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  • Medicare’s five-star quality ratings

    The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) rates the relative quality of the private plans that are offered to Medicare beneficiaries through the Medicare Advantage program. CMS rates Medicare Advantage plans on a one- to five-star scale, the highest quality being five stars. This star rating provides an overall measure of the plan’s quality and is an indication of the quality of care, access to care, responsiveness, and beneficiary satisfaction provided by the Medicare Advantage plan. This means that the higher the star rating a plan receives, the more likely you are to receive the care you need, when and where you need it - and most of all, you are more likely to be satisfied with your plan.For each years’ star rating, CMS rates Medicare Advantage health plans based on 53 quality measures and 2 improvement measures. The information that is evaluated for the star rating comes from a comprehensive list of sources:◦ Customer surveys done by Medicare (you)◦ Information from clinicians (your doctors)◦ Information submitted by the Medicare Advantage plans◦ Results from Medicare's regular monitoring activities and

  • Robson cited for alleged tampering with campaign signs

    Republican State Rep. Bob Robson was cited Monday night for allegedly tampering with campaign signs after an incident that occurred near a Circle K store on Aug. 9.The Maricopa County Sheriff’s Department (MCSO) confirmed Tuesday that Robson was cited with the misdemeanor offense around 10 p.m. Monday in Chandler. Robson is suspected of being involved in the unlawful removal of a campaign sign. A court date has been set in a Chandler Superior Court.Witnesses of the alleged crime say it happened on Saturday, Aug. 9 around 9:45 p.m. at a Circle K near Dobson and Warner roads. A man was seen picking up a sign, shredding it and throwing it into a garbage can before climbing into a truck with a license plate that reads “ROBSON.” The driver of the truck never left the vehicle. The man seen exiting and entering the vehicle has not been identified.The witness was able to capture some video of the man getting back into the truck and the truck leaving the parking lot but the driver and passenger are not identifiable and the crime was not captured on the video. The video itself has no time stamp. Mike Richardson, a precinct committeeman in Legislative District 18 and the man responsible for the sign that was destroyed, said he understands MCSO was able to get security footage from the Circle K that captured the crime. MCSO is not confirming at this time that video exists.Richardson and other volunteers have been placing “Arrow of truth” signs across the Valley for weeks, pointing out incumbent legislators who voted in favor of the Medicaid expansion in Arizona. The signs read “Voted for Obamacare.” (Robson has said several times he did not vote for the federal Affordable Care Act as he is not in a federal office).The signs started going missing around July 9, Richardson said. His group decided to put up several signs in one night and then watch them.

  • Gilbert Public Schools places Gilbert High football coach on paid leave

    The Gilbert Public Schools district has placed Gilbert High School football coach Tim Rutt on paid administrative leave.District Chief of Staff Alex Nardone said in an email the district placed Rutt on administrative leave with pay on Aug. 14 due to Rutt’s involvement in a police investigation.Gilbert Police Department spokesperson Jesse Sanger said the investigation, which is in its initial stages, is based on allegations that Rutt had misappropriated items valued at approximately $2,000 that were donated by one of the school’s booster clubs. Sanger said he was not sure if charges could come from the investigation, but said the most likely would be related to misdemeanor theft.Nardone said the district is unable to provide comment about the situation because of the police investigation into it.Rutt, whose team went 2-8 last year, was hired in advance of the 2013 football season after serving as an assistant at Basha High School. He also worked at Hamilton High School for more than a decade and played at Mesa Community College and Corona del Sol High School.

  • 2 taken to hospital after Mesa house fire

    Two people have been taken to a local hospital after a Tuesday morning house fire, officials said.Mesa Fire Captain Bob Tribbensee said crews responded to a working house fire near Stapley Drive and Main Street in Mesa around 4 a.m.He said the fire was found in a carport and then extended into the attic.Two patients were taken to Maricopa Medical Center, however, their injuries are unknown.No other details were immediately released.

  • Mercy Gilbert launches program to help hospital staff cope with emotional weight

    A new program offered at Mercy Gilbert Medical Center has provided caregivers an outlet to discuss emotional issues related to their field.Called the Schwartz Center Rounds, the voluntary program is a series of open forums that allows hospital staff, including doctors, nurses and social workers, a place vocalize the emotional distresses they face on a day-to-day basis. It’s the kind of problems Marty Breeden, the center’s vice president of mission integration, said “keeps us awake at 2 o’clock in the morning.”“Some people do keep things in, but that’s a chance to get things out,” said Desiree Hernandez, who serves as a social worker at Mercy Gilbert. “It’s not necessarily that we hold it in, but we’re so busy.”Breeden said the idea behind the forums is to “help the people who help the people,” and emphasize the human side of their industry. It’s not an easy thing to do, as Hernandez said staff members have a difficult time taking care of themselves due in large part to the hectic schedules she referenced.Mercy Gilbert hosted the first in its series on July 23. Breeden said the expectations for the number of attendees were low, but the event ended up attracting nearly 100 attendees from several departments.That was one of the incentives for Hernandez, as she said the split of doctors, nurses, social workers and ancillary hospital staff offered several viewpoints and different perspectives on the stresses they face.

  • Woman sexually assaulted at Chandler Fashion Square

    Authorities are asking for the public's help identifying a man who sexually assaulted a woman in the parking lot of Chandler Fashion Square mall.Chandler Police Sgt. Joe Favazzo said the incident happened between 12:45 a.m. and 1 am Saturday near Buffalo Wild Wings and the theaters.Favazzo said evidence indicates the suspect followed the victim to the parking lot and was not already on mall property.The suspect is described as a Hispanic male, approximately 5 feet 7 inches to 5 feet 10 inches tall with dark hair that is about two or three inches long. He was wearing a dark, short sleeved shirt, long pants and dark colored shoes at the time of the assault.Surveillance video showed the suspect driving a red, 2-door passenger car with light colored rims or possibly having wheel covers.Anyone with information regarding the sexual assault suspect is encouraged to call Chandler police at 480-782-4130 or Silent Witness at 480-WITNESS or silentwitness.org.

  • Photos: Ice Bucket Challenge at T.C. Eggington's

    Supporters raise $3000 during the Ice Bucket Challenge to support ALS at T.C. Eggington's in Mesa on Sunday, Aug. 17, 2014. 

  • Photos: Meet the Creature

    Meet the Creature program in Chandler's Environmental Education Center at Chandler's Veterans Oasis Park on Saturday, June 14, 2014.

  • Library moves beyond just book-borrowing

    When Mesa residents need to borrow a book, they can turn to the Mesa Public Library. But what about when they desire a little exercise in the park or want to bake a cake? Now, not only can residents check out their favorite classics on paper and disc from the library, they can also check out sports equipment and bakeware.The Stuff-brary, available in all of Mesa Public Library’s four branches, boasts a unique variety of items available for checkout, from more than a hundred cake pans to duffel bags filled with themed items.“We tried to think outside the box of what a library can provide for its community besides traditional media,” librarian MeLissa McAllister said. “There were similar systems going on in the library world, and we wanted to give patrons access to alternative materials they might need.”McAllister said it began with the need from many patrons for locks to secure their bicycles while visiting the library and expanded with a donation of cake pans. Among the items the Stuff-brary has for lending is a Play in the Park kit that features 14 pieces of sports equipment (including a football, soccer ball, frisbee and whiffle ball set) as well as a croquet set. The themed sets can also be checked out for a week, but with no options to hold or renew, and must be returned to the same location from which they were borrowed.The bike locks, which have been the most popular item, according to McAllister, can be checked out for the duration of patrons’ visits. Cake pans may vary by location and can be rented out for a week and returned to any location.“We don’t see anything on the horizon right now, because it’s so new,” McAllister said, “but we’re open to suggestions from our community for future items to include in the Stuff-brary.”

  • Green grows the gardens at Vision Gallery exhibit

    Whether it’s grandma’s garden, a desert landscape or a patch of green grass, our gardens enrich our lives with a certain serenity and calmness. A beautiful garden can whisk us away to another place and time. “Flourish: Artworks Inspired by Our Gardens,” on display at Vision Gallery in Chandler through Aug. 30, features textiles, ceramics, photography and mixed media by 50 Arizona artists focusing on natural, floral and botanical artworks.Vision Gallery is located at 10 E. Chicago St., Chandler. It is open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday. More information is available at (480) 782-2695 or VisionGallery.org.

  • Little life left in new 'Expendables' film

    It took all of two seconds for me to lose any enthusiasm for the “Expendables 3,” and an additional three seconds to realize how stupid the additional two-plus more hours of screen time would be. It came from on-screen text to inform the audience the train they’re seeing on screen is an “armored prison transport,” which is made quite clear once star Sylvester Stallone and his compatriots start shooting the heck out of that thing. What that reveals is a supercilious attitude of the audience's ability to decipher the action on screen – a habit the filmmakers fall back on repeatedly – and an overarching inability to do something interesting with staid material.I'm admittedly a novice into what is now the “Expendables” series – I elided right over films one and two – but the gist of the storyline is simple enough. There's a ragtag crew headed by a melting Stallone that includes Jason Statham, Randy Couture, Dolph Lundgren, Terry Crews and new member Wesley Snipes, who are paid to capture a bad guy played by the nefarious Mel Gibson.The crew inevitably fails because they’re too old, apparently, which leads Stallone to assemble a new team (with Kelsey Grammer's assistance) with younger blood in the form of Ronda Rousey, Kellan Lutz, Victor Ortiz and Glen Powell. I’m still not sure why this is necessary, as Stallone is the one tipping the age scale further to the AARP side of the spectrum, but whatever.The infusion of youth backfires, of course, and Stallone has to rescue his new younger teammates and maybe get the band back together and make everyone work as a team and a family or something. Oh, and Harrison Ford, Jet Li, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Antonio Banderas stop by to shoot people.Three graphs of roundup and I'm already bored with “Expendable 3's” plot machinations, which lumber along at a less than thrilling clip. The film is just overstuffed with abundance and scenes whose only significance is to add screen time for the stars (Gibson has a couple of these instances) or to showcase the stars’ special talents (in this case fight scenes with Statham and MMA star Rousey). “Expendables 3” is an excellent example of the law of diminishing returns: Adding more elements, in this case action stars, to a production of any sort can lead to a reduction in satisfaction after a certain threshold is passed.Perhaps cutting off a star or two – maybe Couture and Powell – could have boosted the CGI budget to push the special effects slightly above straight-to-VOD caliber. For a film that's major selling point is action scenes, the effects behind those scenes – in particular any helicopters, cars or airplanes – are surprisingly choppy and are more befitting a Star Fox game than a big-budget motion picture.

  • Cocktail of the Month: Caribbean Kilt

    We love recipes that are quick, simple and taste like a million bucks, so it comes as no surprise that we’re dying to try this übereasy cocktail from Tilted Kilt in Tempe.IngredientsIceLime wedge1 oz. Cruzan Light Rum1 oz. Cruzan Dark Rum

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  • Medicare’s five-star quality ratings

    The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) rates the relative quality of the private plans that are offered to Medicare beneficiaries through the Medicare Advantage program. CMS rates Medicare Advantage plans on a one- to five-star scale, the highest quality being five stars. This star rating provides an overall measure of the plan’s quality and is an indication of the quality of care, access to care, responsiveness, and beneficiary satisfaction provided by the Medicare Advantage plan. This means that the higher the star rating a plan receives, the more likely you are to receive the care you need, when and where you need it - and most of all, you are more likely to be satisfied with your plan.For each years’ star rating, CMS rates Medicare Advantage health plans based on 53 quality measures and 2 improvement measures. The information that is evaluated for the star rating comes from a comprehensive list of sources:◦ Customer surveys done by Medicare (you)◦ Information from clinicians (your doctors)◦ Information submitted by the Medicare Advantage plans◦ Results from Medicare's regular monitoring activities and

  • Tempe luncheon to showcase Sun Devil football

    On Aug. 22, the 14th annual ASU Sun Devil Football Kickoff Luncheon takes place at the Tempe Mission Palms Hotel from 12:30 – 2:30. Open to the public, it features a talk by Head coach Todd Graham about the season’s plans and expectations, along with a question and answer session with star players conducted by “Voice of the Sun Devils” Tim Healey and Rose Bowl winning QB Jeff Van Raaphorst.Sparky, the ASU Spirit Squad and the Dixie Devils will be on hand to set the energetic tone of the luncheon. Fans will hear from the coaches and players not only from the stage, but also at each of the luncheon tables which host a member of the team during the event. It’s a unique opportunity for local fans to show their Sun Devil spirit while speaking one-on-one with the athletes and coaches.The Tempe Chamber of Commerce, ASU Sun Devil Club and ASU Alumni Association will present the event.Visit www.tempechamber.org or call 480-967-7891 for more information or to register.Nat Segal is a Tempe resident. 

  • Mercy Gilbert launches program to help hospital staff cope with emotional weight

    A new program offered at Mercy Gilbert Medical Center has provided caregivers an outlet to discuss emotional issues related to their field.Called the Schwartz Center Rounds, the voluntary program is a series of open forums that allows hospital staff, including doctors, nurses and social workers, a place vocalize the emotional distresses they face on a day-to-day basis. It’s the kind of problems Marty Breeden, the center’s vice president of mission integration, said “keeps us awake at 2 o’clock in the morning.”“Some people do keep things in, but that’s a chance to get things out,” said Desiree Hernandez, who serves as a social worker at Mercy Gilbert. “It’s not necessarily that we hold it in, but we’re so busy.”Breeden said the idea behind the forums is to “help the people who help the people,” and emphasize the human side of their industry. It’s not an easy thing to do, as Hernandez said staff members have a difficult time taking care of themselves due in large part to the hectic schedules she referenced.Mercy Gilbert hosted the first in its series on July 23. Breeden said the expectations for the number of attendees were low, but the event ended up attracting nearly 100 attendees from several departments.That was one of the incentives for Hernandez, as she said the split of doctors, nurses, social workers and ancillary hospital staff offered several viewpoints and different perspectives on the stresses they face.

  • Church’s to open at Arizona Mills in Tempe

    Church’s Chicken will open a location at Arizona Mills mall in Tempe on Aug. 23 beginning at 10 a.m.The first 200 people who arrive at the opening receive a free prize pack, and attendees can enter to win a Mongoose mountain bike, GoPro camera and a 32” LED TV. Food samples and children’s activities are also available.Arizona Mills is located at 5000 S. Arizona Mills Circle.

  • Tempe ranked top 5 best college town by Livability.com

    Tempe is one of the nation's top best college towns, according to Liveability.com.The Internet website posted its fifth annual listing Monday and said the home of Arizona State University "offers a big-city experience with all the amenities of a major metropolitan area mixed with a college-town atmosphere."Tempe, Ariz. was ranked no. 5 in the top ten list.The website touts the shops and bar-scene along Mill Avenue, nearby Sun Devil Stadium, ASU Gammage, Tempe Town Lake, and planty of bike paths and trails. The role ASU plays in Tempe's economy was also a factor.Liveability.com said it took a football-themed approach when making its top 10 list looking at conferences, as well as see how likely recent graduates would want to stay in the area.Liveability's Top 10 College Towns:

  • Eastmark community growing quietly in SE Mesa

    A whole new community is springing up in the southeastern part of Mesa and drawing a lot of attention. The Eastmark development, managed by DMB Associates Inc., is increasingly active and a lot more is going on there than Valley residents may realize.Eastmark is a development encompassing five square miles and includes everything from single-family homes to a plant manufacturing technology for Apple.It is one of the larger and more complex master-planned communities in the area, and the most ambitious for its developer, thus far.“We’ve looked at the project for a long time … and if you look at it in the context of the regional area, where it’s located, it’s got great access (to local highways). We’ve always looked at this property as an infill piece,” said Dea McDonald, senior vice president with DMB and Eastmark general manager.Residential community and parksPhase one of the community’s planned residential area is in progress and will include some 750 homes, ranging in size from approximately 1,500 to over 5,800 square feet.

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  • Engineering for Kids Summer Camp

    Engineering for Kids offering STEM Based Summer Camps at Primavera in Chandler. Announces Summer Camp Open House on May 17thWhat is East Valley Engineering for Kids?Engineering for Kids is an enrichment program that teaches concepts on a variety of engineering fields in classes and camps for kids’ ages 4-14. We want to spark an interest in the kids for science, technology and engineering. The camps are all themes based and require the kids to work in teams to address engineering challenges and problems. All programs meet national education standards for STEM and align with Common Core for math and science. Engineering for Kids has operated since 2009, is in 26 states and 4 countries. When and what is the open house for?The open house on May 17th is an opportunity for parents to come and see the facility, meet the staff from Engineering for Kids, and get their questions answered. The summer camps will be offered at Primavera Blended Learning Center at 2451 N. Arizona Avenue in Chandler. The open house is from 11 am to 3 pm.  From 1-2 pm we’re having our popular robotics workshop where the kids will build, program, test and improve the robots. At the end of the workshop, the kids will compete against each other in a Sumo Bot tournament. An RSVP is highly recommended as seating is limited. Please email your RSVP to eastvalley@engineeringforkids.net. What is Primavera Blended Learning Center?

  • Keeping the Faith: 'The preacher'

    I grew up with a lot of religious rules. To violate these rules was to subject oneself to the judgment of God. If you had a fundamentalist upbringing, you may be familiar with some of these restrictions. No drinking, no smoking, no dancing, no playing cards or going to the movies, no mixed-bathing (a prospect that intrigued my teenage mind), no Sabbath-breaking (though we did not actually gather on the Sabbath), and absolutely no questioning of religious authority.Religious authority was bound up in “The preacher.” The big Baptist downtown had a pastor. The Methodists had a seminary trained reverend. The Presbyterians had a collection of elders. The one fledgling Catholic parish on the edge of town had a priest. I didn’t meet a Jew until high school, so I didn’t even know what a rabbi was, but it would not have mattered anyway.In my narrow ecclesiastical world, we had The preacher, the Alpha and Omega of religious instruction; the united concoction of fiery prophet, hardened inquisitor, moral policeman, and God’s anointed spokesman. I was certain that he cut his grass in a pinstripe suit and wingtips, didn’t know a single curse word, and all his children were probably adopted because to have sex with his wife was certainly too worldly, too carnal to consider.See, the world in which the preacher lived was black and white with no shades of gray, no mystery, no ambiguities. There were only hard and fast certainties. You were in or you were out. If you wanted to know which you were, just ask him. He would tell you, and he used the pulpit to do exactly that.On Sundays he became an inferno of Puritan proportions. Animated, wringing with sweat, discarding his suit coat and loosening his tie, he implored and coerced us sinners down the isle to the mourner’s bench. It usually worked. Someone “repented” most every service, even if it took thirty verses of “Just as I Am” to force the issue. Those altar calls were nerve rattling wars of attrition, and sometimes I felt compelled to go forward so the whole thing would mercifully end.It was The preacher who arrived at the hospital on a spring afternoon to visit my family. My younger brother was enduring a lengthy hospitalization with a faulty heart valve and a growing laundry list of complications. Not yet a year old, he had already faced more health challenges than most of us will ever see. His life hung by the proverbial thread.

  • Coleman: Tell someone you love them

    Why is it that we see so much violence in the world? Why is it that there are so many wars and rumors of wars? Why is it that, in the news, we hear more about hate than love? If you’re like me, then you’ve heard enough bad news to last a lifetime.Day after day, we’re bombarded with images and news that push us to the brink of despair. If we were to only focus on the bad and terrible things happening here in our own country, and around the world, we would soon lose all hope.In the midst of the hustle and bustle of life, and in the midst of uncertainty about the future, we pause to remember the greatest thing we’ve ever heard, “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him, shall not perish, but have everlasting life.”These words bring calmness to our anxious minds and hearts. For they tell us that there is a God who created all things, and loves His creation. Not only does He love His creation, but He sent Jesus to His creation, in order to save it.We clearly understand from Scripture that God is almighty, all-knowing, all-seeing. In addition to these qualities, God is holy, or without sin. He demands for His creation to be holy, too. Every single person has fallen short of perfection. There is no one in the world who would have the audacity to claim to be perfect. At least, I don’t think anyone would claim to be perfect. Nowadays, you can’t take anything for granted.God loves His creation, and sent Jesus to make His creation holy, by taking away the world’s sin, and by giving the world, His own perfection. John 3:16 tells it all: “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have everlasting life.” John 3:17 then is the cherry on top: “For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world, through Him, might be saved.”

  • Take me Home: Handsome Crosby is fun, playful

    One-year-old Crosby is an incredibly handsome little guy with bold orange markings and striking orange eyes. This sweet boy is very friendly yet charmingly shy at the same time. He warms up quickly though and turns into a total pushover once he knows you’re there to pet him or ring the dinner bell.Crosby is a very affectionate guy who loves one-on-one time with his people. When he wants attention, he’ll rub against you and softly head butt you to say hello. Purring commences immediately upon being petted, especially if the petting includes ear rubs and chin scratches. He also enjoys being brushed. His purr motor gets even louder when he scores the opportunity to snuggle in your lap. Whether he’s lying next to you, on you, or being held, Crosby will be content because he is with you. Hugs, kisses and conversation suit him just fine as well.He is quite curious — a trait that marries up quite nicely to the fact that Crosby loves playtime. He will play with just about anything you offer him. Dangle a toy mouse or stuffed toy in front of him and he’ll take it away from you only to bat it across the floor until he once again captures it and bunny kicks it into submission. Crosby is also a fan of swizzle and feather wands, taking great delight in capturing them and proudly dragging them to his lair.Attach a stuffed toy to the end of a wand and it is the best of both worlds— Crosby will skid across the room and fly through the air in his efforts to capture the toy. Crosby gets along well with other friendly kitties and enjoys their companionship.If interested in learning more about Crosby, fill out an application for him today at www.azrescue.org.

  • Living roofs take root in wine country

    NAPA, Calif. — It's a warm day in the Napa Valley and the summer sun that turns the region's plump grapes into prized cabernet sauvignon is beating down on the Odette Estate winery.But inside the winery's production facility, temperatures are pleasant — with nary a whisper of air conditioning.The reason is Odette Estate's innovative roof, which combines 8,500 square feet of planted, living roof with 2,500 square feet of solar panels."It's really cool working underneath something you know is helping the environment and not impacting it in a negative way," says Christian Oggenfuss, director of marketing for Odette Estate. "I'm pretty proud, actually, that this spot right now is greener than it was when we started."Odette Estate, which opened recently, is part of a small but blossoming trend of green-roofed wineries.In Sonoma County, next door to the Napa Valley, Hamel Family Wines has a living roof on top of its production facility, part of a 124-acre property with panoramic views of the Sonoma Valley. In Oregon wine country, the Sokol Blosser winery has a green-roofed tasting room.

  • Gin shakes things up with aged, new products

    For a French cognac expert, Alexandre Gabriel has some interesting things to say about gin.Cognac, explains Gabriel, proprietor of Cognac Ferrand in Ars, France, is like classical music, replete with pages of regulations. "It's written and that's how you play it." Gin, on the other hand, has fewer rules, and after that "the only limit is your imagination."Lately, gin producers have been getting very imaginative, shaking things up with brown (aged) gins, new flavor profiles and even gins that aren't made from grains, like G'Vine, a grape-based gin.Take Gabriel, who started making Citadelle gin several years ago, taking advantage of cognac's "off-season" from the end of March to sometime in November. Cognac Ferrand's copper pot stills are cleaned and then used to distill gin, using the open-flame method required in making cognac, as opposed to steam-heated distillation.Starting in 2008, he began making an aged product, Citadelle Reserve, after discovering that 18th-century gins were inadvertently aged since the only way to get spirits from one place to another was in a barrel. "It was an 'Aha' moment," he says.Aged gin is a trend that's taken off with entries from producers large — Beefeater Burrough's Reserve Barrel Finished Gin — and small, such as the limited-edition Dry Rye Reposado Gin from St. George Spirits in San Francisco.

Video: Sunsplash Waterpark in Mesa

If you're not too chicken, there's still plenty of time this summer to drop in on the new Doub...

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