Friday , April 28 2017
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Tag Archives: el paso

Rainiers Ride Grand Slam to Victory over Chihuahuas 11-8

Zach Shank hit Tacoma’s second grand slam in as many nights Friday, as the Rainiers beat the El Paso Chihuahuas 11-8. Shank’s grand slam put Tacoma ahead 7-4 in the fourth inning and the Rainiers never relinquished the lead, despite late runs by El Paso.

The two teams split the four-game series.

Jamie Romak went 4-for-5 with two home runs and four RBIs in the loss. Romak has eight home runs this season to lead the Pacific Coast League and has five longballs in his last five games. Cory Spangenberg went 3-for-5 with an RBI, his third consecutive multi-hit game. Collin Cowgill, Rafael Ortega and Dusty Coleman had two hits apiece for El Paso.

Seattle Mariners reliever Steve Cishek went two thirds of an inning in an injury rehab start, throwing 20 pitches in the no-decision. Jake Smith, Carter Capps and Michael Dimock all had relief appearances without surrendering any earned runs for El Paso.

It was the Chihuahuas first series split this season.

Box Score | Team Records: Tacoma (9-6), El Paso (7-9)

Next Game: Saturday, 7:05 pm at Southwest University Park. Reno RHP Braden Shipley (2-0, 5.82) vs. El Paso RHP Walker Lockett (1-1, 7.20). The game will air on 600 ESPN El Paso and www.epchihuahuas.com.

Tacoma 11 El Paso 8 – Friday

WP: Ash (1-0)

LP: Rodriguez (1-1)

S: None

Time: 3:30

Attn: 8,672

Metropians Across Southwest Donating 250 trees in Celebration of Earth Month 2017

Metropians in El Paso are joining other Earth-conscious drivers in Austin and Tucson and donating dozens of trees in celebration of Earth Month 2017.

While Metropians typically redeem the points earned while avoiding congestion for rewards with local businesses like Eloise, Proper Printshop and Savage Goods, through the end of April those points can be used to donate trees which will be matched one-for-one by Metropia through its partnership with American Forests.

“Hundreds of El Pasoans are already using Metropia’s mobile app every day to save time on their commutes and reduce their CO2 emissions,” said Tania Chozet, Metropia’s El Paso Community Manager. “In the spirit of Earth Day, we’re asking Metropians to go even further and redeem some of their points for trees which help mitigate harmful CO2 emissions. For each tree you donate, we’ll donate one, too.”

Thanks to donations by Metropians in El Paso, Austin, and Tucson, 96 trees have been planted so far this month.

“We’re well on our way to meeting our goal of planting 250 trees, so we encourage all Metropians to donate some of their points toward this worthy cause between now and the end of the month,” Chozet said. “During Earth Month, we also encourage them to seek out other opportunities to lessen their carbon footprints and help make the world a better place.”

Many of those opportunities will be on display at the City of El Paso’s GRO 2017 event from 10 am to 3:30 p.m. on Saturday, April 29, 2017, on the main promenade at the Fountains at Farah, 8889 Gateway Boulevard West.

GRO, which stands for Growth, Resilience and Opportunity, is a celebration of community and sustainability that seeks to increase awareness regarding sustainable community practices through education and outreach, with the goal of maximizing resilience and quality of life.

Metropia is proud to participate in GRO, and will be there handing out Metropia t-shirts and other goodies and educating the public about the benefits of using Metropia to plan ahead.

The free Metropia app is available for download in the App Store and via Google Play.

Metropia’s team of traffic engineers and regional experts monitor the latest traffic conditions and construction closures from their new offices at the Hub of Human Innovation in Downtown El Paso. Metropia collaborates with area transportation experts, regional planning agencies and community stakeholders to create meaningful change by serving as the only single-source platform to share data with our entire community.

Metropia officially launched in El Paso in October, following a nine month testing phase.  To date, thousands of El Paso’s commuters have saved nearly 3,000 hours of driving time. For more information, visit Metropia.com/ElPaso.

39th Annual NorthEaster Parade set for Saturday Morning

 The 39th Annual NorthEaster Parade, presented by the Transmountain Optimists, once again takes to the streets of Northeast El Paso on Saturday, April 15, 2017, at 10:00 a.m.

More than eighty floats, marching bands, residents and businesses plan to march down the 1.5 mile route, which will begin at Magoffin Middle School at Hercules and Diana, and end at the Northeast Transfer Station at Dyer and Diana.

Nominees for Grand Marshall are chosen by the NorthEaster parade committee for being a pillar in the community , citizens who exemplify and embody all the virtues and valor of our diverse culture and community.  This year’s Grand Marshall is El Paso’s Mayor, Oscar Leeser.

The first parade was only a small part of the Northeast World Jubilee (NWJ) sponsored by the Transmountain Optimists (TMO) which ran from September 29 to October 2, 1978. The parade continues to be the only Easter parade in El Paso.

All participants have the option of entering our float contest.  Awards for the following categories will be presented:

  • Sweepstakes Award: Best Overall
  • Grand Marshall Award: Best Display, Originality, Design, and Presentation
  • Easter Buny Award: Most Appealing to the Children
  • New Generation: Best Enrty by a Youth Organization
  • Judges Award: Special Recognition by the Judges

Mexican Journalist’s Case Suggests Changes to Asylum Process under Trump

A Mexican reporter who sought asylum in El Paso after receiving death threats has been detained by federal officials —despite having passed an initial test to determine whether he faces a “credible fear” back home, his attorney said.

When Martin Mendez Pineda fled the Mexican state of Guerrero in February, he escaped a living hell where being a reporter meant he had a constant target on his back. Yet he walked into a new nightmare after seeking asylum in El Paso, according to his attorney.

Mendez Pineda, 26, has been in a detention facility in the Texas border city even after American authorities agreed the reporter had a credible fear of returning to his country. His attorney, Carlos Spector, said it’s symbolic of a change under the Trump Administration where prolonged detention — even for people with no criminal history — is the latest tool in the White House’s effort to discourage people fleeing violence from seeking help in the United States.

Spector’s immediate concern isn’t the asylum process that could lay ahead but instead the continued detention of someone who would normally be released while his case is meandering through the long and complicated series of hearings and interviews. He fears the detention will become a pattern and be used against other foreigners seeking safe harbor after Trump issued his Jan. 25 executive order on immigration.

“This process of incarcerating immigrants seeking refuge in the United States has been a policy that has existed that has just gotten worse under Trump,” he said. “We’re here to demand his freedom and to denounce the criminalization of the political asylum process as a political tool.”

The federal Department of Homeland Security indicates it is just vetting asylum applicants to make sure the revamped process is fair.

“The goal of DHS is to ensure the asylum process is not abused,” the agency explains on its website. “The asylum officer shall make a positive credible fear finding only after the officer has considered all relevant evidence and determined, based on credible evidence, that the alien has a significant possibility of establishing eligibility for asylum, or torture protection.”

Mendez Pineda fled the resort city of Acapulco after he was attacked by Mexican federal officers and later threatened at gunpoint by six armed men, according to case documents provided by Spector’s office.

The attacks were in retaliation for his watchdog reporting on abuses committed by Mexican government officials and occurred in a city considered the second-most-violent in the world behind Central America’s San Salvador. (The homicide rate in Acapulco is 108 per 100,000 people, compared to San Salvador’s 137 per 100,000, according to an analysis by The Economist.) Mendez Pineda’s case caught the attention of Paris-based advocacy group Reporters Without Borders, who wrote Mendez a letter of recommendation to help bolster his case. The Committee to Protect Journalists, based in New York, has also taken note.

After Mendez Pineda passed his “credible fear” interview, Spector sought to have him released on parole while his client’s case was pending. The documents from Spector’s office indicate his client was denied a release because he didn’t have significant ties to the community and because he was a flight risk. Spector said both excuses are laughable because Mendez Pineda has never been convicted of a crime anywhere and because he sought entry on his own and turned himself in.

“To deny a reporter release, who had no criminal history, no threat to the community who presented himself lawfully at the bridge with a strong letter from Reporters Without Borders, to deny that, I think is throwing down the hatchet,” Spector said. “This is a message that if he can’t get out, then no one else will either.”

An El Paso-based spokesperson for Immigration and Customs Enforcement said in an email that each asylum is decided on a case-by-case basis and the agency takes into account several factors, including safety considerations and any other sensitive issues involving the case.

When asked specifically about Mendez’s case, ICE spokeswoman Leticia Zamarripa would only confirm the reporter’s arrival and subsequent transfer into custody.

“Martín Méndez Pineda, 26, from Mexico, entered the United States Feb. 5, 2017, via the Paso Del Norte Port of Entry in El Paso, Texas,” she wrote. “On the same day he was transferred to ICE custody, and then was transported to the El Paso Processing Center in El Paso, Texas.”

Spector, who has represented several dozen Mexican immigrants seeking asylum, knows that even if the parole were to be granted, Mendez Pineda would still face an uphill battle in winning his asylum case and being granted legal status. Despite more than a decade of raging violence in Mexico due to warring cartels and the federal government’s attempts to quell the problem, American immigration officials have been reluctant to grant Mexicans asylum.

Of the 12,831 asylum requests from Mexicans received during the 2016 fiscal year, only 464 – fewer than 4 percent – were granted while 2,624 were denied and thousands more either withdrawn, abandoned or may be pending, according to federal statistics.

The percentage of Mexicans granted asylum is far less than the 13.3 percent overall rate of approved asylum claims in the United States during the same time frame.

Read more:

Author:  JULIÁN AGUILAR – The Texas Tribune

Plastic Surgeon Brings New Skills, Services to TTUHSC El Paso

Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center El Paso (TTUHSC El Paso) recently added Jose Castro-Garcia, M.D., to its team of health care providers. Dr. Castro-Garcia specializes in plastic and craniofacial surgery.

“My scope of practice is very wide and not limited by any anatomical area, making my work very exciting and challenging,” says Dr. Castro Garcia. “On the same day, I could be doing a child’s cleft lip, a breast reconstruction, a hand anomaly, and then a trauma case.”

As the only plastic surgeon in the Department of Surgery, Dr. Castro-Garcia dove straight into work after arriving in September and has performed nearly 600 surgeries since. The plastic surgeon is capable of addressing a range of health issues, including skin cancer, scars, upper and lower extremity reconstruction, post-traumatic injury, burns, and congenital malformations.

His skill set is, perhaps, most beneficial for patients of the Texas Tech Physicians of El Paso (TTP El Paso) Breast Care Center. With Dr. Castro-Garcia’s expertise, the team is now able to perform breast reconstruction immediately after a mastectomy — minimizing patient recovery times and the number of surgeries a patient may need to undergo.

“Performing reconstruction at the same time as the mastectomy provides patients with the best cosmetic results,” he explains. “This is because there is no scar tissue or post-radiation injury to deal with.”

Dr. Castro-Garcia is familiar with the border region. He completed a general surgery residency at the Paul L. Foster School of Medicine in 2012.

“I really enjoyed my time in this city and always planned to come back,” he says. “I enjoy the culture and the patient population that we have the opportunity to treat in this area.”

Dr. Castro-Garcia received his Doctor of Medicine from the Autonomous University of San Luis Potosi in Mexico. He went on to complete a prestigious plastic surgery fellowship at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota and continued his training at the Medical City Hospital Craniofacial Center in Dallas, Texas.

Metropia Adds New Merchant to Traffic-Avoiding App

A growing number of local merchants are making it more rewarding to help reduce congestion during the daily commute by using Metropia’s mobile app.

Eloise, a European-style coffee shop and restaurant located at 255 Shadow Mountain Drive in West El Paso, is Metropia’s latest merchant partner in El Paso.

“Metropia is committed to finding innovative solutions to El Paso’s growing traffic troubles while improving the quality of life for El Pasoans,” said Tania Chozet, Metropia’s El Paso Community Manager. “Partnering with businesses like Eloise, Savage Goods and Proper Printshop allows us to showcase some of the entrepreneurs who are investing in our community while making it even more rewarding for commuters to avoid congestion.”

The list of businesses also includes Proper Printshop, a locally owned screen printing studio, and Savage Goods, a local purveyor of home baked goods.

By using the Metropia app to navigate around congestion and choose less congested travel times, commuters earn points which can be redeemed with those participating businesses.

As one of Metropia’s newest partners, the live video will focus on raising awareness of the new collaboration; showcase one of Eloise’s Meatless Monday offerings, and giving a behind-the-scenes look at cafe operations. You can watch the live broadcast and submit questions by liking Metropia El Paso on Facebook.

Metropia’s team of traffic engineers and regional experts monitor the latest traffic conditions and construction closures from their new offices at the Hub of Human Innovation in Downtown El Paso. Metropia collaborates with area transportation experts, regional planning agencies and community stakeholders to create meaningful change by serving as the only single-source platform to share data with our entire community.

Metropia officially launched in El Paso in October, following a nine month testing phase.  To date, thousands of El Paso’s commuters have saved nearly 2,000 hours of driving time and planted nearly 9,000 trees.

Metropia will be live on Facebook in the Eloise kitchen at 10am MST on Monday, April 10, 2017. Eloise is known for their high-quality, responsibly sourced coffee, gourmet fare, and vegan-friendly offerings.

The free Metropia app is available for download in the Apple Store and via Google Play.

El Paso Named A Top Ten Texas Bookish Destination

Lubbock, Texas – Lone Star Literary Life, Texas’s only statewide media devoted to Texas books and readers, has announced its Third Annual Top Ten Texas Bookish Destinations. El Paso ranked No. 9.

The process to select the winners starts with reviewing 45 different book-related variables, including visitable destinations, such as bookstores, libraries, literary centers, author birthplaces, sites featured in books or movies. Other factors include bookish events, such as book festivals, poetry readings and slams, or book arts venues.

Representatives of Lone Star Literary Life then visit each of the destinations under consideration and interact with key literary stakeholders in each community.

“Now in its third year, our annual Top Ten Texas Bookish Destinations rankings has become one of Lone Star Literary Life’s most anticipated announcements,” said Kay Ellington, editor and publisher of Lone Star Literary Life. “Whether you’re a reader, a writer, or just love to travel, I encourage you to visit these destinations in Texas. In each of these places we found stories, characters, attractions and events well worth the drive.”

El Paso makes the list for the third year in a row for several reasons. The Tom Lea Trail is one of the visitable literary and cultural treasures of El Paso, connecting regional histories through art in eleven Texas cities (plus locales in Mexico and the state of New Mexico). Along the El Paso portion of the trail, Lea’s art can be found at the historic federal courthouse, the El Paso Public Library, the El Paso Museum of Art, the El Paso Museum of History, and the University of Texas at El Paso.

Benjamín Alire Sáenz, the first Latino writer ever to win the PEN/Faulkner award, teaches at the University of Texas El Paso. BorderSenses, a nonprofit literary organization, is devoted to promoting art and literature on both sides of the border through events like the Barbed Wire Open Mic series, which features performances in poetry, music, comedy, fiction, nonfiction, monologues, dance routines, and more. The Tumblewords Project and the El Paso Poetry Project also support poetry workshops and spoken-word performance workshops.

Click here (http://www.lonestarliterary.com/el-paso-2017.html) for full details on why El Paso was chosen as a Top Ten Texas Bookish Destination.

2017 Top Ten Texas Bookish Destinations
1.      Austin
2.      Houston
3.      Dallas
4.      Abilene
5.      Permian Basin (Midland and Odessa)
6.      San Antonio
7.      Fort Worth
8.      Rio Grande Valley
9.      El Paso
10.     Angelina and Nacogdoches Counties

Lone Star Literary Life, a weekly Texas books website includes reviews, interviews, and a statewide calendar of book events. To see the 2017 Top Ten Texas Bookish Destinations list, visit www.lonestarliterary.com/top-texas-bookish-destinations.html and use the official hashtag, #LoneStarLit, on social media.

El Dorado High School Launches Environmental Service Art Contest

El Dorado High School invites the El Paso, Juarez and Las Cruces community to participate in the school’s art contest, Metamorphosis: Trash to Treasure, to raise awareness about environmental concerns.

The contest, which is part of the It’s Your World community art project, will allow participants to work with recycled material to make creative art. Winners will earn cash-value prizes, participate in a meet-and-greet with Chelsea Clinton, and have their artwork showcased at the International Museum of Art.

Contest guidelines can be found in the It’s Your World project website and click on the Competition link.

Artists may participate by submitting a photo of the artwork before midnight, March 31 to itsyourworldproject@gmail.com

Award winners will be announced during a reception at 1:30 p.m. April 23 at the International Museum of Art.

For more information, contact Candie Printz by phone at 731-6271 or by e-mail at itsyourworldproject@gmail.com

What:         El Dorado High School art contest Metamorphosis: Trash to Treasure

Who:          El Paso, Juarez and Las Cruces community

Where:       International Museum of Art, 1211 Montana Ave

When:        Entry deadline: Midnight, March 31

Canutillo Family Seeks Community’s Help after high winds Damage Home

On, Thursday, March 23rd, The Cortez-Rocha family’s mobile home was damaged by high winds that swept through the Sun City. The high winds blew off the roof of the residence leaving the residence unprotected and ultimately displacing the Cortez-Rocha family.

Sheriff’s Office Deputies responded to 700 Reidsan Grove in Canutillo, Texas and assisted the family, and put them in contact with the Red Cross.

Maria Cortez, Jose Rocha and their four children ages 5,6,12, and 17 are requesting assistance from the community during their time of need.

Donations can be made at any First Convenience Bank location to account #459781571. Maria Cortez can be reached at 915-401-2197.

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City Hires first Military Affairs Liaison

On Monday, the City of El Paso announced the selection of First Sgt. Dwayne Williams as the first Military Affairs Liaison for the City of El Paso.

Williams, a veteran himself, has proudly served his country for many years. He enlisted into the United States Army in 1991 where he served in many capacities during his tenure, which included roles as an Indirect Fire Infantryman, Psychological Operations Specialist, and Human Resources Specialist.

WilliamsCOEP (1)In his most recent capacity, Williams serves as the Military Veterans Peer Network Coordinator with Emergence Health Network, the mental health authority in the El Paso region. In this role, Mr. Williams has developed projects that are designed to assist veterans and their families.

In addition, he also serves as Emergence Health Network’s Veterans Liaison between local, state, and federal resources.

It is this prior experience and leadership that has made Mr. Williams the top selection for the position of Veteran Affairs Liaison with the City of El Paso. He has accepted the position and is expected to start in mid-April.

The City in recent years has focused its efforts on our veteran community by creating new initiatives in honor of our heroes. In addition to the Military Affairs Liaison position, the City has also brought on other veteran specific initiatives.

Veteran Resources Website – The informative website, hosted by the City, provides valuable information in a centralized location to help veterans and their families better find resources and services. The website features information on education, training, employment, childcare, healthcare, food assistance, transportation, and housing.

Veterans Affairs Advisory Committee – This committee was formed to serve as a source of information related to the status, resources and services available within the El Paso community to the City’s large veteran population. In addition, the committee is asked to evaluate and recommend programs, policies and practices designed to alleviate veterans’ difficulties in meeting basic needs related to transportation, housing, employment and other areas affecting veterans.

Annual Veteran City Employee Luncheon – Knowing that veterans are living and working all around us, the City of El Paso has started a new tradition, a Veterans Day Luncheon for its more than 600 employees who are proud veterans. This luncheon allows City leaders to thank our veterans not only for their service to the City of El Paso, but also for their service to our Country.

Veteran Employment Incentive – In 2015, City Council approved an update to its economic development incentive policy which includes a bonus rebate (property or sales tax) for companies that actively employ veterans (15% of their workforce) and establish a formal veteran hiring program.

Editor’s Note: Information given to us by the city was incorrect; Mr. Williams has not yet retired from the Army and his rank is First Sergeant. The story has been updated to reflect the correct information.

Video: Your City in 5 – Week Ending March 24th

Rick Isaias brings you information on a historic building downtown getting new life thanks to incentives provided by the City of El Paso. Another non-stop flight will be added at the El Paso International Airport that will make it easier for travelers to get around the country. Getting rid of unwanted trash – that’s the goal of major clean-up created by Environmental Services.

Plus, the story of a little boy who has a fascination with garbage trucks.

These stories and other services provided by the City of El Paso are available online at www.elpasotexas.gov

El Paso Snags $1m Grant from Texas Parks for Northeast Regional Park

The Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission Thursday approved nearly $16 million in competitive local park grants to help fund projects that will create and enhance outdoor recreational opportunities like nature trails, urban gardens, playgrounds with full accessibility, dog parks, splash pads and sports fields at 37 community parks across the state.

As part of the awards, El Paso landed an urban outdoor grant of $1 million for the Northeast Regional Park project. The proposed development for this project includes lighted ballfields, a dog park, trails, benches, fitness stations, landscaping, signs and a parking lot expansion.

Del Rio was the recipient of a $500,000 non-urban outdoor grant for its community sports park project. The grant will be used to acquire 30 additional acres to expand upon its existing 11 acre sports park. Other proposed development includes renovation of existing softball and baseball fields, multi-purpose field, a playground, picnic tables, trails, fitness stations and landscaping.

The grants allocate to local government entities appropriated state and federal funding dedicated for the acquisition and/or development of public recreation areas and facilities in Texas on a 50/50 reimbursement match basis. Once funded, all grant assisted sites must be dedicated as parkland in perpetuity, properly maintained and open to the public.

The commission, which administers the local parks grant program for the State of Texas, awarded projects in various categories based on community population size and scope. Urban Outdoor Recreation Grants are reserved for cities having populations exceeding 500,000, with projects in five communities receiving grants.

The Non-Urban Outdoor Recreation Grants are dedicated to funding park projects in municipalities under 500,000 and the commission approved awards to projects in 13 communities. The Small Community Recreation Grants are for park projects in towns of less than 20,000 and were awarded to 13 communities.

Urban Indoor Grants are given to communities with populations exceeding 500,000 and were awarded to two communities. Non-Urban Indoor Grants are given to municipalities with a population less than 500,000 and were awarded to four communities.

For more information about the local park grants program, visit the TPWD local park grants page.

 

Story+Gallery: Northeast El Paso’s unique ‘Sugar House’ a Must-See

When I was born back in 1970, El Paso was smaller -way smaller. Now, with all the growth in our city, I am sad to admit there are just places I have yet to see.

For example, living in the Lower Valley,  I don’t often find myself venturing further than Fred Wilson Drive in Northeast El Paso. That neighborhood is foreign territory to me; El Paso is just too big…bigger than it was when I was a child.

Now along with the size, El Paso has some great architecture: the Kress Building, Mt. Sinai Temple, the O.T. Bassett Tower – just to name a few. Yet, on one of my few trips north of Fred Wilson, I discovered a house that is dedicated to the City of El Paso, and deserves to be on that list.

The house I am talking about is on the corner of Leavell and St. Charles, and I had never seen it before.  According to Rufino Loya, owner of this remarkable property, his home illustrates the mosaic that is Mexico.

One day, when I was coming home from Chaparral, I caught just a glimpse of this house out of the corner of my eye. What I saw, for only the briefest of moments, was a giant painting of Our Lady of Guadalupe.

Sadly, with a busy life, I really didn’t think anything of it again. A couple days later, I was back in Chaparral. By the time I started to head home, it was dark. That’s when I saw the house again. This time, it was lit up.

At that point I decided to get off the North-South Freeway, and check it out.

Mr. Loya says he started decorating his house back in 1973. It is, he says, in the style of Spanish art as you would see in Zacatecas, Mexico. All of it started with one piece, an angel standing atop an arch in his front yard. “I liked it, so I made another piece,” he says.

The house is definitely from another time, another style. Walking around the house, I could not help but feel like I was standing inside a church that was built for the whole world, open to the whole world.

The art is reminds me of some of the Churches I have seen while on holiday in Mexico, and took me back to a more peaceful, simpler time of life.

Mr. Loya said that the overall style of the home is that of Mexico. Each of the thirty-two states, he says, has their own customs, and styles: food, dress, way of speaking, music. Yet, in his work, Mr. Loya has managed to combine them all into a visual gift to El Paso.

When I asked him, why he does it, why he made his home an artistic masterpiece, he said just that, that he wanted to give something to the city. Something they would appreciate, and marvel.

And people do enjoy it.

Several times a week, Mr. Loya says that there are visitors to his home. Some stop and pray before the picture of Our Lady of Guadalupe, or St. Frances. Others stop to pray before the statue of Jesus in front of the house.

It truly is a place that will make you stop, and take a moment out of your day for something that is bigger than all of us.

Next time you are out in the Northeast, why not stop by. Or, take a trip over on the weekend.

This house is really worth seeing in person.

Story & Gallery by Steven Cottingham – Special to the Herald-Post

Report: El Paso Spends $5 million on Litter, Illegal Dumping

Texas communities are fighting an expensive battle against litter and illegal dumping.

In February, Texans for Clean Water, a nonprofit organization formed by business leaders to address the problem of waterway litter, released study findings that quantify how much litter and illegal dumping is directly costing communities. The study, conducted by consulting firm Burns & McDonnell, examines annual cost data for prevention, education and outreach, abatement and enforcement efforts to address trash and debris littered or dumped in nine cities.

The nine cities — Austin, Corpus Christi, El Paso, Fort Worth, Houston, Laredo, Lufkin, Midland, and San Antonio — represent 25 percent of the state’s population and spend more than $50 million annually on litter and illegal dumping issues.

The study used only direct costs reported by local governments and associated organizations and by not including expenditures by private business or valuation of volunteer time, $50 million is likely a lower estimate than actual costs.

“We wanted to present a study of hard data,” said Scott Pasternak, Senior Project Manager at Burns & McDonnell, “By using only direct costs, without extrapolation, we can show the real- world receipts of these efforts.”

According to the study, nonprofit organizations, water districts, cities, counties and law enforcement entities are commonly involved in efforts to prevent and cleanup litter. Methods vary widely, from creating law enforcement units specifically tasked with catching illegal dumpers to advertising campaigns featuring angry grandmas.

There is a common trend across all nine cities, however: the amount of money spent cleaning up illegally discarded materials greatly surpassing all other categories. According to the study, 52 percent, or $26 million, of the money spent by all nine cities went towards litter abatement with another 14 percent, $7 million, going towards cleaning up illegal dumps.

“A possible follow up to this study could be an evaluation of enforcement mechanisms and jurisdictions for these violations, to get a better understanding of how effective the current system is in prosecuting what are criminal acts.” said Maia Corbitt, a consultant for Booth, Ahrens and Werkenthin, a law firm specializing in environmental and water law.

“Materials that are littered or illegally dumped get into our waterways and can affect water quality, critical infrastructure for flood control and irrigation, reduce valuable water storage space, eventually flow to the gulf and as you can see, costs a lot of taxpayer money.”

The study demonstrates how many departments and organizations work on this issue within a community. Ten different nonprofits and governmental entities provided data for the City of Houston, which adds up to more than $21 million per year or about $7 per resident.

Some insights provided by communities include efforts to better coordinate between departments as in the case of Fort Worth’s Litter Summit.

“We realized that bringing the multiple stakeholders across the city together to talk about what each department was doing could help us better coordinate efforts to more effectively serve our residents and visitors to Fort Worth.” said Debbie Branch, Resource Recovery Planner & Keep Fort Worth Beautiful Director.

“This is a great study, but there is much left unanswered,” said Mike Garver, founder of Texans for Clean Water “including which methods are the best at reducing the amount of materials being littered and illegally dumped. It also does not show which practices are the most cost effective.”

There are a handful of bills filed this legislative session intending to impact litter and illegal dumping in Texas. House Bill 2140, filed by Rep. Ryan Guillen, D- Rio Grande City, would create a statewide group to determine the best management practices and funding mechanisms for windblown and waterborne litter. House Bill 1884, filed by Rep. “Doc” Anderson, R-Waco, would add a community service requirement for litter violators.

“These study cities are working hard and demonstrate their commitment to keeping a clean community but windblown and waterborne trash doesn’t recognize municipal boundaries. It’s going to take a coordinated effort to tackle this problem including increased state attention to this issue,” Garver added.

Full Report Texans For Clean Water Litter Cost Study 2017

Mx Leader Andrés Manuel López Obrador set for El Paso Visit, Speech Monday

Mexican leader Andrés Manuel Lopez Obrador will visit El Paso to speak in Downtown on Monday, March 6 at San Jacinto Plaza.

The populist office holder and activist is visiting El Paso as part of a multi-city tour to express solidarity with the millions of Mexicans living  in the United States.

Via a news release, officials with López Obrador’s tour say, “His presence is an act of solidarity with the intent of motivating Mexicans to fight for their human rights, their right to work and their right to live for peaceful lives. At the same time, it is an invitation to the United States to be generous with our people who are at risk of losing their right to stay in a country where they have developed their lives and those of their children.”

“We are convinced that human nature is common for all people, no matter their country of origin, the color of their skin or their beliefs. We want people to know that they are not alone in this time of fear and that is an obligation of the United States of America to respect every person who works honestly to make a living to support their families that still live in Mexico,” officials added.

From 2000 to 2005, López Obrador held the position of Head of Government of the Federal District – a title and position similar to a mayor  of Mexico City and the Federal District that surrounds it – before resigning in July 2005 to run in the 2006 Mexican presidential election; representing a coalition of the PRD, Labor Party and Citizens’ Movement.

He currently is the leader of the National Regeneration Movement (MORENA).

“We live in two different countries, but we are ONE nation and we share the same culture, language and history. We want people to know that they are not alone in their fight,” López Obrador adds.

López Obrador will speak starting at 5 p.m. on Monday, March 6th at San Jacinto Plaza.  Officials say the event is open to the public and to anyone who wants to express their solidarity.

 

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