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.
President Trump is sending the National Guard to the U.S.- Mexico border. David Greene talks to Dee Margo, mayor of El Paso, Texas, who says he’s not convinced that his city needs additional forces.
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(Photo: Courtesy of El Paso County Sheriff’s Office)
I will probably open a can of worms with this, but here it goes. This morning I attempted to rescue a dog that had reportedly been in the desert for about three weeks. I found the dog, it ran, I ran (through the desert). Luckily, it ran into an enclosed area belonging to El Paso Water Utilities. I called 311 as I always do, then I notice three other dogs enclosed. I call 311 again to inform that there are actually four dogs now. I waited over three hours for Animal Control. Animal Control arrived with one truck and one officer for four dogs. Are you kidding me? The dogs escaped through another gap in another gate, at which time I counted five dogs. Now, there are five dogs in an arroyo. I tracked them for an hour. They are tired; I am tired. I have been rescuing on my own for 13 years; I have never been so disheartened as I am today. Where do I find good help?
West El Paso
Crews demolish the old span to Paisano Drive over the former Interstate 10 East on-ramp along Sunland Park Drive. The work is part of the Go 10 project, which started in April 2015 and will continue into 2019 at a cost of $158 million, said Noemi Rojas, mobility coordinator for the Go 10 project. The project involves the construction of about 6 miles of roadway from Exit 11 at North Mesa Street east to Exit 16 at Executive Center Boulevard. When completed, I-10 will have increased capacity and enhanced safety for motorists, Rojas said.
(Photo: RUDY GUTIERREZ/EL PASO TIMES)
Road construction causes stress and frustration
I would like to give my opinion about the recent road constructions in progress all over the city and all the problems it has caused. There have been many accidents and delays caused by the construction. I believe this has created stress and frustration in our personal lives. I think it is taking too long to finish all the projects, resulting in more problems than benefits. People complain every day about getting to work and school late because of the construction.
Also, the stores next to the roads under construction have seen less sales, affecting their business. In my opinion, if a company with more personnel would be hired to work on our roads, the road projects could be finished in a shorter time. This would benefit everybody; we would have a more beautiful city and businesses would have more sales. This will help the roads be less dangerous and more stress-free. Hopefully, the city would take my opinion seriously and do something to help resolve this issue.
Russian President Vladimir Putin gives his annual state of the nation address in the Kremlin in Moscow on Dec. 3, 2015.
(Photo: Ivan Sekretarev/Associated Press)
There is no complaining without democracy
In response to Rafaela Graffos’ March 20 letter, “’Crab mentality’ must end for El Paso to move forward,” Fidel Castro, Hugo Chavez, and recently Vladimir Putin won their elections in landslides. Do you think those elections were fair? People would complain if they could, but they don’t have democracy.
East El Paso
The U.S. is controlled by the superwealthy
The U.S. is an oligarchy controlled by the superwealthy and corporations. A stacked Supreme Court gave us Citizens United, allowing these factions to buy politicians and own our government. We are run by corporate executives, oil industry, bankers, think tanks, 12,000 lobbyists and the “military industrial complex.”
The "elites" intention is to destroy unions, thus solidarity, dismantle government and loot America. This corporate state rules by and for money and against the common good.
By utilizing propagandized media, Republicans, corrupt and owned by the corporate state, have indoctrinated right-wing America with a gospel of white grievance. The duped right would give up Medicaid, Medicare and Social Security so they can keep their guns.
The Pentagon has spent $250 million a day on war for 16 years, presently on seven undeclared wars and 800 worldwide installations. These purposeless wars are a corporate business with 600,000 private contractors and almost 1.5 million service members. Proclaimed as against terrorism and good vs evil, underlying the wars are a racist "crusade," scapegoating, West vs East, Christian vs. Muslim, white vs. colored.
President Donald Trump’s daily antics are a diversion while the corporate state silently sabotages our checks and balances, subverts our courts to eliminate rights and undermines democratic principles. Our next major crisis, accidental or manufactured, might bring on a totalitarian police state and the loss of our vote.
Central El Paso
COLORADO SPRINGS, CO — El Paso County is one of the least expensive large metropolis areas to live in Colorado, according to the Economic Policy Institute. The organization recently released its 2018 family budget calculator that estimates how costly it is to live in each of America’s 3,142 counties and 611 metro areas.
The group estimates a family of two adults and two children in El Paso County would need to earn a combined $83,583 per year — or $6,965 a month — to live comfortably.
Here’s how the group breaks down that number:
Screenshot of Economic Policy Institute’s 2018 family expenses calculator in El Paso County.
According to the U.S Census, the median household income in the El Paso County in 2016 was $55,322.
But, compared to Boulder, that might seem like a bargain.
To live in the Boulder area, that same family would need to earn a combined $ $101,584 per year, or $8,465 every month, to "attain a modest yet adequate standard of living," the organization said.
The family budget calculator accounts for geographic differences in cost of living, but does not include many expenses associated with a middle-class lifestyle, including student loan payments or saving for college or retirement.
"Our Family Budget Calculator goes beyond traditional measures like the poverty line to paint a detailed picture of what families need to get by," EPI Senior Economist Elise Gould said in a release. "The latest update provides even greater detail on how costs vary throughout the country. It is above all else a tool for policymakers to advocate for ways to raise wages and make their communities more affordable."
Perhaps unsurprisingly, San Francisco ranked first in the nation as the most expensive metro area with a basic budget of $148,439 a year for a two-parent, two-child household. On the flipside, that same household would only need to earn $58,906 to live comfortably in Brownsville, Texas, the least expensive metro area in the country.
The group noted that many low-wage workers don’t make enough money to adequately provide for their family’s basic needs. Even after adjusting for higher state and city minimum wages, the group said, there is "nowhere in the country" where a minimum-wage worker would earns enough.
"It’s clear from our analysis that, even in less-expensive areas, many families will struggle to meet their basic needs," said research assistant Zane Mokhiber. "The good news is we have many different ways to remedy this, from a higher minimum wage to ambitious child care reform. Policymakers should draw on a range of tools to help people meet the needs laid out in the Family Budget Calculator."
Click here to go to to the calculator. You can change the number of adults and children to see exactly what your household needs to earn to live comfortably in your county.
Patch reporter Dan Hampton contributed to this report
Photo credit: David McNew/Getty Images
In the hunt for whoever is responsible for four bombings in Texas, investigators hope to crack the case by finding a sliver of forensic evidence or a telling video clip linking the attacker to the scene of at least one of the attacks, in which two people died and four were wounded.
Experts who have looked at previous bombings believe the same person or people was responsible for three parcel bombings in Austin this month as well as a trip-wire bomb that went off in the Texas capital on Sunday. Police have not released details but have said the bombs were similar, powerful and related.
"In a weird sense, this latest bomb helps law enforcement because there is tremendous trace evidence that exists after an explosion. Everything from lint to fiber to DNA to how the electronic parts are cut," said Fred Burton, chief security officer for Stratfor, a private intelligence and security consulting firm based in Austin.
Trace evidence has helped crack other major cases, such as minuscule amounts of an explosive found inside a radio cassette player in the 1988 Lockerbie, Scotland, bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 in which 270 people were killed.
A vehicle identification number found on a rear axle in the wreckage of the 1995 bombing of a federal building in Oklahoma City that killed 168 people helped lead investigators to assailant Timothy McVeigh.
Forensic evidence aside, video will likely provide the key to finding the Texas bomber, said Ed Davis, who served as Boston’s police chief during the city’s 2013 marathon bombing.
"Video has become the most important piece of this sort of investigation,” Davis, who now runs a Boston-based security consulting company, said in a phone interview. “This guy’s main vulnerability is his presence at the site. He’s not sending packages through the mail or launching attacks from afar."
Investigators located the ethnic Chechen brothers who carried out the deadly Boston attack only after releasing photos of the pair to the public, four days after the bombing.
In all of the Austin neighborhoods where the bombings took place, video cameras could be seen on homes near the blast sites. Residents near Sunday’s blast said FBI agents went door to door seeking videos, while Austin police have asked the public to contact them if they have recordings that might help.
Investigators often seek to keep video evidence secret until an arrest, to avoid tipping off suspects. Even so, police sometimes release clips when they need help bringing a swifter end to a dangerous situation, Davis said.
That might help explain why Austin police reached out to contact the bomber or bombers on Sunday to try to discuss what might be behind the attacks. But about eight hours after that news conference, the trip wire device went off in a relatively affluent part of the city.
That may have been the bomber’s reply, said Alex del Carmen, chairman of the Department of Criminology and Criminal Justice at Tarleton State University in Texas.
"This person is sending a message of ‘take me seriously. I matter, I am relevant, I am not going away’," he said.
Sunday’s trip-wire bomb was likely a deliberate attempt by the bomber to let Austin police and the more than 500 federal agents on the case know he had shifted tactics, said Burton, who was a counterterrorism agent with the U.S. State Department from 1985 to 1999. During that time, he worked on cases including the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center.
"The kind of person that does this is listening and watching the news," he said. "He knows that he has done a good job in his mind and I think he is going to continue." (Reporting by Jon Herskovitz in Austin, Scott Malone in Boston and Jim Forsyth in San Antonio Additional reporting by Mark Hosenball in Washington Editing by Frank McGurty and James Dalgleish)
Investigators believe a package bomb that killed a teenager and wounded a woman in Austin on Monday is linked to a similar bombing that killed a man elsewhere in the city this month, and they’re considering whether race was a factor because all of the victims were black.
Shortly after police Chief Brian Manley held a news conference in which he linked the Monday morning attack that killed a 17-year-old boy and injured a woman with a March 2 attack that killed a 39-year-old man, authorities rushed to the scene of another blast that badly injured a woman.
Authorities haven’t said whether the most recent blast was also caused by a package bomb or if the victim, like those killed or injured in the two confirmed bombings, is black. Austin-Travis County EMS tweeted that the woman is in her 70s and was taken to Dell Seton Medical Center with potentially life-threatening injuries.
The explosions happened with hundreds of thousands of visitors in the city for the South by Southwest music, film and technology festival, and authorities urged the public to call the police if they receive any packages they aren’t expecting. The explosions happened far from the festival’s events, and there was no immediate word from organizers about additional safety precautions they were taking.
The three explosions occurred in different parts of east Austin. Monday’s first explosion happened at a home near the city’s Windsor Park neighborhood and about 12 miles (20 kilometers) from the home where the March 2 package bomb killed 39-year-old Anthony Stephan House. The March 2 blast was initially investigated as a suspicious death, but is now viewed as a homicide.
Monday’s second explosion — the cause of which was still being investigated — happened in the Montopolis neighborhood, which is west of the airport and about five miles south of the day’s first blast.
Manley said investigators believe the March 2 and Monday’s first attack are related. In both cases, the packages were left overnight on the victims’ doorsteps and were not mailed or sent by a delivery service. He said the U.S. Postal Service doesn’t have a record of delivering the package to the home where Monday’s explosion occurred, and that private carriers like UPS and FedEx also indicated that they had none, either.
"There are similarities that we cannot rule out that these two items are, in fact, related," Manley said.
Manley said investigators haven’t determined a motive for the attacks, but it is possible that the victims could have been targeted because they are black.
"We don’t know what the motive behind these may be," Manley said. "We do know that both of the homes that were the recipients of these packages belong to African-Americans, so we cannot rule out that hate crime is at the core of this. But we’re not saying that that’s the cause as well."
Special Agent Michelle Lee, a San Antonio-based spokesman for the FBI, said the agency "responded to both events" and was assisting Austin police, who were taking the lead on investigating. She said the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives was taking the lead on the federal investigation.
Manley said that a second package was discovered near the site of the initial Monday explosion and that some residents and media members were evacuated or pushed farther from the blast site as authorities determined whether it was a bomb.
Police didn’t immediately identify the teenager killed Monday. Manley said the woman who was injured in that attack is a 40-year-old woman who remains hospitalized.
This story has been corrected to fix the spelling of David Warren’s last name, which had been misspelled "Wareen."
Eds: Warren reported from Dallas.
County Judge Candidates: John Cook (left) Laura Enriquez (middle) and Ricardo Samaniego (right)
EL PASO, Texas – The winner of Tuesday’s Democratic primary in the County Judge race will run unopposed in November since no Republican candidates entered the race.
The democrats include former El Paso Mayor John Cook, attorney Laura Enriquez and entrepreneur Ricardo Samaniego.
Cook was first elected as a city representative for Northeast El Paso in 1999. He later served as mayor of El Paso from 2005 to 2013. In 2014, Cook ran for Texas Land Commissioner but lost against Republican George P. Bush.
Enriquez’s website states she has been practicing law since 1996 and has been named "Texas Super Lawyer" by Texas Monthly for the past five years. "She has been named outstanding lawyer by both the El Paso and Mexican American Bar Associations. She is the Past President of both the El Paso and Mexican American Bar Associations. She is the only female to ever be President of the El Paso Chapter of the American Board of Trial Advocates, the most prestigious group of civil trial lawyers in El Paso," Enriquez’s website states.
If elected county judge, Enriquez has promised to reduce taxes and provide more help for rural and unincorporated communities in the county. Enriquez would "concentrate on building and improving parks, such as sports parks for children, and other facilities that contribute to quality of life," her Facebook page states.
Samaniego has a vast amount of experience in the public and private sectors, according to his website. Samaniego has served as interim Director for the El Paso County Housing Authority and interim Human Resources Director for the Rio Grande Workforce Solutions, where he was tasked with conducting an "extensive organizational assessment and implement changes."
Samaniego "has successfully overcome challenges as owner and operator of two Sport Clips franchises, with one of his stores in the top 5% out of 1700 U.S. and Canadian Sport Clips stores. He was picked as one of only two Team Leaders to have a Sport Clips inside a Super Wal-Mart," his website further states.
All three candidates two of the most pressing issues affecting the County are the state of the county jail – which has been described as old, inefficient and expensive – and flooding in unincorporated areas outside municipalities.
When it comes to government debt, Cook said it takes skill and experience to know when it’s necessary to issue a bond. Enriquez believes debt should only be taken on as an emergency measure, and Samaniego said he would try to increase revenue in other forms before issuing bonds.
EL PASO, Texas – United Soccer League (USL) officials announced today that El Paso, Texas will be the next addition to the league for the 2019 season, continuing the USL’s growth in the Southwest United States. The new club will be led by MountainStar Sports Group (MSSG), which also owns and operates the El Paso Chihuahuas, the Triple-A affiliate of the San Diego Padres of Major League Baseball. The group is also a minority owner of FC Juaréz of Mexico’s Liga Ascenso.
El Paso is the fourth team to join the USL for the 2019 season, and the second this year after the announcement on January 8 of the addition of Memphis, Tennessee to join Birmingham, Alabama and Austin, Texas in the league next year. El Paso’s addition to the league bolsters the USL’s expanding footprint in the Southwest, and adds another respected, experienced ownership group to the league’s world-class leadership.
“It is with distinct pleasure and great enthusiasm that we welcome the illustrious city of El Paso to the USL family,” said USL CEO Alec Papadakis. “The distinguished ownership group comprised of Woody Hunt, Josh Hunt, Paul Foster and Alejandra De la Vega-Foster add to the world-class ownership groups already present in the USL, and in MountainStar Sports Group President Alan Ledford the group includes one of the most admired executives in professional baseball, whose leadership helped the El Paso Chihuahuas to be recognized as one of MiLB’s most successful teams and to average in the top five in attendance in the Pacific Coast League each of the past four seasons. Add to that the group’s experience in building FC Juarez of Mexico’s Liga Ascenso into a strong organization over the past three years, and the tremendous passion for civic responsibility MountainStar Sports Group has shown throughout its history, I have no doubt this group will propel its new USL team to remarkable achievements both on and off the field in the coming years.”
Josh Hunt, MSSG Chairman and CEO, said, “Since our inception, improving the quality of life in our region and promoting economic development have been our core objectives. We’re very proud to bring this high level of professional soccer to El Paso and to be a part of the USL.”
“Our market has demonstrated the extraordinary way it supports its sports teams, and given the popularity of soccer throughout this region, we expect Division II USL soccer to be very popular,” said Alan Ledford. “MountainStar Sports Group is excited about this opportunity to bring some of the best players in the country to play in front of some of the best fans in the country.”
As part of a regional economic development initiative, MountainStar Sports Group launched a successful effort to bring Minor League Baseball to El Paso in 2011. In 2012, the Group acquired the Tucson Padres, the Triple-A Baseball affiliate of the San Diego Padres. The team began play as the El Paso Chihuahuas in a new, $78 million state-of-the-art Ballpark in the heart of downtown El Paso in the spring of 2014. In 2015, MSSG and a group of Mexican investors acquired an expansion franchise from the Mexican Futbol Federation. The Ascenso MX club began play as Los Bravos de Juarez in the Benito Juarez Olympic Stadium the same year.
Woody Hunt is Executive Chairman of the Board of Hunt Companies, Inc. He currently serves as a member of the Board of Directors for Complete College America, is a foundation trustee of the College for all Texans Foundation, and a member of the Board of Visitors of the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center-Houston. He previously served as Chairman of the Texas Business Leadership Council, where he now serves on the Executive Committee. He is co-chair and PAC chair for Texas Aspires (formerly Texas Institute for Education Reform and Texans for Education Reform); a member of the Board of Directors for El Paso Electric (Nasdaq: EE) and WestStar Bank; and is a member of the Executive Council of No Labels. He serves on the Executive Committee of the Borderplex Regional Economic Alliance.
Paul Foster is the President of Franklin Mountain Management, LLC. He is the founder and former Executive Chairman of Western Refining, Inc., and currently serves on the Board of Directors for Andeavor, a premier U.S. refining, marketing, and logistics company. He is also on the Boards of Jordan Foster, Vomaris, Inc., Westar Bank, and the Dallas Federal Reserve Bank, El Paso Branch. Mr. Foster previously served as Chairman of The University of Texas System Board of Regents, and currently serves as Vice Chairman. Previously, he served as the Chairman of the University of Texas Investment Management Company (UTIMCO). He is a member of the Executive Committee of the Borderplex Regional Economic Alliance, and a member of the World Presidents’ Organization.
Alejandra De la Vega-Foster is the Vice President of Almacenes Distribuidores de la Frontera, owner and operator of convenience stores in Ciudad Juaréz and northern Chihuahua, Mexico. She also owns the Domino’s Pizza franchise in Juarez and holds the franchise rights for La Madeleine Country French Café in El Paso, southern New Mexico, and Arizona. She is currently a member of the Hospitals of Providence Governing Board, and a member of The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center Board of Visitors. She is involved in Desarrollo Economico de Juarez, serves on the Executive Committee of the Borderplex Regional Economic Alliance and is a member of the Young Presidents’ Organization. In 2016, Mrs. De la Vega – Foster was appointed by the Governor of the State of Chihuahua, Mexico to serve as Secretary of Innovation and Economic Development for the electoral period of 2016-2021. She also serves as the Chair of Los Bravos, and is the past president and CEO of Club de Futbol Cobras of Ciudad Juarez, a team promoted to the Primera Division in its first season. Mrs. De la Vega-Foster also previously served on the Board of the Mexican Futbol Federation.
Josh Hunt serves as Executive Vice President and Member of the Board of Directors for Hunt Companies, Inc. He is also President of the Hunt Family Foundation. Josh Hunt is also on the board of directors of Minor League Baseball’s Pacific Coast League, and is a board member of the Borderplex Regional Economic Alliance; member of the University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP) President’s Athletic Advisory Council; Hospitals of Providence Governing Board; a founding board member of the El Paso Children’s Museum; chairman of the Medical Center of the Americas Foundation Board and Texas Tech Foundation Board; Board Chair of WestStar Home Loans (a subsidiary of WestStar Bank); and currently co-chairs the Center Against Sexual & Family Violence Capital Campaign. Josh Hunt is also a member of the Young Presidents Organization.
Alan Ledford is President of MountainStar Sports Group, and President of Leg Up Entertainment, a division of MountainStar Sports Group. He is a former Vice President of Business Operations for Major League Baseball’s Oakland Athletics, and the former President, Chief Operating Officer, and General Manager of the Sacramento River Cats and its home ballpark, Raley Field. During Ledford’s nearly nine-year tenure with the River Cats, the team led all Minor League Baseball in attendance and revenue generation. In 2006, Ledford was named Minor League Baseball Executive of the Year by Baseball America. Alan Ledford previously worked in professional soccer, helping the Portland Timbers (then a USL club) become successful on and off the field before its ascent to Major League Soccer.
Located on the Southwest border between the United States and Mexico, El Paso boasts a metropolitan population of more than 800,000 people and has been home to a thriving sports scene that has seen MiLB’s Chihuahua’s claim the Pacific Coast League Championship in 2016 and the Pacific Coast Southern Division title in each of the past three seasons. El Paso will be the fourth USL club in Texas and will also bring the potential for strong regional rivalries with clubs like Phoenix Rising FC, Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC, Las Vegas Lights FC, and Reno 1868 FC.
Ranked in the Top 100 media markets in the United States by Nielsen, El Paso also brings another vibrant local community to the USL, with a history that spans more than 400 years. The city is home to the famed “Star on the Mountain”, which at night can be seen for hundreds of miles. Originally built in 1940 on the south side of the Franklin Mountains by the El Paso Electric Company, the massive structure inspired the name of MountainStar Sports Group.
If executions set for Alabama, Texas and Florida are carried out Thursday as scheduled, it would mark the first time in more than eight years that three convicted killers were put to death in the U.S. on the same day.
According to statistics kept by the Washington, D.C.-based Death Penalty Information Center, it’s not uncommon for multiple executions to be scheduled in one day, but it is unusual for them all to be carried out. That’s because punishments often are halted by courts and execution dates often are withdrawn or rescheduled.
States have carried out three or more executions 13 times since capital punishment was reinstated in the U.S. in 1977. The most recent time was on Jan. 7, 2010, when executions took place in Louisiana, Ohio and Texas.
Four prisoners were put to death Dec. 9, 1999, in Oklahoma, Indiana, Texas and Virginia.
The prisoners set to die Thursday are Doyle Lee Hamm in Alabama; Thomas "Bart" Whitaker in Texas; and Eric Scott Branch in Florida.
Hamm, 61, is set to die for the 1987 shooting death of an Alabama motel clerk during a robbery. Whitaker, 38, faces lethal injection for masterminding the fatal shootings of his mother and brother at their suburban Houston home in 2003. Branch, 47, is set to die for the 1993 rape and fatal beating of a college student.
The number of executions in the U.S. peaked at 98 in 1999 and has trended downward since. So far in 2018, three prisoners have been executed in the U.S, all in Texas. Last year, 23 prisoners were executed in the nation, three more than the previous year.