Think you know everything there is to know about light rail? Think again! Late last year, I went on a tour of the Valley Metro Operations and Maintenance Center, guided by Debby Thacker, assistant manager of Rail Operations. My first glimpse of the OMC was from a conference room with a huge glass window looking down on a giant mechanics shop. I was so amazed to see a whole train inside the building, along with a lot of fascinating machinery that does many incredible jobs.

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 Do you recognize yourself in a mirror? Does your dog? Scientists have determined that most children recognized themselves in a mirror by the age of 2, but what about animals?

In 1970, a scientist named Gordon Gallup Jr. created the Mirror Test or MSR Test to see if animals had self-awareness. It works like this: a mark is painted on an animal in a place they cannot see, like their face, and then they are placed in front of a mirror. If the animal recognizes the mark as being something that shouldn’t be there and attempts to remove it, then they have self-awareness.

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Milkweed bugs are my favorite bugs. Maybe you have seen them in your yard. They are red and gray with a black circle on their backs. The circle has two white dots, side by side in its center. They are oval shaped, with short antennae, and small, round eyes. Did you know milkweed bugs have wings, and are able to fly? The first time I saw a milkweed bug fly, I didn’t know what it was, and it scared me a little.

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 I recently toured the Valley Metro Mobility Center. Parked inside the building is a real bus along with a bus stop. The bus was driven in when the office was being built, and the center was built around it! The Valley Metro Mobility Center is dedicated to helping the elderly and those with impairments regain their independence—it helps them to ride Valley Metro transportation, such as buses and light rail. Between 430 and 530 people come to the Mobility Center each month, which means that many people are gaining the ability to use public transportation.

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In the 1990s, a farmer accidentally ran over a coyote den, leaving only one pup alive. There were no vets that treated wild animals, but fate brought him to Linda Searles. She realized that a rehabilitation center for orphaned animals was a necessity. Searles bought ten acres of land in 1994 and founded The Southwest Wildlife Conservation Center or SWCC.

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