Gov. Perry Provides Update on State Response to Tragedy in West
Gov. Rick Perry today met with state officials to discuss Texas’
response to last night’s explosion and fires at a fertilizer plant in West,
Texas. State officials worked through the night and this morning to assist
local emergency management and law enforcement with health and medical
resources, incident management, search and rescue and environmental quality
monitoring, which are ongoing.
“We are blessed in Texas to have the best emergency response teams in the
nation, and they were certainly at their best last night, quickly and
efficiently taking control of the situation, tending to the wounded and
helping keep a bad situation from getting worse,” Gov. Perry said. “Anyone
who grew up in a small town understands that this tragedy will touch every
family in West and the surrounding communities in some way. I urge all
Texans and Americans to join me in keeping the people of West and our first
responders in your prayers as this situation continues to unfold.”
“Once again, our state’s first responders have run toward disaster, putting
their lives on the line for those they protect and serve,” Lt. Governor
David Dewhurst said. “We will continue to pray for them and the countless
Texans whose lives have been forever changed by this tragedy.”
Activated state resources include:
Texas Department of Public Safety: Helping secure the area for law
enforcement personnel to conduct business and maintain public safety.
Texas Task Force 1 & 2 (TTF1 and TTF2): TTF1 urban search and rescue team,
including damage assessment personnel for collapse structure assessment, and
a search and rescue K-9 Team. TTF2 search and rescue task force has also
Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS): Ambulance buses, two
medical incident support team members and mental health and other resources
have been deployed. The DSHS State Medical Operations Center has also been
Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ): Providing air monitoring
and technical assistance.
Texas Military Forces (TXMF): The 6th Civil Support Team, with approximately
21 personnel, has been deployed to support of first responders. Additional
resources and personnel from the Texas National Guard Homeland Response
Force (HRF) remain on alert and ready to assist if needed.
Communications Coordination Group (CCG): Activated to provide additional
emergency communication resources and/or support as needed.
Texas Department of Transportation (TXDOT): Two 300-gallon fuel trailers
from the TxDOT Bryan District have been sent to West, along with four
personnel and four trucks to assist with mobile fueling; 18 personnel and
nine trucks are closing city streets to block off the affected area. Other
available sites for refueling are the TxDOT Waco District Office and TxDOT
Hill County Area Office in Hillsboro.
Texas Animal Health Commission (TAHC): Providing support personnel.
Texas Railroad Commission: Monitoring pipelines in the affected area.
Texas Education Agency: Working with the local school district to coordinate
any immediate needs. Schools in West are closed for the remainder of the
Texas Forest Service: Incident Management Team assisting the Texas Division
of Emergency Management with planning and logistics.
Texas Department of Insurance: State Fire Marshal’s Office is assisting
on-site. Division of Workers’ Compensation (DWC) is also actively assisting
individuals affected by this tragedy. Two members of TDI’s Consumer
Protection Division will be on site to assist individuals as soon as it is
safe to do so.
Individuals looking for information or assistance may dial the Texas
Information Referral Network at 2-1-1. To donate to the Texas Disaster
Relief Fund, please visit www.texasdisasterrelieffund.org or call
The State Operations Center has been activated to support emergency response
operations, and will continue to monitor the situation.
For information about how you can help, medical and shelter information and
helpful numbers please visit http://governor.state.tx.us/disaster/.
Providence Memorial Hospital Wins 2013 Tenet Clinical Innovation Award
Providence Memorial Hospital is proud to announce that it has been awarded the 2013 Tenet Clinical Innovation Award, an honor only given to four Tenet hospitals nationwide. This award recognizes Providence Memorial Hospital’s Patient Care Technician Program, which improved employee satisfaction and reduced turnover by increasing the nursing skill set.
The Patient Care Technician Program was done in conjunction with the El Paso Community College and is easy to replicate, making this a successful and applicable innovative contribution to healthcare in our community.
Tenet Healthcare Corporation’s review found tangible evidence of Providence Memorial Hospital’s commitment to clinical innovation which helps set the standard for other hospitals to follow. Tenet Healthcare Corporation is one of the largest investor-owned health care delivery systems in the nation.
“This recognition is a testament to the hard work, dedication and tireless devotion of our clinicians and staff to our patients,” said Providence Memorial Hospital CEO, Eric Evans. “As healthcare reform moves forward, our industry will be challenged to innovate, and I am very proud of the fact that our staff is constantly seeking new and better ways to do things for our patients.”
Senators Cornyn, Cruz Issue Statement on Fertilizer Plant Explosion
U.S. Senator John Cornyn (R-TX) and U.S. Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) issued the following statement after learning of the explosion in West, TX.
“We are deeply saddened to learn of the horrific explosion in West, Texas. We grieve for those who are injured and have lost loved ones, and are grateful to the firefighters and first responders who risked their own lives to keep others safe. Today we ask all Texans to keep West in their thoughts and prayers. We remain in communication with Gov. Perry’s office and emergency management officials, and stand to offer whatever support we can.”
EPCC Career Services to Hold Annual Job Fair
The Career Services Department at El Paso Community College (EPCC) presents its annual Job Fair 2013. The job fair will bring numerous employers who will offer job and internship opportunities. The fair will be held from 9am – noon, Wednesday, May 15, 2013 at the Valle Verde campus, Building C Cafeteria Annex, 919 Hunter.
This event is free and open to the job-seeking public. Only serious job seekers should attend and must dress professionally, bring copies of their resume and be ready to interview on the spot. EPCC students and graduates can visit the Career Services Department at their nearest EPCC campus prior the Job Fair for job readiness assistance.
The Career Services Department at EPCC promotes awareness of career options, world of work and promotes lifelong career management. Career Services provides comprehensive services for all students and alumni that empowers them to take control of their own professional development.
For more information on the Job Fair 2013, please contact Silvia Dominguez at (915) 831-2636, via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit us at www.epcc.edu/careerservices.
Statement by Gov. Perry on the Boston Marathon Tragedy
Gov. Rick Perry today released the following statement regarding
the Boston Marathon tragedy:
“The scene at the Boston Marathon today is a sobering vision for us all,
especially those who have friends or loved ones competing in today’s race.
Our thoughts and prayers are with all those injured in the explosions, along
with the first responders who braved danger to help get the wounded to
ARMED FORCES DAY Celebration at Biggs Park
Armed Forces Day 2013 comes to Fort Bliss 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Saturday, May 18, at BIGGS PARK. It’s FREE and open to the public.
Activities include: equipment static displays, demonstrations by the area high school JROTC Armed and Unarmed Drill Teams, entertainment by the 1st Armored Division Band; Chili Cook-Off, Car Show, East Fort Bliss Build-up Tour and food and drink concessions.
Armed Forces Day at BIGGS PARK is an open house event that provides you the opportunity to meet with service men and women and learn about the equipment they use in support of this nation.
Armed Forces Day 2013, Saturday, May 18, FREE AND OPEN TO THE PUBLIC For more information, call the Fort Bliss Public Affairs Office at 568-4505.
CURRENT U.S. BLOOD SUPPLY IS ADEQUATE TO HANDLE DEMANDS
The American Association of Blood Banks Task Force on Domestic Disasters and Acts of Terrorism has determined that the current blood supply in the United States is adequate to meet the needs of hospital patients in Boston, Mass. To help ensure that the U.S. blood supply remains sufficient, the task force recommends that eligible donors call their local blood donation center to schedule an appointment for the coming weeks and months.
“U.S. blood banks have enough blood to meet the immediate medical needs of explosion victims in Boston,” said Lawrence Smith, chair of the task force. “The blood community is committed to ensuring a coordinated response to the affected area and will continue to provide updates should additional blood supplies be required.”
“When there’s a tragedy, disaster or emergency, it’s the blood on the shelves right that minute that saves lives”, states Sergio Carrasco, Executive Director of United Blood Services in El Paso and the entire West Texas and Southern New Mexico region. “We never know when something like yesterday’s terrible explosions will happen anywhere in the country. That’s why every community must have a strong local blood supply every single day. O-negative blood is especially important in emergencies—it can be transfused to anyone if there’s no time to do a cross-match”, said Carrasco.
At United Blood Services, we encourage everyone to donate regularly throughout the year, especially as we head into the summer. High school and college donors provide about 30 percent of this area’s blood supply, and we don’t have our school facilities open during the summer months. So we definitely encourage people to make an appointment to donate between now and Memorial Day and again between the Fourth of July and Labor Day.
You can call and make and appointment to donate toll free 1-877-UBS HERO ( 827-4376) or go to our website and make an appointment at unitedbloodservices.org.
If you would like to donate without an appointment feel free to visit our centers.
424 S. Mesa Hills Dr. El Paso 79912
1338 N. Zaragosa Dr. El Paso 79912
1200 Commerce Dr. Las Cruces, NM 88011
HOURS OF OPERATION:
Wednesday 10AM – 5PM Thursday Noon – 7PM Friday 8AM – 2PM Saturday 8AM – 3PM
Monday and Tuesday Open for Platelet donations only 9AM – 2PM
Please feel free to donate at these mobile drives this week and weekend:
Wednesday, April 17 Franklin High School 8:00 – 5:00
Thursday, April 18 Bowie High 9:00 – 3:00
El Paso Zoo 10:00 – 2:00
Friday, April 19 Cielo Vista Mall Noon – 5PM
Del Sol Medical Center 7:30 AM – 5:30 PM
EP Police Dept. Pebble Hills 10:00 – 1:30 PM
Saturday, April 20 Cielo Vista Mall Noon – 5:00 PM
West Valley Fire Dept 11:00 – 3:00
Comm. Of Deming @ Wal – Mart 9:00 – 1:00
Sunday, April 21 Cielo Vista Mall Noon – 5:00
Cielo Vista Church 10:00 – 2:00
Christ the Savior Church 9:00 – 1:00
West Valley Fire Dept Noon – 4:00
Wal Mart Silver City 10:30 – 2:30
The City of El Paso Department of Transportation (EPDoT) is reminding the public to enjoy the great outdoors by participating in Scenic Sundays.
Scenic Drive – the popular roadway that cuts along the southern slope of the Franklin Mountains – is closed to vehicle traffic on Sunday mornings to allow for outdoor recreational activities. The public is encouraged walk, jog, hike, skate or bicycle along Scenic Drive between Richmond and Robinson avenues.
Event hours for this Sunday, April 14, 2013, are from 6 a.m. to noon.
Fort Bliss Kidnapping Attempt a Hoax
“Yesterday reports surfaced on social media regarding an alleged attempt at kidnapping alleged to have occurred on Fort Bliss on April 10th. As more facts came in yesterday, it became evident that a kidnapping attempt likely did not take place. The Military police, Criminal Investigations Division, and El Paso Police Department, remain vigilant, however, at this time we do not believe that an actual kidnapping attempt took place.
The conjecture, rumors, and hyperbole surrounding this attempt have heightened emotions in a manner that is unhelpful to a communal understanding of this event in particular and safety on Fort Bliss in general. We ask that the community allow the Criminal Investigation Division do its job in fully investigating this incident.”
– Major Joe Buccino, Fort Bliss Spokesman
“As of 10 am on April 12th, the incident initially reported as a kidnapping attempt on Fort Bliss on the evening of 10 April appears to be a hoax. The Criminal Investigation Division continues to investigate, however, the report appears to have been entirely fabricated.” – Major Joe Buccino, Fort Bliss Spokesman
UTEP Geologists Will Take Advantage of ASARCO and City Hall Demolitions
Geologists from The University of Texas at El Paso will use this weekend’s explosions to demolish ASARCO and City Hall to their advantage.
Led by Hector Gonzalez-Huizar, Ph.D., research assistant professor of geological sciences, 45 seismometers – devices that measure ground movement – will be set up between the demolition sites downtown and at the ASARCO site near UTEP.
“It’s a great opportunity for us because, of course, we can’t set up our own explosives in the area to make these kinds of studies,” said Gonzalez-Huizar, who expects some seismometers to be as close as 600 feet to the demolition zones.
Data gathered by the seismometers will help researchers gauge where seismic waves travel faster and slower in the ground to help map sub-surface characteristics in the El Paso area.
The data also will help make researchers aware of any other previously unmapped structures below ground, and to see whether or not the east Franklin Mountain fault terminates below downtown El Paso, or continues into Juárez.
“By knowing the physical properties of the ground, we’ll be able to figure out how downtown will respond to an earthquake,” he said. “We’ll have a better idea of the kind of motion that could be generated.”
Carlos Montana and Galen Kaip, supporting staff of the department, as well as undergraduate and graduate students, will assist Gonzalez-Huizar on the project. He will also receive expert seismology consultation from geological sciences professors Diane Doser, Ph.D., andAaron Velasco, Ph.D.
The team plans to set up the seismometers on Friday, April 12, and take them down on Monday, April 15. The John W. Kidd Memorial Seismological Observatory located on campus also will be used to measure waves during the demolitions.
Although it is not yet confirmed, Gonzalez-Huizar believes faculty at the Universidad Autonoma de Ciudad Juárez will help with the project by setting up their own seismometers on the south side of the border.
He expects the data processing and results to be completed in several months, at which point they hope to publish their results and inform the public about what to expect if a large earthquake ever does occur in El Paso.
Sun Metro Detours for the Demolition of Asarco and City Hall
Sun Metro will be required to detour several routes due to the demolition of Asarco on Saturday, April 13, and the implosion of City Hall on Sunday, April 14.
Sun Metro staff will monitor the impacted areas to help passengers. Drivers will make courtesy stops as required.
Sun Metro strongly encourages the public to avoid all morning travel on both days to help reduce traffic congestion and eliminate commuter anxiety. Individuals wishing to witness the demolitions are asked to do so from the safety of their homes on their television screens.
Sun Metro will detour Routes 18 and 83 from 5 a.m. until about 8 a.m. on Saturday, April 13.
Due to the closure of several major streets surrounding Asarco, Sun Metro expects extensive service delays, depending on traffic, for Routes 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 18, 20, 34 and 83.
Sun Metro passengers should note that Routes 18 and 83 will not make stops along areas that are not part of the regular route.
Route 18 Detour
Buses traveling outbound, north on Santa Fe will turn right onto Paisano, left onto Oregon, right onto Glory Road, left onto Mesa, left onto Festival, right onto Carousel, left onto Rubin, right onto Suncrest, left onto Mesa Hills, left onto Sunland Park, left onto Paisano East, and exit the Racetrack Exit to service the Racetrack Drive bus stop. The bus will then, using the Paisano underpass, turn left on Racetrack, left onto Paisano West, left onto I-10 West returning to the regular route.
Buses traveling inbound, south on Paisano will use the Paisano underpass to turn left on Racetrack, left onto Paisano West, right onto Sunland Park and then travel along the same streets as the outbound detour, but in the reverse order.
Route 83 Detour
Buses traveling outbound, north on Paisano will turn right on Paisano, left onto Oregon, right onto Glory Road, left onto Mesa, left onto Festival, right onto Carousel, left onto Rubin, right onto Suncrest, left onto Mesa Hills, left onto Sunland Park, left onto Futurity returning to the regular route.
Buses traveling inbound, west on Futurity will travel along the same streets as the outbound detour, but in the reverse order.
CITY HALL DETOURS
Sun Metro will detour Routes 4, 9 and 10 from 8 a.m. until 10 a.m. on Sunday, April 14.
Buses will NOT service the Union Plaza Transit Terminal for the duration of the detour. Sun Metro staff will monitor the area.
Route 4 Detour
Buses traveling outbound, leaving the Union Depot parking lot will turn left onto Paisano, right onto Santa Fe continuing to the regular route.
Buses traveling inbound, west on Missouri will turn left onto Oregon, right onto Paisano, right onto Coldwell continuing to the Union Depot parking lot.
Route 9 Detour
Buses traveling outbound, north on El Paso will turn right onto San Antonio continuing to the regular route.
Route 10 Detour
Buses traveling inbound, north on Los Angeles will turn right onto Rio Grande, right onto Oregon continuing to the regular route.
For more information about Sun Metro, visit sunmetro.net or call (915)533-3333. Like us on Facebook at facebook.com/sunmetro.
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:
Wednesday, April 10, 2013
1274 Horizon Blvd.
4:00 p.m. – 7:00 pm.
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.
To learn more about the programs and services offered by the City of El Paso Department of Public Health please visit: www.elpasotexas.gov/health or call 2-1-1.
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).