More than a dozen students at this Northeast El Paso school walked to school on Wednesday morning but rode off on their way home in a brand new bicycle, thanks to the generosity of a hometown hero.
Green Bay Packers running back Aaron Jones, an El Paso native and Burges High School graduate, donated 15 new bikes for deserving students at Stanton.
Jones, who has a long tradition of visiting EPISD schools and working, was scheduled to deliver the bicycles in person but had to cancel because of an injury.Instead, his uncle and godfather came along to make the holiday season extra special for the benefited students.
“Aaron loves the people of El Paso,” said his godfather Michael Swopes. “We’re partnering up to deliver these bikes because what kid doesn’t like a brand new bike?”
Stanton Principal Dr. Sarah Chavez-Gibson said the donation is extra special because it comes from someone who went through the EPISD school system and is now closing to give back.
“He’s very gracious to make this donations for our kids and our communities,” she said.
Story by Gustavo Reveles | Photos by L. Monroy & E. Reyes | Video by Angel Dominguez/EPISD
Opening statements in the third trial against Daniel Villegas began in a packed 409th District Court Tuesday morning.
Villegas is accused of killing Armando Lazo and Robert England during a drive-by shooting in Northeast El Paso on April 10, 1993.
Eight women and five men were seated as the jury on Monday by Judge Sam Medrano. Early disputes between the prosecution and defense included whether or not John Mimbela could be called to the stand as a witness for the prosecution.
Mimbela was instrumental in the release of Villegas, after arguing that Villegas’ taped jailhouse confession at the age of 16 was coerced by EPPD officer Al Marquez.
Prosecutor Denise Butterworth argued to Judge Medrano that Mimbela should be removed from the courtroom as a pending witness. The judge ultimately ruled to swear Mimbela in as a potential witness, but did not order him to leave the courtroom during proceedings.
The trial is being framed as if it is the first-time Villegas has been on trial, and the jury was not told of the history or prior conviction in the case. Medrano has taken careful steps to ensure that prior testimony is not entered into evidence, potentially swaying the jury.
The prosecution is hoping that several witnesses who say Villegas admitted he was the triggerman back in 1993 will be enough to have him convicted of murder for a second time.
Spencer attempted to create reasonable doubt in the case from the onset of his opening arguments. Spencer argued that two brothers who ran in a gang along Fairbanks Ave. were responsible for the murders. According to Spencer’s opening statement, Rudy Flores admitted to being at a house party on Jamaica St. near the location where Lazo, England and two friends, Jessie Hernandez and Juan Medina were hanging out.
Witnesses at the time claim that Flores had previously threatened to kill Lazo. Rudy Flores was also at the scene of a second shooting less than 24-hours after the shooting about a block from his home.
Much of Tuesday morning’s testimony was from police officers and crime scene detectives who responded to the scene in 1993. The jury was shown diagrams and photographs from the scene on Electric and Oakwood (now Girl Scout Way and Oakwood).
The images depicted shell casings recovered at the scene and graphic photographs of England, who had been shot in the head and was lying dead in an adjacent field.
During a particularly interesting part of the morning’s testimony, prosecutor Denise Butterworth assumed the position of two now-deceased eye witnesses in the case. She sat in the witness box as co-counsel read questions and she recited Nancy and George Gorham’s responses from previous statements collected in the 1990s verbatim.
The Gorhams were the homeowners who first called 9-1-1 at 12:18 a.m. on April 10 after hearing gunshots outside their bedroom window.
Upon opening the door, they found Armando Lazo, bleeding from his abdomen, collapsed on their doorstep. Nancy Gorham was a teacher at Andress High School at the time of the shooting and recognized Lazo as a boy who attended the high school.
The couple were unaware that a second victim was dead in a field across the street from their home.
Villegas’ first trial ended in a hung jury and his second trial resulted in a life sentence. Villegas served 19-years in prison after the 1995 murder conviction, but he was released pending a new trial in 2014.
The District Attorney’s Office offered Villegas a plea deal just before the trial for a guilty plea in exchanged for time-served. Villegas declined the plea.
This past week I found myself in a part of the Northeast I don’t often get to visit. While driving down Dyer, past where it crosses McCombs, I found myself thinking of four things: cans, haircuts, western burgers and writing.
Suddenly, I could smell the liquid the barber would put in your hair as he combed it and I could taste a western burger from Bradley Elementary school as if it were all happening right there in my car.
It was then that I realized…I was heading the wrong way. I told you, I don’t get out to the Northeast all that often. I made a U-turn, looked to my right, and was suddenly staring at my childhood!
My father would take me every three weeks for a haircut. We would go to the same barber, sit in the same chair, and have our hair cut by the same man. When It was my turn, as Mr. Owens would put the seat booster, I would begin to follow the shelves on the walls, and my imagination would turn towards the cans and the probable stories behind each one.
Parkland Barber Shop was a magical place for a kid. Over the years there have been a few changes, but not very many. The soda machine is gone, a couple of the clocks and signs I remember are no longer on the walls, but the cans are there.
Shelf after shelf of cans.
While Mr. Owens was clipping away, I would look at those cans, those signs, and some of the objects made from cans and bottle caps, and my mind would begin to assign them stories, histories, and the adventures they must have gone through before finding their way into the shop.
Parkland Barber Shop goes back to a time when things were simpler, slower. Cable was just a handful of channels, there were no cell phones, and El Paso was much smaller than it is today.
Bill Owens, the barber who would cut my hair as a child has seen a lot of those changes, and growth all from behind those same barber chairs I sat in as a kid.
The shop was opened in January 1960 by Bill’s father.
“I’ve been working here more than sixty years,” said Bill. I told Bill I was surprised that the can collection was still there.
“I started,” said Bill, “in 1976. Collecting beer cans. I’ve got probably as many in the back room as I do out here.” Though he says he’s not looking for any new beer cans, he is looking for old beer cans. “Old ones, from the 1950’s,” says Bill. “You can’t keep track of the new ones.”
“It gets to be more attached, this place, than your own house,” says Bill when I asked him what the most amazing thing was about being in the same place for so long.
Changes he’s seen?
“Mostly the neighborhood,” he says. “It was mostly bare out here in 1960. Now, you have so many buildings and the traffic on Dyer Street is twenty times worse than it ever used to be.”
I can second that! When I was a kid, for a while, we lived on Round Rock, just off Kenworthy, and that was the end of the city.
Now, US 54 is the North/South Freeway, and it’s non-stop housing developments, buildings, and constructions projects from El Paso to Chaparral.
I wanted to know what the worst thing was, from being in the same place for so long. I was sure there had to be something. I was wrong.
“I don’t know,” says Bill. “It’s kind of turned into that hobby that people say that if they had a hobby that paid money, they would have it made. It’s fun. Everyone who comes here is my friends.”
The Parkland Barber Shop is truly unique. It’s a step back in time, not only for me and my memories but barber shops in general.
“This is getting to be one of the last real barber shops,” says Bill. “I tell people there’s always going to be a pretty girl to cut your hair. There ain’t never going to be a shortage of haircuts, but there’s not going to be a barber shop left.”
That’s a sad thing, the loss of the neighborhood barber and barbershop. The place you could go, catch up with friends, news, and discuss anything and everything.
When Bill does finally close the doors to the shop, it will be a great loss to all El Paso.
Discovering that Parkland Barber Shop was still open was amazing. It also got me thinking about Bradley Elementary School even more. So, I decided to stop by the school that fostered my desire to write and see if it was as I remembered.
As I walked in the door, I could smell those western burgers. Bradley was the only school I know that made them. I loved those things, and I’ve never been able to recreate them.
What is a western burger? I’m glad you asked!
A western burger is a sort of like a hamburger. It was made with seasoned ground beef, with cheese, and baked into a hamburger bun. As a kid, to me at lease, it was a mystery as to how they got the meat into that bun!
I’m sure you are wondering how a barbershop and an elementary school have in common? Bill’s place fed my imagination, where Bradley Elementary gave me the strength to write.
My childhood was not the best. Growing up in my house was not easy by any stretch of the imagination.
So, often, I would retreat into my world. It was my way, as a kid, to keep my sanity.
There was one day, it was in October, that I was getting a haircut. While sitting there, in that chair, I saw cans and decorations that made me think of vampires and canned carrot juice. Odd, right?
That night, when I was supposed to be in bed, I began to write what I thought would be the next great American novel. It’s 1979; I’m under my covers writing about a vampire that wants to stop drinking blood and start drinking carrot juice.
For days I’m writing this story. My little imagination was filling legal tablet after legal tablet with the story of a vampire that lives high above a village where he was begging people to grow him carrots, so he could stop drinking their blood.
During school, at lunch and SRS reading time I was writing. At recess, I was writing. Every single bit of free time, I was writing. In Ms. Thompson’s class, in Mr. Hernandez’s class, even in homeroom/art class, I was writing.
Eventually, Ms. Brown, the principal asked me what I was doing, and if she could read it.
How could I say no?
Two days later I’m called to the office. Ms Brown told me that it was a wonderful story and that she made some corrections that would help the “flow,” and help “develop,” the story. I didn’t know what she meant, but I understood it all once I began to see her corrections throughout the pages.
She sent me home with the desire to write for a living, and a Dr. Pepper. What kid wouldn’t be happy?
Fast-forward to the present day, and here I am, still writing. Between Bill, his dad, Parkland Barber Shop, Bradley Elementary and Ms Brown, I’ve followed my dreams. I pray you’ve been able to follow yours!
Stories? Memories? Let me know! I would love for you to share them with me. Send them to me at Steven@EPHeraldPost.com
On Wednesday, officials with the City of El Paso announced a new proposal for a Tax Increment Reinvestment Zone (TIRZ) for Northeast El Paso.
Via a news release, city officials said the proposal to create Tax Increment Reinvestment Zone 13 was presented on Wednesday to the City’s Open Space Advisory Board.
Located near the North Hills area, officials said the proposed TIRZ 13 would fund public improvements that would “alleviate safety, access and connectivity issues and spur balanced, contiguous development.”
This project would connect Angora Loop Street North from Dyer Street to Angora Loop Street South.
“The enhanced connectivity would also spur economic development, which is needed to help provide relief to residential taxpayers,” officials stated.
According to city officials, the proposed Angora Loop extension would:
Provide access for residents
Provide additional access for school buses
Provide better access for First/Emergency Responders
Increase ridership on Sun Metro
Reduce wait times for public transportation
Spur economic development in the Northeast
Allow businesses on McCombs and Dyer to grow thereby help alleviating the tax burden on residential properties owner
A TIRZ allows the City to fund public improvements with incremental tax revenues collected within the zone.
The City’s Economic and International Development Department will present the TIRZ 13 proposal to City Council at a later date.
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
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.
The Sun Metro Citizen’s Advisory Committee is giving the public another opportunity to submit nominations for the naming of the transfer center under construction in Northeast El Paso.
The transfer center being developed at the former Northgate shopping center site, at 9347 Diana, is part of a unique transit oriented development. The transfer center will anchor a public-private development known as Metro 31, which is a mixed use venture that will integrate the new transfer center and the Dyer Brio rapid transit corridor station with residential, retail and commercial office spaces.
The deadline to submit a nomination to name the new transfer center is February 16, 2017.
In order to nominate an individual, a nomination form must be submitted to Sun Metro Director Jay Banasiak along with 50 signatures of persons living within Sun Metro’s service area and a full biography of the individual.
Some of the nomination criteria include, but are not limited to, the following:
The name must not duplicate that of other transfer centers.
If the proposed name is that of a deceased person, the individual must have been deceased for at least one year, shall have been prominent in El Paso or elsewhere, and demonstrated continued commitment, preferably to public transit, locally, nationally or internationally.
If the proposed name is that of a living person, the individual must be extremely prominent in El Paso or elsewhere and have made a worthy and extraordinary contribution, preferably to public transit, locally, nationally or internationally.
Nomination forms and a complete list of criteria for the nomination process are available at Sun Metro’s administrative offices, 10151 Montana, or online at www.sunmetro.net
The City of El Paso will begin the reconstruction of Wren Avenue in Northeast El Paso on Monday, June 27th, 2016.
Wren Avenue will be reconstructed from Dyer Street to just east of Shoppers Road in concrete, and once complete, it will be a vital transportation link for Northeast El Paso.
The project will include the addition of buffered bike lanes, pedestrian walkways with their own landscaping, dark sky compliant decorative lighting, as well as the installation of a textured concrete crosswalk with an imbedded caution light system at the intersection of Wren Avenue and Shoppers Road.
This $1.9 million dollar reconstruction project is one of the components of a larger plan to enhance the transportation system of this area. Upon completion, Wren will enhance the connectivity of this area by providing the street with amenities that will allow bike, pedestrian and motor vehicle traffic to commute safely and efficiently to the new Northgate Transfer Center, which will serve as the main feeder for the new Dyer BRIO system.
The project is expected to be completed in early 2017. Lane closures and appropriate signage marking the detour route will be in effect throughout the duration of the project. The work schedule and lane closures may be modified to accommodate any unforeseen conditions or events.
The Northgate Transfer Center is a $14.9 million dollar project, which will include services and amenities such as enclosed waiting areas with a comfortable environment, canopies at bus bays with electronic on-street message boards, and ticketing & information offices. Construction is expected to begin in late 2016.
The Dyer BRIO system will offer El Pasoans a high-quality rapid transit system, which will connect Northeast El Paso to Central and Downtown El Paso.
The total length of this $35.8 million dollar project will be approximately 12 miles, and will include all the services and amenities that are found on the recently constructed Mesa RTS. Construction is expected to begin in early 2017.