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The tails of four American Airlines passenger planes are seen at Miami International Airport in Miami on July 17, 2015.
Hail damage forced a Phoenix-bound American Airlines flight to divert to El Paso, Texas, Sunday night, CBS News transportation correspondent Kris Van Cleave reports. No injuries were reported, but the Airbus A319’s nose and windshield were damaged.
American Airlines Flight 1897 was carrying 130 passengers and five crew members from San Antonio when it landed in El Paso just after 8 p.m. after being in the air for about two hours.
"We commend the great work of our pilots, along with our flight attendants," the carrier said in a statement.
At 11:46 p.m., the flight continued to Phoenix with a different aircraft.
An inspection was expected to be conducted on the damaged Airbus.
HOUSTON (AP) — The Houston Astrodome, which became known as the Eighth Wonder of the World as the world’s first domed stadium, has received the highest honor Texas can give a historic structure.
A marker designating the Astrodome as a Recorded Texas Historic Landmark was unveiled at ceremonies Tuesday outside the Houston icon.
The stadium opened April 9, 1965, for an exhibition baseball game between the Houston Astros and New York Yankees. For more than three decades, it hosted countless athletics competitions, concerts and other events before falling victim to old age and disrepair.
The Astrodome last year received a state antiquities landmark designation, which provides special safeguards against demolition and requires Texas Historical Commission approval for any changes. Harris County officials recently approved a $105 million renovation project for the stadium.
Copyright 2018 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
Rudy Gutierrez/The El Paso Times/AP
UTEP president Diana Natalicio talks with Wallace Hall, Jr., a UT system regent as they viewed the ongoing construction on the center of the UTEP campus Thursday, Nov. 6, 2014 in El Paso.
When Diana Natalicio graduated from a blue-collar St. Louis high school in 1957, life expectations were clear for her and her classmates. “They prepared the boys to be apprentices in the various trade unions—electricians, carpenters and so on—and they assumed that the girls would marry them. And so they prepared the girls for short-term careers, until their nuptials came along, in secretarial studies,” she recalled Tuesday.
She took a job as a switchboard operator but quickly grew frustrated with the work and the life possibilities that lay ahead. So she enrolled in Saint Louis University, a Jesuit school near her home even though she recognized she wasn’t prepared. “They said, ‘well, where’d you go to high school. I told them and they said, ‘Hmmm, well that’s not going to be so easy,” but they said if you work hard, maybe we can make it happen.”
Natalicio earned her bachelor’s degree from SLU in 1961, then earned a master’s and a doctorate from the University of Texas at Austin. She arrived at the University of Texas at El Paso as a visiting professor of linguistics in 1971 and won a faculty appointment the following year. She went into administration in 1977, then was appointed UTEP’s president in 1988. Natalicio, 78, announced Tuesday that she would retire when the UT Board of Regents appoints her successor, a process that is likely to take six to nine months.
Paul Foster, an El Paso businessman and philanthropist who is the vice chairman of the University of Texas Board of Regents, said Natalicio leaves an impressive legacy. “Dr. Natalicio has served UTEP and the UT System with distinction for more than 45 years. Her 30 years at the helm as president are marked with one recognition or commendation after another, not only for our fine university but for Dr. Natalicio personally. She will be very difficult to replace, but with the legacy she has created, I have no doubt that her position will be highly sought after. And since she is staying on until her successor is in place, it is not time to say goodbye, but rather it is our opportunity to express our gratitude and admiration for her commitment to higher education and to our community.”
Natalicio made it her life’s work to help those like herself, who came from modest means and often were assumed to be unlikely college material. To Natalicio, the public conversation about higher education often was off-base. “Everybody focuses a lot on excellence, everybody wants to be prestigious, everybody wants to be ranked high and all the rest of that. But there’s not a lot of focus on access, which is creating opportunities for people who wouldn’t otherwise have them,” she said at a news conference Tuesday announcing her retirement plans.
During her 30 years as president—the longest current presidential tenure at any public university in the United States—UTEP remade itself to better reflect the El Paso community and to serve its predominately Hispanic population. When Natalicio became president, Hispanics made up more than two-thirds of El Paso’s population but fewer than half of UTEP’s student body. As Natalicio prepares to step aside, both the university student body and El Paso are more than 80 percent Hispanic.
The changes at UTEP were painful and controversial. Critics said Natalicio and UTEP improved access by allowing unprepared students to enroll at UTEP, where many struggled without graduating. “If there’s going to be criticism in the post-mortem of her presidency, it would be that she sacrificed too much excellence for too much access,” said Woody Hunt, an El Paso businessman and former University of Texas regent who supported Natalicio even though they disagreed at times on the balance between excellence and access. He called her “transformational,” a description he said he uses sparingly.
Data from the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board show that fewer than half of the students who enrolled at UTEP in the fall of 2011 had graduated within six years, below the state average of 61 percent. Natalicio despises measures like six-year graduation rates, saying they ignore the realities faced by first-generation, low-income and immigrant students.
Natalicio’s career has been built on a belief that access and excellence aren’t mutually exclusive. UTEP had one doctoral program when she assumed the presidency; it now offers 24. The student body grew from 15,000 to more than 25,000; the number of graduates went from fewer than 1,500 annually to more than 5,500
“So it’s not to say that we are aren’t focused on quality, because we are and we’ve demonstrated that through a lot of examples—doctoral programs, research dollars, all that. But we’re trying to do something very different, which is to create that balance between access and excellence,” she said.
Natalicio’s efforts have resulted in numerous honors. Hunt said she is probably better known in higher education circles nationwide than within her home state. Last year, Fortune magazine included her in its list of top 50 world leaders. In 2016, Time magazine named her to its annual list of the world’s 100 most influential people. San Antonio’s Julian Castro, then the secretary of Housing and Urban Development, wrote the Time article on Natalicio. “Over 80 percent of UTEP’s more than 23,000 students are Mexican American, and an additional 5 percent come from nearby Ciudad Juárez, Mexico. Most of her students work, and many of them have families. Yet UTEP has become a major research institution during her tenure, growing research dollars from $6 million to more than $90 million annually, because Natalicio was ahead of her time, seeing the future of America in the faces of her students.”
In her news conference Tuesday, Natalicio discussed declining state funding for higher education, in Texas and in most other states. She worries that shrinking state funding forces public universities to increase tuition, further trapping people in poverty by shutting them off from education. “So you’re going to have an underclass of people without much hope or opportunity. And I don’t think any society does well that way. So I think we’re going to have to have a conversation about what is important and what we spend resources on. It seems to me that there are two fundamental things that any society ought to do for its people. One is education, the other is health. I don’t see how you can have a society that doesn’t doesn’t pay attention to that, and those two areas don’t seem to be the priority that they used to be.”
Natalicio has never been comfortable with public introspection, and she refused to answer questions about her legacy Tuesday. “I’m not ready to do that. I’m not going anywhere today,” she said with a smile. There was no such reluctance from those who have been influenced by Natalicio over the years.
“Her legacy of access, service, excellence and humility have been a constant in her trajectory as a transformative leader, role model and educator,” said Eva Moya, a UTEP professor of social work who first met Natalicio as a UTEP undergraduate student in the late 1970s. “Dr. Natalicio’s vision, tenacity, determination, humility and love for service and education for all has been inspirational and transformative for hundreds of thousands of lives in this border and beyond.”
Sally Hurt-Deitch, the chief nursing officer and vice president of patient care services for Dallas-based Tenet Healthcare Corporation, received her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in nursing from UTEP. She calls Natalicio the “iron lady” of education. “Her commitment to the community has been felt by all of those who have taken classes, walked the campus, attended an event, or have simply heard her speak. Diana Natalicio has lived and breathed El Paso—rejoicing in the culture of the area, capitalizing on the diversity of the region, and promoting the distinctiveness of UTEPs graduates,” Hurt-Deitch said.
UTEP’s current student body president, Kristen Ahumada, said Natalicio is the university’s beacon. “Dr. Natalicio has instilled in me the core values of this institution and has stayed true to our university’s mission of access and excellence. She has integrated these ideals into all UTEP initiatives and continued to reach out to our unserved El Paso Del Norte Region, and has generated many robust programs.”
Natalicio said she is most proud of the tens of thousands of graduates with whom she shook hands at commencement ceremonies. When asked if she wishes she had done anything differently in her three decades leading UTEP, Natalicio reached for the lament of many a university president. “Win football games,” she said.
Robert Moore is an El Paso-based journalist and former editor of the El Paso Times.
EL PASO, Texas – The suicidal man who locked himself inside a vehicle in a Northeast El Paso parking lot has surrendered to police after an hours-long standoff.
The El Paso Police Department SWAT team blocked off the parking lot off Martin Luther King Jr. Drive at about 7:30 a.m.
The team was deployed to handle the suicidal subject with a weapon, according to police.
Throughout the morning, viewers called the ABC-7 newsroom to report they were not being let into or out of the Walmart Neighborhood Market or the nearby convenience store.
The suspect surrendered shortly after 11 a.m.
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(Photo: Courtesy Crime Stoppers of El Paso)
El Paso police are trying to identify a man who used a knife during a Friday the 13th cellphone shop robbery last month.
The unsolved robbery on April 13 is Crime Stoppers of El Paso’s Crime of the Week.
The robbery occurred at 1:15 p.m. at the Metro PCS shop at 2920 N. Piedras St., four blocks south of Fort Boulevard, Crime Stoppers said.
More: Fugitive California child-porn suspect Kenneth Hooks may be among homeless in El Paso
Machete used by robbers in unsolved Zeke’s supermarket hold-up in Crime of the Week
A man armed with a knife threatened two employees and ordered them to get on the floor, police said. The robber fled with an undisclosed amount of cash.
Police said that witnesses saw the man running east through an alley.
A man robs a Metro PCS shop on April 13 at 2920 N. Piedras St.
The man was about 5 feet 5-to-10 inches tall and was wearing a black hooded sweatshirt with a front logo showing a W hand sign and stating "Streetwise" on top and "West" on the bottom.
More: Man stabbed in Downtown El Paso after asking another man to buy him beer, cigarettes
The man was also wearing khaki pants, white gloves, a black baseball cap and black Adidas sneakers.
Anyone with information on the robber may anonymously call Crime Stoppers at 566-8477 or leave a tip online at crimestoppersofelpaso.org.
Daniel Borunda may be reached at 546-6102; email@example.com; @BorundaDaniel on Twitter.
Migrant caravan seeking asylum arrives at US border
Recently, I visited Del Rio, Texas, marking my fourth visit to the southwest border. My previous trips have taken me to El Paso and Laredo in Texas, and San Diego in California. Del Rio offered a unique perspective to border security because of its rural character, allowing me to continue to build on my understanding of the strategic challenges we face and what the House can do to deliver on our promise to better secure our borders.
Each sector along the southwest border has its own unique geography, economy, and traditions, which determines what that location’s border security should look like and how it should be specifically designed. While in the Del Rio Sector, I learned that, at any given time, only roughly 45 percent of our Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) agents are patrolling the border with the other 55 percent engaged in administrative activity such as transporting prisoners, doing administrative work, or on leave.
I also learned that the agents are not able to fully utilize all of the resources available to them. For example, the Val Verde County Sheriff Joe Frank Martinez reported that he has $96,000 in high-tech cameras sitting in storage because the county doesn’t have the manpower to monitor the feeds once the cameras are installed. This is unacceptable. Taxpayers expect more from the funds we are sending to border, and there are ways to better equip those on the front lines – keeping Americans safe and secure.
While I was there, we also discussed President Trump’s recent decision to deploy National Guard troops to the border. Working carefully with state and local officials, I believe that guardsmen could be beneficial to supplement inadequate manpower by way of aerial surveillance, ground observation, or some appropriate administrative tasks. Clearly, we need more cooperation and coordination to maximize our border security. However, the Guard’s ability to engage in actual interdiction activities is limited. This is a band-aid, not a solution.
One of the key findings from my trips is that a barrier in place – whether a wall, fence, or something altogether different – shapes the response of cartels and illegal immigrants and is a useful tool in helping our agents better patrol the border.
The House is doing our part. The FY18 spending bill that was recently passed by the House and signed into law by President Trump includes important provisions to help secure our nation’s southern border. In addition, the House is currently working on a significant immigration reform bill, the Securing America’s Future Act, that would increase not only physical and technological border security, but would ensure that high-skilled laborers are able to enter the United State to benefit our nation’s economy, all while finding an equitable solution for dreamers.
I had four important and key takeaways from my recent trip.
First, we need to make sure that we have enough manpower patrolling the Southwest Border. The FY18 spending bill funds the CBP at $14 billion, an increase of $1.8 billion from the previous year. Also, the Securing America’s Future Act adds 5,000 Border Patrol Agents and 5,000 CBP officers, while authorizing $8.5 billion for recruitment and retention for the CBP.
Second, we need the proper technology and implementation of it to ensure safety along the border. The FY18 spending bill includes $196 million for “border security technology,” and the Securing America’s Future Act authorizes an additional $5.8 billion for technology over a period of five years. Much of the technology in the Del Rio Sector is outdated, but as mentioned above, tens of thousands of dollars of high-tech equipment isn’t being utilized, thus becoming obsolete as it sits collecting dust. It is important that we are not dumping money into a bottomless pit and that we ensure the technology purchased on the taxpayer’s dime match the capabilities.
Third, we need the proper resources to resolve the 600,000 backlogged immigration cases to enable swift processing of the numerous individuals in detention centers along the border. The FY18 spending bill funds100 new federal judges, bringing the total nationwide to more than 400. We also need to be sure that we are empowering the Department of Homeland Security to detain dangerous illegal immigrants who currently cannot be removed, enhance the criminal penalties for deported criminals who illegally return multiple times, and tighten our laws to do away with frivolous asylum claims. These are all gaps in our current law that the Securing America’s Future Act can help improve or fix.
Fourth, and finally, we must design a coordinated, effective set of barriers including, where key, a wall, fencing, sophisticated technology, and other means, to protect the citizens of our country. Del Rio Sector has 210 miles of border with nine stations, out of which the CBP does important work, but only four miles of this border has of any type of barrier. One of the key findings from my trips is that a barrier in place – whether a wall, fence, or something altogether different – shapes the response of cartels and illegal immigrants and is a useful tool in helping our agents better patrol the border. However, while a wall may do its job well in densely populated places like San Diego and El Paso, it may not be nearly as effective in more rural areas like Del Rio.
Like in any difficult endeavor, "one-size-fits-all" approaches are not effective. Border security strategy requires customization to meet the needs of the local sector’s terrain and access, as well as the resources of federal, state, and local law enforcement of that locality. As such, decisions about how to allocate resources for physical and technological barriers must be done in conjunction with local CBP agents, local law enforcement, and community leaders on what border security needs fit their area of operation.
My brief but informative trips to our southwest border have given me a first-hand look at the diversity of the challenges presented along our important border with Mexico. They have helped me focus on our border debate and argue for alternative plans to keep us safe from the intense criminal efforts to smuggle people and drugs into our country and guns and money out. The FY18 spending bill we passed in the House was a step in the right direction, and we have a president that has pledged to secure our border. We must now pass the Securing America’s Future Act in order to continue moving forward to give Americans confidence that our border will finally be secured.
The new Texas A&M coach and the semi-new LSU coach will visit the Touchdown Club of Houston over the next couple of weeks, and tickets are still available to both events that help raise money for area high schools and prep athletes.
The Aggies’ Jimbo Fisher will speak on the recently-completed spring drills and his expectations for his first A&M team at noon Wednesday at the JW Marriott on Westheimer in the Galleria, and about 50 tickets remain, the touchdown club’s Neal Farmer said.
A week later on May 2, second-year LSU coach Ed Orgeron will speak to the touchdown club, and plenty of tickets remain for the engagement at the JW Marriott.
Tickets are $50 each, and tables seat 10 for both events. A regular table cost $500, while bronze ($750), silver ($1,000), gold ($1,500) and platinum ($2,500) tables also are available. Visit the club’s website here to buy a ticket or table.
The Touchdown Club of Houston has placed about $200,000 worth of weight equipment in 41 Houston-area high schools over the last 16 years, and has awarded more than $200,000 in scholarships over the past 19 years to area high school seniors, according to the club.
Marcus Hotels & Resorts said Tuesday that it is assuming management of two hotels in downtown El Paso, Texas, expanding the Milwaukee hospitality company’s portfolio in Texas.
Marcus Hotels, a division of The Marcus Corp. (NYSE: MCS) of Milwaukee, assumed management of the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel El Paso Downtown effective April 4. The company has also been selected to manage the newly constructed 151-room Courtyard by Marriott El Paso Downtown/Convention Center that will open in June. The two hotels are in the same block of downtown El Paso and are both owned by hoteliers Elma Carreto and Jim Scherr.
Greg Marcus, president and CEO of The Marcus Corp., said the hotels are well situated to serve business travelers and tourists.
“El Paso has so much to offer, including its strong business base, robust tourism and exceptional recreational, educational, athletic and retail opportunities,” Marcus said in a press release. “Both these properties are ideally located near the city’s convention and performing arts center, and Southwest University Park sports complex and event venue, and are poised to capture even greater share of the thousands of tourists and business people who travel to El Paso.”
Marcus did not immediately announce any plans to invest in upgrades or renovations of the 200-room DoubleTree, which opened in 2009.
Excluding the El Paso properties, Marcus Hotels & Resorts owns and/or manages 18 hotels and resorts, including the Hilton Garden Inn in Houston.
An apartment complex on Colorado Springs’ northeast side would reduce the city’s significant affordable housing shortage for senior citizens.
The City Council approved selling nearly 11/2 acres at 4921 Templeton Gap Road for $1 to Greccio Housing, a local affordable housing nonprofit, on March 27.
One councilman complained that other agencies didn’t have a chance to buy the land. So Steve Posey, the city’s program administrator for Housing and Urban Development, said he’s changing the process.
Preliminary plans call for up to 55 affordable units for seniors, said Greccio Executive Director Lee Patke. But the preliminary plans still are subject to market analysis.
The city is expected to have a deficit of 26,000 affordable housing units next year, and the Greccio project marks a small but important push in the right direction.
Greccio has three years to secure funding and complete a development plan before the $1 sale is finalized, Patke said.
The next step is to submit an application to the Colorado Housing and Finance Authority by June 1. The authority will be the primary funding source if the application is accepted, he said.
But the land sale received some pushback from Councilman Don Knight, the sole council member who voted against it. Knight said the council can sell surplus property for less than market value, estimated here to be $570,000. But other organizations might have been interested in it, he said.
"Steve (Posey) said he wanted to declare (the lot) surplus and sell it for a dollar and sell it for senior housing, and he’s totally within his right to do it," Knight said. "What he did not do, though, was go out and do any type of market survey to find out if there was more than one person interested in the property."
Nor’Wood Development Group donated the plot to the city in 2012, and it has sat fallow since, Posey said. Selling land far below market value is one way the city can incentivize affordable housing projects, he said.
"Steve should have done something, anything," Knight said. "Instead he just went straight to Greccio Housing. He should have gone out and gotten sealed bids. In my mind, he did not follow the (city’s) real estate manual."
That manual is subject to interpretation, said City Auditor Denny Nester. The guidebook doesn’t "spell out" that such parcels must receive multiple bids.
Nester said his office hasn’t received any formal complaints about the pending sale, and he doesn’t plan to dive into it deeper.
"Could it have been done cleaner so that Don Knight’s concerns would have been addressed? I think it could have, but that’s sort of coming to the table late," Nester said.
The Colorado Springs Housing Authority could have been a partner on the project, Posey said, but he didn’t call them.
That lapse came as a surprise and disappointment, said Chad Wright, the Housing Authority’s executive director.
"We’re the largest provider of affordable housing in Colorado Springs and El Paso County . nothing negative toward Greccio, but we feel we’re pretty good at what we do," Wright said. "We did not feel that we were included in assessing the best way to go about that (project)."
Wright said a more transparent process for such projects would more easily find the best fit for the work.
Pikes Peak Habitat for Humanity was also interested, Posey said, but it was aiming for single-family homes or duplexes, and the plot is better suited for a small or medium-sized multi-family project, which is the bulk of Greccio’s portfolio.
Still, Posey said, his office is developing a process to ensure that all potential partners are contacted.
"We have hope the process will be different moving forward," Wright said, "and we’ll continue to do what we do."
The city will have to muster as many public-private partnerships as possible to address the affordable housing shortage, many have said.
Up to 1,000 such units are needed to help the homeless, and up to 2,500 are needed for elderly residents. Much of the rest of the deficit is of housing for working families, he said.
Posey said he expects up to 1,000 affordable housing units to be built in the city by next year.
Progress on the shortage is slow, exacerbated by rising prices in Colorado Springs. Median house prices hit a record high of $295,000 in January, and rents followed suit at $1,141 a month.
In addition to using infill, renovation, and mixed-use buildings that combine apartments and businesses, community cooperation is essential, Council President Pro Tem Jill Gaebler has said. Affordable housing will come to all of the city’s neighborhoods, she promised in February, and she asked residents to accommodate them.