Comments Off on Whooping Cough Vaccine Available During Department Outreach Event
As the number of Pertussis (Whooping Cough) cases in El Paso continues increase, the City of El Paso Department of Public Health remains committed to vaccinating as many children as possible. During January and February, 14 cases of Pertussis were reported to the Health Department; compared to 4 cases reported during the same period in 2012.
“Pertussis is a highly contagious disease and the best way to prevent the disease among infants, children, and teens is to get vaccinated,” said Alejandra Rodarte, Public Health Supervisor. Additionally, family members and caregivers who are in close contact with infants should get vaccinated against Pertussis.
The vaccine will be available for children during an outreach event on:
In addition to the Pertussis (Dtap/TdaP)vaccine, the Department will also be offering; Influenza, Hep B, Hep A, Hib, PCV13, IPV, MMR, Varicella, MCV4, HPV, for children 0 to 18 years old. The cost is $10.00 for one vaccine and $20.00 for two or more, and payment will be accepted in cash, local check, CHIP (El Paso First only), or Medicaid (El Paso First only).
In order for clients, birth through 18 years of age, to be eligible to receive Texas Vaccines For Children (TVFC) immunizations at the Department of Public Health Clinics, they must be:
• Medicaid eligible
• Uninsured: a child who has no health insurance coverage
• American Indian or Alaskan Native
• Enrolled in CHIP
Underinsured definition from DSHS – A child who has commercial (private) health insurance, but coverage does not include vaccines.
Comments Off on Educators riled by proposals to cut TRS pension/health-care benefits
School employees across Texas are riled up over proposed cuts in Teacher Retirement System of Texas (TRS) pensions called for by bills that would raise the minimum age for retirement with full benefits to 62, while also reducing health-care benefits to retirees.
“A lot of teachers haven’t had raises in years, they’re being forced to teach more kids crammed into their classrooms after budget cuts, they’re dealing with a mind-numbing grind of meeting the demands of overtesting, and now they hear that some legislators are out to reduce their retirement benefits,” said Linda Bridges, president of Texas AFT, the Texas chapter of the American Federation of Teachers. “This unfair attack on their retirement benefits has truly rankled Texas teachers.”
The bills—SB 1458 in the Senate by Sen. Robert Duncan (R-Lubbock), and its companion in the House, HB 1884 by Rep. Bill Callegari (R-Katy)—were presented as substitutes to original bills in committee meetings Monday in the Texas House and Senate. Both would raise to 62 the minimum age for retirement with full benefits and decent health coverage. Pensions would be cut 5 percent for each year prior to age 62, even for employees who meet the rule of 80, and only catastrophic health coverage would be provided. (The current minimum age for retirement with full benefits is 60, with an exception for those hired before September 2007; retirement with full benefits also requires the employee to meet a rule of 80, meaning years of age and years of service must add up to at least 80.)
“These bills are headed in the wrong direction on several fronts,” Bridges said. “First, the bills would take already-earned benefits from educators who have been working under a promise of defined retirement rules, and second, they make it even harder to attract new people to a career that offers less pay than similar professions. After-the-fact pension cutbacks like this also are illegal in the private sector, and they are not acceptable for school employees in Texas.”
A grandfather clause in the bills (exempting employees who as of August 31, 2014, are age 50 or above, or have 25 years of service, or meet a rule of 70), would spare some but leave hundreds of thousands of dedicated school employees exposed to this take-away of earned benefits, Bridges said.
She said more than 4,000 school employees have already sent letters to their legislators objecting to the proposals within 24 hours after Texas AFT announced details of the bills.
Texas AFT proposes a different path for ensuring the pension fund remains secure and provides cost-of-living increases for retirees, who haven’t seen an increase in benefits since 2001:
• SB 1458/HB 1884 would cut benefits at a time when the real need of the pension fund is for a substantial increase in the state’s pension contribution. The state contribution was held to the constitutional minimum for many years since 1995, including the 12-year stretch from 1995 to 2007, while employees paid in to the pension fund at a higher rate. School employees should not now be asked to match a higher state contribution rate until the state maintains its own higher contribution for at least two years. A new contribution requirement for local school districts, as proposed in SB 1458/HB 1884, should only be considered after full education funding has been restored.
• These bills mention a theoretical, contingent cost-of-living increase for retirees at some indefinite time in the future. But no cost-of-living increase is assured. This hypothetical benefit “enhancement” cannot be used to justify cutting fully earned benefits here and now. You do not improve the health of the TRS pension fund by cutting pension benefits for those who have earned them.
• The legislature instead should provide immediate relief for retirees by making a substantial reduction in TRS-Care (health-care coverage) premiums. Unlike the contingent cost-of-living measure proposed in SB 1458/HB 1884, a reduced TRS-Care premium would increase the net amount of retirees’ annuity checks right away. The state should take any number of steps to generate additional revenue to allow the recommended premium reduction. For example, the state could eliminate or reduce the outdated “high-cost natural gas” exemption that costs the state treasury approximately $1 billion per year.
Learn more and take action at www.texasaft.org (click on “Take Action).
Comments Off on Cornyn Extends Sympathies to Victims of Lone Star College Stabbing
U.S. Senator John Cornyn (R-TX) addressed today’s tragedy at Lone Star College moments ago on the Senate floor:
“I think it’s appropriate to say here and now that our thoughts and our prayers are with the victims and their families. We hope that law enforcement finds those responsible and makes sure they are prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.”
Comments Off on DISTRACTED DRIVING BECOMES AN INCREASING THREAT ON TEXAS ROADWAYS
It happens every day. You get a text or a phone call and you feel the need to respond immediately, even when you’re driving. But what you may not know is a simple text or call can cost you your life or someone else’s.
“Distracted driving is unacceptable, and it’s something that is preventable,” said John Barton, TxDOT’s deputy executive director. “If you reply to or send a text while driving, you are putting your life or someone else’s life at risk.”
It’s a fact – distracted drivers are making Texas roads more dangerous. According to crash data collected by the Texas Department of Transportation, to date, there were 90,378 crashes in Texas in 2012 that involved distracted driving (distraction, driver inattention or cellphone use). That’s an 8-percent increase from 2011. Of these crashes, 18,468 resulted in serious injuries and 453 resulted in deaths. From 2011 to 2012, there was a 9-percent increase in traffic fatalities caused by distracted driving on Texas roadways.
According to the Texas A&M Transportation Institute, almost half of all Texas drivers in 2012 admit to regularly or sometimes talking on the cell phone while driving. However, 84.9 percent of Texas drivers think driving while talking on a cell phone is a very serious or somewhat serious threat to their personal safety.
In another just-completed study, TTI researchers found that 10 percent of Texas drivers are using their cell phone at any point in time during the day. The finding represents the first time that actual cell phone use by Texas drivers has been measured (rather than self-reported use), and was based on observations of drivers at 190 intersections in 22 counties across the state.
Talk. Text. Crash. Campaign Launch
Today, TxDOT is launching its Talk. Text. Crash. campaign to coincide with National Distracted Driving Awareness Month. Throughout this month, TxDOT will reach out to Texans through community events, TV public service announcements, and online and outdoor advertising. TxDOT is also partnering with AT&T on this year’s distracted driving effort.
“In today’s tech-connected age, people are relying on text messages and smartphones to stay in touch, but texting while driving is something that carries profound, very real risks. In the United States, someone is killed or injured once every five minutes on average in a crash that happens while a driver is texting and driving. It’s time we worked together to change behaviors, attitudes, hearts and minds,” said Dave Nichols, President, AT&T Texas. “We can each commit not to text and drive. We can lead by example. That’s why we’re pleased to join the Texas Department of Transportation in its Text.Talk.Crash. effort and why we continue to raise awareness through our AT&T’s own It Can Wait campaign.”
As part of the campaign, TxDOT is asking Texans to do their part by making a simple commitment to focus on driving when they get behind the wheel.
Barton notes, “Use of cell phones while driving isn’t the only action that can lead to serious injury or death. Other actions, such as reading the newspaper, eating or smoking while driving, are also distractions. Keeping drivers safe is our priority.”
Although all the age groups are represented in the total number of traffic crashes caused by distracted driving, of the 90,378 traffic crashes in 2012 in Texas, the top two age groups are:
28,443 ages 16-24.
23,784 over the age of 45.
This year’s campaign PSAs will demonstrate to Texans how hard it is to complete any simple
task – like walking when distracted. The goal is to show that if people cannot text and walk without having an accident, they surely should not text and drive. Texans can watch campaign videos on YouTube.
Comments Off on Play Comforts toy giveaway to provide 2,000 free toys to military children
WHO: The Milam Youth Activity Center on Fort Bliss will host a Play Comforts toy giveaway for military Children from 4-6 p.m. Wednesday, April 17.
WHAT: Play Comforts, an initiative of the Toy Industry Foundation supported by Boys and Girls Clubs of America Military Services, will distribute 2,000 free toys to military children ages 6 weeks-18 years. The event is open to military-connected children, including active-duty, Reserve and Guard families. Toys will be distributed on a first-come, first-served basis. There is a limit of one toy per child, and children must be present to receive a toy. Entertainment and refreshments will also be available.
WHEN: Wednesday, April 17, from 4-6 p.m.
WHERE: Milam Youth Activity Center, 10960 Haan Road, East Fort Bliss
BACKGROUND: The Play Comforts program took off in 2010, when TIF partnered with Boys and Girls Clubs of America Military Services to give back to the sons and daughters of our nation’s troops.
“Separation from parents, worrying about their safety in combat, leaving friends behind as they move from home to home, and readjusting when parents return from overseas are all difficult and unique circumstances military youth face,” notes the TIF website. “Together with BGCA, the Toy Industry Foundation provides special toy distributions to America’s bravest children.”
Since the Play Comforts partnership launched, TIF’s Toy Bank has provided more than $3 million worth of toys, and TIF granted more than $200,000 in funds to BGCA. The program has reached families on more than 65 military installations, with more to come. Toys are distributed through Boys and Girls Clubs located on the military bases affected by high deployment rates, and Play Comforts has served every branch of the U.S. military, at home and abroad.
Comments Off on Gov. Perry Announces Reward Up To $100,000 in Kaufman County Murders
Gov. Rick Perry today announced the Governor’s Office is offering a cash reward of up to $100,000 for information leading to the arrest and indictment of the person or people responsible for the deaths of Kaufman County Assistant District Attorney Mark Hasse, District Attorney Mike McLelland and his wife Cynthia. Kaufman County Crime Stoppers is also offering a reward of up to $100,000 for information leading to the arrest and indictment of the person or people responsible for the death of Assistant District Attorney Mark Hasse.
“Words cannot describe the shock and grief this community has suffered over the last several months. The criminals responsible for these murders will be caught, convicted and will pay the price for these horrific crimes,” Gov. Perry said. “I have full confidence that this investigation will lead to the conviction of whoever perpetrated these insidious crimes, and it is my hope and expectation that these rewards will help convince those who may be holding onto important information to come forward.”
Anyone with information that could be helpful to investigators is urged to call Kaufman County Crime Stoppers at 1-877-847-7522 or email anonymous information to Kaufman County Crime Stoppers at http://kaufmancountycrimestoppers.org.
This reward is funded through court fees distributed by the Governor’s Criminal Justice Division to apprehend fugitives.
Additionally, the FBI has launched billboards throughout Texas, Oklahoma, Louisiana, Mississippi and New Mexico encouraging tipsters to contact Crime Stoppers with any information. Billboards have been donated by the Outdoor Advertising Association of Texas, which includes Clear Channel Outdoor and Lamar Advertising, with additional space donated by Fairway and CBS.
Texas Crime Stoppers programs provide a partnership between the public, law enforcement agencies and the media in order to speed identification and apprehension of criminals and the solution to unsolved crimes. Programs accept anonymous tips and provide cash rewards if a tip leads to an arrest or indictment.
Comments Off on International Business Summit – El Paso, TX
Get the latest industry and market information presented by experts in international business. Each presentation is packed with information and resources that guarantee high-value information for your global enterprise. Grow your business internationally.
Small Business Development Center at El Paso Community College
Comments Off on EPWU offers irrigation advice to professionals, homeowners
With another hot, dry summer just around the corner, El Paso Water Utilities will host a series of workshops that can help El Pasoans irrigate more efficiently, whether they’re responsible for watering a small lawn or a giant football field.
The educational series will be held at EPWU’s Carlos M. Ramirez TecH2O Water Resources Learning Center at 10751 Montana Avenue in East El Paso.
Professional Workshop:On Thursday, April 4, and Friday, April 5, professional irrigators from across Far West Texas and Southern New Mexico will gather at the TecH2O Center to attend the Landscape Irrigation Auditing and Management Short Course. The course is designed to showcase the latest techniques which ensure efficient irrigation. Professionals who enroll in the course will also gain hands-on experience by performing an actual irrigation audit. The course is intended for irrigators who are responsible for watering large tracts such as parks, apartment complexes, and sporting facilities.
Free Public Event:On Saturday, April 6, the public is invited to attend between 9:30am and 1pm. The workshop, entitled “Waste Not, Want Not: Effective Irrigation in the Chihuahuan Desert,” is free of charge and will include demonstrations from EPWU, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service, Master Gardeners, and Master Naturalists. This event is intended for the homeowner and will include information on rain-water harvesting, how to xeriscape, and methods to care for desert plants. Children will have the opportunity to make a bird feeder for their backyard. More information on the public event can be found by clicking on “events” at TecH2O.org.
Anyone responsible for maintaining a residential landscape is reminded to abide by the city’s year-round watering schedule: Odd addresses water on Wednesday, Friday, or Sunday; Even addresses on Tuesday, Thursday, or Saturday. Between April 1 and September 30, outdoor watering is prohibited between 10am and 6pm. Visit LessisMoreEP.org
Comments Off on EPCC Celebrate National Community College Month
April is annually recognized as National Community College Month. El Paso Community College (EPCC) has much to be proud of at the national and local level. EPCC has once again been recognized by Hispanic Outlook in Higher Education Magazine as the number one community college in the areas of Hispanic student and instructor population, as well as the number one grantor of associate’s degrees to Hispanic students.
EPCC will reach out to our military community during National Community College Month by honoring outgoing Fort Bliss Commanding General, Dana J.H. Pittard. The ceremony will take place April 9th at the Centennial Club. General Pittard has been instrumental in the planning of our new Fort Bliss campus. The lease of the Fort Bliss property has been approved. Phase two of the project, hiring of an architecture firm to design the campus, is underway. The proposed grand opening is 2016.
El Paso local governments will honor EPCC during the month. The El Paso City Council will proclaim April as National Community College Month at their meeting on April 9th. The El Paso County Commissioners will put forth the resolution to name April as National Community College Month on April 15th.
EPCC will also honor its own during the month. The annual Employee Recognition Luncheons will take place in the Boardroom at the Administrative Services Center. Employees celebrating 5, 10 and 15 years with the college will be recognized at a luncheon on April 12th. Employees with 20, 25, 30, 35 and 40 years of services will be in the spotlight on April 26th. For the first time, EPCC will have employees with 40 years of service. Congratulations to Juliana Bustamante, Leon Blevins, Jeffrey Coles and Fidel De Leon.
Another summer is quickly approaching, and that means it is time to apply for a week of fun at Texas Lions Camp! We have been preparing for the upcoming summer and are excited to tell you about our online application process provided for your convenience located at www.lionscamp.com. Our original paper application is available as well and instructions are listed below. As always, this experience is offered completely without charge to qualifying children from the State of Texas.
El Pasoans Fighting Hunger Food Bank needs the community to help win $45,000 to be applied toward alleviating child hunger in El Paso. This contest is run by the Walmart Fighting Hunger Together competition. During the entire month of April, the food bank is asking that El Pasoans visit facebook.com/walmart, click on the Fighting Hunger Together tab, and find El Pasoans Fighting Hunger to vote. Facebook.com users may vote once per day.
Approximately 200 Food Banks across the country are competing for 40 prizes of $45,000 to fund programs specifically to alleviate child hunger. A donation of this size would make a significant impact in the lives of thousands of El Paso children.
The unfortunate truth is that more than 1 in 4 people in El Paso County are food-insecure with over 135,000 of those being children. The Agriculture Department defines food insecurity as lacking consistent access to enough nutritious food for an active, healthy lifestyle. Any degree of food insecurity can lead to chronic hunger and malnutrition.
While the problem of hunger is not easily visible, hunger and malnutrition are prominent in our community, and have significant consequences.
“Inadequately nourished children are apt to have developmental and learning problems as well as more likely to be susceptible to sickness,” John Schwarting, Executive Director for El Pasoans Fighting Hunger.
The Walmart Foundation is a major partner in alleviating hunger in El Paso. Since April of 2012, Walmart has committed $200,000 of funding to El Pasoans Fighting Hunger. Help El Pasoans Fighting Hunger to continue to receive the generous support of the Walmart Foundation by voting every day during the month of April.
El Paso Community College (EPCC) Student Art Society will host its 36th annual Student Art Exhibition as part of the college’s Spring Arts Festival. Event entries are open to all EPCC students. Presentation of jury selected pieces will be on display at the EPCC Administrative Services Center Building A Foyer, 9050 Viscount Blvd. The display is open to the public weekdays from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., April 5th through April 30th.
An award presentation and reception, open to the public, will be held in the ASC Building A Foyer Friday, April 5th from 5:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. Monetary awards will be presented for first, second, third place and honorable mention in the categories of two-dimensional and three-dimensional, as well as Best of Show. Awards are made available through the EPCC Student Government Association.
Comments Off on April is Fair Housing Month: Housing choice is your right
Without any television specials or advertising campaigns to remind us, the fact that April is Fair Housing Month can sneak up on you.
Promoting awareness of fair housing and educating people on their rights and responsibilities is essential to ensuring that we each have what the Fair Housing Act is there to provide – a choice in where we live.
And because it’s Fair Housing Month, April is a good time to highlight the Fair Housing Act and how it can protect you. This is especially important for members of a minority group or anyone whose primary language is not English.
According to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, it is a violation of the Fair Housing Act for an individual to take any of the following actions based on the protected classes of race, color, national origin, religion, sex, familial status or disability:
Refuse to rent or sell a home
Refuse to negotiate for a home
Make a home unavailable
Falsely deny that a home is available for inspection, sale, or lease
Persuade an owner to sell or rent to a particular buyer
Set different terms, conditions, or privileges for the sale or lease of a home
Directing a client toward or away from a specific neighborhood is also a violation of the Fair Housing Act whether intentional or not.
Real estate professionals should avoid offering their personal opinion regarding or performing any activity that highlights the racial, religious, or ethnic composition of a given neighborhood or neighborhood school.
Consider looking for a real estate professional whose territory covers a broad, diverse area, as opposed to one populated primarily by members of a certain ethnic or religious group.
Although not specifically identified in the Fair Housing Act, anyone who shows, sells, owns, manages, or offers mortgage services for housing properties might consider providing reasonable accommodations for persons with disabilities and language assistance for persons with limited English proficiency in keeping with the spirit of the Act.
The vast majority of professionals in the housing industry are honest, law-abiding men and women who are well aware of fair housing issues. But it is important to learn and recognize discrimination.
Ultimately, knowledge is your best tool to avoiding discrimination. There are multiple facets to the Fair Housing Act and all Texans should be familiar with their rights under the laws of this state and country.
But don’t wait until you start your housing search. Fair housing violations — just like Fair Housing Month — can sneak up on you before you know it.
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