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  • PD: Peoria toddler left in car while mom slept inside home

    PEORIA, Ariz. -- Authorities say a Peoria woman is facing child-abuse charges after allegedly leaving her 2-year-old child in a car while she was inside her home sleeping.Peoria police spokeswoman Amanda Jacinto said neighbors reported seeing the little girl in the car parked in the suspect's driveway near 68th Avenue and Ridgeline Road.When officers arrived to the home, they found the vehicle with the doors unlocked and the air conditioning running.Jacinto said the child was warm, but not hot with a dirty diaper. Authorities said the child was thirsty, but otherwise in good condition.Police said they found the child's 25-year-old mother inside the home sleeping. She reportedly told officers she did not know where her child was.The woman was arrested for child abuse and neglect.

  • Woman to discuss fire that almost claimed her life, two others at Peoria condo

    PEORIA, Ariz. -- One of three survivors who narrowly escaped a condo fire last month will speak for the first time publically about the experience while reuniting with the first responders who saved her life.Brooklynn Castellanos, 19, will address media during an appearance at Peoria’s Public Safety Complex Thursday morning, department spokeswoman Amanda Jacinto said in a news release Tuesday.“Ever since the June 29 fire that trapped three 19-year-olds in their small bathroom, there has been a lot of interest by the media to talk with the victims and the crews who helped rescue them,” Jacinto stated.Castellanos was huddled in her bathroom near 107th and Northern avenues with her roommate and boyfriend trying to survive the fire as it burned through her home. She called 911, reporting the fire and called for rescue. She then called her father, a Peoria firefighter, and stayed on the phone with her parents until she lost consciousness, Jacinto said.Crews arrived in time to rescue all three victims, and, through their advanced life-saving efforts, all of the teens survived.All three were recently released from hospitals and are at home, showing great progress in their recovery, Jacinto said.

  • MCSO: Crash leaves elderly driver injured

    A 90-year-old driver was hurt when he failed to observe a stop sign and collided with a second car in Sun City, a spokesman with the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office said.The driver, whose name was not released, suffered a broken leg when his vehicle ended up at the drainage ditch at the intersection of Boswell and Del Webb boulevards around 8:50 a.m. Monday, said MCSO Deputy Joaquin Enriquez.The other driver was not injured, Enriquez said.The other drive was believed to be in his mid-60s.Enriquez said the injured driver was taken to Boswell Memorial Medical Center and was listed in stable condition Monday.No charges have been filed. The accident remains under investigation.

  • Glendale police to award man who assisted in suspect's arrest

    The Glendale Police Department and Discount Tire will recognize Reginald Lee, a Tolleson resident, in a small ceremony at the Glendale Police Gateway Substation,  6261 N. 83rd Ave., at 1:30 p.m. today.At approximately 7 a.m. July 3, Glendale Police responded to a call in the 6800 block of North 59th Drive regarding a trespassing. Upon arrival, officers contacted the suspect, 34-year-old Albert Vasquez, who police said had forced entry into an unoccupied apartment and was refusing to leave after being asked by the resident. Police said Vasquez initially refused to cooperate and brandished a screwdriver toward one of the officers. Vasquez then fled on foot with officers giving chase, fleeing across busy streets. Observing the fleeing suspect and responding officers, Lee, who was driving in the area, pulled over to assist. Lee exited his car and was able to detain Vasquez, who continued to resist officers and Lee, police said. Vasquez was eventually taken into custody and booked into the Glendale City Jail.Without the assistance of Lee, officers said Vasquez may have likely escaped. Officers also noted that Lee continued to assist even as Vasquez physically resisted arrest, preventing potential injury to officers or Vasquez.In pulling his vehicle over to assist Glendale officers, Lee was concentrating on the fleeing suspect, and he struck a curb and damaged his tire. The Glendale Police Department has partnered with Discount Tire to provide Lee with a a certificate to assist him in replacing a tire in the future, and the Glendale Police Department will be recognizing Lee for his service and assistance to the department and community.

  • HealthSouth rehab liaison earns companywide recognition

    Carolyn Monson, LPN, rehabilitation liaison at HealthSouth Valley of the Sun Rehabilitation Hospital, was honored with HealthSouth’s companywide Outstanding Employee Achievement Award in Birmingham, Ala., last week.She was one of only six finalists out of 23,000 HealthSouth employees to be recognized and honored with this award. Award winners are selected based on their performance in four areas: contributions to extraordinary patient experience, team spirit and cooperation, commitment to continuous quality improvement and going above and beyond the call of duty. The process began with each of the 103 hospitals honoring a hospital employee of the year. The six finalists were named at the regional level and the one overall winner was named by the company.Monson started her career at HealthSouth Valley of the Sun Rehabilitation Hospital two years ago. She was a stay-at-home mom while her children were young and then enrolled in school to pursue her dream of becoming a nurse. She enjoys her role as liaison and providing support and comfort to patients at their bedside. Her dedication to her patients and their families in her role at HealthSouth put her in the spotlight as a finalist.“Carolyn has the ability to touch each patient as if they were her own family,” said Beth Bacher, CEO at HealthSouth Valley of the Sun. “Her gift for taking the burden or worry off of our patients during a time of crisis results in her serving as a true advocate for their healthcare course.”In her role at the hospital, she serves as rehabilitation liaison and likes that she wears many different hats. She acts as a social worker, case manager, educator, nurse and hand-holder. She likes to think of herself as a support system for patients by giving out her phone number for patients to call at any time and treating every patient as someone’s parent, sibling or child.Outside of work she enjoys volunteering for the American Red Cross and its disaster team, playing with her granddaughters and reading paperback books.

  • West Valley Hospital in Goodyear opens new trauma center

    GOODYEAR, Ariz. (AP) — A new top-level trauma center has opened to serve the western part of the Phoenix area and western Arizona as far as the California line. West Valley Hospital in Goodyear opened its Level 1 trauma center on Monday to provide 24-hour emergency care. According to the hospital, opening the trauma center follows a $26 million expansion project and the addition of 50 surgical specialists. Officials say the hospital and EMS providers conducted 17 days of drills to prepare for the opening. West Valley Hospital is part of the Abrazo Health network.

  • U.S. Supreme Court allows Arizona execution to proceed

    WASHINGTON (AP) — The U.S. Supreme Court is allowing an Arizona execution to go forward amid a closely watched First Amendment fight over the secrecy surrounding lethal injection drugs. The court ruled in favor of the state of Arizona in the case of Joseph Wood, who was convicted of murder in the 1989 shooting deaths of his estranged girlfriend and her father. Arizona plans to execute him Wednesday. The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals had put the execution on hold after ruling the state must reveal information such as how the state developed its method for legal injections, and who makes the drugs that are used. It's believed to be the first time an appeals court delayed an execution based on the issue of drug secrecy. Wood argued he has a First Amendment right to the details and that the information is beneficial to the public. Attorneys for the state of Arizona told the U.S. Supreme Court Wood can't establish he has a First Amendment right to the details he is seeking about his pending death. The 23-page request for the nation's top court to reverse an appeals court ruling also claimed that Wood would not have been able to show his case has a "likelihood of success." State Attorney General Tom Horne's office filed the request Monday afternoon after the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals refused to overturn an earlier ruling that put the execution on hold. Wood had been scheduled to be put to death Wednesday, July 23, but the appeals court said the state must reveal information such as how the state developed its method for legal injections, and who makes the drugs that are used. Wood argued the information is beneficial to the public. A three-judge panel of the 9th Circuit put the execution on hold Saturday after finding Wood "raised serious questions" about whether he should have access to lethal-injection drug information and executioner qualifications. Arizona appealed to the full 11-member court but was denied a rehearing. The ruling marked the first time an appeals court delayed an execution based on the issue of drug secrecy, said Richard Dieter, director of the Death Penalty Information Center in Washington, D.C. The fight over the Arizona execution has also attracted attention because of a dissenting judge's comments that made a case for a firing squad as a more human method of execution. "The guillotine is probably best but seems inconsistent with our national ethos. And the electric chair, hanging and the gas chamber are each subject to occasional mishaps. The firing squad strikes me as the most promising," Chief Judge Alex Kozinski wrote. "Using drugs meant for individuals with medical needs to carry out executions is a misguided effort to mask the brutality of executions by making them look serene and peaceful — like something any one of us might experience in our final moment" The case highlights scrutiny surrounding lethal injections after several controversial executions, including that of an Ohio inmate in January who snorted and gasped during the 26 minutes it took him to die. In Oklahoma, an inmate died of a heart attack minutes after prison officials halted the process of his execution because the drugs weren't being administered properly. States have refused to reveal details such as which pharmacies are supplying lethal injection drugs and who is administering them, because of concerns over harassment.

  • West Valley Hospital opens new trauma center

    GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- A new top-level trauma center has opened to serve the western part of the Phoenix area and western Arizona as far as the California line.West Valley Hospital in Goodyear opened its Level 1 trauma center on Monday to provide 24-hour emergency care.According to the hospital, opening the trauma center follows a $26 million expansion project and the addition of 50 surgical specialists.Officials say the hospital and EMS providers conducted 17 days of drills to prepare for the opening.West Valley Hospital is part of the Abrazo Health network.

  • Arizona band finds wallet in Texas, locates owner

    PHOENIX (AP) — A band known as The Black Moods apparently pulled off a good deed. KSAZ-TV reports the Arizona band recently returned a wallet after members did some investigating to find its owner. According to the band, members found the wallet filled with cash and credit cards at a gas station in Tyler, Texas. The Black Moods is on tour throughout Texas this month. Lead singer Josh Kennedy and his band mates then used social media to find the wallet's owner and documented their quest in a video. They recently found the father of the woman who lost her wallet and handed it over in Austin, Texas. Kennedy says the band returned it because they are "firm believers in karma" and never considered keeping the cash.

  • Southwest, South score low on child-welfare index

    ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Several states in the Deep South and Southwest have earned dismal scores on an annual child-welfare index that cited poverty and single-parent house households as worrisome trends that must be turned around for things to improve. Mississippi was rated the worst state for overall child well-being, largely because of rising child poverty. It was the second time in three years the state has come in last in rankings complied in the Kids Count Data Book. New Mexico, Nevada, Louisiana and Arizona round out the bottom five states. The study released Tuesday marks the 25th edition of the child well-being scorecard from the Annie E. Casey Foundation, a child advocacy group. It ranks states based on 16 indicators of child welfare in areas of economic well-being, education, health, and family and community. The good news, the foundation's report indicated, is that nationally there has been steady improvement in the number of children attending preschool and a decline in the number of kids who aren't proficient in reading and math. Tennessee was one of five states that showed the biggest improvements in the last year, moving from 39th to 36th. In education, a focus of major reform in Tennessee the last few years, the state improved from 42nd to 37th. "I do think the changes that have been made in education ... are making a difference," Republican Gov. Bill Haslam told reporters after a rotary luncheon in Springfield, Tennessee. "It's one of the reasons I want to make sure that we don't back up." Additionally, the national teen birth rate is at a historic low, and death rates for children and teens have fallen thanks to medical advances and the increased use of seat belts, car seats and bike helmets, according to the report. However, the growing number of children growing up in poor communities and the increased percentage of children in single-parent households are causes for concern, the foundation said. "We should all be encouraged by the improvements in many well-being indicators in the health, education and safety areas," said Patrick McCarthy, the foundation's president and CEO said in a news release. "But we must do much more. All of us, in every sector — business, government, nonprofits, faith-based groups, families — need to continue to work together to ensure that all children have the chance to succeed." With a large number of impoverished children, New Mexico finished second-worst this year. It was a slight improvement from the 2013 index, when the state finished last, prompted by improvements in child poverty, high school graduation and teenage birth rates. "It's a tiny step forward, but only if we can keep up the positive momentum of change," said Veronica García, executive director of New Mexico Voices for Children, a child advocacy group affiliated with Kids Count. A spokesman for New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez said it's clear the state has made important progress, particularly in education, but much more needs to be done. "There's no doubt that high poverty and a failed education system have plagued New Mexico for decades," spokesman Enrique Knell said. "That's why we have to embrace reform. The governor believes this involves competing for jobs in a way we haven't before, by diversifying our economy, attracting companies to New Mexico, and making it easier for small businesses to set up shop and succeed." Nevada came in at 48th, mostly because of the number of children living in poverty. Louisiana finished 47th despite a number of across-the board improvements, the report said. Arizona completed the bottom-tier as its rate of children living in poverty has increased in 10 of the state's 15 counties. Also, support for programs to help these children dropped significantly, the report said.

  • Tucson streetcars to start running Friday

    TUCSON, Ariz. (AP) — A new streetcar system will start running Friday in Tucson in a major milestone for the nearly $200 million public transportation project. Construction began in 2012 on the nearly 4-mile Sun Link streetcar line — an 18-stop route that connects the University of Arizona with the downtown area. Each of the eight streetcars can carry about 150 people. Politicians including U.S. Reps. Raul Grijalva and Ron Barber, D-Ariz., were in Tucson on Monday as part of a series of events celebrating the start of the line. Grijalva said he saw potential in the streetcar back in 2003, when he helped open the door for federal funding that contributed to the project. Other funding for the streetcar came from private and public sources, including Pima County's sales tax. "We got behind it early," he said in Tuesday's Arizona Daily Star. "I knew what it could mean for the city." Grijalva found that there was little support for public transit projects like the streetcar in Congress. However, he thinks the Sun Link will serve as a good example. "This will help change some attitudes about what a project like this can do for a community," he said. Sun Link officials and backers of the project believe the line will boost the local economy, especially as new businesses sprout up along the route. "We think it's going to bring a lot of new business," said Debbie Chandler, executive director of the Fourth Avenue Merchants Association. "We did the hard part, now it's time to reap the glory." Motorists, bicyclists and pedestrians will need to learn to share the road with the new streetcars once the Sun Link starts running. Bicyclists may find that they have less room on some roads because of the streetcar's tracks and drivers will need to watch where they park so that they don't halt the route by getting in the line's way.

  • Obama nominee McDonald pledges to 'transform' VA

    WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama's choice to lead the Department of Veterans Affairs pledged Tuesday to transform the beleaguered agency, saying that "systematic failures" must be addressed. Robert McDonald cited problems with patient access to health care, transparency, accountability and integrity, among other issues. "The seriousness of the moment demands urgent action," McDonald told the Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee. "The VA is in crisis. The veterans are in need. There is a lot of work to do to transform the department and it will not be easy, but it is essential and can be achieved." McDonald, 61, a former Procter & Gamble CEO and an Army veteran, said taking care of veterans is personal for him. His father served in the Army Air Corps after World War II, and his wife's father was shot down over Europe and survived harsh treatment as a prisoner of war. Another relative was exposed to Agent Orange in Vietnam and receives care from the VA, McDonald said, and a nephew is in the Air Force, deployed in the Middle East. If confirmed by the Senate, McDonald said he would take a series of actions over his first 90 days "to deliver the needed reforms our veterans deserve." He said he plans to lay out a veteran-centered vision for the department and improve communication within the vast agency, which includes more than 300,000 employees in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. His plan includes frequent video conferences with employees and extensive travel to field offices around the country, he said. No opposition surfaced during the 2 ½-hour hearing, and senators from both parties said McDonald appeared headed to easy confirmation. "I believe, based on what I heard, you are going to be confirmed, and I hope that is the case," Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., the chairman of the Senate veterans panel, told McDonald as the hearing ended. The Senate panel will vote Wednesday on McDonald's nomination, Sanders said, with a vote by the full Senate likely before the August recess. Republican Sen. Jerry Moran of Kansas was among a host of Republicans to declare support for McDonald, a Republican who supported GOP nominee Mitt Romney in the 2012 presidential election. Moran was the first senator to call for Eric Shinseki to step down as VA secretary this spring. Shinseki resigned May 30 amid a growing uproar over treatment delays and falsified records at VA hospitals and clinics nationwide, including reports that dozens died awaiting treatment. The VA's acting inspector general has confirmed investigations of possible wrongdoing at 87 VA medical facilities nationwide. Moran, who met with McDonald last week, said he was impressed by the nominee's "candor, sincerity and commitment to serving" veterans. "The VA bureaucracy must be dismantled and Mr. McDonald is focused and ready to take on the many challenges that lie ahead," Moran said. Sanders also said he was impressed with McDonald. "I believe that his years of military service will make him a very strong advocate for veterans, and that his corporate leadership gives him the experience to bring about the management changes — in terms of accountability and transparency — that the VA needs," Sanders said. The path for a bill to reform the VA is decidedly rockier. The Senate approved a bill last month authorizing $35 billion through 2016 to build new clinics, hire doctors and make it easier for veterans who can't get prompt appointments with VA doctors to get outside care. The measure closely tracks a bill passed by the House, but lawmakers have balked at the Senate measure's price tag. Congressional budget analysts project it could end up costing the government about $38 billion a year — almost as much as the $44 billion the government now spends annually on medical care for veterans. On Monday, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid assailed his Republican colleagues, saying they appeared unwilling to spend the money needed to address a VA crisis involving prolonged treatment delays and falsified appointment records to cover up long wait times. Reid said Monday that efforts to pass a bill appeared likely to "come back to nothing." On Tuesday he was more optimistic, citing work by Sanders and other senators Asked if a Senate vote on the bill was likely before the August recess, Reid said, "I sure hope so." Sanders said he and House Veterans' Affairs Committee Chairman Jeff Miller, R-Fla., were working hard to reach an agreement. "Given the ideological differences between the House and the Senate, these are very tough negotiations, but I still hope and believe that we can come to an agreement" before Congress adjourns early next month, Sanders said. Miller has said a temporary infusion of cash is needed to fix the VA's problems over the next two years, but a long-term solution requires a fundamental change in the way the department operates. He said late Monday he was confident a deal is within reach if the two sides "remain focused on the issues that are within the scope" of the House and Senate-passed VA reform measures.

  • Film, TV legend James Garner, reluctant hero, dies

    NEW YORK (AP) — Few actors could register disbelief, exasperation or annoyance with more comic subtlety. James Garner had a way of widening his eyes while the corner of his mouth sagged ever so slightly. Maybe he would swallow once to further make his point. This portrait of fleeting disquiet could be understood, and identified with, by every member of the audience. Never mind Garner was tall, brawny and, well, movie-star handsome. The persona he perfected was never less than manly, good with his dukes and charming to the ladies, but his heroics were kept human-scale thanks to his gift for the comic turn. He remained one of the people. He burst on the scene with this disarming style in the 1950s TV Western "Maverick," which led to a stellar career in TV and films such as "The Rockford Files" and his Oscar-nominated "Murphy's Romance." The 86-year-old Garner, who was found dead of natural causes at his Los Angeles home on Saturday, was adept at drama and action. But he was best known for his low-key, wisecracking style, especially on his hit TV series, "Maverick" and "The Rockford Files." His quick-witted avoidance of conflict offered a refreshing new take on the American hero, contrasting with the blunt toughness of John Wayne and the laconic trigger-happiness of Clint Eastwood. There's no better display of Garner's everyman majesty than the NBC series "The Rockford Files" (1974-80). He played an L.A. private eye and wrongly jailed ex-con who seemed to rarely get paid, or even get thanks, for the cases he took, while helplessly getting drawn into trouble to help someone who was neither a client nor maybe even a friend. He lived in a trailer with an answering machine that, in the show's opening titles, always took a message that had nothing to do with a paying job, but more often was a complaining call from a cranky creditor. Through it all, Jim Rockford, however down on his luck, persevered hopefully. He wore the veneer of a cynic, but led with his heart. Putting all that on screen was Garner's magic. Well into his 70s, the handsome Oklahoman remained active in both TV and film. In 2002, he was Sandra Bullock's father in the film "Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood." The following year, he joined the cast of "8 Simple Rules ... For Dating My Teenage Daughter," playing the grandfather on the sitcom — and helping ground it with his reassuring presence — after star John Ritter, who played the father, died during the show's second season. He even scored in commercials. During the late 1970s, he was paired with actress Mariette Hartley in a popular series of ads for Polaroid cameras. Their on-screen banter felt so authentic that many viewers mistakenly believed they were husband and wife. When Garner received the Screen Actors Guild's lifetime achievement award in 2005, he quipped, "I'm not at all sure how I got here." But in his 2011 memoir, "The Garner Files," he provided some amusing and enlightening clues, including his penchant for bluntly expressed opinions and a practice for decking people who said something nasty to his face — including an obnoxious fan and an abusive stepmother. And when he suspected his studio of cheating him on residual payments — a not-unheard-of condition in Hollywood — Garner spoke out loudly and fought back with lawsuits. They all deserved it, Garner declared in his book. It was in 1957 when the ABC network, desperate to compete on ratings-rich Sunday night, scheduled "Maverick" against CBS's powerhouse "The Ed Sullivan Show" and NBC's "The Steve Allen Show." To everyone's surprise — except Garner's— "Maverick" soon outpolled them both. At a time when the networks were awash with hard-eyed, traditional Western heroes, Bret Maverick provided a breath of fresh air. With his sardonic tone and his eagerness to talk his way out of a squabble rather than pull out his six-shooter, the con-artist Westerner seemed to scoff at the genre's values. After a couple of years, Garner felt the series was losing its creative edge, and he found a legal loophole to escape his contract in 1960. His first film after "Maverick" established him as a movie actor. It was "The Children's Hour," William Wyler's remake of Lillian Hellman's lesbian drama that co-starred Audrey Hepburn and Shirley MacLaine. He followed in a successful comedy with Kim Novak, "Boys Night Out," and then established his box-office appeal with the 1963 blockbuster war drama "The Great Escape" and two smash comedies with Doris Day — "The Thrill of It All" and "Move Over Darling." Throughout his film career, Garner demonstrated his versatility in comedies ("The Art of Love," ''A Man Could Get Killed," ''Skin Game"), suspense ("36 Hours," ''They Only Kill Their Masters," ''Marlowe"), and Westerns ("Duel at Diablo," ''Hour of the Gun," ''Support Your Local Gunfighter"). In the 1966 racing film "Grand Prix" he starred as an American driver in the Formula One series. Garner, who loved auto racing, formed and owned the American International Racers auto racing team from 1967 through 1969, and drove the pace car at the Indianapolis 500 in 1975, 1977 and 1985. In the 1980s and 1990s, when most stars his age were considered over the hill, Garner's career remained strong. He played a supporting role as a marshal in the 1994 "Maverick," a big-screen return to the TV series with Mel Gibson in Garner's old title role. His only Oscar nomination came for the 1985 "Murphy's Romance," a comedy about a small-town love relationship in which he co-starred with Sally Field. He starred in a musical, "Victor/Victoria" (1982), and a romantic drama, "The Notebook" (2004). His favorite film, though, was the cynical 1964 war drama "The Americanization of Emily," which co-starred Julie Andrews. Unlike most film stars, Garner made repeated returns to television. The show he often cited as his favorite, "Nichols" (1971-72), and "Bret Maverick" (1981-82) were short-lived, but "The Rockford Files" proved a solid hit, bringing him an Emmy. Among his notable TV movies: "Barbarians at the Gate" (as tycoon F. Ross Johnson), "Breathing Lessons," ''The Promise," ''My Name Is Bill W.," ''The Streets of Laredo" and "One Special Night." He said he learned about acting while playing a non-speaking role as a Navy juror in the 1954 Broadway hit play "The Caine Mutiny Court Martial," starring Henry Fonda and Lloyd Nolan. "I had no lines, and I had trouble staying awake," Garner recalled. After "Caine Mutiny," Garner found work in Hollywood as a bit player in the "Cheyenne" TV series. Warner Bros. gave him a screen test and signed him to a seven-year contract starting at $200 a week. The studio cast him in supporting roles in three minor films, followed by the important break as Marlon Brando's sidekick in "Sayonara." When Charlton Heston declined a war movie, "Darby's Rangers," because of a money dispute, Garner assumed the role. "Maverick," which co-starred Jack Kelly as brother Bart Maverick, made its debut on Sept. 22, 1957, launching him as a star. Garner was born James Scott Bumgarner (some references say Baumgarner) in Norman, Oklahoma. His mother died when he was 5, and friends and relatives cared for him and his two brothers for a time while his father was in California. In 1957, Garner married TV actress Lois Clarke, who survives him. She had a daughter Kimberly from a previous marriage, and the Garners had another daughter, Gretta Scott. In the late 1990s, the Garners built a 12,000-square-foot house on a 400-acre ranch north of Santa Barbara, California. "My wife and I felt ... we'd just watch the sunset from the front porch," Garner said in 2000. "But then the phone started ringing with all these wonderful offers, and we decided, 'Heck, let's stay in the business for a while.'"

  • 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."

  • Elaine Stritch, brash stage performer, dies at 89

    NEW YORK (AP) — Elaine Stritch, the brash theater performer whose gravelly, gin-laced voice and impeccable comic timing made her a Broadway legend, has died. She was 89. Joseph Rosenthal, Stritch's longtime attorney, said the actress died Thursday of natural causes at her home in Birmingham, Michigan. Although Stritch appeared in movies and on television, garnering three Emmys and finding new fans as Alec Baldwin's unforgiving mother on "30 Rock," she was best known for her stage work, particularly in her candid one-woman memoir, "Elaine Stritch: At Liberty," and in the Stephen Sondheim musical "Company." A tart-tongued monument to New York show business endurance, Stritch worked well into her late 80s, most recently as Madame Armfeldt in a revival of Sondheim's musical "A Little Night Music." She replaced Angela Lansbury in 2010 to critical acclaim. In 2013, Stritch — whose signature "no pants" style was wearing a loose-fitting white shirt over sheer black tights — retired to Michigan after 71 years in New York City and made a series of farewell performances at the Carlyle Hotel: "Elaine Stritch at the Carlyle: Movin' Over and Out." She said she suffered from diabetes, a broken hip and memory loss — all of which she nakedly and unapologetically documented in the film "Elaine Stritch: Shoot Me," a documentary released in February. "I like the courage of age," Stritch said in the film, one she participated in grudgingly. One scene captured her in a hospital bed, reflecting: "It's time for me, and I can feel it everywhere." Stritch's death immediately sent shockwaves through Broadway and entertainment. Lena Dunham said on Twitter, "Here's to the lady who lunched: Elaine Stritch, we love you. May your heaven be a booze-soaked, no-pants solo show at the Carlyle." Stritch was a striking woman, with a quick wit, a shock of blond hair and great legs. She showed them off most elegantly in "At Liberty," wearing a loose fitting white shirt, high heels and black tights. In the show, the actress told the story of her life — with all its ups, downs and in-betweens. She frankly discussed her stage fright, missed showbiz opportunities, alcoholism, battle with diabetes and love life, all interspersed with songs she often sang onstage. "What's this all been about then — this existential problem in tights," Stritch said of herself at the end of the solo show, which opened off-Broadway in November 2001, transferred to Broadway the following February and later toured. It earned her a Tony Award in 2002 and an Emmy when it was later televised on HBO. "I think I know what I have been doing up here tonight. I've been reclaiming a lot of my life that I wasn't honestly and truly there for," she said. "It almost all happened without me but I caught up." In "Company" (1970), Stritch played the acerbic Joanne, delivering a lacerating version of "The Ladies Who Lunch," a classic Sondheim song dissecting the modern Manhattan matron. Stritch originated the role in New York and then appeared in the London production. Among her other notable Broadway appearances were as Grace, the owner of a small-town Kansas restaurant in William Inge's "Bus Stop" (1955), and as a harried cruise-ship social director in the Noel Coward musical "Sail Away" (1961). She also appeared in revivals of "Show Boat" (1994), in which she played the cantankerous Parthy Ann Hawks, and Edward Albee's "A Delicate Balance" (1996), portraying a tart-tongued, upper-crust alcoholic. Each generation found her relevant and hip. She was parodied in 2010 on an episode of "The Simpsons" in which Lisa Simpson attends a fancy performing arts camp. One class was on making wallets with Elaine Stritch and Andrew Lloyd Webber. Stritch got a kick out of it. "That's worth being in the business for 150 years," she said with a laugh. Stritch's films include "A Farewell to Arms" (1957), "Who Killed Teddy Bear?" (1965), Alain Resnais' "Providence" (1977), "Out to Sea" (1997), and Woody Allen's "September" (1987) and "Small Time Crooks" (2000). She also appeared in many American TV series, most notably a guest spot on "Law & Order" in 1990, which won Stritch her first Emmy. Back in 1950, she played Trixie, Ed Norton's wife, in an early segment of "The Honeymooners," then a recurring sketch on Jackie Gleason's variety show "Cavalcade of Stars." But she was replaced by Joyce Randolph after one appearance. More than a half-century later, Stritch was back at the top of the sitcom pyramid with a recurring role in "30 Rock," winning her another Emmy in 2007 as best guest actress in a comedy. She was also well known to TV audiences in England, where she starred with Donald Sinden in the sitcom "Two's Company" (1975-79), playing an American mystery writer to Sinden's unflappable British butler. Stritch also starred in "Nobody's Perfect" (1980-1982), appearing with Richard Griffiths in this British version of the American hit "Maude." She starred in the London stage productions of Neil Simon's "The Gingerbread Lady" and Tennessee Williams' "Small Craft Warnings." It was in England that Stritch met and married actor John Bay. They were married for 10 years. He died of a brain tumor in 1982. Born Feb. 2, 1925, in Detroit, Stritch was the daughter of a Michigan business executive. She attended a Roman Catholic girls school and came to New York to study acting in 1944 with Erwin Piscator at the Dramatic Workshop of the New School for Social Research. Stritch made her Broadway debut in 1946 in "Loco," a short-lived comedy by Dale Eunson and Katherine Albert. She was first noticed by the critics and audiences in the 1947 revue "Angel in the Wings." In it, she sang the hit novelty song "Civilization," which includes the immortal lyrics, "Bongo, Bongo, Bongo, I don't want to leave the Congo." The actress understudied Ethel Merman in the Irving Berlin musical, "Call Me Madam" (1950). Stritch never went on for Merman in the role of Sally Adams, vaguely modeled after Washington party-giver Perle Mesta, but she did take over the part when the show went out on the road. Stritch then appeared in revivals of two Rodgers and Hart musicals, "Pal Joey" (1952), in which she stripteased her way through "Zip," and "On Your Toes" (1954). The actress won good notices for "Goldilocks" (1958), a musical about the early days of movie-making, but the show, which also starred Don Ameche, was not a success. She became good friends with Noel Coward after appearing on Broadway and in London in "Sail Away," playing that harassed cruise-ship social director. The performer brought down the house by warbling a deft Coward ditty called "Why Do the Wrong People Travel?" But Sondheim songs became her specialty, too. Stritch sang "Broadway Baby" in a historic 1984 concert version of Sondheim's "Follies," performed at Lincoln Center's Avery Fisher Hall. The concert, which also featured Lee Remick, Barbara Cook, Mandy Patinkin and George Hearn, was recorded by RCA. In "At Liberty," she delivered "I'm Still Here," Sondheim's hymn to show-business survival, a number she once described as "one of the greatest musical theater songs ever written." In 2005, after nearly 60 years in show business, Stritch made her solo club act debut, appearing at New York's posh Carlyle Hotel and was brought back frequently. She lived in the Carlyle's Room 309 for a decade. A documentary, "Elaine Stritch: Shoot Me," premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival the week before she left New York, showing a feisty Stritch as she reacted with anger, frustration and acceptance at her increasingly evident mortality. Asked what she thought of the film, she replied: "It's not my cup of tea on a warm afternoon in May." The film was released in 2014. In the recent Broadway revival of "A Little Night Music," Stritch played a wheelchair-bound aristocrat who offers dry and hysterical pronouncements in her half-dozen scenes, and mourned the loss of standards in her big song "Liaisons," in which she looked back on her profitable sexual conquests of dukes and barons. She might as well have been speaking of theater itself. "Where is skill?" she asked. "Where's passion in the art, where's craft?" "You know where I'm at in age?" she said backstage, in her typical wit and sass. "I don't need anything. That's a little scary — when you know that the last two bras you bought are it. You won't need any more. I'm not going to live long for any big, new discovery at Victoria's Secret."

  • 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."

  • Toyota raises stakes with hydrogen fuel cell

    Tokyo • Rocket science long dismissed as too impractical and expensive for everyday cars is getting a push into the mainstream by Toyota, the world’s top-selling automaker.Buoyed by its success with electric-gasoline hybrid vehicles, Toyota is betting that drivers will embrace hydrogen fuel cells, an even cleaner technology that runs on the energy created by an electrochemical reaction when oxygen in the air combines with hydrogen stored as fuel.Unlike internal combustion engines which power most vehicles on roads today, a pure hydrogen fuel cell emits no exhaust, only some heat and a trickle of pure water. Fuel cells also boast greater efficiency than the internal combustion process, which expends about two-thirds of the energy in gasoline as heat.Toyota’s fuel cell car will go on sale before April next year. Despite advantages that are seemingly compelling, the technology has struggled to move beyond its prototypes after several decades of research and development by industry and backing from governments.For the auto industry in particular, there have been significant hurdles to commercialization including the prohibitive expense of such vehicles. On top of that, fueling stations are almost nonexistent. Doubters also quibble about the green credentials of fuel cells because hydrogen is produced from fossil fuels.But Satoshi Ogiso, the engineer leading the Toyota project, is confident there’s a market that will grow in significance over time.

Featured columns

  • OPINION: U.S. needs to be mindful of its limitations in Middle East

    The problem with the Middle East is there are no good answers from an American point of view. The Middle East is dominated by Muslim majority countries and Shia Muslims and Sunni Muslims have been at war with each other since they split after founder Muhammad’s death.  At the end of World War I, the Ottoman Empire was defeated and split up by the European victors, forming the current set of states in the Middle East. The Ottoman Empire, a Muslim empire, was the pride of Muslims, and its defeat is the historic shame of the Muslims.Many Muslim leaders have promised a return of power and pride in an attempt to unite Muslims. None have succeeded but the current leader of the Islamic State that has so dramatically overtaken parts of Syria and Iraq is having a go at this message.Regardless of the reasons or the blame, the Middle East has defied attempts to tame it, whether Russia in Afghanistan or the United States in Iraq and Afghanistan. The Muslims of the Middle East are not controllable except by force whether by non-Muslims or Muslims. So it’s not a matter of what we or anyone else wants. It’s what the incontrovertible nature of what Muslims want.They are in the majority, and they have an insatiable desire to dominate non-Muslims as well as Muslims of the other sect.  Since it is not in our nature to take over a country and own it, we do not have a viable solution to this problem. Therefore whatever action we were to engage in over there, we are not likely to achieve our long-term goal. So rather than attempting to control the situation or the outcome, it seems to me our best strategy is to create an excellent defense against the possible outcomes.We currently have an ally, despite President Obama’s best attempt to create distrust of us by that ally, in Israel. They are strong, they are competent and they wish us no harm. Therefore we should support them intensely. The Kurds of northern Iraq have been friendly toward us even before we ousted Saddam Hussein, and they have demonstrated they are strong and competent. We should support them intensely and disregard the idea that they are part of Iraq. We are not going to control this outcome, and Iraq is not going to survive as a country.

  • It’s never too late to make growth choices

    What are your choices?Making the right choices is a challenge in many areas of our lives.I looked up the word choice in my dictionary and found some key words that indicate what I have in mind.“The power of choosing an option or alternative,” or “the best part of anything.” Well, I believe we have the power of choosing the best part.We have all heard the expression, “You are what you eat.”  Better yet, you are what you choose, or another approach, you are what you think.And yes, we can choose to change what we think, what we feel and even what we are.

  • Tip sheet on gambling income and losses

    Whether you like to play the ponies, roll the dice or pull the slots, your gambling winnings are taxable. You must report all of your gambling winnings on your tax return. If you’re a casual gambler, the following are basic tax tips that can help you at tax time next year:• Gambling income. Gambling income includes winnings from lotteries, horse racing and casinos. It includes the fair market value of prizes you win like cars and trips. It also includes cash prizes including the ones that banks give to entice you to open up a checking account.• Tax form. If you win, you may get a Form W-2G, “Gambling Winnings” from the payer. Remember that the IRS also gets a copy of this W-2G. The payer will issue the form depending on the type of game you played, the amount of your winnings and other factors. You’ll also get the form if the payer withholds taxes from your winnings.• How to report winnings. You must report all your gambling winnings as income. This is true even if you don’t receive a Form W-2G. You normally report your winnings for the year on your tax return on the “other income” line.• How to deduct losses. You can deduct your gambling losses only if you are able to use the Schedule A, Itemized Deductions form. The amount you can deduct is limited and cannot exceed the amount of the gambling income you report on your tax return.• Keep ALL your gambling receipts. You should keep track of both your wins and losses! This includes keeping items such as a gambling log or diary, receipts, statements or tickets. You will need it to substantiate the amount of any losses you claim against your winnings.

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