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Thursday , October 18 2018
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Voices from the Valley: San Lorenzo, Manguera Water and Flowers for the Virgin Mary

I passed San Lorenzo on my way home yesterday. I grew up right behind the adobe church in Clint. Passing the church, I was reminded of the May flower offerings to the Virgin Mary when I was growing up. This we did every May and every May I offered flowers, but I wasn’t always happy about it.

See, I was a tomboy as a kid. I was outside all day long every day playing in the irrigation ditches of Clint, climbing in and out of the cars in my grandfather’s junkyard, scaling houses, sheds, and rock walls, riding my bicycle, recruiting bugs for my bug armies, and challenging the neighborhood kids to roller skating races.

I was also busy breaking bones as a kid. I thought I was Evil Knievel for a time and ended up breaking my collarbone. Playing in the junkyard also proved dangerous as well as I ended up breaking the fingers in my left hand. That didn’t matter though, I loved playing outside. I rarely came inside for anything, not even to drink water or eat.

There was no Xbox, no Playstation, no IPad. Heck, there wasn’t even Atari yet. My entertainment was outside.

If I was hungry, I’d run to my grandmother’s fig tree and swipe a fig. When I was thirsty I’d do what all the other kids did; I’d grab the manguera (Spanish for garden hose) to quench my thirst. It didn’t matter whose manguera we used.

Now, before I go any further, I need to explain how the  manguera is used.

There is a certain way to drink water from a  manguera and I feel I should point this out because it’s important. First, we’d never let the manguera touch our lips because we didn’t know where it had been. We’d turn the water on just enough so it wouldn’t run straight down.

We’d spread our legs slightly, and with our heads leaning forward we’d then drink. Now, we’d have to make sure trusted friends manned the spigot otherwise they’d turn the water on full force and we’d splash our faces.

There were no water bottles, no Dasani, no Evian, no Sam’s Choice. Nope, we got our water from the manguera.

However, my outdoor good times were cut short in May.

In May my mom would call me in early because as a young girl of a certain age belonging to the San Lorenzo parish, I had to make my daily offerings of flowers to the Virgin Mary along with the other little girls from the community. For me it was an ordeal though.

See, I hated wearing dresses. I couldn’t play outside in a dress. I couldn’t get on the roof of a shed in a dress. There was no way to explore the acequia in a dress. Certainly riding my bike in a dress would prove difficult. I mean Evil Knievel didn’t wear dresses! Dresses were inconvenient! Any self-respecting tomboy knew this and opposed them. I certainly did.

But, as a dutiful little Catholic girl that duty trumped everything and I acquiesced to my mother’s demands and donned the ruffles and lace so I could answer the call of the church bells summoning me and all the other little angels to make offerings to the Virgin Mary. It was our duty.

Plus, we did it out of fear. See, I grew up in the era of fearing the chancla (Spanish for sandal). For many of us if you didn’t do what your mother told you to do she’d throw a chancla at your head. In my house I also grew up with the fear of “making Baby Jesus cry.”

Yep, Abbie Franco never hesitated to pour on the Catholic guilt to get us to do things or to make us feel remorseful and rather miserable after we did something bad. She wasn’t opposed to reminding us that if we didn’t behave we were going to “make Baby Jesus cry.” I certainly didn’t want to do that so I obeyed.

Who am I kidding? I wasn’t always obedient. You’d think the fear of a chancla or making Baby Jesus cry would have kept me in line but if you ask my sister, I was quite the obstinate child, always doing exactly the opposite of what I was told.

If my mom said “don’t touch that,” I would look right at her and touch it, probably with a grin on my face. I guess I should apologize to the Baby Jesus for making him cry so much, should I ever make his acquaintance.

I wonder if apologizing to the Plaster of Paris infant Baby Jesus in a Nativity scene would suffice and absolve me of my childhood sins.

Anyway, back to the May flower offerings, I would run inside the house, and my mom would throw a dress on me. I’d be all sweaty and she’d barely wipe me down and get the frilly frock on me with just enough time for me to join my fellow innocent virgins at San Lorenzo.

Don Regino would still be ringing the church bells as we’d find our places in line and Ninfa would hand us our flowers. Ninfa was the San Lorenzo church lady. She was in charge of everything that had to do with the church. She taught catechism classes, supervised the choir, organized the offerings during mass, and to my recollection was more powerful than the priest and may have told off a bishop or two.

Looking back, I think she could have run the Vatican given the chance. Nobody ever messed with Ninfa. If we missed catechism, she’d drive around in her brown van, hunt us down, pick us up, and return us to catechism. Nope, we didn’t mess with her.

Oh my goodness, though, did this lady know how to make some mean gorditas.

But I digress. Now the flowers we offered weren’t real flowers. Nope, in typical, or stereotypical Mexican fashion, Ninfa would hand us plastic flowers to offer the Virgin Mary. We’d walk up to the altar single file and put our flowers in the vase at the feet of the Virgin de Guadalupe statue.

Little old Catholic ladies with lace doilies on their heads and rosary beads hanging from their hands would sing traditional hymns honoring the Virgin.

I just remember hoping this daily offering would end soon so I could dash outside.

Maybe if time allowed I’d make a quick stop at Don Poli’s store for some stale, old candy that I had to dust off before eating. I’d then run home and get out of my lace imprisonment in the hopes of catching more daylight and good times in the ditches, on the streets, or in my grandfather’s junkyard in my beloved dusty border town.

*

 

 

 

Author: Christina Franco

 

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Voices from the Valley is a continuing series of stories, videos and live events from our Mission Valley, stretching from Ysleta to Tornillo.

TxDoT: Texas Transportation Commission Approves $100k for Fabens Airport

The Fabens airport, and two others in Texas Department of Transportation’s El Paso District, will receive funding after action taken by the Texas Transportation Commission at its December meeting.

Approximately $100,000 for the Fabens Airport was approved and will be used for planned airport improvements including preparation of an airport business plan. A project consultant will be selected this winter.

Project costs will be funded through El Paso County and TxDoT’s Aviation Facilities Grant Program, which preserves and improves the state’s general aviation system.

The Commission also approved $175,000 for the Marfa Municipal and Presidio–Lely International Airport. The funds will be used for planned airport improvements which includes preparation of an action plan for both airports. A project consultant will be selected this winter.

Project costs will be funded through Presidio County and TxDoT’s Aviation Facilities Grant Program, which preserves and improves the state’s general aviation system.

TxDoT Officials say arrivals and departures from community airports account for more than three million flight hours per year and provide aircraft facilities for agricultural, medical, business and commuter use.

This year, TxDoT expects to provide approximately $60 million in funding for planning, constructing and maintaining community airports.

Approximately 275 community airports in Texas are eligible for funding.

Story in Many Pics: Fabens Blasts Past Clint 47-35

In one of the region’s classic high school football rivalries, the Clint Lions made the eight-mile-drive down Texas 20 to Amador Villalobos Jr. Athletic Complex to take on Fabens Wildcats.

As of recent years, the Lions have had the upper hand on the Wildcats, but with a game that has ramifications years after the last whistle has blown, both teams bring their ‘A’ Games for this match up.

Our very own Andres Acosta was there as the Wildcats got the upper hand in this yearly rivalry, and brings you his view of the game in this ‘Story in Many Pics’

Clint Lions vs Fabens Wildcats at the Amador Villalobos Jr Athletic Complex, Fabens Texas October 12, 2017

Video+Gallery+Story: UTEP Conducts First Combustion Tests at New Research Park in Fabens

The first combustion tests were completed Wednesday afternoon at UTEP’s Technology Research Innovation Acceleration Park (tRIAC) in Fabens.

Mechanical engineering students conducted the combustor shakedown tests inside the location’s hangar.

“We have been looking forward to taking this step out here since the project was first announced last fall,” said Ahsan Choudhuri, Ph.D., director of the NASA MIRO Center for Space Exploration and Technology Research and tRIAC project lead. “This larger facility near the airport allows us to conduct testing restricted at our campus location, advancing our ability to research combustion.”

The testing will demonstrate that the use of oxygen combustion, instead of industry air combustion, will increase efficiency and help sequestrate 90% carbon dioxide from fossil energy power plants. Students have spent nearly one year on the project, from the design phase to the last three weeks of setup. The next step in the research will entail increasing the amount of pressure.

“The success of our initial testing out here validates the work of our student researchers and our program,” Choudhuri added. “We were ready for this opportunity to expand our footprint in the community. This continues our trajectory to positively impact the region and the future of UTEP as a contributor to economic development.”

Just last week, the U.S. Department of Commerce announced that UTEP had been awarded a $500,000 grant to create and expand cluster-focused proof-of-concept and commercialization programs through the Economic Development Administration’s (EDA) Regional Innovation Strategies (RIS) program.

The EDA grant money will be matched by UTEP for a total investment of $1 million and will go toward the development of the facility. The University partnered with the County of El Paso on the venture and announced efforts for the area adjacent to the airport in fall 2016.

Renovation at the site started in April 2017 in the existing hangar used for Wednesday’s testing. In recent weeks, students began working in the facility, and the interior of the hangar is taking shape. Once complete, tRIAC will consist of multiple sites, including a test site and data center, a rocket tower and incubator facilities for small businesses.

The next phase of construction is expected to start by the end of the year.

Photos courtesy UTEP

Department of Commerce Invests in Entrepreneurship Efforts at UTEP, El Paso County tRIAC in Fabens

The U.S. Department of Commerce announced that UTEP has been awarded a $500,000 grant to create and expand cluster-focused proof-of-concept and commercialization programs through the Economic Development Administration’s (EDA) Regional Innovation Strategies (RIS) program.

“The engineering program at The University of Texas at El Paso is part of a powerful partnership across our region to advance efforts in the aerospace, manufacturing and energy sectors,” said Theresa Maldonado, Ph.D., dean of the College of Engineering. “Project lead Dr. Ahsan Choudhuri is a tireless and very effective strategist and leader in these areas of high importance to El Paso and the United States.”

The EDA grant money will be matched by UTEP for a total investment of $1 million and will go toward the development of the Technology Research Innovation Acceleration Park (tRIAC) in Fabens. The University partnered with the County of El Paso on the venture and announced efforts for the area adjacent to the airport in fall 2016.

“This validates UTEP’s future pathway, its impact on the community,” said Ahsan Choudhuri, Ph.D., director of the NASA MIRO Center for Space Exploration and Technology Research and tRIAC project lead. “What we envisioned last year is happening. This will help us in building capacity as we prepare for future construction.”

Renovation at the site started in April 2017 in an existing hangar. In recent weeks, students began working in the facility, and the interior of the hangar is taking shape. Once complete, tRIAC will consist of multiple sites, including a test site and data center, a rocket tower and incubator facilities for small businesses.

“The Commissioners Court is proud of our partnership with UTEP to utilize our Fabens airport as a Technology Research and Innovation Acceleration Park,” said El Paso County Judge Veronica Escobar. “Not only is this expanding our region’s STEM education opportunities but also building economic development capacity. This grant will expand the tRIAc’s ability to create high-tech and innovative-based small business capacity in aerospace/defense technologies, advanced manufacturing, and energy engineering in an area of our community that hasn’t seen this type of investment. We have no doubt this is the first of many grants to come which will help further expand upon this exciting collaboration.”

Forty-two organizations – including nonprofits, institutions of higher education and entrepreneurship-focused organizations from 28 states – received over $17 million to create and expand cluster-focused proof-of-concept and commercialization programs, and early-stage seed capital funds through RIS.

This fourth cohort of Regional Innovation Strategies awardees expands the RIS portfolio to eight new states and continues to build vibrant regional entrepreneurial economies. The awardees were selected from a pool of more than 217 applicants.

“The Trump Administration is committed to strengthening U.S. production and exports, which are essential to our nation’s economic growth,” said Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross. “These projects will enable entrepreneurs in communities across the United States to start new businesses, manufacture innovative products and export them throughout the world – increasing America’s global competitiveness.”

UTEP Researchers Receive $2M to Develop Clean Energy Technologies; Project will be Housed at New Tech Park in Fabens

The Department of Mechanical Engineering at The University of Texas at El Paso has received three new research grants totaling $2 million to develop next-generation clean energy technologies. These research projects, primarily funded by the Office of Fossil Energy of the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), contribute to the national priority of addressing climate change by reducing greenhouse gas emissions while ensuring the energy security for the nation.

These collaborations between UTEP’s NASA MIRO Center for Space Exploration and Technology Research (cSETR) and W. M. Keck Center for 3-D Innovation push the frontiers of energy engineering through the use of aerospace and additive manufacturing (3-D printing) technologies. The projects also will support the dissertation research of students in UTEP’s new mechanical engineering doctoral program.

Mechanical engineering department Chair Ahsan Choudhuri, Ph.D., said the grants reflect the department’s growing prowess of securing highly competitive research grants impacting the local region.

“Our focus on the development of diverse talents for the national and state workforce is also intertwined with our desire to spur the economic growth of Southwest Texas by harnessing a research innovation ecosystem,” Choudhuri said. “These projects are evidence of how UTEP’s national preeminence in research can create exciting opportunities for students from El Paso ZIP codes.”

Choudhuri and Associate Professor Norman Love, Ph.D., will collaborate with industry partner Airliquide to demonstrate oxy-combustion technologies. Pressurized oxy-combustion-based electric power generation systems have the potential to improve efficiency while achieving more than 90 percent of carbon dioxide capture.

The total project cost is about $1.5 million, which includes $1.1 million from the DOE’s Advanced Combustion Systems Program. The project will be housed at UTEP’s new Technology Research and Innovation Acceleration Park in Fabens, Texas.

Two other DOE-supported studies will explore materials and sensor technologies that may lower greenhouse gas emissions by improving efficiency of electric power generation. Each project received $250,000 from the DOE.

Love, Associate Professor of Mechanical Engineering Yirong Lin, Ph.D., and Professor of Mechanical Engineering Ryan Wicker, Ph.D., will design, fabricate and evaluate an energy-harvesting material system capable of working at up to 1,000°C to harvest both vibrational and thermal energy from gas turbines.

Assistant Professor Calvin Stewart, Ph.D., and Associate Professor Jack Chessa, Ph.D., will develop a database charting creep and creep fatigue – the deformation and cracking – of P91 steel and 316 stainless steel. This information is critical for the development of the next generation of Advanced UltraSuperCritical (A-USC) power plants with near-zero emission.

UTEP Partners With El Paso County on Technology Research and Innovation Acceleration Park in Fabens

The University of Texas at El Paso and The County of El Paso have announced collaboration on the new MIRO cSETR Technology Research and Innovation Acceleration Park (tRIAc) in Fabens, Texas, adjacent to the existing Fabens Airport.

The partnership will increase regional economic prosperity via the new facility, where academic talents from UTEP will meet industry leaders who have been brought to the location to work on tomorrow’s innovations and create new jobs for the area to improve the economy of Fabens and El Paso County as a whole.

“This partnership marks a giant leap forward not only for research opportunities available to the University’s students, but also for economic development that benefits our whole region,” said UTEP President Diana Natalicio.

“We are proud to be collaborating with the County of El Paso to realize this tremendous opportunity for our region to be seen as a major player within the aerospace industry,” said Ahsan Choudhuri, Ph.D., chair of UTEP’s mechanical engineering department and director of the University’s Center for Space Exploration Technology Research (cSETR).

The County is contributing acreage and structural support while promoting the area as a strong economic bolster while the University’s cSETR will lend federal funding and student talent to attract industry leaders to the Fabens site as part of its continued commitment to meet the demand for engineers in aerospace and federal labs, particularly in combustion and propulsion. Current cSETR partners, including NASA, the U.S. Department of Energy, Lockheed Martin, and the Missile Defense Agency, will have projects housed at tRIAc.

cSETR’s mission also addresses the underrepresentation of Hispanics in this sector and has a strong track record of graduating students from the UTEP Mechanical Engineering program at a higher rate than the state and national average.

“The last 100 years of UTEP’s history were about giving tools to students to be successful. But then graduates, especially in engineering, leave town because that’s where the employers are. For UTEP’s next hundred years, our goal is to keep graduates here at home. Efforts like tRIAc are essential to achieve that goal,” Choudhuri added.

The 10-year timeline of tRIAc’s development will encompass construction, grant funding, and the implementation of projects by the previously mentioned entities.

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