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DUSD honors its 'heart working' parents, teachers and staff

Lily Pintor, a member of the DUSD Food Services Department for 42 years is retiring this year, again. Or so Ana Samaniego, superintendent of DUSD, thinks may be the case! One of the 17 honorees at the 2019 Employee Celebration Recognition dinner on April 25, it seems Pintor has a difficult time staying home.

The story goes like this: 42 years ago Lily applied for a job with DUSD food services. One day, her husband Modesto got a call from Ray Borane asking whether Lily was still interested in the position. Modesto tracked Lily down (she was out running errands) and conveyed Borane’s message. Never one to miss an opportunity, Lily threw caution to the wind and arrived for her interview with a head full of rollers! She got the job and stayed 42 years, more or less.

When Mr. Pintor fell ill awhile back, Lily was explaining to Samaniego that she’d need to be taking Modesto to doctors, getting medicines, etc.; she was probably going to need some time off. “That’s fine Lily,” Samaniego responded, “take as much time as you need.” The next day Samaniego recalled, “There was Lily, first thing in the morning. I asked her why she was at work and she told me, ‘Well, I can check on him on work breaks and the other stuff, I’ll figure out.’ “That of course was her first retirement,” Samaniego continued, “so when she told me she was retiring again, I said, ‘yeah right’ but it seems that she’s really going to do it this time.”

Such is the heart shown by so many employees of and volunteers in DUSD and the reason for the evening’s heart theme. Banquet tables were decorated with artfully arranged paper flowers/branches set on tables strewn with paper hearts. “The centerpieces were created by the curriculum department.” said Denise Cox, DUSD curriculum chair.

“We all contributed to make this a special night in honor of Mr. Ken Cormier. He started these award nights and we will always celebrate our staff in his honor.”

The DHS Jazz Band provided the entertainment for the evening with a wonderful selection of jazz standards. One soloist, sax player Sergio Zuniga, coaxed some great sounds out of his piece of brass and allowed that he loves to play and will continue with his music after graduation next year.

After a dinner of Chicken Kiev and assorted accoutrements (thanks to Bev Jackson) inclusive of 200 cream and custard filled cupcakes homemade by honoree Jo Wright, the awards began. Through highly selective, staff-led nomination processes, three representatives from each of the district’s schools are honored each year; a teacher, a member of the support staff and a parent volunteer. The principal of each school introduced and remarked about the recipients.

Committed, nurturing, engaging, uplifting, caring, dynamic, joyful, dedicated, reliable, creative, charismatic, patient, empathetic, fun and invested were adjectives used again and again to describe the honorees. As Samaniego pointed out, “Education is a work of heart.” Indeed, there were a plethora of big hearts, many worn on shirtsleeves at the Douglas Visitor Center last Thursday evening.

Esperanza Romero who works in the front office at Stevenson Elementary told The Douglas Dispatch, “The best part of my day is seeing the parents bring the kids in to school. Everyone is so happy and the children are so eager to learn.”

Jeff Limpag, a fourth grade teacher at Sarah Marley Elementary, explained that he came to DUSD from The Philippines two years ago. There, he taught at an all boys school so he has had to make some gender adjustments here to accommodate girls’ interests. Clearly, that has gone well as he was Marley’s pick for teacher of the year. He keeps his students engaged with creative lesson plans and the adage, “Isn’t it Friday? Every day is almost Friday!”

Maria Quirrin (married to maintenance/grounds honoree, Horacio Quirrin) was honored by Ray Borane Middle School as their parent volunteer of the year. What makes her award even more remarkable is the fact that she is also on staff at Borane. Quirrin finishes her shift, switches hats, and begins her “heart work” as a parent volunteer. For the Quirrins, it’s a family effort.

The last award of the evening was given to Ms. Pintor, who received a standing ovation and whose smile was as big as the room. The band collectively groaned upon learning of her retirement and school board member, Dr. Ed Gomez was overheard lauding the homemade cinnamon rolls she used to make for school lunches. Ms. Pintor has earned her retirement, her award and the love of all those she’s heartfully fed over the years. Who knows though, she could be back next year. Ana Samaniego did say of Pintor’s retirement, “Yeah, right.”

A new look in store for Walmart

The Douglas Walmart on Fifth Street has been selected as one of 14 stores throughout the state to be remodeled.

Store manager Vicente Verdugo said that construction will begin Sunday, May 5 and take an estimated 15 weeks to complete.

A press release issued by Walmart states, “Building on its commitment to save customers time and money in new ways, Walmart expects to spend $71.8 million in Arizona through the remodeling of 14 stores as well as the launch and continued expansion of several customer-focused innovations.”

The Walmart in Sierra Vista is scheduled to be remodeled as well.

“We’ve actually been participating in a remodeling event for about four weeks now,” Verdugo said last week. “We’ve hired a number of people from the Douglas area to help get us through our project.”

Verdugo added a new roof has been added to the Douglas Walmart and energy efficient lighting has been installed.

“With this new project we’re going to be moving counters, tables and merchandise,” he said. “Most of the work will be done at night. We’re not going to be doing a lot of work during the daytime. There might be some construction taking place.”

Verdugo added that the ultimate goal is to make every Walmart look similarly so there are not as many prototypes.

“We want it to be so (that) when you come in to our store it will look and feel like the one at home regardless of where you’re from,” he said. “Our goal is to improve the customer shopping experience. Some of that will be through updated fixtures and registers. We’re going to get the newest and greatest Walmart has to offer right now.”

One of the new additions will be the Walmart Pickup Towers. These are 16-feet, high-tech vending machines capable of fulfilling a customer’s online order in less than a minute after arrival at the store. Patrons will be able to order products online, step up to the Pickup Tower, scan the barcode and retrieve their merchandise.

Another feature will be Online Grocery Pickup (OGP).

“You will be able to place an order online from home and pick it up at the store,” Verdugo said. “This will be for all merchandise including food and produce. We’re going to have shoppers here picking out the best produce … When you then drive up to the store, we will be able to take it out to your car once you check in through the mobile app. You won’t even have to get out of your car.”

Verdugo said the pharmacy, electronics, jewelry and apparel departments will also be remodeled. The groceries will all be put in one location so the chips, for example, will no longer be by the shoes.

“We’re also going to add what is called ‘Tool World’ which will allow us to offer a little more in power tools in hardware,” the store manager said.

Verdugo, who has been at the Douglas Walmart for four years, added he’s excited about the changes that are coming.

“I think our Walmart holds up really well (when compared to other Walmart’s across the state),” he said. “Our store is clean; our prices are competitive. We have very friendly associates. We have a very engaged staff with our customers. That’s very important to me.”

Verdugo wanted the community to know, he and his associates are very appreciative of the support they have shown the Douglas Walmart.

“We see that,” he said. “Walmart is investing a lot of money into this box because we want to offer the very best to Douglas. We want to make the store more convenient for everybody and save our customers some money.”

Verdugo noted that customers can stay informed about what is happening with the remodeling through the Walmart Facebook

City manager search extended

Douglas is going to need yet more time to find a new city manager.

According to Roccio Garcia Pedroza, human resources director for the City of Douglas, only four applications had been received by April 15 when the first review of applicants was to take place.

“The position is still open and we have extended the review date indefinitely until more applications are submitted,” she said. “At this point I am not able to provide names of any of the applicants.”

Garcia-Pedroza said as far as interim city manager Jerene Watson is concerned, “She will remain for sure up to the end of the contract, which I believe is July 28. As the end of the contract approaches and depending on where we are with the city manager recruitment, both (the) council and Ms. Watson will have to discuss continuation options as provided in the contract.”