Arizona Horizon Banner

August 6, 2012

Host: Ted Simons

Arizona Giving and Leading: Back to School Clothing Drive

  |   Video
  • Karl Gentles, Executive Director of “Back to School Clothing Drive”, talks about the organization’s efforts to provide new school clothes and school supplies to children in need.
  • Karl Gentles - Executive Director, “Back to School Clothing Drive”
Category: Community   |   Keywords: back, school, clothing drive, children, ,

View Transcript
Ted Simons: On tonight's edition of Arizona Giving and Leading, we look at a program that helps thousands of Arizona students in need head back to school with clothes and books. Here to tell us about the back-to-school clothing drive is the organization's executive director, Karl Gentles. Thanks for joining us.

Karl Gentles: Thank you, Ted.

Ted Simons: Back-to-school clothing drive, new clothes, new beginnings.
Karl Gentles: The organization has been around for 45 years. We provide new uniforms and backpacks and school supplies for kids from Title I schools, which are basically high poverty schools. If you remember your first day of school, and your viewers remember, having a cool backpack and new clothes and all that -- that's really not what it's like for the kids that we serve. We come in and provide new clothes and school outfits for kids that truly need one.

Ted Simons: What is a Title I school?

Karl Gentles: It's basically a school in a low-income, high-poverty community. And so basically those kids are all on free or reduced lunch programs. Frankly a lot of those kids can't afford school supplies or uniforms.

Ted Simons: How are these kids eligible for the program? How are they selected? How are the schools selected?

Karl Gentles: Schools are K-6, all designated as title I public elementary schools. We don’t select the kids. We actually allocate a number of slots to the schools and we let the schools choose the children. Schools choose the children, bring them down to the big event, and they benefit.

Ted Simons: Looks like a lot of kids down there, a lot of books and clothes and socks, backpacks, the whole nine yards?

Karl Gentles: Everything a kid needs to prepare for the first day of school. That's what we do. We try to make sure we eliminate those barriers to learning, help increase their self-esteem and self-confidence. They all want to look great, I had a Batman backpack when I was growing up. That first day of school and beyond is really, really important. That's what we do.

Ted Simons: How many items of clothing would the average kid get?

Karl Gentles: The average kid gets about $300 in retail value clothes. If you have a family of four or five, that adds up pretty quickly. We offset that by giving about $300 in clothes. We provide about $1.8 million in retail value to the schools around the state.

Ted Simons: Are these clothes purchased from somewhere, donated? New clothes only or used clothes as well?

Karl Gentles: These are all brand-new clothes. We raise money all year around for this event during the summer and we have major donors. Legacy foundation, Bank of America, a number of other organizations and individuals, and they donate. We raise the money for the event. At the end of -- usually the event takes place in June and the kids come down to get the clothes they need, they get about $300 worth of school clothing.

Ted Simons: I'm sure they love those sneakers. What if you do have some slightly used clothes and you want to donate? There is a way to do that?

Karl Gentles: We encourage folks to donate those clothes perhaps to the Salvation Army or another organization. We are an organization that gives our kids brand-new school clothes, brand-new everything. Everything that your kids or my kids wear to school, that's what we give.

Ted Simons: I know you have what’s called a safe program. What does this do? Sounds like it's kind of a contingency, if a kid really doesn't have something and they are at school, you make sure they are properly attired and taken care of?

Karl Gentles: Right. We had a program in our organization for about seven, eight, nine years that was giving matching grants to schools. We created an online retail store. When schools came and got their matching grant, they turned around and buy the clothes from us. It's a social enterprise for a social good. It supports the schools and the kids, and all those net proceeds are reinvested back into the back-to-school clothing drive. It ultimately benefits those schools. We're generating revenue and earned income, and it's being reinvested back to help more kids. We're really proud of that program.

Ted Simons: Sounds like a closed system. You get the money, almost like living on a military base.

Karl Gentles: Well, yeah. What happens is, if you have $2500, you can come to us. We'll double that for you. That's our secret sauce. We match that, and you can get double the clothes you can get anyplace else. Right now there are about 199 schools involved. We've grown it from 30 schools just two years ago.

Ted Simons: Sounds like the Safe program that we're talking about, this is something that really isn't done anywhere else in the country, is it?

Karl Gentles: We are the only that we know of doing the matching grant and the online retail store. We are very proud of what we've done, we've created this from a group of 30 schools and it's grown to 199.

Ted Simons: My goodness. I'm guessing it's growing in a variety of ways that are not necessarily positive, in the sense that you've got a lot more kids to deal with than in the past.

Karl Gentles: The need continues to grow, it's heartbreaking. There are other organizations in the Valley that do somewhat similar things. The need is just outpacing the ability to -- to meet all of it. We do our part. Like I said, we distribute $1.8 million in retail clothing and merchandise. We serve -- I'll let you know we serve about 140 schools just in that summer program, and another 199 through our Safe program. We're doing what we can.

Ted Simons: Sounds like you have a lot of volunteers helping. Tell us what these volunteers are doing.

Karl Gentles: We have about 2500 volunteers, very blessed to have that many helping our kids. They help out during the event during the summer. We have some ladies that sew all year-round for the program. Others for instance, organizations like the national cheerleaders league, boys charities,you’re your major corporate volunteer programs come down and volunteer, as well. It's a fantastic operation.

Ted Simons: Last question: Give us some time tables as far as dates and things we need to know, events that are occurring.

Karl Gentles: I'll tell you we have a school supply drive going on hosted by Cox Communications. At all the Cox Communication outlets around the Valley you can donate school supplies. Bank of America, I think their supply drive wraps up for us this year, as well. We are now in preparation for next year's event, which is going to be on us pretty quickly again.

Ted Simons: Very good. Thanks for joining us, we appreciate it.

Karl Gentles: Appreciate it.

“Curiosity” Lands on Mars

  |   Video
  • On Sunday, August 5th, NASA successfully landed the rover “Curiosity” on the surface of Mars. Find out more about the NASA Mars Science Laboratory Mission, and ASU’s involvement in it, from ASU School of Earth and Space Exploration Director Kip Hodges
  • Kip Hodges - Director, ASU School of Earth and Space Exploration
Category: Technology   |   Keywords: ASU, mars, rover, curiosity, space, NASA, ,

View Transcript
Ted Simons: Good evening and welcome to "Arizona Horizon," I'm Ted Simons. A Maricopa County Superior Court judge ruled that an initiative to create an open primary system in Arizona cannot appear on November's ballot. The judge ruled that the measure deals with more than one subject and thus violates the state's single subject rule for constitutional amendments. Backers of the measure plan to appeal to the state Supreme Court.

Video: We're at altitude descending. Stand by. Remains strong. Touchdown confirmed, we are safe on Mars. [cheers]

Ted Simons: The animation is simulated, but the reaction is real. A perfect landing on Mars for NASA's "Curiosity" rover. Arizona State University researchers had a role in designing cameras and other equipment for "Curiosity," which was built to look for life on Mars. Here to talk about the rover and the mission is Kip Hodges, director of the ASU School of Earth and Space Exploration. Good to see you, thanks for joining us.

Kip Hodges: Nice to see you again.

Ted Simons: What were you doing when this excitement was happening?

Kip Hodges: I was riveted to the television like everybody else was who has anything to do with space exploration. It was a spectacular descent and landing. They stuck the landing.

Ted Simons: They really did. It's nice to see genuine excitement from folks who worked a long time on it.

Kip Hodges: And genuine tears, it was a spectacular moment.

Ted Simons: Kind of an overview of the goal and length of the mission. What's going on up there?

Kip Hodges: This particular mission, I think lots of people accidentally refer to it as a mission to look for signs of life. It really isn’t that. It's a mission to understand the capacity of Mars today, and particularly in the past, to have supported life. Basically they are looking for more than signs of life, they are looking for habitability. One of the great things about this mission is because it's looking within Gail crater, the landing site, it’s looking within a succession of sediments. It's almost like the Grand Canyon, in that it's like a history book. They are looking deeply back into the history of Mars and trying to evaluate whether or not conditions once existed on the surface of Mars that would permit life, and whether or not that might have changed through time. They are really trying to look at this entire record.

Ted Simons: By doing so, it sounds like a lot of the experiments, a lot of the investigation is happening there with the rover.

Kip Hodges: Absolutely. It's referred to -- the official name of "Curiosity" is the Mars Science Laboratory, it really is that. It's a rolling tele-operated laboratory where they can make measurements, take a lot of observations, make critical measurements of materials while they are there.

Ted Simons: And ASU -- Arizona State University -- is involved with the mission in a variety of ways.

Kip Hodges: Yeah, that's correct. My school, the school of earth and space exploration, we have a number of faculty, four specifically, [inaudible], James Bell, Jack Farmer, Alberto Bajar, all of whom were working on various instruments on it, sensors or imaging instruments that permit it to look at its surroundings and try and interrogate the samples there. We have lots of alumni from ASU and from the precursor of our school. Many of those alumni are actively involved in designing instruments, as well. We have a deep reach into this particular mission, which involves hundreds of scientists and engineers.

Ted Simons: If there were a focus for ASU's involvement, would it be cameras, mirrors, interpreting that information?

Kip Hodges: Yeah, cameras, sensors, and the interpretation of those things. Some of them were built directly by alumni. Most of our faculty and students and many of our alumni are involved in actually interpreting the data that comes back over the next years.

Ted Simons: The hundreds of scientists involved with the collaboration, talk to us about that.

Kip Hodges: It's a huge part of what NASA tries to do. They try to get as many schools as possible involved in the projects. This is a $2.5 billion project. Most of them are run out of the major NASA laboratories, in this case the jet propulsion lab. Dozens and dozens of people in academia are involved, as well.

Ted Simons: As far as Arizona State University, and science and space and exploration and the whole nine yards, where do you stand? What do you see for the future here?

Kip Hodges: Arizona is a pretty magnificent state with regard to its contributions to space exploration, with what we do and what the University of Arizona does, as well. We are positioning ourselves now at ASU to be able to build more and more effective instruments for space exploration. We just finished new laboratories in a new building on the campus of ASU that will allow us to do this in a much more profound way. There are only a handful of the universities in the United States that have the capacity to build instruments for NASA. ASU is one of them, and also the University of Arizona.

Ted Simons: This new building, I understand it'll have like a model of the "Curiosity"? What is that?

Kip Hodges: We're hoping to open the building up to the public in mid September or late September or so. We invite your viewers to come out and have a look at it. Much of the first floor is given over to a gallery of scientific exploration. We will have lots of public outreach there and have visible laboratories that people can come in and see what's going on. One of the exhibits is a full-scale replica of "Curiosity." It's about the size of a Mini Cooper or a car. It's a large display. We'll have real-time images coming down from the lander, as well. It'll be a great place to learn more about it.

Ted Simons: Now that the "Curiosity" is there and pictures are starting to come back, what do we look for?

Kip Hodges: You really want to look for the quality of images coming back in the next few days. The images now are pretty low resolution and the dramatic spectacular stereographic images will start coming down in a few days. They need some time to check out everything. They take baby steps working on Mars. In a week look for those pictures, they will be really spectacular.

Ted Simons: Kip, good to have you here, congratulations to the program and continued success.

Kip Hodges: Thank you very much, good to be here again.

Video: Things are looking good, coming up. Entry interface. Beginning to feel the atmosphere as we go in here. Reporting we are seeing Gs on the order of 11, 12 earth Gs.
We are now getting telemetry. We have pressure deployed around mach 1.7. Parachutes deployed. We are decelerating. We are on the ground. We're down to 90 meters per second. Standing by for separation. We are in powered flight. [Applause]
We're at altitude, descending.
Remaining strong.
Touchdown confirmed, we are safe on Mars! [cheering]
We've got thumbnails. [cheering]

Luke Air Force Base & F-35 Pilot Training

  |   Video
  • The U.S. Department of Defense has selected Luke Air Force Base to train pilots to fly the F-35 fighter jet. Find out what that means for the West Valley Air Force base and surrounding communities from Glendale Mayor Elaine Scruggs; James "Rusty" Mitchell, Director of the Luke AFB Community Initiatives Team; and Ron Sites of Fighter Country Partnership.
  • Elaine Scruggs - Mayor, Glendale
  • James "Rusty" Mitchell - Director, Luke AFB Community Initiatives Team
  • Ron Sites - Fighter Country Partnership
Category: Community   |   Keywords: Luke Air Force Base, luke, pilot, training, ,

View Transcript
Ted Simons: Folks in the West Valley are celebrating a perfect landing of their own. Luke Air Force Base landed the lucrative contract for training F-35 pilots. Here to talk about what that means for Luke and surrounding communities are Glendale Mayor Elaine Scruggs; James "Rusty" Mitchell, director of the Luke Air Force Base community initiatives team; and and Ron Sites, executive director of fighter country partnership. Good to have you all here. Thanks for joining us. Mayor, why was Luke selected? And what kind of campaigning did you do to get Luke selected?

Elaine Scruggs: It was selected truly because it's the very best place in the entire United States of America to train fighter jet pilots. We’ve been doing it for 60 years. But we had to prove ourselves over again. You have to prove it's the right place. That’s where the campaign came in. The mayors of the West Valley cities and supervisor Max Wilson, who represents the West Valley cities, all joined together, put in a lot of money over a period of three years, hired some consultants to help us tell our message. There was a message in Washington, D.C., that was just wrong. We told our message of managed growth, how we want the F-35s here, how we want Luke here. Then we took it statewide, and 21,000 people joined our campaign and sent messages to the Pentagon saying, keep Luke here.

Ted Simons: Quickly, what was that message that was wrong? How did you correct it?

Elaine Scruggs: You know, Ted, the tremendous growth that's gone on in Maricopa County. That's what folks that go to the Pentagon, the military and Air Force personnel that go to the Pentagon and come back out here say: It didn't look like that when I was here. Look at these houses and rooftops. Now we can't do pilot training and so forth. We had to get the message across, no, you can. What we did -- and it's very important -- in the early 1990s, this started in the City of Glendale, we started to build a body of state legislation that continued for close to 20 years that protected the mission of Luke.

Ted Simons: Let's talk about Luke and changes that will need to be made to the base to accommodate the F-35s.

James “Rusty” Mitchell: Right out of the gate, it's about 100 to $110 million in construction contracts that will be let. They’ve actually already been drawn up. We're waiting for the Record of Decision. Those contracts will be let to different companies. A majority of that money goes to Arizona companies that will be able to do the construction on base.

Ted Simons: The mayor mentioned problems of encroachment and development, noise from the F-35s has been a major factor in discussions, especially folks there on the west side. Have you heard an F-35?

James “Rusty” Mitchell: I have, actually. Two years ago I was invited to listen to the F-35 and the traffic pattern. I've been around fighters for 35 years in my career. The F-35 was flying with the F-15, F-16, and F-18. If you closed your eyes, and I did, you can't tell the difference. They are all loud. You could not tell an appreciable difference. Two weeks ago we had an F-35 coming into Luke Air Force Base, unexpectedly came in. It landed, stayed about four days and left and continued on to Edwards Air Force Base. We didn't get one complaint from that aircraft. Came in mid-morning, left Sunday afternoon, we didn't get one phone call.

Ted Simons: How many planes will we see out at Luke and what's the timetable? What happened to the F-16s? Are the F-16s mothballed, yesterday’s news?

Ron Sites: No, they won't be mothballed, they will be flying for quite some time. It's a good amount of planes flying in at Luke.

Ted Simons: As far as the training is concerned, does that differ from F-16 training to the point where folks away from the base are going, that didn't happen before?

Ron Sites: The aircraft is so advanced, as it's landing if it has a problem, it'll order a part before it touches down. Of course things will be different. But what you're going to have is the same high-quality individuals in the communities that maintain the F-16s. That viability of Luke Air Force Base is going to stay open for another 40 years, another 40 years of high-quality families in our community, good stuff.

Ted Simons: You mentioned in your statement, sustainable economic benefits to the region and to the state. Explain that, and explain to those who live in the area and those who don't why this is such a big deal.

Elaine Scruggs: Oh, it's tremendous. Luke is part of a total military system in the state of Arizona, but it's the key part of it. It’s the main user of the Barry M. Goldwater range. That sustains the missions of other military airports. Altogether, the military would be the third highest employer in the state of Arizona, absolutely. And the impact from Luke by itself is over $2 billion a year. Think of it as another city. They have to buy services, hire personnel, they have to do everything any other big business does. They are great for the economy.

Ted Simons: Talk about the dynamic between the base and the surrounding communities.

James “Rusty” Mitchell: Thank you, I was hoping you would ask that question. Luke Air Force Base, as the mayor said, we've been out there six decades for the same mission, training America's fighter pilots. We're here because of weather, great infrastructure on the base and the Barry M. Goldwater Range. What made us stand out is the efforts of Mayor Scruggs and the people that live across the Valley showing their support for the enduring mission of Luke Air Force Base. If we hadn't had the leadership of Mayor Scruggs and the other mayors, we might have melted back into what the other bases are doing. It really made a huge difference. We are the envy of the Air Force on our community support.

Ted Simons: With an emphasis on partnership, talk to us about how important it is to partner with others.

Ron Sites: The collaboration is pretty much unparalleled in the country. It's because of our elected officials. The leadership of our elected officials, really, we took guidance from the community initiative team and our elected officials and worked with them. Again, that collaboration is just unparalleled in the country and the envy of a lot of military installations in the community and the country.

Ted Simons: There's been some concern about cuts which could impact what's going on out at Luke. The Arizona Republic said it may not be the best. I think it was called stagnant, dead capital, as opposed to the east side with Willy, the old Williams Air Force Base. Some folks will say this is federal money and the community is dependent on the federal government, and that's not necessarily healthy. How do you respond to that?

Elaine Scruggs: Luke itself has an impact in the state of over $2 billion a year. They need to go out and procure services and contracts. They create businesses and jobs and employment. They fill houses that are being built. So yes, they are government, but they act like a private industry in the way they operate. One thing I wanted to say that doesn't get brought up too much. That's how much they give back. I know this -- Rob doesn't exactly care about this, but the men and women at Luke Air Force Base volunteer over 100,000 hours a year in our communities. They are our neighbors. Their kids go to school with our kids and so forth. They are an absolutely vibrant part of our community. If we're going to have a military it's got to be somewhere, and this is the best place for it to be.

Ted Simons: Are you concerned at all about possible budget cuts at the end of the year -- that Congress can't get its act together?

James “Rusty” Mitchell: As an American citizen I'm concerned, but I think all Americans should be concerned about the budget cuts on the horizon, that the Department of Defense has to look at.

Ted Simons: Last word: Is the West Valley, the area around Luke, too dependent on Luke?

Ron Sites: I don't believe it's too dependent. Everybody works well together. It's a perfect environment.

Ted Simons: We'll stop right there, can't have any better than that. Thanks for joining us, we appreciate it.

Elaine Scruggs: Thank you.