Sunday, April 19, 2015


¶lim¶Trial by Fire

Tiara Del Rio, Beau ZimbroNearly burned alive in a gas explosion, a young West Valley couple beats the odds – and  makes medical history.

October 16, 2013, 9:19 p.m.
When the house at 7916 W. Cholla St. exploded, it rocked a Peoria police patrol car idling only 15 feet away. Officer Kenneth Tarrant happened to be sitting in the cruiser, wrapping up a traffic case.

He radioed for help, then ran to aid the young man and woman running from the house. They were screaming in agony. They managed to tell him they’d been badly burned. Tarrant asked if anybody else was in the house. The answer was no.

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The Best Little Whorehouse in Arizona

prostitution, brothelIt was an offer Mayor Greg Stanton could easily refuse. Eyeing a win-win investment opportunity, Nevada brothel owner Dennis Hof wrote a letter to Stanton in July requesting permission to open a temporary house of ill repute in Phoenix during next year’s Super Bowl. His offer: $500,000. His rationale: Hey, prostitution will happen anyway, so why not undercut the human traffickers and whatnot?

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Branding Phoenix

valley branding, marketingValley cities seek ad agencies for marketing makeovers. Locals say look inward.

What’s in a name? That which we call the East Valley would probably smell as sweet if it paid a Denver-based company $225,000 to rebrand it “Phoenix East Valley.” Or would it?

Identity makeovers are all the rage with local municipalities, and the methods may surprise you. In 2009, Downtown Phoenix Partnership spent $160,000 to sub-brand Copper Square, the 90-block city core, as “Arizona’s Urban Heart.” This year, Phoenix’s Community and Economic Development Department (CEDD) aims to rebrand Phoenix again – as a business-friendly city full of talent.

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The Art Must Go On

Phoenix Art Museum, Jim BallingerAfter guiding the Phoenix Art Museum to greatness, director Jim Ballinger is retiring. Who will take up the brush?.

When Jim Ballinger came to work at the Phoenix Art Museum 40 years ago, he got a crash course in curating.  

“I was the curator, the only curator. The curator of everything,” says Ballinger, an art historian with a focus on Western American and American Modernism.

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Long Distance Relationship

long distance running, extreme athleteExtreme Valley runners take on long-distance trail runs, in the dark.

Last September, with McDowell Mountain Regional Park shrouded in darkness, Dave Bloom opened up his stride along the hardpack soil. His headlamp created a tunnel of light, illuminating only a few feet of trail at a time and occasionally catching the lurking figures of towering saguaros or creeping tarantulas. Alone, he was accompanied only by the sound of his footfalls and his own inhales and exhales.

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Not Our Fault

Residents in the East Valley got a minor scare on Saturday, June 28 when a nighttime trembler rippled across southeast Arizona. Though not large by, say, Californian standards, the 5.2 earthquake was a generational event for some seismic virgins in the Valley. Just how rare are earthquakes in Arizona? On its website, the U.S. Geological Survey bothers to list just one: a 5.6 trembler on July 21, 1959, in the northern Arizona town of Fredonia. And that wasn’t even a true tectonic-type earthquake. It was caused by a rock slide in the Grand Canyon.

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Making the Grade

Phoenix teacher Kathleen Johnston gets an “A+” for uplifting students – and a grant from a national foundation to scale her methods across the country.

When Tuscano Elementary School teacher Kathleen Johnston asked one of her fourth graders, “Angela,” to describe herself, Angela replied, “I’m pretty stupid.”

Feeling slow and inferior may be common among students, but few confess it openly – or believe it as strongly as Angela, accepting her perceived lack of faculty as part of her very fabric. “I’ve had students who have been severely below grade level, but had never had a student who perceived herself as unintelligent,” Johnston says. Johnston set to work, enlisting Angela’s mother – who also struggled with literacy and reading comprehension – as a partner in her daughter’s education inside the classroom and out. Johnston hosted an after-hours pajama reading night, where Angela, her classmates, and their parents could share their favorite books. At home, Angela and her mother read together and discussed the books, capturing their conversations on an old-fashioned tape recorder or a Smartphone video. At the end of the year, Angela was performing at grade level.

Read more: Making the Grade