New Downtown Collective Presents: MELT
The owners of various restaurants, bars, shops and theaters along with the El Paso Downtown Management District invite you to Melt, a downtown open house event with food, drink, and hotel specials, free craft beer tastings, giveaways, and live entertainment. Melt will be held on the last Saturday of every month and focuses on highlighting the “new wave” independent businesses of downtown. Melt: Last Saturdays Downtown, officially kicks off on Saturday, June 29, 2013.
Restaurants will have a 15% discount off menu items, bars will serve $3 bottles and/or pints of the craft beer of the month, and The Gardner Hotel and Camino Real will be implementing reduced rates for the night. There will also be live bands and DJs with retail shops providing information for the event, as well as craft beer tastings.
“I envision a day when people get in their cars or on their bikes and just head downtown without any particular place in mind,” said Hector Saenz, owner of the Hello Day Cafe and partial founder of the event. “Downtown becomes the destination.”
The idea came about as the owners of Hello Day Cafe, Tabla, and Pot au Feu began a loose collective of downtown business owners, who were soon inspired to create the event in order to have one day of the month where the people of El Paso could explore and familiarize themselves with downtown and all it has to offer. They have also partnered with the El Paso Downtown Management District, The City of El Paso KickstArt program and L&F Distributors to help fund and organize the event. “These guys, in many ways, are changing the business pattern for Downtown.” Said Verónica Soto, Executive Director of the Downtown Management District.
June Melt Info:
Date: Saturday, June 29, 2013
Time: 3PM – 2AM
Location: Downtown El Paso
Participants: Bowie Feathers, La Casa del Puro, Gardner Hotel, Hello Day Cafe, Loft Light Studio, The Network, La Oveja, The Percolator, Pot au Feu, SoHo, Tabla, Tea + Garden, Tricky Falls
Schedule: tba @ http://www.facebook.com/MeltDowntownEP
His Best Father’s Day Ever!
By: Doug Mayberry
Q: As a loving wife and mother of three teenagers, I struggle every year to show my husband and lover how much he means to us on Father’s Day. I encourage our kids to make suggestions and to help make Dad’s day special. He has few avocations, plenty of ties and shirts, and he likes his watch. He is a loving, trusting and available father. He really does not want things and enjoys just being together as a family for his holiday.
Can you share any thoughts and ideas that you think would make this year special for him?
A: Father’s want respect and love most, not material things. They want to hear “Thanks” and “I Love you.” Often families do not get this done as frequently as they should because we are busy, busy, and forget how meaningful important this is. One family, when told by a family member that they love them, responds regularly with “I love you more!” It is a winner.
Ask each family member, including youself, to sit down and write Dad a love letter. Tell him he is the best dad ever and explain why. Remind him how important and needed he is and how much he has helped them with their schoolwork, learning to throw a baseball, driving, how to ride a bike and how doing so has meant so much to the family. Remind him how he is appreciated for the many times he has stepped up when others in the family were having a bad day.
Handing him the letters with a hug is not a bad idea either!
Loving families are allies, not enemies, but sometimes guiding children in the right direction can cause friction and frustration. Thank him for always being there for the family and for keeping everyone on the track to success and happiness.
They may be at that stage when they are beginning to understand that they also may become parents one day and can learn from the principles instilled by their own mom and dad. You can bet these letters will be winners, will be read frequently and stored for a lifetime.
Rarely do fathers receive these loving letters! Happy Father’s Day!
MacFarland seeks to continue Ft. Bliss partnership with El Paso
Story and photos by: Ricky J. Carrasco
Major General Sean MacFarland recently took over as commander of Fort Bliss from Major General Dana Pittard. Pittard was a greatly respected general who, in his three years as commander, took steps to enhance and modernize the largest Army training base in the country. On May 31, General MacFarland was formally introduced to the local media who had many questions about how the incoming commander would handle his time here in El Paso.
The press conference started with questions from national media outlets that were concerned with the current struggles in Syria and Afghanistan. MacFarland will soon be taking a trip to Jordan to participate in the current joint training with US armed forces and the Jordanian military. He stated that the soldiers and staff in place there are only a nucleus of the command and “no more soldiers are expected to go, but there are contingency plans in place if hostilities in the area increase. We are concerned of the spill over into other countries, which is why we are partnering up with Jordan to enforce and defend their borders.”
MacFarland recently spent 15 months in Afghanistan overseeing the buildup of the Afghan local police. There are currently 20000 local members and the plan is to build up the police force up to 30000 officers by 2014. He claims, “There is a high degree of trust between local police and American forces. We’ve spent a great deal of time working with local authorities, and the main ingredient of that work is a high degree of trust.”
The local media was more concerned on how MacFarland’s command strategy will differ from General Pittard’s. MacFarland is already acquainted with the area as his grandfather served on this base and he himself served at Ft. Bliss in the 80’s. He also recently served as the commander of Joint Task Force North which provided Department of Defense support to US border security forces. When asked about how that experience would influence his command, he answered, “There is much inter-agency tasking, so with my experience, if another agency needs our help in terms of border security, I will facilitate it.”
On the question of how recent sequestration budget cuts will affect the running of the base: “It’s all about combat readiness. Our mission is still to fight and win the nation’s wars. The cornerstone of that is lethality. That is what gives us our street cred in that we are the most lethal force on the planet. We try to take care of the soldier and his health and family to ensure each soldier is focused.” He explained that even with budget cuts, the most important thing he can do is foster leadership, which does not cost anything in a small scale. “I think Ft. Bliss is blessed in its location. Though the Army will reduce in its overall population, Ft. Bliss should fare will with the reductions.”
“We will not become a hollow force. We have a lot of equipment and we will be good stewards of the equipment we have.”
The commander will continue the “Easy Access” policy implemented by Pittard, meaning that many civilians and most media will have reasonable access to non-critical areas of the base, such as the Freedom Crossing shopping center. As for media access, like today’s press conference, MacFarland stated that this is “the largest army post alongside the largest civilian community together, so I would anticipate to continue to be pretty open with the media.”
MacFarland applauded Pittards innovations like the implementation of the MicroGrid that will protect Ft. Bliss against blackouts or power failures by tapping into the area’s natural resources like wind and solar energy sources. He did warn that it should not be seen that he will make Ft. Bliss into “an experimental platform.”
Short term plans for the new commander and his wife include unpacking boxes to complete the move and going to find good places to go eat in El Paso. He joked, “I have a few that I like. I won’t say where they are though.” He plans to return in mid-June to spend time with his son who will soon be deployed to Afghanistan.
MacFarland also sent out a message to the soldiers at Ft. Bliss, “It is a tremendous honor to serve as their commander, and I underline the word ‘serve’ because even as leaders, our job is to serve our troops. The best way to serve them is to make them the best trained soldiers I can possibly make them and to make sure their families are taken care of.”
To the people of El Paso, he said, “You really make this post one of the best places to be a soldier anywhere. El Paso is a hometown to us and we are very, very happy to be back home. We thank the people of El Paso for their commitment to our troops. We look to further our partnership with the city in any way we possibly can.”
Legion Riders USO Run
Story and photos by: Ricky Jimenez Carrasco
In April, Post 598 Legion Riders held their 3rd annual run to benefit the USO. The United Service Organization was organized in 1941 to help soldier morale during the impeding World War II. The USO now has over 160 locations around the world and serves over 5 million visitors every year.
On their run, the Legion Riders had about 250 registered participants and raised $4800 specifically for the El Paso USO. Legion Rider Daniel Chavez, Army Ret., a 25 year veteran who served with the 82nd Airborne, spoke on the post’s behalf: “We had a successful run and participation for all the El Paso posts. We even had Legion Riders come down from Arizona just for this run.”
When asked what the USO meant to him, he was very appreciative of their efforts for soldiers. “I remember a social that they organized in Giebelstadt, Germany. They brought in singers and dancers. They had tents with soup, ice cream. They had places where you can play video games and others where you could take a nap. It was a nice feeling of being appreciated.”
The Legion Riders, made entirely of military veterans, are continually working for the El Paso community. Probably their biggest effort is their Thanksgiving turkey dinner giveaway in the colonias in east El Paso County. Last year, they served a package with a full turkey dinner for about 200 families. Some were even taken directly to the family’s homes via a parade of Riders.
Daniel Chavez wanted to personally address the participants of their run: “Thank you for supporting the USO and everything they do for soldiers.”
Memorial Day Service
FORT BLISS, Texas—Fort Bliss officials and 1 Armored Division Soldiers will conduct a Memorial Day Service on Monday, May 27 at 9a.m., at the Fort Bliss National Cemetery. The service will be conducted in honor of the service men and women of the United States who gave their lives in the defense of this country.During the memorial service the Commanding General of 1st Armored Division and Fort Bliss, Maj. Gen. Dana J.H. Pittard will deliver an address to honor the fallen men and women of the United States Armed Forces and 1st Armored Division.
The main entrance / gate to the cemetery, on Fred Wilson, will be CLOSED to vehicular traffic for the duration of this event; the walk-in gate will be OPEN to pedestrians. Visitors to the Memorial Day Service are encouraged to use SHERIDAN GATE for access to the National Cemetery. Parking will be on JEB Stuart and Haan Road’s, on Fort Bliss, directly to the side and behind the cemetery.
Armed Forces Day
May 18th marks Armed Forces Day and will be celebrated throughout Fort Bliss. The Third annual Armed Forces Day Triathlon at Fort Bliss kicks all the festivities at 7a.m. with a race that is open to all active military and any family members and anyone in the El Paso community that would like to join the fun. community. For more information, call 744-5793 or 744-5794. All other events will take place from 10am-5pm at Biggs Park.
The 1st Armored Division Bands Brass Quintet, the Military Police Working Dog Teams (10:45 a.m.) and the 1AD the Armed and Unarmed Drill Teams Competition round out the mornings festivities. The The 30th Annual Fred Stafford Memorial Chili Cook-Off if always a fan favorite and starts at 11am. The public can taste chili from 11-3 and tasting is encouraged as the judges go around tasting as well.
The annual ‘Salute the Troops Car Show’ always features some really rare and custom cars from around the region. The show is great for car connoisseurs and is also a tribute to the military and their family. Overall this will be an exciting day to bring the family to Fort Bliss. For more information about Armed Forces Day, call the Fort Bliss Public Affairs, 568-4505.
Sierra Providence East Medical Center Repeats Excellence
Sierra Providence East Medical Center is proud to announce that it has received Tenet’s 2013 Circle of Excellence Award. Sierra Providence East is one of nine Tenet hospitals recognized for superior achievement in the areas of quality care, service excellence and operational performance.
This is the second year in a row the hospital has been recognized with the Circle of Excellence Award.
“The staff and physicians at Sierra Providence East Medical Center are being honored with a Circle of Excellence Award for demonstrating an outstanding commitment to their patients, community and hospital during 2012,” said Britt T. Reynolds, Tenet’s president of hospital operations. “I am proud to recognize them with this prestigious award as it recognizes Sierra Providence East Medical Center as a preferred hospital for patients to receive care, for physicians to practice medicine and for employees to work.” “Our focus has always been on quality and service. And moving in to 2013 we will continue to seek superior clinical outcomes and provide a great patient experience. We challenge one another everyday to set higher expectations and strive to deliver the best possible care to patients in our community”, said Sally Hurt-Deitch, CEO of Sierra Providence East Medical Center.
“I am honored to work with such a dedicated team. This award is a reflection of the commitment our team members have to the hospital, one another, our patients and our community.”
Sierra Providence East Medical Center (SPEMC) opened in May 2008 and is part of the Sierra Providence Health Network. The 110-bed acute hospital offers a range of specialties, from cardiac care and orthopedics, to Level III Neonatal Intensive Care, and emergency room needs. SPEMC has expanded its services to include Electrophysiology, a free standing outpatient Wound Care and Hyperbaric Center, an outpatient Infusion Center, and a Maternal Fetal Medicine High Risk Clinic, Breast and Women’s Health Center and will introduce minimally invasive robotic surgery options with the da Vinci in the late summer.
The hospital is currently undergoing a $67 million patient tower expansion to be completed at the end of 2014. The primary focus of the expansion will be a new four-story tower with over 145,000 square feet in addition to a new emergency department that will increase the capacity from 21 beds to 31 beds. The Joint Commission recertified SPEMC as an accredited Primary Stroke Center in 2013 and Sierra Providence East was also recently designated as a Level IV Trauma Facility by the Texas Department of State Health Services.
Chuco De Mayo Celebration
The Chuco Artist Network proudly presents: Chuco De Mayo! featuring Art, Music, Comedy, Poetry and Dance celebrating the 2nd Anniversary of the Chuco Artist Network and Cinco De Mayo. Hosted by: The Wolf
Chucoartist.com promotes, develops and connects the best creative talent in el Chuco, Atzlan and the Southwest. Artists, Businesses, Organizations and People for Visual, Music, Written and Performing Arts make up the network of over 900 members and counting. Mobile Application also available.
Chuco De Mayo will feature Live Performances by: Chuco Soul Project, IMA, Christina Gurrola, Manifique, Lawrence Welsh, Siren St. Sin and more!
Artists Include: Ayer Eternal, Deadboy, Chris Torresdy, KAT, Carolina Rico (Henna Artist) and Andy Perez. Gallery featuring: Gabriel Marquez and Creed Yup
Workshops by: Orgonite by Mando, Crochet with Red Moss, and More…
Sponsored by: Eternal SEO and Bear Space Collective
Food and Drink Specials by:
501 Bar and Bistro
$5 Adults $3 Kids
2pm – 2am
@ San Carlos Building
501 Texas St. 79901
The Chuco Artist Project is privately funded. Any and all proceeds will be used to further benefit and enrich the lives of the Artists and to further help promote them.
Dia de los Ninos: Dia de los Libros: Diversity In Action
By Joe Olvera ©, 2013
Gianna Garcia already loves books, and she’s only two-years old. Of course, Gianna can’t read yet, but, she’ll hold one of her grandpa’s books and turn the pages as if she’s really reading. She’ll even mouth some words to herself and outloud, pretending that she’s reading to her grandfather. She’s already looking forward to “Dia,” as it’s become known. This year’s celebration that features literacy and cultural attainment will be Sunday, April 28 in Washington Park. Last year’s celebration attracted more than 25,000 visitors, and this year’s promises to be no different.
Renowned poet and author of children’s books, Pat Mora, an El Pasoan who has won numerous awards for her writing, is credited with beginning Dia in El Paso, a trend that spread throughout Texas and across the United States. She followed the Mexican tradition of Dia de los Ninos, and expanded it to include a day that would help her celebrate her love of books and to share it with America. The Mexican tradition evolved into what became the first “World Conference for the Well-Being of Children,” held in Geneva, Switzerland in August 1925. Several countries then passed the “Geneva Declaration Protecting Children.”
“As a mom I knew that children often ask, ‘Why do we have a Mother’s Day and a father’s Day, but not a Children’s Day?’ Mora said in her website, Bookjoy. “As a reader I wanted to foster bookjoy. Aha. I said, what if we link a celebration of children with literacy, an issue central to the well-being of children. That day, Latino faculty and staff at the University of Arizona enthusiastically supported the concept of annual Dia celebrations,” Mora said. Librarians and book lovers in schools across the country loved the idea. On April 30, 1997, the first annual Dia celebrations were held in cities including Tucson, El Paso, and Austin. Since then, Dia celebrations have increased like wild fire.
With the slogan that: Literacy strengthens democracy, the goals of this observance from its inception have a included a daily commitment to:
*honor children and childhood;
*promote literacy, the importance of linking all children to books, languages and cultures;
*honor home languages and cultures, and thus promoting bilingual and multilingual literacy in this multicultural nation and global understanding through reading,.
*involve parents as valued members of the literacy team’
So, if you’re a mom or a dad, or a grandmom and a granddad, come help us celebrate this day that’s so important for the development of children. The book fair at the park features games, face painting, treats, and, of course, free books – 3 used ones and 1 new. Who could say no to that?
May 11 Elections promise wild excitement
By Joe Olvera ©, 2012
If you didn’t register to vote in the May 11 elections by Thursday, April 11, 2013, it’s too late now. That was the deadline for registering to participate in elections which promise to become highly interesting and, perhaps, a bit controversial. The controversy, of course, will occur in the Mayoral race, that features no incumbent this time around. Mayor John Cook will not be eligible to run for another term, so all the candidates are relatively new. Except for perennial candidates Jaime Perez and Jorge Artalejo, who really bring nothing new to the table, except for failed attempts at being elected.
Perez, especially, offers very little to the voter, even though he has run for mayor, both in 1983 and in 1985. He also ran for El Paso County Judge in the election that saw Veronica Escobar gain that coveted seat. Perez is an also ran who makes one wonder why he would run in the first place. But, of course, that’s the gist of our election process; that anyone who wants to, can run for any office he or she desires. It doesn’t mean they will win, but, at the very least they can say they ran for this office or for that office. This, plus the fact, that campaigns are hard to judge and one never knows when a dark horse enters the race and wins in the end. Another candidate who doesn’t seem too serious about winning election is Artalejo – a substitute teacher who refuses to dress in the traditional suit and tie, but, instead, attends forums and events wearing sweat shirts and inordinately uncombed hair.
Then, there are those candidates who are truly serious about winning the election and they include mama’s boy, Oscar Leeser, an early favorite, who owns Hyundai of El Paso and has the money to throw a monkey wrench into the political plans of City Rep. Steve Ortega. Ortega was able to raise substantial amounts of money at the outset of his campaign, but, Leeser, who lent his campaign $50,000, rapidly caught up to Ortega’s fund-raising with more than $80,000 in the bank. Ortega, however, said that he’s not worried because Leeser may be able to raise more money, but, he has the most donors, and that translates to votes.
Well, it remains to be seen, but Ortega’s dream that his run for Mayor would be a cakewalk with very little opposition is turning rather into a nightmare of sorts now that seven people are running for the post – two of them are hardly qualified, but the other five bring experience, business sense, and other elements to the fray. Besides Leeser, other candidates include Robert D. Cormell, a small-business owner; Gus Haddad, who’s headed several city boards and commissions; Hector Lopez, a man with deep community roots and involvement, and retired Dept. of Defense employee, Dean Martinez.
Another element which promises to bring a little more than average excitement to the May 11 elections is the fact that voters will be choosing a new slate of trustees to run the El Paso Independent School District because so many of them were fired or they resigned after being accused of corruption, of transferring students other grade levels so they wouldn’t have to take the state-required exams, of removing them from the classroom for various reasons and for padding test scores so that administrators could earn high marks and bonuses. Disgraced former Superintendent Lorenzo Garcia was indicted for fraud and for awarding $450,000 in taxpayer dollars to one of his girlfriends. Other officers were aghast at the huge oversight which had escaped them, when they weren’t looking someone else’s hand was on the till.
After the cheating scandal was uncovered, Texas Education Commissioner Michael Williams appointed a Board of Managers to oversee the district, a move that caused the trustees to reject his efforts and to contest his authority to do so. Board President Isela Castañon Williams has said that Garcia blind-sided the entire board, therefore they shouldn’t be replaced, nor should they act as if they had done something wrong. But, whatever. Voters will decide on May 11 whether an entirely new board will take the district’s helm. One official who has expressed an interest in running, but hasn’t made a decision is City Rep. Susan Byrd, who represents District 3 on Council. If she does decide to run, she will go up against incumbent Alfredo Borrego, who has proclaimed his innocence and non-involvement in the cheating scandal.
For voters, May 11 will bring much to consider in not only who will replace John Cook as Mayor, and who can be trusted to turn the corruption and scandals of the EPISD around. Voters must be doubly careful to not award seats to people who would turn against the children who attend our schools. Coach Cordova, Sal Mena, Mickey Duntley, and Linda Chavez have learned the hard way that it doesn’t pay to fool people. As the saying goes: “You can fool some of the people all of the time, fool all of the people some of the time, but, you can’t fool all the people all of the time.”
A “New Me”
The Sierra Providence Bariatric Center’s “New Me” fashion show took place this past Saturday at the Foundation Room inside the Mills building downtown. The yearly fashion show showcases men and women who have been transformed by the Bariatric program and have lost great amounts of weight of sometimes 100 pounds and way more. The evening had different members of the Bariatric program showcasing different clothes as well as the speaker mentioning how much they have come along in the program.
Dr. Clapp who is the medical director of the Providence Bariatric Center said that it is a lifestyle change more than just a procedure. Dr. Clapp said there is about a 85% success rate with this kind of surgery and a lot depends on the patient and their dedication to continuing to eat healthy and live an active lifestyle. Dr. Clapp also said that the hospital has dietitians on staff for Bariatric patients to use way after the procedure.
CEO J. Eric Evans was on hand to give more insight on the program and its benefits. Evans stated that it wasn’t just a one time involvement from past patients. Evans said that patients from 7 years ago were still participating in the fashion show and being apart of the small community of patients that are also a friendly support group.
Many of the patients we spoke to kept talking about the great support the wide array of services the program has. The most common thing heard from everyone was that this is a lifelong challenge and complete lifestyle change. The effort that comes from these people in their lives was a perfect reason for this fashion show which was a great night to show off and glow in their hard work.
Are jobs really that hard to find in El Paso?
by Joe Olvera ©, 2013
According to University Medical Center CEO Jim Valenti, the hospital is doing everything it can to create new jobs. What with the new Children’s Hospital bringing in droves of new doctors and medical staff, pediatric specialists and other people who are dedicated to making El Paso a thriving source for caring for children’s health care needs, are finding jobs in the Sun City. But, one wonders. Isn’t it a Catch-22 situation in which more jobs are being created, yes, but, at the expense of increasing taxes and making El Pasoans pay even more for those jobs that are created?
To look at the Internet, El Paso must be booming with new jobs. Just look at all the different sites that claim to have the perfect job for you. Monster has beaucoup job openings, as does Craigs list, the Texas Workforce Solutions, Wic, and others. If that’s the case, however, then why does the city have a 9.1 unemployment rate, a rate that keeps steadily climbing. For awhile, there, El Paso went as low as having 8.7 percent of people looking for jobs. But, alas, these were seasonal jobs and as soon as the Christmas season was over, so were those jobs.
El Paso trails the State of Texas, which lords it over the city with a mere 7.1 percent unemployment rate. While El Paso has a high unemployment rate, it’s not higher than McAllen’s 11 percent, which is the highest in the state. To El Paso’s shame, the city of Midland hovers over a 3.2 percent rate. However, El Paso has gone down from January, when it recorded a rate of 9.5, down to the present 9.1. Since November, different sources say that they have added 200,000 new jobs. But, one must wonder, where are those jobs.
One person who didn’t want to be named, said she thinks that people are not really looking for work, but only pretending to. “People are getting food stamps, free rent in some cases, free medical care through Medicaid, free this, free that,” said the source. “So, why should these people look for work? They don’t need to work because the government will provide for them. Me, I’ve been searching for a job so that I can get off the public dole. But, no matter how hard I look, or how many applications, I submit, I haven’t had any luck. Maybe I should just relax and enjoy being cared for by my government.”
El Paso, which once had a thriving clothing manufacturing industry, such as Farah, Mann Mfg., and others; El Paso which once had a thriving copper refining industry, and El Paso which once had other thriving industries and businesses, must now rely on small businesses to pick up the slack. Even Fort Bliss, which offered a promising future, now faces a doubtful future. Because of sequestration, the Army base now faces a very real problem in having to furlough thousands of its civilian employees. In essence, they would earn less pay, which means that businesses would suffer from that loss of income. Despite the city’s high unemployment rate, El Paso continues to thrive. A recent bond election will soon provide new amenities to keep the populace entertained, and the hope is always there that through efforts by the University Medical Center, the Texas Tech Medical School, and other El Paso institutions, the city will continue to grow and to prosper. Eventually, the unemployment rate will come crashing down in a way that should provide jobs for them that wants them.
History bites the dust with demolition of ASARCO Smokestacks
By Joe Olvera ©, 2013
ANALYSIS: They once were the tallest smokestacks in the world. As part of the American Smelting and Refining Company, the smokestacks have stood for almost 50 years, standing vigil over the city and making people remark over its 828 foot tall stack which, in January 30, 1967, became taller than any other stack in the world. Alas, that distinction gave way to taller stacks, some of which are still in use. For example, the GRES-2 Power Station, in Ekibastusz, Kazakhstan towers 1377 feet into the air, making it the tallest in the world. The El Paso ASARCO smokestacks now only rank number 5, and if things go according to plan, they will drop down to zero in terms of height.
Once upon a time, ASARCO was a power-base, smelting and refining copper from the Phelps Dodge Refinery Company and other smelters to produce a business that hired thousands of workers from El Paso and from Juarez. From the little village of Buena Vista to what later became known as Smeltertown, the smokestacks were both a pride of accomplishment for the City of El Paso, and a source for contamination which spewed dangerous gasses and other poisons over the small communities that dotted the area. But, at that time, there was no danger, or so it seemed, and people went about their business working hard and earning a good salary to support their families.
In the beginning, when El Paso citizens heard that the towers might come down, they united against such an affront. At first, they complained that the stacks should not be demolished because they were a part of El Paso’s history. They were a source of pride, something which El Paso lacked because there was nothing to make the city stand out from other communities, ah, but the stacks were the tallest in the world, weren’t they? Guys who were in the military would point out with pride that El Paso did lay claim to having the tallest stacks at that time. Perhaps it was a small claim to fame, but, there it was. Like silent sentinels, they have stood, firm and steady, lording it over the landscape.
But, then came the bad news. The stacks, it was decided contained pollutants and other dangerous chemicals that were released when they were in use. Failing to halt the proposed demolition, despite strong efforts to change the minds of the Environmental Protection Agency so that they would allow the stacks to remain, opponents of the demolition are attempting a different scenario. Some ideas floated forth that would have turned the smelter into a museum of sorts, or some other public gathering place where history could continually remind El Pasoans of what once had been. But, that wasn’t about to happen. Demolition was slated for April 13, 2013.
Opponents of the knockdown, however, are not giving up. Now they want the powers that be, to allow a “time-out” on the demolition because they want a “thorough environmental assessment” to take place to determine what would happen to the water, air monitoring, soil sampling, plus what would happen due to a lack of transparency and a lack of community involvement and outreach. But, because El Paso is in a demolition mood – attempting to also knock down the Lincoln Rec Center in Central El Paso, knocking down City Hall and knocking down the Insights Museum, knocking down the two stacks is nothing short of a no-brainer. So, is El Paso tearing down the old to replace it with the new? But, what new thing will replace the smokestacks? With arsenic and lead remaining behind due to the smokestacks, what can replace them? Commercial development does not seem to be a viable alternative because medical reports of respiratory difficulties have arisen which have not been addressed.
Mayoral candidate Hector Lopez proposes that the stacks not be demolished in order to build a health and environmental research center which can “turn this industrial wasteland” into a research hub that provides scientific solutions and high profile research. “Fundamentally, I believe that this is a prime opportunity for us to create a health and environmental research center on the U.S.-Mexico border that will address the real legacy of ASARCO,” Lopez writes as part of his platform. “We already know of the poisoning of our land, water, air, residents and workers. Despite the political boundaries that divide our individual states, it is our responsibility to our regional community and future generations to address the issue now.”