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Southwest Mobile Storage – Best Mobile Storage & Office Containers In Tucson, AZ

Southwest Mobile Storage was established in 1995, serving more than 24,000 commercial, construction and residential customers rent, buy or modify containers for their moving, storage and custom needs. We offer a wide selection of portable offices and mobile storage containers for rent in Tucson, AZ. You deserve vault-like security, superior service, unrivaled expertise with the best quality and service you can find when renting, buying or modifying shipping containers.

Whether you need mobile storage, portable office space, a combo unit or a custom container for a specific purpose, we’ve got your back. Here’s how:

NO MATTER YOUR NEED, WE'VE GOT YOUR BACK.

STORE AT YOUR LOCATION

We bring your storage container to you for convenient, easy access at your home, business or jobsite. Plus, you’ll get more choice in storage space and better security, for a fraction of the cost of a pod or add on building, saving money and energy.

STORE AT OUR LOCATION

Not enough room to keep a storage container at your business, home or construction site? No problem — we can store it for you. Plus, you get 70% more space and better security, for a fraction of the cost of public storage units.

CUSTOM STORAGE

Need a permanent storage solution for your business, residence or construction? We sell new and used shipping containers in many sizes with a variety of add-ons. Or customize a container to your specific storage needs with our certified fabrication experts.

LOCAL MOVE

Take your time packing with our moving containers. We’ll deliver to your business or home and pick it up whenever you’re ready to move. So, you don’t have to stress about moving or making multiple trips in one day, like if you rented a moving truck.

LONG-DISTANCE MOVE

Our moving container solutions ensure the long-distance move of your home or business is highly efficient and affordable throughout the southwest. In fact, we usually cost 20%-40% less than full-service movers.

MOVING & STORAGE

We understand move-in and move-out dates might be different. We can store your moving container at our highly secure facilities until you’re ready to move to your new home or business location, and you can conveniently access it at any time.

OFFICE USE

Whether you need a workspace, conference room, or other office requirement, our ground-mounted mobile offices meet any and all of your business needs. Plus, it’s faster and easier than building additions.

BUSINESS USE

If you need your shipping container to serve multiple uses, such as office-storage combos, breakrooms and even utilities, we’ve got you covered. We’ll modify a custom container to fit your business needs and bring your business to the next level

CUSTOM USE

We’ll create a custom container to fit your unique needs anywhere in the US. With our container modification expertise, we make any idea a reality. From pop-up stores to multi-story structures, our unrivaled facilities and fabrication experts do it all.

You’ll get your own dedicated storage and container expert to serve as your one point of contact for easy, convenient service you can trust.
With our wide selection of intermodal containers for sale and rent, you’ll find exactly what you need, from size, to type and condition.
We maintain our rental fleet to the highest standard – our integrity depends on it.
Our certified, experienced Conex container modification experts have more than 500 years combined experience modifying ISO containers at our unrivaled 90,000 sq ft indoor fabrication facility, ensuring your custom shipping container is made exactly to your specifications.
All of our containers come with high security dual-locking system for no additional charge, so you can rest assured your stored items stay safe and that you don’t have to pay extra for it.
With our level of service, quality and expertise, you won’t find a better value anywhere else.
Our portable offices include lighting and electrical outlets, internet hookups, HVAC and were crafted by our in-house steel container fabrication experts for top-quality construction.

Premium Quality -High Security

With Southwest Mobile Storage, you get much more than a POD or typical Conex box. You also get high security, unparalleled service and unmatched container modification expertise and facilities. No other company offers that much.

Shipping containers and storage containers come in a range of sizes. The most common external lengths are 20ft and 40ft with a width of 8ft. ISO Containers are typically 8ft 6in tall, but high cube containers are 9ft 6in tall. We also have steel containers in a variety of sizes from 10ft long to 45ft long to rent or buy, and we can modify shipping containers into any size you want.

SMS Mobile Storage Containers have these high quality features:

1/8” thick steel plate bottom side rails
High strength steel supporting cross members
1 1/8” thick hardwood floor with galvanized self-tapping screws
16-gauge corrugated steel walls
16-gauge roof
270-degree swing cargo door(s)
High security dual-locking system*
Spot-grinded, primed & repainted with a beige high-grade water reducible alkyd direct-to-metal enamel*
* Comes standard on all rental units

SMS portable workspace containers have these structural features:

High security window bars, lever & deadbolt set with lock box
Studs & R-19 Insulation covered with wood paneling
1 1/8" marine board floor is covered with a durable single part gray epoxy coating
Dual pane low-E horizontal sliding windows with screens and miniblinds
18 Gauge steel polystyrene core 3-hour fire rated personnel door
All of our workspaces are refurbished grade or better
Exterior load center operating on 100 Amp single phase 230 Volt power
Light switch, receptacles and 4’ light fixtures; all wiring is Romex 12/2
CAT-6 voice and data lines with electrical junction box
HVAC units ranging from 1 ton to 2 ton on rentals; ability to customize up to 10 tons of cooling

Having flexible storage containers options is important, but security is crucial to protect your peace of mind and your possessions.

At Southwest Mobile Storage, we don’t believe in leaving things to chance. We want you to rest easy knowing your inventory, documents, tools, equipment and other items are safe 24/7. That is why we equip SMS high-security slide bolt locking systems and lockboxes on our entire fleet of rental freight containers.

EVERY ONE OF OUR MOBILE STORAGE CONTAINERS FOR RENT IN Tucson, AZ, INCLUDES THE FOLLOWING SAFETY MEASURES:

High-security slide-bolt locking system and extra-long lock box, giving you twice the security and peace of mind.
No holes to ensure your rental shipping container is wind and water-tight.
No rust for your safety.
14-gauge corrugated steel for strength and reinforcement.

Contact us to speak with a helpful, friendly representative to better understand our full range of capabilities. We are happy to answer any questions you have, go over pricing and set up a time and place to deliver your Conex box. Our quotes are 100% free and you are under no obligation to pay for your consultation.

COMMERCIAL STORAGE CONTAINERS TO RENT, BUY OR MODIFY IN Tucson, AZ

When you own a business or manage one, it’s crucial to have efficient, affordable ways to store inventory and supplies, whether it’s to grow your business or adapt to changes in the market, like the many caused by the pandemic.

Renting storage containers to keep at your business eliminates the cost and hassles of sending your staff to offsite storage facilities. Steel containers with roll up doors make storing and retrieving items faster and easier. Auto repair shops and other businesses that need easy access throughout the workday to secure storage for tools, parts, equipment or supplies find renting shipping containers to be the best solution for their business storage needs. Southwest Mobile Storage has your back.

Renting portable offices gives your business more workspace, breakrooms, pop up stores, security booths and more, without the cost and red tape associated with constructing building additions. Plus, a steel storage container fits neatly into one parking space and provides much stronger security than Pods and way more convenience than self-storage units.

If you have a specific need, we can modify shipping containers to build whatever you need to grow your business. Whether it’s a portable workspace to run your business, like a pop-up container bar, or a durable facility for scientific research, like a container laboratory, or even a container gym, our unrivaled fabrication facility and modification experts got you covered. Our full-time, in-house staff of certified welders, engineers, electricians, carpenters and painters have over 500 years combined experience modifying thousands of container projects for just about any business use you can imagine.

WHETHER YOUR BUSINESS IS COMMERCIAL, HEALTHCARE, GOVERNMENT OR EDUCATION, OR YOUR INTEREST IS TO RENT, BUY OR MODIFY SHIPPING CONTAINERS, SMS HAS YOU COVERED:

Offsite storage alternatives cause a mess of hassles and headaches. Expanding office space and storage capacity at your location saves time, money and hassle of making multiple trips offsite.
We offer more choice in security, size and features in steel Conex boxes or ISO shipping containers than a public storage unit or Pod for less cost and far greater service.
We offer flexible, month-to-month rental agreements and prorate by the day after your first 28-day billing cycle.
With us, you get a dedicated account manager you can rely on, so you can focus on running your business than waste time with a different person every time you call that doesn’t know or care as much.
While other companies may have some staff for modifying containers, most outsource the work, so you don’t know who is actually doing the modifications or how much they’re marking up the price.
When you modify a shipping container for your business, you won’t have to worry about expensive, lengthy and complicated construction.
We have modified thousands of containers nationwide and internationally for more than 25 years for NASA, US Navy, GCP Applied Technologies, Helix and Sundt to name a few. And rent containers to Amazon, Walmart and many of other nationally recognized brands.
Our extensive staff makes it possible to custom build multiple projects simultaneously and our 90,000 sq ft indoor fabrication facility prevents contaminants from interfering with fabrication, which delivers better quality and precision.

CUSTOM CONTAINERS FOR YOUR HOME IN Tucson, AZ

Building additions to your home can be very expensive and requires going through the hassle of securing permits and waiting for construction. You can save money, time and stress by modifying a shipping container instead. Whether you need additional space for a home gym, recreation or storage, we can convert steel containers into anything you can imagine. Our custom container gyms, she-sheds, garages and more give you the extra space you need without the hassle, cost and wait that comes with home renovation.

Renting shipping containers for temporary storage, either when moving or dealing with restoration from a fire or flood, provides a secure, convenient way to keep your belongings close for accessing them whenever you need to. Plus, renting mobile storage containers for moving costs less than traditional movers and allows you to take your time packing, reducing the stress that comes from moving. You can also rent portable offices for your home to make working remotely distraction-free.

HERE’S WHY YOU SHOULD CHOOSE US TO RENT, BUY OR MODIFY A SHIPPING CONTAINER FOR YOUR HOME:

With an extensive in-house staff and 90,000 sq ft container modification facility, we’re able to deliver consistently high quality and work on multiple projects simultaneously for a fast turnaround.

Other companies don’t have the facility, staff or resources to modify shipping containers and will outsource the work to various shops who may not have the special experience or tools needed to modify the right way.

You can rest assured knowing your custom container is safe in our hands. Our certified weld and quality control inspectors ensure everything is structurally sound and built to your specifications through every step of the process.

Renting a moving container from us makes your move much less stressful because you won’t have to rush to pack your whole house into a moving truck in one day. Instead, you can take your time packing over the course of a month.

Our ISO shipping containers are weatherproof and come with vault-like security, so you don’t have to worry about theft or damage to your belongings. You won’t get that level of security from U-Haul or other moving truck companies.

Renting a storage container at your home keeps your belongings close and gives you convenient 24/7 access, so you’re always able to retrieve the contents of your container when you need to.

We know move in and move out dates don’t always line up. We can store your packed rental container at our secure facility until your new home is ready.

With our mobile storage containers for rent in Tucson, AZ, you can save up to 40% when compared to full-service long-distance movers, while gaining more flexibility in your schedule.

MOBILE STORAGE CONTAINERS & PORTABLE OFFICES TO RENT, BUY OR MODIFY IN Tucson, AZ

We know your needs may change suddenly. With our extensive inventory and variety of sizes of portable offices and shipping containers to rent, buy or modify in Tucson, AZ, we provide fast service and the best value possible so it’s easy for you to get whatever you need when you need it.

Renting storage containers and portable offices from us gives you more flexibility when it comes to your schedule and options. If you don’t have enough space at your current location or simply would prefer offsite storage, you can keep your rental storage and office containers at your location or ours – whichever is most convenient for you. You also get more options to choose from when it comes to size and features, like portable offices with divided rooms for private meetings or office/storage combos for storage and office space in one container. All while costing a fraction of the price of a pod or self-storage facility.

You can also buy new or used freight containers from us and choose from a variety of add-ons, including lights, electricity, doors and windows. Or fully customize a shipping container to save time, money and energy by skipping the expensive, lengthy process of constructing building additions. We can modify a Conex box into whatever you can imagine for any use you need, from construction tool cribs to office buildings, monitoring stations, mobile communication towers and much more. The possibilities are endless.

HERE’S HOW WE’VE GOT YOUR BACK:

You’ll never face hidden fees or surprises with us. We give you transparent billing up front at the best prices.

With us, you get a reliable, dedicated point of contact, who keeps you updated every step of the way. You can rest assured knowing you’ll always get what you need, when you need it.

No other company has the breadth and depth of staff and experience that we do when it comes to modifying shipping containers. Our certified welders, engineers, electricians, plumbers, carpenters and painters have more than 500 years of combined experience in fabricating custom steel containers.

We prorate your rent by the day after the first 28-day billing cycle, so you don’t have to pay for a full month when you only have your mobile containers and offices for a few days.

While other companies may be able to do small container modifications, most don’t have an in-house fabrication staff or 90,000 sq ft fabrication facility like we do. As a result, they outsource the work on your custom container, so you don’t know who’s actually building it.

Rest assured knowing your modified shipping container will be built to the highest quality standards. Our certified weld and quality control inspectors check every step of the fabrication process to ensure everything is structurally sound and built to your specifications.

HOW RENTING A STORAGE CONTAINER AND MOBILE OFFICE WORKS

Whether you’re in need of a storage container for your commercial business, a portable office for your construction site, or a moving container for your home, our process is simple and straightforward.

Choose Your Container

Choose the mobile storage solution that works best for your needs. In this step, you will let us know the number of containers you need, their sizes and what types of doors to equip.

Choose Your Options

Let us know if you would like to add any of our rental options, like a folding table or shelving.

Choose Your Security

Choose from padlocks, puck locks and other enhanced security options. All of our storage containers come standard with dual-locking, vault-like security.

Choose Your Delivery Timeframe

You can expect standard delivery within 3-5 days of your order. If you need expedited delivery, we will do everything in our power to accommodate your needs.

Pick-Up Planning

Do you need to keep your shipping container at our location? Prefer to have our team deliver your packed container to a location of your choice? Let us know, and we’ll be by your side to work out the logistics.

HOW RENTING A STORAGE CONTAINER AND MOBILE OFFICE WORKS

1

DETERMINE DESTINATION

Let our team know where we should deliver your mobile storage container for rent in Tucson, AZ. Be sure to let us know if there are any special conditions that might prevent our drivers from entering your chosen destination. Before you schedule your delivery, let us know which direction you would like the doors of your container to face.

2

SCHEDULE DATE & TIME

Our drivers can deliver your storage container Monday-Friday, between the hours of 6AM and 2PM local time. Our two-hour delivery window is the most precise in the industry. If you desire another delivery time outside of our standard delivery options, we will do our best to accommodate your needs. As a courtesy, our driver will call you at least 30 minutes before they arrive at your drop-off destination.

3

PREPARE FOR YOUR MOBILE STORAGE CONTAINER DELIVERY

Before we deliver your Conex box, prepare your delivery area by ensuring that there are no low overhangs, arches, wires, trees or any other obstacles that could interfere with your delivery. It’s a good idea to mark the space where you would like your steel container placed.

4

DELIVERY & SETUP

When our driver arrives, they will back our truck into the space where you would like your shipping container placed. Once we arrive, we will ensure that your container is delivered safely and securely. If placed on asphalt or pavement, we will use wood dunnage pads to make sure your ground surface is protected and the container is level.

HAVE QUESTIONS ABOUT MOBILE CONTAINERS TO Rent, Buy OR Modify IN Tucson, AZ?

Check out our FAQ page or reach out to our helpful customer service team today @

520.263.8881

Latest News in Tucson

One year later: Recreational marijuana in Tucson

TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - One year ago, dispensaries across Arizona opened their doors for recreational use.Prop. 207 passed during the 2020 election, making it legal for adults in Arizona to purchase marijuana for recreational use.In 2021, shops like Prime Leaf in midtown Tucson were given the green light to sell marijuana for recreational use. But, Michael Crawford and his team at Prime, rolled it out slowly.“While most people turned on adult use in January, we waited until March and April. We wanted to make...

TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - One year ago, dispensaries across Arizona opened their doors for recreational use.

Prop. 207 passed during the 2020 election, making it legal for adults in Arizona to purchase marijuana for recreational use.

In 2021, shops like Prime Leaf in midtown Tucson were given the green light to sell marijuana for recreational use. But, Michael Crawford and his team at Prime, rolled it out slowly.

“While most people turned on adult use in January, we waited until March and April. We wanted to make sure we took care of our medical patients.”

Crawford said that was the key to a successful year.

“Seeing about a 30 percent increase. Word is that it will increase even more as people become more comfortable shopping. We get new people every day that it is their first time in a dispensary. So as that happens, I think we will see a bigger and bigger increase.”

According to the Arizona Dispensary Association, so far $196 million in tax revenue has been collected and around $45 million is going to the general fund. December numbers are not out yet.

“We likely never eclipsed a billion dollars in top line sales before going to adult use. We are on pace to approach if not clear $1.5 billion in total sales this calendar year,” said Samuel Richard with Arizona Dispensary Association.

KOLD News 13′s Allie Potter asked Richard if there was any sort of goal in mind for the first year.

“I think our biggest goal was to make sure we had enough product and capability to meet the demands of the consumers who walked through our doors. Heading into the year, we already had around 315,000 qualified patients that were part of the medical program. So, Arizona dispensaries were ready for hundreds of thousands if not approaching a million new customers.”

Potter asked Richard where he sees the industry in 2022.

“I am going to go ahead and make a bold prediction. In Arizona, revenue from cannabis will eclipse revenue from alcohol.”

Potter asked Crawford what his goals are for year number two of recreational marijuana sales.

“We are going to focus mainly on making sure we take care of our medical customers and keep our supply chains open. I am also looking for some sponsorship marketing opportunities.”

Tax revenue from recreational marijuana sales goes towards Arizona community colleges, rural infrastructure, and behavioral health programs.

Copyright 2022 KOLD News 13. All rights reserved.

This iconic Southern Arizona bookstore is looking for its 'dream buyer'

If you’d like to visit the most distinctly unique bookshop in Arizona, perhaps in the entire Southwest, you don’t have to go far.It is 45 miles south of Tucson, in Benson. Well, north of Benson. On a cattle ranch carved from the desert 100 years ago.Just find the right dirt road, open the steel gate, and head toward the barn. Turn left at the mesquite tree, wave to the burros, and park in one of the five or six unmarked spots near the corral.Welcome to Singing Wind!Located on Singing Wind Ranch in Coch...

If you’d like to visit the most distinctly unique bookshop in Arizona, perhaps in the entire Southwest, you don’t have to go far.

It is 45 miles south of Tucson, in Benson. Well, north of Benson. On a cattle ranch carved from the desert 100 years ago.

Just find the right dirt road, open the steel gate, and head toward the barn. Turn left at the mesquite tree, wave to the burros, and park in one of the five or six unmarked spots near the corral.

Welcome to Singing Wind!

Located on Singing Wind Ranch in Cochise County, the Singing Wind Bookshop opened in 1974. It still stocks America’s largest collection of Southwest literature. Authors such as J.A. Jance and Tom Zoellner now think of their visits as pilgrimages to a place where they can re-anchor themselves to home.

Singing Wind is so unforgettable because it is so unfathomable to find a bookstore so far off the beaten path, 5 miles from a small town in Arizona.

And that has become a problem.

Winn Bundy, the force of nature who somehow made it work, died in October 2020. The ranch is now for sale, and the family – like the customers who still look forward to making the drive – can only hope the buyer loves books.

The ranch and bookshop were willed jointly to Bundy’s son and daughter, T.C. and Sharon “Cookie” Bundy, and her granddaughter Tasha. The decision to sell was painful.

“I think we all knew it’s what we had to do,” Tasha Bundy said. “None of us live in Benson. None of us know the book business, or much about ranching, but it took months to decide because none of us wanted to let it all go.”

Their fingers are tightly crossed. In their dreams, the buyer hears the same call Winn Bundy heard, and is intrigued by the thought of owning a landmark business.

Barring that, they wonder if a conservation group such as The Nature Conservancy or Arizona Land and Water Trust would like to preserve the property – which borders the San Pedro River – from future development.

“Believe me, we think about dream buyers a lot” Cookie Bundy said.

They find hope in Bill Gates’ observation that even if you are one in a million in China, there are 1,300 people just like you.

Winn Bundy was undeniably one in a million. There are 7 million people in Arizona. The Bundys have done the math.

The 500-acre ranch has been listed for $1.52 million by Hartman Commercial Real Estate. Not coincidentally, Alain Hartman grew up in Benson and was friends with Tasha’s late father, Ted.

According to Hartman’s ad, the ranch has five wells, several pastures, a mile of shoreline along the river … and a collection of 30,000 books.

“I think we realize it’s a real longshot, finding someone who wants to keep the ranch and the store going, but we won’t know ‘til we put it out there,” said Cookie Bundy.

Cookie is a retired science librarian, Tasha a musician and artist. Both live in Tucson. T.C. Bundy is a retired minister who lives in Phoenix. All three have long, loving relationships with Singing Wind.

“Tad (T.C.) and I were raised on the ranch,” Cookie said. “On a family ranch, everybody does everything, so we all had a job when it came to vaccinating, branding and castrating the cattle. We all had ponies. Because of mom, we all loved books and loved to read.”

Tasha lived on the ranch for a few years when she was young and developed a special bond with her grandmother.

Even when they’d left Benson to lead their own lives, the three Bundys were weekend regulars.

“My kids rode ponies there, too,” Cookie said. “My daughter Vanessa tried to teach mom how to work a modern TV.”

Only now are they learning how challenging it was for Winn Bundy to manage a 500-acre ranch … to say nothing of her Southwestern bookstore.

“She didn’t believe in technology, so almost everything needed to be done by hand,” T.C. Bundy said. “The bookstore has never had a website. For years she wouldn’t accept credit cards. One of the challenges for us now is finding a way to catalogue all the books. Winn didn’t need to because she knew where all of them were.”

And the books? The family is finding books everywhere, in every room of the house.

“She had thousands of books that never made it onto the shelves in the store,” T.C. Bundy said.

He has been spending two weeks a month on the property, doing day-to-day maintenance and keeping things running. Cookie and Tasha Bundy are on call the rest of each month.

The store is still open, but by appointment only. Visitors should call to set up a time to stop by. The number: (520) 586-2425.

“A lot of the visitors we’ve had just wanted to tell us stories about Winn,” Tasha said. “She was something. In a lot of ways, she’s still here.”

According to the Pima County Public Library, “Missing and Endangered” by J.A. Jance was the county’s most popular book in 2021. It led the 12-month list of checkouts by library cardholders. Next came “Dark Sky” by C.J. Box, “Daylight” by David Baldacci, “Unfinished Business” by Jance and “A Gambling Man” by Baldacci.

Adam Schiff and Noah Hawley are among the late additions to the list of authors coming to the Tucson Festival of Books March 12-13.

“Beautiful Little Fools,” the latest from Tucson novelist Jillian Cantor, will be available at local bookstores on Feb. 1. In it, she tells “The Great Gatsby” story from Daisy Buchanan’s point of view.

Get day-to-day news from the Tucson book community by following Bookmarks Arizona (@BookArizona) on Twitter.

ARIZONA’S HEART AND SOL: Tucson woman visiting Vegas returns woman’s wallet

TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - This week we’re recognizing a woman who believes honestly is always the best policy.Mireya Baldenegro and her husband were in Las Vegas for the weekend when they stopped at a 7-Eleven.“So, I went into the restroom and then I saw this wallet there,” said Mireyo Baldenegro, the Heart and Sol recipient.She felt bad for looking inside the wallet but wanted to find out who it belonged to. In it, she found a phone number.“I did find a lot of stuff in there. I mean h...

TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - This week we’re recognizing a woman who believes honestly is always the best policy.

Mireya Baldenegro and her husband were in Las Vegas for the weekend when they stopped at a 7-Eleven.

“So, I went into the restroom and then I saw this wallet there,” said Mireyo Baldenegro, the Heart and Sol recipient.

She felt bad for looking inside the wallet but wanted to find out who it belonged to. In it, she found a phone number.

“I did find a lot of stuff in there. I mean her whole live is in that wallet,” Baldenegro said.

Mireya is talking about Karen Soumas, a Las Vegas resident.

“My medical cards, my ID, my military ID, my driver’s license, credit card, debit card, everything was in there,” Soumas said.

She had stopped at the 7-Eleven on her way to babysit her grandson, Ezra.

“And when I realized it [her wallet] wasn’t there, I pulled over and literally ripped the seats out of my car,” Soumas said.

She backtracked and called all the places she was at earlier.

“And I called the 7-Eleven and the lady checked the bathroom and there was nothing,” Soumas said.

But then moments later, a Tucson number called.

“She was crying, and I am like please do not feel like that! Your wallet is safe,” Baldenegro said.

Baldenegro met up with Soumas and gave her the wallet, along with a hug.

“I took the wallet, and I was shaking. I tried to give her some money I tried to give him $20 and her $20. Merry Christmas and thank you, and she was like ‘nope,’” Baldenegro said.

Baldenegro thought she was doing a lighthearted story on the missing wallet going back to its owner. She did not know that Soumas nominated her as an Arizona Heart and Sol.

“Thank you. Thank you, Karen. I do not want to cry. Wow! Thank you,” Soumas said.

Baldenegro was given a $300 gift card from our sponsor Casino Del Sol. If you have someone you think embodies the “Heart and Sol of Arizona,” please nominate them, HERE.

Copyright 2022 KOLD News 13. All rights reserved.

'It's almost like a call home': Arizona makes inroads in recruiting Polynesian players

For years — bordering on decades — Arizona football fans have pined for the program to reconnect the so-called Polynesian pipeline.Players from the Pacific islands helped turn the Wildcats into contenders under Dick Tomey, who came to Tucson from Hawaii. Other programs, particularly on the West Coast, followed Tomey’s lead and stocked their rosters with recruits of Samoan and Tongan descent, eroding an advantage Arizona once had.As the years passed, recruiting Polynesians became less of a priority for Tomey&rs...

For years — bordering on decades — Arizona football fans have pined for the program to reconnect the so-called Polynesian pipeline.

Players from the Pacific islands helped turn the Wildcats into contenders under Dick Tomey, who came to Tucson from Hawaii. Other programs, particularly on the West Coast, followed Tomey’s lead and stocked their rosters with recruits of Samoan and Tongan descent, eroding an advantage Arizona once had.

As the years passed, recruiting Polynesians became less of a priority for Tomey’s successors. Pac-12 rivals such as Utah and Washington reaped the benefits.

That appears to be changing.

Including transfers, Arizona has seven players with Polynesian roots in its 2022 signing class. The Wildcats have the most representatives — six — of any program in the country in the Polynesian Bowl, which is set to kick off Saturday in Honolulu.

How big a deal is that? Well, consider this: Arizona had only three commits, total, in the first five Polynesian Bowls. (Last year’s game was not played because of the pandemic.)

“I’m so excited about what’s about to happen,” said George Malauulu, the former UA quarterback and current president of the AIGA Foundation, a non-profit organization that assists Polynesian student-athletes.

Arizona’s ’22 class — ranked second in the Pac-12 by 247Sports.com and Rivals.com — landed its first Polynesian prospect in April, when quarterback Noah Fifita of Servite High School in Anaheim, California, committed. Next came offensive lineman Jonah Savaiinaea of Honolulu’s Saint Louis High School. In the fall, two of Fifita’s prep teammates, Jacob Manu and Tetairoa McMillan, joined the class. McMillan on Friday was named the 2021 Polynesian High School Player of the Year.

Arizona flipped defensive lineman Ta’ita’i Uiagalelei of Mater Dei High School in Sana Ana, California, in mid-December. The transfer portal brought UCLA defensive tackle Tiaoalii Savea and Washington State quarterback Jayden de Laura to Tucson. Both are Polynesian Bowl alums.

Not every participant in Saturday’s game is of Polynesian decent. Many non-Polynesians are invited to play. Arizona’s sixth representative is tight end Keyan Burnett, who was teammates with Fifita, Manu and McMillan at Servite.

Burnett has known them since they played together with the Orange County Buckeyes in middle school. They developed a bond that goes beyond friendship.

“Family is huge in their culture,” Burnett told 247Sports.com after a Polynesian Bowl practice this week. “I think growing up with the Buckeyes rubbed off a little.”

Jedd Fisch and his staff have made re-establishing ties to the Polynesian community a “clear and dedicated focus,” said Brandon Huffman, the national recruiting editor for 247Sports.com.

It isn’t something Fisch has discussed at length, at least not publicly. This is a case where actions have spoken louder than words for the pitchman of Arizona football.

Fisch’s original staff included one Polynesian coach in an on-field role: tight ends coach Jordan Paopao. Since then, Fisch has hired two more: Johnny Nansen (defensive coordinator) and Jason Kaufusi (edge rushers).

Whether intentional or coincidental, those moves have made an impact in the Polynesian community, where, as Burnett noted, family is everything. Brandon Manumaleuna, who played tight end under Tomey before a 10-year career in the NFL, said it’s important for parents to “know there’s a Polynesian coach on the staff that can look after their son and instill some of the teachings our culture has.”

“It’s moreso for the parents than the kids,” said Manumaleuna, who’s now the coach at Leuzinger High School in Lawndale, California. “’My son will be taken care of.’ It puts parents at ease.”

Shortly after he was hired, Paopao was asked about recruiting and connecting with Polynesian players. He smiled and said: “You didn’t know that all Polynesian guys are related?”

He was joking, of course. But he was also expressing an idea. With three Polynesian coaches on the staff from different parts of the U.S. — Paopao is from Oceanside, California; Nansen was born in American Samoa and went to high school in Long Beach, California; Kaufusi is from Salt Lake City — Arizona has widespread connections. The Wildcats have the most full-time, on-field assistants of Polynesian descent in the Pac-12, according to a survey of online staff directories.

“The fact they have three, that goes to show you they’ve made a commitment to bringing in our kids,” Malauulu said. “It’s almost like a call home.”

One week after Nansen was hired, Arizona offered Uiagalelei, who was committed to Washington State. He signed with the Wildcats a week after that.

Nansen was Savea’s primary recruiter to UCLA. It’s no coincidence that Savea transferred to Arizona after entering the portal.

Arizona has brought in Polynesian players. It has hired Polynesian coaches. The pipeline has been restored.

The question now is whether it’s sustainable.

It’s one thing to recruit and sign talented players. It’s another to develop them. Arizona has not had an exemplary record in that regard in recent years.

Huffman cited the example of Michael Eletise, a four-star offensive lineman from Hawaii who was the top-ranked player in the Wildcats’ 2016 class. Eletise appeared in 23 games for Arizona but never became a full-time starter.

Eletise transferred to Hawaii and played 19 games for the Rainbow Warriors. He retired from football, citing medical reasons, in June of last year.

“It’s not just about having success getting players,” Huffman said. “It’s about those players having success while they’re there.”

Of the three Aizona players who took part in previous Polynesian Bowls, only one, offensive lineman Donovan Laie, developed into a starter.

The new batch of players, most of whom already have enrolled, looks promising on paper.

De Laura — who’s from the same high school as Savaiinaea — was named Pac-12 Offensive Freshman of the Year as a second-year starter at Washington State. Savea was the top-rated recruit in UCLA’s 2020 class and tallied seven tackles in his final three appearances of ’21.

UA staffers already are impressed with Savaiinaea, who could have a role as a true freshman, a rarity for offensive linemen. Fifita was named Offensive MVP of the highly competitive Trinity League and is considered Arizona’s quarterback of the future.

Starbucks Drops Vaccine Mandate For Tucson Workers

TUCSON, AZ — Starbucks will no longer require COVID-19 vaccinations of its 228,000 workers at 9,000 U.S. coffee shops, including those in Tucson.Starbucks is one of the first big companies to change vaccination policies after the U.S. Supreme Court quashed a vaccine mandate that would have affected about 84 million workers, or about half of the U.S. labor force. Had the mandate been allowe...

TUCSON, AZ — Starbucks will no longer require COVID-19 vaccinations of its 228,000 workers at 9,000 U.S. coffee shops, including those in Tucson.

Starbucks is one of the first big companies to change vaccination policies after the U.S. Supreme Court quashed a vaccine mandate that would have affected about 84 million workers, or about half of the U.S. labor force. Had the mandate been allowed to stand, workers would have had to either get fully vaccinated or submit to weekly testing.

The court's Jan. 13 6-3 ruling came as the omicron coronavirus variant was driving a surge in COVID-19 infections. Nothing in the Supreme Court ruling, which allows the Biden administration to proceed with a vaccine mandate for most U.S. health care workers, requires companies with 100 or more employees to ease vaccination requirements.

Both the city of Tucson and Pima County require their employees to be vaccinated. Pima County last week fired 56 of its employees who refused vaccination, the Arizona Daily Star reported.

The new Starbucks vaccination policy, first reported by The Associated Press, was announced in a memo to employees Tuesday.

Amtrak temporarily suspended its vaccine mandate in December, before the Supreme Court ruling. In a memo to employees seen by Reuters, Amtrak CEO Bill Flynn said nearly 96 percent of its employees were either fully vaccination or had received an accommodation for religious or medical reasons.

More big businesses operating in Tucson could follow suit as the coronavirus surge worsens the country's labor shortage. A record 8.8 million people called out sick with COVID-19 between Dec. 29-Jan. 10, according to data reported by The Washington Post.

Retail establishments and their advocates have been vocal critics of the now-blocked requirement, arguing they're already struggling to find enough workers as the coronavirus pandemic persists. Millions of Americans have quit their jobs since the pandemic began in what's being called "The Great Resignation."

Brett Coburn, a lawyer at Atlanta-based Alston & Bird, told The New York Times "a lot of companies were pursuing the vaccine or test requirement only because they were being required to do so."

The AP reported Boston-based General Electric Co. got rid of its vaccine mandate last week after the court ruled, according to IEU-CWA Local 201, the union representing machinists, electricians and other GE employees. Overall, GE has 56,000 U.S. workers.

Not all big businesses plan to follow the lead of Starbucks and GE, though. New York-based Citigroup Inc., one of the largest banks in the U.S., in October said its workers needed to be fully vaccinated or receive an accommodation by Jan. 14. Citigroup told the AP that 99 percent of its employees are now fully vaccinated.

It's up to employers to navigate state and local laws in the absence of a federal mandate. More than a dozen states prohibit COVID-19 vaccine mandates of any kind, CNBC reported.

"For most employers, it has proved to be a day-to-day crisis because when they think they know the answer, the rules change," Domenique Camacho Moran, a labor and employment lawyer with the firm Farrell Fritz, told The New York Times.

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