Your West Valley News: Local news from Phoenix's West Valley communities - Sun City West, Sun City Grand, Surprise, Glendale, Peoria, El Mirage, Youngtown

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  • Hutton Drive slated to be closed for work

    The Maricopa County Department of Transportation will temporarily close Hutton Drive at Del Webb Boulevard intersection for removal and reconstruction of pavement at the intersection.Hutton will be closed from 5:00 a.m. Thursday and is expected to reopen by 5:00 p.m. Saturday.During the closure, Del Webb will remain open in both directions. Pineaire Drive and Loma Blanca Drive may be used as alternate routes.MCDOT Public Information Officer Perrine Mann advises drivers to be aware of changes in temporary construction signage and flag persons when driving through the construction zone and allow extra time when driving through the area, for any traffic delays. Alternative access will be maintained for residents, businesses and emergency vehicles at all times.

  • Information night prepares parents

    Shadow Ridge High School will host a Parent Information Academy from 9 a.m. to noon Aug. 9.Shadow Ridge High School is at 10909 N. Perryville Road, Surprise. Students are welcome to attend and free lunch will be served.Officer Klarkowski of the Surprise Police Department, in conjunction with Shadow Ridge, coordinated this opportunity to teach parents how to identify risky behaviors in teens, how to communicate effectively, and how to guarantee success throughout the teen years.Breakout sessions for parents and students include:• Creating Community (Bullying Prevention) — Speaker Maricopa County Attorney’s Office;• Internet Safety/Social Media Class — Maricopa County Attorney’s Office;

  • Banner Del E. Webb offers free seminar on diabetes

    Banner Del E. Webb Medical Center will have a seminar for people who have diabetes or are at risk called, “Take Steps Against Diabetes: What You Can Do Now.”The seminar will give participants information on the disease and how you can protect yourself from it.The event will be at Banner Del E. Webb Medical Center , 14502 W. Meeker Blvd., Sun City West, from 2 to 4 p.m. Aug. 18.The event is free. For information or to register for “Take Steps Against Diabetes: What You Can Do Now”,  call 602-230-2273. 

  • Wrong-way driver hits four vehicles in Glendale

    GLENDALE, AZ - An 18-year-old driver hit four vehicles and sent three individuals to the hospital when he drove in the wrong direction, according to Glendale officials. The Glendale Police and Fire departments responded to 75th Avenue south of Glendale Avenue after a silver sedan was traveling northbound in a southbound lane around 7:45 Tuesday morning. Officials said the sedan was traveling in the wrong direction and sent two women, a 26-year-old and a 37-year-old, to the hospital to be treated for non life-threatening injuries. Two children were also in one of the cars that was hit, but they were not injured. Officials closed 75th Avenue between Glendale and Maryland avenues but expected to re-open all lanes two hours after the incident. According to officials, the 18-year-old driver is believed to have been impaired at the time of the collisions, but the investigation is still ongoing. 

  • Class combines yoga, Pilates

    Sun Health will offer a class that combines the best of yoga and Pilates.Sessions will run from 10 to 11 a.m. on Mondays from Aug. 4 through Aug. 25 in the Community Room at the  Sun Health Center for Health & Wellbeing, 14719 W. Grand Ave., Surprise.The class emphasizes breathing through yoga poses and building core strength with Pilates. It combines flexibility, balance, and strength exercises for the mind and body that are designed to help improve sleep, decrease anxiety and help participants feel restored.Because of limited class size, the class cannot accommodate walk-ins.The class fee is $5 per session. Ten-session punch cards are available for $40.To register, call 623-455-5633 or visit www.sunhealth.org and click “Community Education” at the top of the page.

  • Children’s grief support group seeks board of directors

    Billy’s Place is seeking volunteers to serve on its board of directors.  The board of directors is the face and voice of Billy’s Place and comprises  individuals from the community who are interested in leadership with the agency. Billy’s Place is a children’s grief support group that meets twice a month in Glendale.Billy’s Place is a safe place for children, teens, and adults to share feelings and experiences while grieving a death – through free peer support groups. The board of directors has a fundamental responsibility for self-management: for creating a structure, policies and procedures that support good governance. The board of directors encompasses a variety of tasks from routine matters such as scheduling of meetings to actions of broader consequences such as developing policies and fundraising.The time commitment is approximately 15 hours a month between attending support group nights, board meetings and additional responsibilities.  To learn more about becoming a board member at Billy’s Place, call 623-335-1101 or email at info@billysplace.me. The website is www.billysplace.me.

  • Police: Man accused in a voyeurism case

    PHOENIX (AP) — A Phoenix man is accused of using his cellphone to surreptitiously record video under the dresses of dozens of women at various stores. Phoenix police say 43-year-old Clinton L. Hollister is being held on 26 counts of voyeurism and attempted voyeurism. Hollister was released on his own recognizance after his initial court appearance Tuesday. He doesn't have a lawyer yet. Police say a woman shopping April 22 at an Ahwatukee fabric store noticed a man following her down multiple aisles with a cellphone in a handheld shopping basket. The man fled before officers arrived, but police say Hollister was recently identified as a suspect. A search warrant was served on his cellphone for forensic analysis. Investigators say they recovered about 20 surreptitious videos filmed at fabric, wine, and thrift stores.

  • Drug trafficker gets 18-year prison term

    PHOENIX (AP) — Federal authorities say a Phoenix man who twice escaped from jail has been sentenced to 18 years in prison in a drug trafficking case. They say 36-year-old Rocky Delgado Marquez pleaded guilty in April to conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute 1,000 kilograms or more of marijuana, conspiracy to commit money laundering, and being a felon in possession of a firearm. Prosecutors say Marquez recruited drivers and obtained vehicles outfitted with hidden compartments to hold hundreds of pounds of marijuana smuggled into Arizona from Mexico. After being arrested, Marquez escaped from a Phoenix jail in May 2012. He was apprehended eight months later in the Detroit area. In January 2013, Marques escaped from a jail in Wayne County, Michigan and fled to Mexico. He was arrested the following month.

  • Marijuana researcher loses appeal to university

    TUCSON, Ariz. (AP) — A fired University of Arizona professor who was studying the effects of medical marijuana on military veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder has lost an appeal to regain her job. Suzanne Sisley was let go last month because funding for part of the work she did with the medical school was running out and because the telemedicine program she worked with is shifting direction, the university said in a letter. Sisley claims she was targeted by conservative state legislators who disapproved of her research. Sisley had federal approval to conduct the controlled study. Sisley and her supporters will ask the Arizona Board of Regents to help her find a new home for the study. She is hoping to work with Arizona State University or Northern Arizona University.

  • Mother of slain Mexican teen sues US Border Patrol

    TUCSON, Ariz. (AP) — The mother of a Mexican teen who was shot to death by a U.S. Border Patrol agent nearly two years ago sued the agency on Tuesday, saying her son was walking home after playing basketball with his girlfriend and friends when he was hit in the back by 10 bullets. Jose Antonio Elena Rodriguez, 16, was in Nogales, Sonora, near the tall, steel fence that divides the United States and Mexico when a U.S. Border Patrol agent shot him from Nogales, Arizona, on Oct. 10, 2012. An autopsy shows the teen was shot at least eight times. The Border Patrol has said Elena Rodriguez was among a group of people throwing rocks at agents across the border, endangering their lives. The ACLU, which filed the lawsuit in federal court in Tucson on behalf of Araceli Rodriguez, says the shooting was another example of border agents using excessive force without consequences. Araceli Rodriguez says her son never had a rock or any other weapon. The Border Patrol does not comment on pending litigation, spokesman Andy Adame said. Agency officials in the past have defended agents' use of force. Chief Michael Fisher said at a border expo in March that there's been a mischaracterization that agents "indiscriminately" open fire. "If you are like me, there's nothing more terrifying than fighting for your life when you're alone with no communication, and the thought for a split second that you may never get home at the end of that shift to see your wife and son again," Fisher said. "The only thing that is equal to the ripple of fear is thinking of having to use deadly force against another human being." Immigrant rights groups have long claimed that agents are trigger-happy. In the lawsuit, the ACLU alleges that the Border Patrol has a "systematic" problem with use of force. Border Patrol agents generally are allowed to use lethal force against rock throwers because rocks can be potentially deadly. Rock throwers have attacked agents more than 1,700 times since 2010. "Jose Antonio's killing by U.S. Border Patrol agents is unfortunately not a unique event, but part of a larger problem of abuse by border patrol agents in Nogales and elsewhere," the lawsuit states. Attorneys acknowledge they face an uphill battle in their case against the Border Patrol. "This is not only about justice for the family and Border Patrol abuse, but it's potentially going to be a test case for an enormous constitutional question," said Lee Gelernt, deputy director of the ACLU Immigrants' Rights Project. Gelernt anticipates that the U.S. government will claim a Mexican citizen on Mexican soil does not have American constitutional rights. A federal appeals court ruled last month that the U.S. Constitution protected another Mexican teenager killed by a border agent even though the teen was in Mexico when he was shot in June 2010. Sergio Adrian Hernandez Guereca was 15 when an agent who said he was attacked by rock throwers shot the teen near a bridge between El Paso, Texas, and Ciudad Juarez, Chihuahua. The Border Patrol is appealing that 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals decision. Gelernt says the ACLU will continue to seek the release of the names of the agents involved in Elena Rodriguez's killing. The FBI, which is conducting an investigation, has not released any information regarding the agents involved. The Border Patrol also has kept mum about whether any agents have been disciplined in the case. At a news conference Tuesday, the teen's grandmother pleaded for justice. "It was a cowardly murder," Taide Elena Rodriguez said. "Jose Antonio was not an animal."

  • Louisville cheerleader found dead in apartment

    LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — A University of Louisville cheerleader has been found dead in an apartment near campus. The university said the body of 22-year-old Danielle Cogswell was found Monday in an apartment at Cardinal Towne, an off-campus, privately operated student housing complex affiliated with U of L. Louisville police spokesman Dwight Mitchell said the death did not appear to be the result of foul play. The Courier-Journal reported that law enforcement officials have said they are awaiting results of an autopsy and toxicology tests. The newspaper said Cogswell was a transfer student from Arizona State who grew up in Washington and had been a cheerleader at U of L for a year. U of L's head spirit coach, Todd Sharp, said he recruited her to Louisville and described her as "one of the top athletes" in the program.

  • U.S. accuses Russia of violating 1987 missile treaty

    WASHINGTON (AP) — The Obama administration accusation that Russia violated a key nuclear weapons treaty leaves the future of the 26-year-old accord in question and further dampens President Barack Obama's hopes to burnish his legacy with deeper cuts to nuclear arsenals. The State Department's annual report on international compliance of arms control agreements released Tuesday said the U.S. had determined that Russia is in violation of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty that President Ronald Reagan signed with Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev in 1987. The treaty says the U.S. and Russia cannot possess, produce or test-flight a ground-launched cruise missile with a range of 300 to 3,400 miles. Possessing or producing launchers for this type of missiles also is banned under the treaty, which helps protect the the U.S. and its allies in Europe and the Far East. "We're going to hold them to living up to the commitments that they've made," White House press secretary Josh Earnest said. The administration has not said where and when the alleged violation occurred, but a Russian official said the concerns date back to 2009. The administration, which said it is prepared to discuss the issue with senior Russian officials, raised its concerns about the treaty with Moscow last year. "It is fair for you to conclude that their response to our concerns was wholly unsatisfactory," Earnest said. John Tefft, ambassador-nominee to Russia, said he hoped the Russians would negotiate an end to the dispute. "I hope that the Russians will seize the opportunity ... to meet with our experts, to try to resolve this — to shelve this particular weapon system and to bring themselves back into compliance with the INF treaty," Tefft told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Tuesday. Retired Lt. Gen. Yevgeniy Buzhinsky, the former head of the Russian Defense Ministry's international department, said that the U.S. complaints dated back to 2009. "Now, when an information war is being waged against Russia, the old accusations are being used again," he said, according to Interfax. Buzhinsky said that Russia has had its own complaints about the U.S. compliance with the INF treaty. In particular, he said that the U.S. was using its missiles as targets to test its missile interceptors, which he argued is forbidden under the treaty. Pentagon spokeswoman Cynthia Smith said the United States remains in full compliance with all its INF Treaty obligations. The treaty dispute comes at a highly strained time between President Barack Obama and Russian President Vladimir Putin over Russia's intervention in Ukraine and Putin's grant of asylum to National Security Agency systems analyst Edward Snowden. The compliance report was due out in April. In raising the issue now, the U.S. appears to be placing increased pressure on Russia. The European Union and the United States announced new sanctions against Russia on Tuesday in the face of U.S. evidence that Russia has continued to assist separatist forces in Ukraine. Congress has been stepping up pressure on the White House for months to confront Russia over the treaty violation. "It is past time this administration holds Russia accountable for its actions," said Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Mich., chairman of the House Intelligence Committee. Russia has hinted that it wants out of the treaty. Back in June 2013, Russian presidential chief of staff Sergei Ivanov lamented that the U.S. never needed the entire class of intermediate-range missiles that the treaty banned unless it planned to go to war with Mexico or Canada. Since the treaty was signed, countries along Russia's borders, such as North Korea, China, Pakistan and India, have acquired these types of weapons, he said. "Why can anyone have weapons of this class but the U.S. and we legally cannot?" he said. Obama, who has made nuclear disarmament a key foreign policy aim, doesn't want Russia to pull out of the treaty. The president won Senate ratification of a New START treaty, which took effect in February 2011 and requires the U.S. and Russia to reduce the number of their strategic nuclear weapons to no more than 1,550 by February 2018. Obama last year announced that he wants to cut the number of U.S. nuclear arms by another third and that he would "seek negotiated cuts" with Russia, a goal now complicated by the accusation of a missile treaty violation.

  • Jury awards Ventura $1.8M in defamation case

    ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — Former Minnesota Gov. Jesse Ventura won $1.8 million Tuesday in his two-year fight to prove he was defamed by a military sniper and best-selling author who claimed to have punched out Ventura at a bar for bad-mouthing the Navy SEALs. A federal jury sided with Ventura in his lawsuit against "American Sniper" author Chris Kyle, who was killed last year in Texas. Though Ventura honed a tough-guy reputation as a pro wrestler and action movie actor, he maintained the legal battle was about clearing his name among his beloved fellow Navy SEALs, not about losing a supposed fight. Kyle — reputed to be the deadliest sniper in U.S. military history — said in his memoir that he punched Ventura in California in 2006 after Ventura said the SEALs "deserved to lose a few" in Iraq. Ventura disputed that the confrontation, including the punch, ever happened. Ventura wasn't present for the verdict and didn't immediately return messages left at his home. His attorney, David Bradley Olson, said Ventura felt there were "no real winners in this trial." "He's certainly grateful for the verdict, but his reputation with an entire generation of young SEALs may never be repaired," Olsen said, adding, "It is a victory in the sense that the jury did tell the world that Chris Kyle's story is a lie and was a fabrication." Jurors declined to comment to reporters as they left the courthouse. They deliberated for five days before telling the judge Monday they didn't believe they could reach a unanimous verdict, but were told to keep trying. Tuesday's resolution came only after attorneys for both sides agreed to allow a verdict if eight of 10 jurors agreed. John Borger, an attorney for Kyle's estate, said the family would consider an appeal. He faced questions about why he agreed to a non-unanimous verdict when the jury appeared close to being hung. "That was a strategic call, which seemed appropriate at the time," Borger said. Legal experts had said Ventura had to clear a high legal bar to win, because as a public figure he had to prove actual malice. The jury was instructed that Ventura had to prove that Kyle either knew or believed what he wrote was untrue, or that he harbored serious doubts about its truth. After Kyle was killed last year at a Texas gun range, Ventura's lawsuit moved forward with Kyle's widow, Taya Kyle, as the defendant. She wasn't in court to hear the verdict. Borger said she was "surprised and upset" when he gave her the news by phone. The jury awarded Ventura $500,000 for defamation and $1.3 million for unjust enrichment. Borger said the latter figure was subject to review and potential adjustment by U.S. District Judge Richard Kyle, no relation to Chris Kyle. At least some of that money will be covered by "American Sniper" publisher HarperCollins' insurance policy. Borger said the $1.3 million for unjust enrichment will have to come from the book profits, but Olsen believes the policy will cover all the damages. Borger said he expects both sides will file papers on that and other issues soon. Olsen also said Ventura's side will ask HarperCollins to remove the disputed section from the book. The section recounts an October 2006 confrontation that Chris Kyle said he had at a bar in Coronado, California, with a man called "Scruff Face." In promotional interviews, Kyle identified the man as Ventura, who was in Coronado for a SEAL reunion and graduation ceremony. Kyle was at the bar for a wake for a fallen SEAL. Olsen suggested in his closing argument that the jury award Ventura $5 million to $15 million to compensate him for damage to his reputation. He said Kyle's claims that Ventura said he hated America, thought the U.S. military was killing innocent civilians in Iraq and that the SEALs "deserve to lose a few" had made him a pariah in the community that mattered most to him — the brotherhood of current and former SEALs. Borger argued that 11 witnesses presented by the defense told a "compelling and consistent story" that backed Kyle's account. Ventura testified that his income as a television personality fell sharply as job offers dried up in the wake of "American Sniper." Borger said Ventura's career as an entertainer was in decline well before that.

  • Today: Celebrate National Chicken Wing Day in Surprise

    Red Embers Bar & Grill, inside local family entertainment venue Uptown Alley in Surprise, is offering 10 wings for $5 all day long (with the purchase of a beverage) on Tuesday in honor of National Chicken Wing Day. Choose from flavors such as Jamaican Jerk, Classic Buffalo, Spicy Garlic, Sweet & Spicy Chile, Chipotle, Bourbon Molasses and many more. Uptown Alley is at 13525 N. Litchfield Road in Surprise. Information: www.uptownalleysurprise.com.

  • Swift, Coldplay set for iHeartRadio festival

    NEW YORK (AP) — Taylor Swift, Coldplay and One Direction are part of the star-studded lineup for this year's iHeartRadio Music Festival. Clear Channel announced Wednesday that Ariana Grande, Nicki Minaj, Iggy Azalea and Ed Sheeran will also perform at the festival, to be held Sept. 19-20 at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas. Tickets go on sale Saturday. Other performers include Lorde, Usher, Motley Crue, Zac Brown Band, Paramore, Eric Church and Calvin Harris. The festival, now in its fourth year, will broadcast live across Clear Channel radio stations. ___ Online: http://festival.iheart.com/

  • Obama wants limits on US company mergers abroad

    LOS ANGELES (AP) — Staking out a populist stand ahead of the midterm elections, President Barack Obama on Thursday demanded "economic patriotism" from U.S. corporations that use legal means to avoid U.S. taxes through overseas mergers. "I don't care if it's legal," Obama declared. "It's wrong." Obama and congressional Democrats are pushing to severely limit such deals, a move resisted by Republicans who argue the entire corporate tax code needs an overhaul. At issue are companies that enter into arrangements with foreign companies, shifting their tax addresses overseas while retaining their U.S. headquarters. "They're technically renouncing their U.S. citizenship. They're declaring they are based someplace else even though most of their operations are here," Obama said at a technical college in Los Angeles. "You know, some people are calling these companies corporate deserters." He also charged that such companies are "cherry-picking the rules." Though Obama included a proposal to rein in such mergers and acquisitions in his 2015 budget, his speech marked a new, more aggressive focus on the subject. The push came amid a developing trend by companies to reorganize with foreign entities through deals called "inversions" partly to reduce their tax payments in the U.S. It also came ahead of the fall political campaign as Democrats seek to draw sharp contrasts with Republicans by portraying them as defenders of corporate loopholes. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., and others have been drawing praise from liberal arms of the Democratic Party for their overtly populist positions. The growth of inversions has also concerned Republicans, but by and large they have called for a broader tax overhaul that would reduce corporate rates. A total of 47 U.S.-based companies have merged with or acquired foreign businesses over the past decade in inversions, according to the Congressional Research Service. The issue gained attention earlier this year when Pfizer made an unsuccessful attempt to take over British drugmaker AstraZeneca. The deal would have allowed Pfizer to incorporate in Britain and thus limit its exposure to higher U.S. corporate tax rates Most recently, Walgreen Co., the drug store chain that promotes itself as "America's premier pharmacy," is considering a similar move with Swiss health and beauty retailer Alliance Boots. Obama, speaking in shirt sleeves under a hot sun in a campaign rally atmosphere, sought to shame companies seeking such deals even though he mentioned none by name. "You don't get to pick the tax rate you pay," Obama told a crowd of about 2,000. "Folks, if you are secretary or a construction worker you don't say, 'You know, I feel like paying a little less so let me do that.' You don't get a chance to do that. These companies shouldn't either." He added: "You shouldn't get to call yourself an American company only when you want a handout from American taxpayers." The speech came at the end of a three-day West Coast fundraising tour. Obama employed many of the same partisan themes in his speech at the college that he did exhorting donors to help the Democratic Party. "What really is going on is the Republicans in Congress are directly blocking policies that would help millions of Americans," he said. The Obama administration began to ramp up attention to inversion transactions last week with a letter from Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew to House and Senate leaders. Lew said such deals "hollow out the U.S. corporate income tax base." Obama is calling on Congress to enact legislation that is retroactive to May, arguing that will stop companies from rushing into deals to avoid the law. Senate Democrats picked up the call this week, with Sen. Dick Durbin of Illinois, the second-ranking Democratic leader, sending a letter to Walgreen President and CEO Gregory Wasson urging him and his board to reconsider the overseas deal. "I believe you will find that your customers are deeply patriotic and will not support Walgreen's decision to turn its back on the United States," Durbin wrote. On Wednesday, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid weighed in with a floor speech that called inversions a "corporate citizenship scam." Walgreen's spokesman Michael Polzin said the company is evaluating where to take its partnership with Alliance Boots. "We will do what is in the best long-term interests of our customers, employees and shareholders," he said. Under such inversion deals, U.S.-based, multinational companies can lower their tax bills in part by combining with a foreign company and reorganizing in a country with a lower tax rate. The United States has a 35 percent income tax rate, the highest in the industrialized world, and unlike many other countries it also taxes income earned overseas and then brought home. Under current law, shareholders of a U.S. company that merged with an offshore entity would have to own less than 80 percent of the combined entity to take advantage of a lower foreign tax rate. Obama's budget proposes slashing that cutoff to 50 percent and making the restriction retroactive to last May. Republicans such as Sen. Orrin Hatch of Utah say the U.S. first must change its policy of taxing income earned abroad. But in a hearing this week, Hatch also said he was open to addressing the issue directly provided it was not retroactive and did not generate additional revenue. "Ultimately, the best way to solve this problem will be to reform our corporate and international tax system in a manner that will make our multinationals competitive against their foreign counterparts," he said. Administration officials estimate the deals, if allowed to continue, will cost the U.S. Treasury $17 billion in lost revenue over the next decade.

  • Goodyear's Caballero Grill closes doors

    Caballero Grill (www.caballerogrill.com) restaurant in Goodyear has announced that they closed for business on July 13. The restaurant is hoping to reopen in a new location.The building the currently housed Caballero Grill is currently for sale. The restaurant was challenged due to the high cost of overhead.Co-founders Paul Fratella and Anthony Guerriero are considering opening up the restaurant in a new location or selling the concept to another restaurateur.“We are very grateful for the local community and their warm welcome to our then-unknown concept back in January of 2012. We have had a wonderful time serving the local community and hope that we will have the opportunity to provide great food and top quality service to them in the future,” said Paul Fratella, co-founder of Caballero Grill, in a release.“We look forward to our future endeavors and appreciate the opportunities we’ve had here in the West Valley and to the valued friends and colleagues we’ve gotten to know,” said Anthony Guerriero.As for future plans, neither Fratella nor Guerriero have any immediate plans in the works.

  • Drive-ins use creativity to afford digital switch

    SACO, Maine (AP) — Many in the movie industry feared the need to convert to digital could be the death knell for drive-ins, but drive-in operators are finding creative ways to afford the switch. Drive-in movie theater operators say more than 200 of the remaining 348 drive-ins in the country have made the expensive conversion from film to digital, which typically costs more than $70,000. Theater owners say conversions escalated quickly in 2013 and will help keep the drive-ins in business for now, promising news for an industry that peaked in the 1950s and '60s, then with more than 4,000 drive-in theaters nationwide. Some drive-ins are raising money using crowd-funding platforms such as Kickstarter while others are taking advantage of financing programs or renting out their theaters as flea markets during off-hours. Ry Russell, general manager of Saco Drive-In, launched a social-media campaign to win an $80,000 digital projection system in a contest sponsored by Honda. His drive-in theater in Saco is celebrating its 75th anniversary by welcoming hundreds of cars to its giant roadside screen to watch the latest films on a new digital projection system. "We're just seeing Darwinism kind of take over," Russell said. "The ones that survive will prosper." It's a story that's playing out at drive-ins all over the country, where conversion to digital is the key to survival, said John Vincent Jr., president of the United Drive-In Theatre Owners Association. Studios are phasing out 35mm film prints as Hollywood moves toward all-digital distribution. Even older movies are difficult to obtain on film because many repertory companies have gone digital, said Vincent, noting that people in the industry expect this season to be "the last summer of film." In Westbrook, 15 miles up the road from Saco, the owners of the 62-year-old Pride's Corner Drive In are struggling just to keep business alive — they can only show movies in 35mm film and have raised just $1,350 of the $100,000 they need to convert to digital. "When they stop making film, that's it," said Andrew Tevanian, operator of Pride's Corner. "Then you're out in the cold." These days, moviegoers in 44 states can take in a drive-in movie from the comfort of their own vehicles, according to the United Drive-In Theatre Owners Association. New York, Ohio and Pennsylvania have the most drive-ins, with nearly 30 each; Indiana has 20 and California, 17. Alaska, Delaware, Hawaii, Louisiana, North Dakota and Wyoming are the only states without them. In Rhode Island, Rustic Drive In in Smithfield sometimes welcomes 500 cars on a Saturday. It needs to because the company that owns the theater spent more than $200,000 on three new digital projectors for its three screens. The company is taking advantage of an offer from Los Angeles-based Cinedigm Digital Cinema Corp., which arranges flexible loans and reimbursements from studios, a representative said. The conversion means the 63-year-old drive-in is in it for the long haul, said Deborah Belisle, vice president of the company that runs the theater. "That is saying we're staying," Belisle said. "The ones that are left now, they're not going anywhere."

Featured columns

  • Steer clear of road rage

    Over the years, aggressive driving and road rage have become more common dangers on our roadways.Aggressive driving — intentional, dangerous behavior that jeopardizes the safety of motorists and pedestrians — is a factor in up to 56 percent of fatal crashes, according to data from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety.Then there’s road rage, defined as deliberate, uncontrolled anger that can lead to violence and can result in suspension or revocation of your driver’s license, and even jail time.Both are unpredictable and can occur at any time. In fact, studies show that we are all capable of acting out our anger when we’re behind the wheel.As a leader in traffic safety, AAA notes five triggers that can incite aggressive driving and road rage:1. Cutting people off: When you merge into traffic, use your turn signal and make sure you have plenty of room to enter traffic. If you accidentally cut someone off, try to apologize with an appropriate gesture such as a hand wave. If someone cuts you off, take the high road: Slow down and give them plenty of room.

  • OPINION: EPA proposal devastating to state, families, seniors

    If we don’t want our utility rates to fly through the roof and our economy to fall into the tank, Arizona needs to fight the EPA. On June 2, the EPA, in another Obama administration attempt to kill the coal industry, proposed a new extreme rule requiring Arizona to reduce its CO2 emissions from existing power plants by 52 percent from 2012-2030.According to ADEQ testimony, Arizona will suffer the second-highest impact in the nation and the timeline to implement Arizona’s plan is set at an “Unprecedented Fast Schedule.”    How the EPA plans for Arizona to reduce their CO2 emissions by 52 percent is beyond me. After all, Arizona has one of the fastest-growing populations in the nation. Electricity demand will increase with population growth and the use of high-tech devices and electric cars.Some Arizona power plants have already shut down because of the EPA’s previous crazy rules. Now the EPA’s new proposal will cost the three major electric providers in Arizona billions of dollars and will undoubtedly increase everyone’s utility bills.   Fixed-income seniors and low-income families will be hit the hardest. Businesses will have to cut employees just to pay the increased utility costs.Currently, Tucson Electric gets 80 percent of its energy from coal. SRP gets 53 percent and APS 38 percent. There is no way that solar can make up that difference. According to the most recent U.S. Energy Information Administration report, solar makes up less than 1 percent of the Net Summer Electricity Capacity in Arizona. It is also one of the more expensive sources of electricity.

  • Use airtight containers to store ground flaxseed

    Dear Dr. Blonz: I eat a vegetarian diet (no fish) and have been relying on flaxseed as my source for omega-3 fatty acids. I do this by sprinkling the flax on my cereal or using it in baking. My concern relates to whether there is something toxic in raw flaxseed. I read that one should avoid, or at least limit, flax intake until it has been heated. Does this mean I should stop eating it raw? Should I stick to pure flaxseed oil? — S.F., DallasDear S.F.: Let’s address your “toxic” concerns first. Flaxseed contains very small amounts of compounds that can produce cyanide, a metabolic poison. But the mere presence of these compounds does not make flaxseed dangerous. With cyanogenic (cyanide-producing) and other potentially dangerous compounds, it comes down to the dose, and it also depends on the nutritional status of the consumer.Such compounds are widely distributed in nature. A book on my shelf since graduate school, titled “Toxicants Occurring Naturally in Foods,” was published by the National Academy of Sciences in 1973. It is an academic text that is now available online (tinyurl.com/lqlrtgu). Cyanogenic compounds cause problems primarily in individuals who are malnourished, particularly those with an inadequate intake of protein. The cyanogenic compounds in flaxseed are a greater concern for livestock, where very large amounts are consumed. Heat, or processing, does cause a breakdown of these substances, thus reducing the risk, but it is questionable whether this is a valid food safety concern.The fatty acids in flaxseed are highly unsaturated, more so than most other vegetable oils. This makes flaxseeds more susceptible to oxidation, a reaction that destroys the nutritive value of an oil and turns it rancid. This doesn’t make it toxic, but rancid fats are not what you want in your food or in your body. Exposure to air (oxygen) and heat can speed up the oxidation process.The intact flaxseed has a protective coat that keeps the oil safe inside. The seed coat is so strong that most intact flaxseeds tend to pass right through our digestive system. Inside the flaxseed are also a number of antioxidants, this being nature’s way of helping assure the viability of the seeds once planted. The healthful components of the flaxseed become available to us once the seeds are cracked or ground, but this process also increases the susceptibility to oxidation. This is why ground flaxseed should be stored in airtight containers and kept in the refrigerator once opened.If you were to take pure flaxseed oil, you would get its omega-3s, but not the fiber and phytochemicals naturally present in flax. You would avoid the cyanogenic compounds, but the risk of rancidity would remain. If you are interested in using flaxseed oil, consider a brand that contains all the beneficial compounds found in the intact seed, including the phytochemicals known as lignans. Flaxseed oils, particularly when purchased as liquids, need to be stored in the refrigerator or freezer.

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