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  • Mountain Pointe alum aims at social issues through dance

    In the waning years of the 20th Century, Jessica Starr was, well, a star at Mountain Pointe High School.She was involved in the Mountain Pointe Dance Company, Senior Company all fours years of high school, part of an award-winning cheer squad, a Key Club member and even choreographed a student presentation of the classic musical “Grease.”Today, she heads two Los Angeles-based organizations—a professional dance company, Muse Dance, and a nonprofit called MusEffect, which aims at a multimedia approach “to empower social consciousness and healing” with its performances.This week is a homecoming for Starr, whose dance company will perform “The Divine Direction” in workshops and public performances today through Saturday at the Phoenix Center for the Arts. She also hopes to give special performances at area high schools.“The Divine Direction” focuses on a wide variety of issues—marriage equality, domestic abuse, cyberbullying, addiction, depression, female empowerment, deception, forgiveness and patience—in furtherance of her company’s mission: “fostering a constructive dialogue on social issues through performance art, while enriching and empowering audiences of all socioeconomic backgrounds.”MusEffect, which she founded three years ago, aims to have its audiences “feel the synergy between art, intellect and intention. These three principles, woven together, cultivate positive and permanent changes that elevate the quality of life among our participants.”

  • Long-term care must be factored into your retirement savings

    How much money will you need in retirement? To arrive at an estimate, you should consider various factors, such as where you’ll live, how much you plan to travel, and so on.Not surprisingly, you’ll also need to think about health care costs, which almost always rise during retirement. But there’s one area you might overlook: long-term care. Should you be concerned about these costs?In a word, yes. Expenses for long-term care – which can include receiving assistance at home as well as prolonged care in a facility – can be surprisingly expensive. Consider the following statistics, taken from the 2016 Cost of Care Study issued by Genworth, an insurance company:• The average annual cost for a private room in a nursing home is more than $92,000. And in some places, particularly major metropolitan areas, the cost is considerably higher.• The average annual cost for full-time services of an in-home health care aide is more than $46,000.These costs are certainly daunting. Of course, you might think that you won’t have to worry about them, because you won’t ever need any type of long-term care, particularly if you’ve always been in good health and your family has no history of later-in-life cognitive impairment.

  • Holiday giving is giving back with meaning

    The last few months of the year make up what is commonly called the Giving Season for the nonprofit community. As the holidays near, many people give more generously than during the rest of the year.  December is usually the strongest month for most charitable organizations, with donors giving 52 percent more than in other months. Charities receive approximately 33 percent of the year’s donations in December.During the holidays, we often think of the word “generosity” when honoring friends and family. Generosity can be donating to our local and worldwide communities: a donation to a church’s food pantry, lending support to a large country-wide organization, or a gift of service.Whether you donate time or money, giving back is beneficial and not just for the recipients. Most people are blessed with all the “things” they need, but gifts of generosity to others strengthens the spirit. It is important to take the time during the holiday season to give to those people who are in need and to serve others during the holidays.Many local businesses who are Ahwatukee Foothills Chamber of Commerce members are giving back this season in a variety of ways.To share some of the many efforts taking place in our community:

  • People can take steps to reduce holiday stress at gatherings

    If you begin to feel anxious and stressed as the holiday season approaches each year, you are not alone.  While this time of year brings colder weather, sometimes this is the perfect setting for family gatherings to get heated and uncomfortable.This time to focus on being thankful, can instead introduce feelings of stress and frustration that can start to consume us.If you find yourself dealing with difficult family members during the holidays, consider the following strategies to minimize stress and maximize fun, from the counseling center at Catholic Charities.Be a curious observer. Sometimes, taking a back seat to a difficult situation can have a positive outcome.  Instead of adding your opinion, focusing on your family member’s behavior, or being consumed by feelings that may be hurt, take a step back and look at the scenario from an objective standpoint.A  journalist or scientist frequently needs to work objectively and keep emotions out of their work in order to be successful.  Notice personal dynamics from a standpoint of curiosity to help you not take things as personally.Be prepared. Just as you prepare for a first date with conversation starters, have some ideas ready of things you can speak to your family about. Avoid topics that are highly inflammatory like politics. Deanna Iwai, a Catholic Charities counselor, says, “Have some pat phrases available" to keep the conversation going and avoid awkward silences.

  • Inspire Kids Montessori to teach toddlers manners

    Inspire Kids Montessori of Ahwatukee is adding a new program to teach toddlers manners as well as how to take care of themselves and the environment beginning Jan. 16.  The school incorporates its Practical Life Skills program as part of its early education curriculum for toddlers and has scheduled an open house 9-11 a.m. Friday for families to observe classroom activities and take a tour.“Practical Life exercises are organized into three main areas:  care of the person, care of the environment and the concepts of grace and courtesy—skills they will use throughout their lives,” said Inspire Kids School Director Veronique Bevali.“These activities introduce personal care through basic skills such as buttoning, zipping, tying and handwashing, and care for the environment through cooking and cleaning and learning how to take care of animals and plants,” she added.Students are also taught how to greet and to respect others, manners (“please,” ”thank you” and “may I”), how to politely interrupt teachers or friends and how to properly pass objects and open and close doors and other social skills.Practical Life Skills is part of the curriculum developed by Italian educator, Dr. Maria Montessori, in the early 1900’s.

  • AFN Christmas Lights Contest in full gear

    The Ahwatukee Foothills News’ Holiday Lights Contest is open to nominations for only one more days.The contest is for all of the residents who go that extra mile and festoon their homes with the glitz and glitter of Christmas. The deadline is midnight tonight.Have you noticed a neighbor's elaborate decorations for the season? Have you been inspired by them—or more than a little irritated? Do you think yours are more tasteful?You don't even have to know the homeowner's name. Just send in the address and whip out your smartphone to snap a photo just to give us an idea of what's special about it.Go ahead and write a note about why you nominated it. And, yes, you can nominate yourself as well. We do need your name, address and phone number as "official nominator" for any contenders you send along.What makes for the best lighting display? We'll be the judge of that. The AFN will award prizes in a few different categories. (And we'll figure out what those are after we look at the nominees.)

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  • Mountain Pointe alum aims at social issues through dance

    In the waning years of the 20th Century, Jessica Starr was, well, a star at Mountain Pointe High School.She was involved in the Mountain Pointe Dance Company, Senior Company all fours years of high school, part of an award-winning cheer squad, a Key Club member and even choreographed a student presentation of the classic musical “Grease.”Today, she heads two Los Angeles-based organizations—a professional dance company, Muse Dance, and a nonprofit called MusEffect, which aims at a multimedia approach “to empower social consciousness and healing” with its performances.This week is a homecoming for Starr, whose dance company will perform “The Divine Direction” in workshops and public performances today through Saturday at the Phoenix Center for the Arts. She also hopes to give special performances at area high schools.“The Divine Direction” focuses on a wide variety of issues—marriage equality, domestic abuse, cyberbullying, addiction, depression, female empowerment, deception, forgiveness and patience—in furtherance of her company’s mission: “fostering a constructive dialogue on social issues through performance art, while enriching and empowering audiences of all socioeconomic backgrounds.”MusEffect, which she founded three years ago, aims to have its audiences “feel the synergy between art, intellect and intention. These three principles, woven together, cultivate positive and permanent changes that elevate the quality of life among our participants.”

  • AFN Christmas Lights Contest in full gear

    The Ahwatukee Foothills News’ Holiday Lights Contest is open to nominations for only one more days.The contest is for all of the residents who go that extra mile and festoon their homes with the glitz and glitter of Christmas. The deadline is midnight tonight.Have you noticed a neighbor's elaborate decorations for the season? Have you been inspired by them—or more than a little irritated? Do you think yours are more tasteful?You don't even have to know the homeowner's name. Just send in the address and whip out your smartphone to snap a photo just to give us an idea of what's special about it.Go ahead and write a note about why you nominated it. And, yes, you can nominate yourself as well. We do need your name, address and phone number as "official nominator" for any contenders you send along.What makes for the best lighting display? We'll be the judge of that. The AFN will award prizes in a few different categories. (And we'll figure out what those are after we look at the nominees.)

  • Holiday win-win: Get decorating ideas and help others

    When you need holiday home decorating ideas, turn to pros who offer more than half a century of experience. This week, Desert Club unveils its 59th annual Christmas Idea House.If you aren't familiar with this popular tradition, the all-volunteer women's service organization Desert Club selects a luxury home in the East Valley and decorates it from top to bottom in the latest holiday style.“Every year, we take a different house and in essence turn it into a boutique,” Desert Club member Michelle Tetschner explains. “We have thousands of items from candies in the kitchen to throws in the master bedroom to dining- and serving-ware in the dining room.”The Desert Club members make many of the items themselves from ideas on Pinterest and other sources. Even store-bought items get a touch of glitter or other custom holiday enhancement to match the theme, which for 2016 is “Wrapped in Red.”To hold this year's decorations, Desert Club selected an 11,000-square-foot custom home in Gilbert. The massive multi-level home even includes an indoor basketball court.“They're huge U of A fans, unfortunately,” Tetschner jokes about the owners.

  • Movies on Screen

    Man Down– Opens Friday, December 2When U.S. Marine Gabriel Drummer returns home from his tour in Afghanistan, he finds that the place he once called home is no better than the battlefields he fought on overseas. Accompanied by his best friend Devin Roberts, a hardnosed Marine whose natural instinct is to shoot first and ask questions later, he searches desperately for the whereabouts of his estranged son, Johnathan, and wife, Natalie. In their search, the two intercept Charles, a man carrying vital information about the whereabouts of Gabriel's family. As we revisit the past, we are guided in unraveling the puzzle of Gabriel's experience and what will eventually lead us to finding his family.Rated R Ali & Nino – Opens Friday, December 2Ali Khan and Nino Kipiani live in Baku, the cosmopolitan, oil-rich capital of Azerbaijan, which, at the beginning of the twentieth century, is a melting pot of different cultures. Ali is a Muslim, with his warrior ancestors' passion for the desert; and Nino is a Christian Georgian girl with sophisticated European ways. The two have loved each other since childhood and Ali is determined that he will marry Nino, despite their cultural differences, but there is not only the obstacle of their different religions and parental consent to overcome. The First World War breaks out and Baku's oil becomes the focus of Russia's vie for power. As the war plays out and control of the Caucuses changes hands, Ali and Nino find themselves swept up in Azerbaijan's fight for independence.Not Rated

  • Mt. Pointe students to present holiday comedy this weekend

    The Mountain Pointe Theatre Company aims to start the holiday season on a fun note by presenting “Inspecting Carol,” a comedy that was described as “’A Christmas Carol’ meets “The Government Inspector’ meets ‘Noises Off’” when it debuted in Seattle.It will be presented at 3 p.m. and 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday at Mountain Pointe High School, 44th Street and Knox Road, Ahwatukee. Tickets are available at the door and are $7 for adults, $5 for students.The play is about a small professional theater company in a midsized city that strives to maintain funding and learns it will be inspected for a possible grant as it is preparing to produce “A Christmas Carol.”The quirky theatre troupe includes a child who is a little too old to be playing Tiny Tim, a visionary Ebenezer Scrooge who has a few too many ideas, and an emotional, eccentric director. Confusion sets in when a mysterious "actor" arrives to audition.A variation on a play by Nikolai Gogal, "Inspecting Carol” was described by Seattle critics as a “razzle dazzle of funny characters and ingenious jokes” and a “rollicking farce.”Mountain Pointe alumus Corey Quinn, now a biology teacher at the school as well as one of the student troupe’s mentors, is directing.

  • More than good music: Children's choir aims to make good people

    Depending on your past experience, the phrase “children's choir” might cause an involuntary cringe. Little kids are cute, but you can only take so much off-tune singing before the cuteness wanes.The award-winning Phoenix Children's Chorus promises—and delivers—a completely different experience. According to Artistic Director Ron Carpenter, who also teaches choir full-time at Dobson High School, audience members regularly tell him how surprised they are.“There are about 100 students who sing in [our youngest] choir and they always steal the show because they're cute. But also, because people are astounded because those kids can stand up there straight, without fidgeting, and sing with good vocal technique,” he says.And the musicianship only improves from there. While the youngest members begin in second grade, the 350-singer chorus membership extends through high school seniors. Some members may stay with the organization for 10 years.As kids grow in age and skill, the choir offers more advanced groups, from the younger Prep and Cadet choirs to the high-school Bravo and Encore. PCC also boasts a larger Concert choir that tours the world, and the a cappella Dolce for smaller venues.While PCC's groups perform at a high level, and members take ongoing music education classes, musicianship remains a secondary goal.

  • Ahwatukee teen musician wins a nod in Alice Cooper contest

    Joe Vitagliano of Ahwatukee earlier this month almost won rock legend Alice Cooper’s Proof is in the Pudding talent search for a soloist under age 25 to perform in his annual Christmas season concert.But the 17-year-old Horizon Honors High School senior is pretty content with his second-place prize because it helps him continue developing his ambition to become a professional songwriter/performer.Joe, who has adopted a stage name of Joe Vito “because it’s easier to pronounce and remember” than his family name, won a spot on Cooper’s Christmas CD, a photo session and two hours of professional studio time.He competed with scores of musicians over a period of several months and had to perform his own songs, cover tunes and even some holiday music.Placing second was a great accomplishment, he said.“I’ve been lucky to have a lot of opportunities given to me by my family and family,” said Joe, the son of David and Jennifer Vitagliano. “I have a home studio but it’s going to be very nice to go into a professional studio and not to do the post-production work.”

  • Ahwatukee’s share of billions in street improvement money: No one knows

    Phoenix officials plan to spend over $2.3 billion on street improvements over the next 35 years, so what can Ahwatukee residents expect as their fair share?Turns out the Street Transportation Department doesn’t think of allocations that way.“It’s not necessarily based on fair share but rather on our data on the condition of the streets,” department special projects administrator Eileen Yazzie told the Ahwatukee Foothills Village Planning Committee on Monday.That didn’t sit too well with several committee members.Yazzie gave an overview of the street-repair portion of the city’s Transportation 2050 plan, which is built on the projected $17.7 billion in total revenue expected from the 0.03 percent increase in the sales tax voters OK’d last year. That brought to 0.07 percent the total fraction of sales tax that goes to transportation-related expenditures.Committee Chairman Chad Blostone and member Michael Hinz both complained about the absence of data showing either the amount of money or total miles of improved roadway that local residents will see from the program—especially since spending decisions are made without any public input.

  • In Your Neighborhood: Ahwatukee teen wins Veterans Day Parade essay contest

    Ahwatukee resident and Seton Catholic Prep junior Dillon Shipley won first place in the annual Phoenix Veterans Day Parade essay contest with a piece about his uncle’s return from the Vietnam War.In the essay, Dillon, 15, focused on his uncle’s anticipation of returning home, the soldier’s eye always on his DEROS, or Date Eligible for Return from Overseas.  “DEROS was something that kept our troops going, especially my uncle, former 2nd Lieutenant Rick West,” Dillon wrote. “As his time got closer, he created a plan to take the cash that he had, $1,300, to buy a motorcycle and tour the country.”And he used his essay to give the warm welcome that many Vietnam veterans felt they didn’t received when they came home.Dillon is the son of Wes and Lori Shipley.“We are very proud,” Seton Principal Pat Collins said. “Seton Catholic Preparatory feels it is important that our students are aware of the sacrifice our veterans have made for our country.”

Puppy found buried alive in Tucson dies despite veterinary care

TUCSON, AZ - The Sanctuary Project is looking for anyone who might have information regarding a puppy that was found buried alive on the east …

Published: December 6, 2016 - 9:48 pm @ http://www.abc15.com/news/region-central-southern-…

Sustainable Distribution at REI

Follow us on Twitter, Facebook or RSS Specialty outdoor retailer REI’s new distribution center brings together the next generation of material…

Published: December 6, 2016 - 9:19 pm @ http://www.scmr.com/article/sustainable_distributi…

No. 18 Purdue dominates Arizona State in Jimmy V Classic

NEW YORK (AP) — Isaac Haas and Vincent Edwards were both 6 of 9 from the field and had 16 points on Tuesday night as No. 18 Purdue dominated A…

Published: December 6, 2016 - 9:17 pm @ http://collegebasketball.ap.org/article/no-18-purd…

No charges filed against Phoenix officers who forced man to eat marijuana

PHOENIX - Nearly three months after allegedly forcing a man to eat marijuana at a traffic stop,  two Phoenix police officers have not been cha…

Published: December 6, 2016 - 8:43 pm @ http://www.abc15.com/news/region-phoenix-metro/cen…

Tucson police identify the driver killed in Saturday's car on roof crash

TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) - The driver of the car in Saturday's fatal crash on Wrightstown Road has been identified as 26-year-old Charles …

Published: December 6, 2016 - 8:12 pm @ http://www.tucsonnewsnow.com/story/33977221/tucson…

The 50 Best Songs by Phoenix Bands in 2016, Part Two

Mitchell Hillman A A Here is part two of our list of the best songs released by Phoenix artists in 2016. In this part, we will reveal the top …

Published: December 6, 2016 - 8:10 pm @ http://www.phoenixnewtimes.com/music/the-50-best-s…

Woman praises Chandler police officers for closing garage door overnight

CHANDLER, AZ - The Chandler Police Department is being praised for helping stop burglaries before they happen. Jill Connor recently took to a …

Published: December 6, 2016 - 8:12 pm @ http://www.abc15.com/news/region-southeast-valley/…

SO THE WASHINGTON POST’S PETULA DVORAK WRITES ON “FAKE NEWS” AND COMMITS . . . FAKE NEWS: Five ye…

SO THE WASHINGTON POST’S PETULA DVORAK WRITES ON “FAKE NEWS” AND COMMITS . . . FAKE NEWS: Five years ago, it wasn’t fake news but an equally c…

Published: December 6, 2016 - 7:46 pm @ https://pjmedia.com/instapundit/251135/

'We've Done This Totally Unarmed': Hip-Hop Artist/Activist Nataanii Means on the Front Lines of #NoDAPL (Exclusive)

Since April, the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe has been demonstrating against the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) -- a $3.8 bill…

Published: December 6, 2016 - 7:18 pm @ http://www.billboard.com/articles/columns/hip-hop/…

Trump’s and Obama’s national security advisers to meet amid controversy

Incoming national security adviser retired Lt. Gen. Michael T. Flynn will meet with national security adviser Susan E. Rice for the first time…

Published: December 6, 2016 - 6:39 pm @ https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/josh-rogin/wp/…

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