. Again, only one district offered me a job, which I took. I stayed there until I retired in 2003.

I was an English teacher, which was a liability. Too many prospective English teachers were chasing too few jobs. But the jobs were there if you looked. By the time I had been teaching a few years, though, college education profs were warning their students, if you're planning to get a credential in English or social studies, you could be in trouble. Openings in those areas were few and far between. It would be a good idea, students were told, to get a second credential in another area to hedge your bets. People who could teach math, science and special education were in demand, not English and social studies teachers.

Over the years, I may have had some colleagues who didn't have traditional teaching credentials. If so, I don't remember them, and I'm sure they weren't in the English department. I can say with reasonable certainty, no classrooms in schools where I taught had full time substitutes. There were plenty of credentialed teachers to go around.

Today, too many Arizona teachers lack a teaching credential. Too many classes are being managed by full time substitutes. And Arizona is hardly alone. The same is true in other states.

Where have all the teachers gone?

I kept my 1969 contract, my version of taping the first dollar I made to the wall. My salary was $7,140. That's in 1969 dollars, of course. A 1969 dollar would be worth a little more than seven dollars today. So figuring for inflation, my first year salary was the equivalent of $50,000 today.

Today's average starting salary in Arizona is in the $35,000 range.

Continue reading »

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Wednesday, November 27, 2019

Rep. Grijalva Responds to Report of Mistreatment in Eloy Detention Center

Posted By on Wed, Nov 27, 2019 at 3:46 PM

Rep. Raúl Grijalva weighed in on a recent report from two national human rights groups on the harsh conditions for individuals in the Eloy Detention Center.

The report, "The Carceral State of Arizona" was released by the Advancement Project and Puente this October, and alleges degrading and inhumane treatment of migrant detainees in the Eloy facility.

The report ranks Eloy as one of the deadliest ICE facilities in the country, claiming there is a lack of adequate emergency services, food and medications, among other mistreatments. 

Grijalva, who has introduced legislation since 2015 to combat private prisons and detention centers, said that the Eloy Detention Center has been "plagued by a long and tragic history of neglect."

"Since 2003, there have been more than a dozen deaths," Grijalva said in a statement Wednesday.  "Unfortunately, many of these deaths could have been prevented had the facility acted according to law. Yet, the reality is that for-profit detention centers and private prisons are motivated by profit, not human decency. The incarceration of pregnant women, individuals with serious health needs and immigrants must stop. The federal government continues to contract with the private prison complex who acts without accountability or oversight. We must end private prisons and immigration detention centers. Congress must provide that accountability and oversight."

In 2017, Grijalva introduced the Justice is Not For Sale Act which, along with requiring "federal, state, and local governments to directly operate and perform core services at adult prisons and detention centers," requires ICE to "use Alternatives to Detention, and increases oversight to prevent companies from overcharging inmates and their families for services like banking and telephone calls."

To see the full report, visit

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Ex-Education Superintendent John Huppenthal And I Have a Rare Moment Of Agreement, About State Grades

Posted By on Wed, Nov 27, 2019 at 8:52 AM

  • Courtesy of pixabay

It's the oddest thing. Ex-Superindent of Public Instruction John Huppenthal doesn't appear to like A-F state school grades any more than I do. And, to raise the level of oddity a notch, he was superintendent in 2011 when the state grading system went into effect.

I was a regular Huppenthal critic when he served as Education Superintendent from 2011 to 2015. These days, he is a frequent commenter on my posts, and I continue to disagree with him on almost every educational issue worth disagreeing on. But under my last post criticizing the state grading system, Huppenthal chimed in with a total of five comments, which he summed up when he wrote, "The letter grading system does more damage than good. And, I am the guy who originally put it into state law." He went on to write, "They mix two calculations which can't be mixed: growth and achievement."

I agree with every word.

As I wrote in the previous post, the A-F grading system doesn't help much when, to use the example of two elementary schools in TUSD, a school with about 25 percent of its students passing the state's high stakes test and another school with about 70 percent passing both got a "B" state grade in 2019.

It doesn't make any sense to regular human beings that schools with such widely different student passing rates should get the same grade. To understand, you have to know that the school with a 25 percent passing rate increased about ten points from 2018, while the 70 percent school dropped about four points. You also have to know that student growth makes up half of a school's grade.

Continue reading »

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Staff Pick

Lightwire Theater: A Very Electric Christmas

Audiences of all ages will treasure this magical and captivating tale of family, friendship, and hope set… More

@ Fox Tucson Theatre Fri., Dec. 13, 6:30-8:30 p.m. 17 W. Congress St.

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