El Paso groom who suffered stroke weds bride in hospital that saved his life

Posted by Roberto Cline on February 5, 2018 with No Comments

After almost two months of being hospitalized with a near-fatal stroke, 37-year-old Robert Valdez wed his bride Alis Romo Thursday in the chapel of the hospital that saved his life, the Hospitals of Providence Sierra Campus in Central El Paso. Wochit

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Robert Valdez used all his strength and leaned on a cane to walk down the aisle and marry the woman he loves in the hospital that saved his life.

Valdez had spent nearly two months in the hospital after a Dec. 6 emergency resulted in a stroke that left the 37-year-old special education teacher at Lundy Elementary with paralysis on his right side and an inability to speak.

At one point, his family was not sure he’d survive.

But after weeks of recovery, Valdez summoned the strength to stand and marry his love, Alis Romo, 32, a first-grade teacher at Thomas Manor Elementary.

It was the perfect wedding for the couple of 10 years.

The chapel at Hospitals of Providence Sierra campus in Central El Paso was simple and small, yet filled with close family.

The bride wore flowers in her hair and a floor-length gown that her mother-in-law had lovingly purchased a year ago. She walked to Valdez holding the hands of two of their children, Robert Jr., 7, and Abigail, 6. Their daughter Emily Nichol, 1, watched from the audience. The couple also has another child, Hailey Valdez, 14, from a previous marriage.

Alis Romo had three of the couple’s four children in their wedding.

(Photo: PHOTO BY MARIA CORTES GONZALEZ/EL PASO TIMES)

Romo said while they had never imagined a hospital wedding, she knew the moment was going to be memorable.

"I’m surrounded by people that supported me and people that helped save my husband’s life so that is truly what makes it the most special," she said.

Valdez was rushed to the hospital with a tear in his carotid artery. On the second day of his hospital stay, he had to be intubated and sedated in the Intensive Care Unit after a blood clot removal surgery.

It would be days before he would be removed from a ventilator and his family would learn the affects of the stroke. His speech was completely gone and he sometimes was not cognizant, with a blank stare on his face.

Jennifer Lindford, a nurse in the ICU, remembered the turning point for Valdez.

"When he came off the ventilator, he wasn’t responsive … on my last night that I worked, I saw his wife Alis walk in and he just lit up," Lindford said. "I asked him to give me a high five because that is how we assess people, to see if they can follow instructions. And he totally gave me a high five."

Robert Valdez, who is recovering from a massive stroke, took a break in his wheelchair after marrying his bride Thursday.

Valdez’s parents Lucy Parks and Eddie Valdez, who are both retired, took turns helping Alis at the hospital.

"We didn’t want him to be alone at any time so she (Lucy) would stay with him during the day until about 1 o’clock when she had to pick up the kids from school and I would be there to finish the day," he said. "We wanted to show love and support and have his family around him."

With the love of his family and the dedicated care of his doctors and nurses, Valdez slowly started to recover. He even practiced saying "I Do" for the big day.

He couldn’t quite get the words out, but he smiled wide and nodded as Pastor Tom Delgado said his vows to seal their bond. Parents, aunts and cousins wiped their tears during the emotional ceremony that marked a second chance for love.

"I feel forever grateful that I was able to not only plan my wedding but that the hospital staff has been so involved in making every little detail so beautiful," Romo said.

Alis Romo hugged her brand new husband Robert Valdez tightly. Romo said her husband’s near fatal stroke in December was traumatic.

Victor Guerrero, marketing and communications manager for the Hospitals of Providence, said he and several hospital volunteers rallied together in three days when they heard the couple wanted to marry.

More: Inside my life as a military wife: A rocky road, but embraced for love

The special evening included a reception with a DJ, who also happens to be a nurse at the hospital. Family and friends didn’t seem to mind a backdrop of photographs of surgeons in the reception room.

Romo hugged her husband tightly and rocked softly back and forth as they danced to Ed Sheeran’s "Perfect" lyrics:

"When I saw you in that dress, looking so beautiful, I don’t deserve this. Darling, you look perfect, tonight."

María Cortés González may be reached at 546-6150; mcortes@elpasotimes.com; @EPTMaria on Twitter.

The bride and groom took pictures with family after their ceremony.

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Border Patrol agents discover 75-foot tunnel in El Paso

Posted by Roberto Cline on January 30, 2018 with No Comments

EL PASO, Texas – Authorities are working to determine the origin and purpose of a 75-foot tunnel discovered near downtown El Paso on Thursday.

The tunnel was discovered after a cave-in occurred as employees from the Texas Department of Transportation constructed a roadway. TxDOT employees brought the collapse to the attention of nearby Border Patrol Agents.

President Trump plan offers citizenship path to 1.8 million immigrants

The cave in led to the discovery of "a tunnel originating north from the international border." The tunnel starts and ends in the U.S.

The intended purpose of the tunnel remains unknown, along with the length of time it was left abandoned.

Any information regarding the tunnel can be reported to the El Paso Sector Intelligence Operations Center at 915-834-8561.

Copyright 2018 by KSAT – All rights reserved.

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El Paso gathers in show of unity, sisterhood during Women’s March

Posted by Roberto Cline on January 24, 2018 with No Comments

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El Paso came together in a show of unity and sisterhood on Sunday afternoon.

About 500 women and men, of all ages, joined together for El Paso’s take on the Women’s March, a national grassroots effort now in its second year.

They braved stiff winds and cool temperatures, gathered at Centennial Plaza at the University of Texas at El Paso and then walked to San Jacinto Plaza in Downtown.

They enjoyed an afternoon of music, Native American dancers, fellowship and speakers.

All over the nation, similar Women’s March events took place this weekend to mark the one-year anniversary of last year’s landmark march in Washington, D.C. An estimated 500,000 men and women marched on the nation’s capital in 2016, largely to protest the inauguration of President Donald Trump.

More: Events honor Borderland’s St. Pedro de Jesus Maldonado, ordained at St. Patrick Cathedral

A group of walkers numbering in the hundreds make their way along Oregon Street on their way to San Jacinto plaza from UTEP during the El Paso 2018 Women’s March Sunday. A variety of speakers addressed the crowd at the plaza.

(Photo: RUDY GUTIERREZ / EL PASO TIMES)

In El Paso, the event was billed as nonpartisan with unity as the chief message, said Lyda Ness-Garcia, one of the organizers.

“The idea is that women aren’t one uniform type of individual,” Ness-Garcia said. “We have diverse intersected interests that are being represented here. We are a unity movement, and we recognize the power of the people and the power of the vote, so we want to represent those ideals.”

More: ‘Please do not vote for me’ says El Paso judge who is seeking to get his name off ballot

Ysabella Garcia, an eighth-grader at Wiggs Middle School, called the march an “amazing event.”

Garcia said it was important for young people like her to participate.

“We are the generation of the future,” she said. “We will live in the world that is left for us. We need to speak out about all the things we want for the future.”

“It’s men, women, everyone just joining together and fighting for equality,” Garcia said. “It doesn’t matter if you are liberal or conservative. It is about everyone coming together to fight for equality, respect and equal rights for women.”

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Gina Nunez, an associate professor of anthropology and director of Women and Gender Studies at UTEP, said she was excited and inspired by so many young people participating in the El Paso event.

“What is exciting about this movement is it involved our young people,” Nunez said. “Our children and grandchildren are here. I am proud of El Paso with so many people coming together.”

Grace Flores-Robles, a junior at UTEP, said she was marching because she feels it is important for younger people, like herself, to get involved.

“It not only affects my generation but those who come after us,” she said.

Flores-Robles said she would like women to get energized and make sure they register to vote.

Elisa Morales, another of the local march’s organizers, said she would like to see the event transform from a march to a movement.

“We know that women are very multidimensional and we don’t always agree on all the same things, but we do have some of the same struggles that being a woman brings,” Morales said.

David Burge may be reached at 546-6126; dburge@elpasotimes.com; @dburge1962 on Twitter.

Speakers address the crowd at San Jacinto Plaza during the El Paso 2018 Women’s March Sunday.

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Businessman Lane Gaddy buys big in Santa Teresa

Posted by Roberto Cline on January 9, 2018 with No Comments

El Paso businessman Lane Gaddy’s investors group bought 3,400 acres of land in Santa Teresa, and sold 1,244 acres to Santa Teresa’s short-line railroad.

W Silver Recycling CEO’s investors’ group buys 2,200 acres in growing industrial area next to Mexican border
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El Paso businessman and Downtown El Paso developer Lane Gaddy has purchased 2,200 acres of vacant land in Santa Teresa’s growing industrial area located only a few miles from El Paso’s Upper Valley.

The purchase, which closed in December, makes him one of three big land owners in Santa Teresa.

The latest purchase comes after Gaddy’s investors’ group, Santa Teresa Capital, bought and quickly sold another 1,244 acres in the Santa Teresa Intermodal Park, previously known as Verde Logistics Park, in November to Ironhorse Resources.

The Illinois company operates Santa Teresa’s short-line rail service for Santa Teresa industrial parks, with a direct connection to Union Pacific Railroad.

"I’m very bullish on the area," Gaddy said. "I believe the momentum is very much in Southern New Mexico’s favor no matter what happens with the NAFTA (North American Free Trade Agreement renegotiation) talks, and is poised to grow."

He plans to sell pieces of his Santa Teresa land portfolio, which does not include any existing buildings, and develop some of it for industrial uses, he said.

"We have two industrial deals to be announced in the next few months," Gaddy said. "Those will bring (more) jobs and activity to the area."

Gaddy declined to reveal details of the upcoming industrial deals and did not divulge how much his group paid for its Santa Teresa acreage.

The Mexican border is just a rock throw away from Santa Teresa, N.M., located a few miles from El Paso’s Upper Valley.

Gaddy first entered Santa Teresa in 2013 when W Silver Recycling, a large El Paso company founded by his great-grandfather almost 100 years ago, bought about 10 acres of land in the Intermodal Park to use as a shipping yard.

Gaddy is chief executive officer of the company, based near Downtown El Paso, that does metal, plastic and cardboard recycling for factories in Juárez and other areas.

Gaddy, with other investors, over several years then bought another 80 acres of Intermodal Park land adjacent to the W Silver land. The company has future plans to construct a building there and turn the property into a regional shipping hub, Gaddy said.

While W Silver is his main business, Gaddy has become better known in El Paso for his Downtown renovation projects. He’s had the Martin Building converted to apartments, is having the Bassett Tower renovated into an Aloft Hotel, and has plans to renovate the Banner Building across the street from San Jacinto Plaza. He and his investor groups now own 12 Downtown buildings, he said.

Lane Gaddy, an El Paso businessman and Downtown developer, talked about his Downtown redevelopment projects during a 2015 tour. A Gaddy investors’ group recently bought 2,200 acres of Santa Teresa land, and bought and sold another 1,244 acres in the area near El Paso’s Upper Valley.

Jerry Pacheco, president of the Border Industrial Assocation in Santa Teresa, said having the aggressive and regional-minded Gaddy involved in Santa Teresa development is good for the area’s future.

"He’s a local investor who understands the lay of the land and what we’re trying to do here," which is to recruit more companies and "create a stronger development base" with ties to Mexico, Pacheco said. Mexico is literally a rock throw away from Santa Teresa.

Santa Teresa has four industrial parks with dozens of companies, including the recent addition of a FedEx Ground shipping facility, and about 4,000 workers, Pacheco said.

In 2014, Union Pacific Railroad opened a $400 million rail facility in Santa Teresa, including a 300-acre intermodal hub, the largest intermodal facility Union Pacific operates along the U.S.-Mexico border. An intermodal hub processes containers that can be placed on ships, trucks or trains.

Just across the Santa Teresa international port of entry is the mammoth Foxconn computer assembly plant, which can be seen through the U.S. government’s brown, iron border fence stretching along portions of Gaddy’s newly purchased acreage.

The U.S. government’s iron border fence, left, stretches along a portion of Santa Teresa land recently purchased by El Paso businessman Lane Gaddy and his investors group.

The land Gaddy bought was once part of more than 20,000 acres of land owned by Verde Realty, a real estate investment trust started in 2003 by well-known El Paso businessman Bill Sanders, who later formed a banking company that has become FirstSun Capital Bancorp, based in Denver.

Verde had plans to turn much of their Santa Teresa land into a 25,000-home master-planned community. But those plans were eventually scrapped, Verde moved out of El Paso, and eventually was sold to a Canadian company and then to IDI Gazeley, which this month changed its name to IDI Logistics. The Atlanta company buys and develops warehouses and distribution parks.

Gaddy’s group bought the Santa Teresa land from IDI. The Atlanta company still owns three industrial buildings in Santa Teresa, Pacheco said.

Pacheco said it’s much easier to deal with an El Paso-based investor than with an out-of-town company.

An IDI Logistics sign advertises land for lease in Santa Teresa. This is a portion of 3,400 acres of land bought by El Paso businessman Lane Gaddy and his investors group from IDI. Gaddy’s group has already sold 1,200 acres of the land to a short-line railroad operator.

"With a company headquartered in Atlanta, it’s hard to get on the same page. Lane (Gaddy) is just a phone call away, and our neighbor in El Paso," Pacheco said.

Gaddy’s land includes acreage along Pete Domenici Highway, which turns into Artcraft Road in El Paso, that Verde began preparing for a housing development.

Gaddy said he has no plans to do residential development. The land set aside for residential use likely will be sold in the future, he said.

Most of the Verde-owned land is now in the hands of Chris Lyons, a Santa Fe resident, who years ago got involved with Santa Teresa development. He also has a home in the El Paso area, Pacheco said.

Lyons’ Paseo del Norte Limited Partnership owns 17,500 acres of Santa Teresa land, making him Santa Teresa’s largest landowner.

Lyons’ land is part of what is being proposed as a binational city, with another 47,000 acres, owned by Mexican businessman Eloy Vallina, in San Jeronimo, Mexico, just across the Santa Teresa international port of entry.

The Border Industrial Association and the Mesilla Valley Economic Development Alliance in Las Cruces in October submitted to Amazon the proposed binational city as a possible site for Amazon’s second headquarters. The Seattle online retail and tech giant in September launched an international competition for its so-called HQ2.

Vic Kolenc may be reached at 546-6421; vkolenc@elpasotimes.com; @vickolenc on Twitter.

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EDITORIAL: Make a way for tiny houses around Colorado Springs, El Paso County

Posted by Roberto Cline on December 25, 2017 with No Comments

County commissioners today have an opportunity to enhance affordable housing choices, liberate a local industry from needless regulation and reduce the "carbon footprints" of homes.

Commissioners will consider addressing a zoning void that keeps buyers of "tiny homes" from locating their houses on properties throughout most of El Paso County.

The largest manufacturer of tiny homes, Tumbleweed Tiny Houses, was recently featured on MSNBC’s popular TV show "The Profit."

Tumbleweed produces at least 125 homes each year, and the companies products are often featured on at least three popular HGTV shows. Despite leading the country in tiny house manufacturing, buyers cannot live in these dwellings on most local parcels of turf.

"We would be one of the first counties in the country to change the code for the purpose of accommodating tiny houses," said El Paso County Commissioner Stan Vander-Werf. "We have an opportunity to turn El Paso County into a leader in this movement."

Tiny houses range from between 100 to 500 square feet and have a median list price of $119,000.

They aren’t for everyone but provide a viable option for singles, college students and couples with few or no children. They are prohibited because they are so new on the market most zoning codes don’t address them.

If all goes well Tuesday, commissioners will begin revising the code to allow tiny homes in recreational vehicle parks and mobile home neighborhoods. Another tweak would allow residential parks exclusively for tiny homes, and a third would allow for tiny homes in rural communities that allow mobile homes and RVs.

"It isn’t just the price that’s attractive to potential owners of the tiny homes. Transitioning to a tiny home is a great way to go green, with many positive effects on the environment," explains a story on the website of CNBC, a network that recently featured Tumbleweed on its hit show "The Profit."

TinyHouseBuild.com claims tiny homes "use dramatically less lumber and electricity." EPA data show the average traditional home releases 28,000 pounds of carbon dioxide, while a tiny house releases 2,000 pounds.

Those who are not so concerned about carbon footprints may be happy to see a move toward less regulation that results in more entry-level affordable housing.

"For a lot of Democrats this is a social justice issue, in that it a form of housing more people can afford," VanderWerf said.

"For Republicans, this can be seen as getting government out of the way of a new industry with a lot of growth potential. I think this is something most people can be happy about."

If this goes well, the Colorado Springs City Council and other municipal governments should consider similar moves.

The Pikes Peak region should maximizes constructive options for people of all income levels. This simple adjustment to code might create a more welcoming and livable community and a better place to manufacture affordable homes.

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4 Tips for Promoting a Business in Texas

Posted by Roberto Cline on December 3, 2017 with No Comments

Do you want to grow your business? If so, focus on marketing. Do not try to improve the quality of your products if a lot of people are not buying them.

Get buyers first. And then focus on improving the quality of the products. In fact, your buyers can give you suggestions on how you can improve the quality of your products.

1 – Blogging

Blogs are popular these days. People love reading blogs. Create a blog for your business. Creating a blog is cheap. And it takes a short time. After creating a blog, create quality content. Update your blog with original content regularly. This helps the ranking of your blog.

2 – Video Marketing

Video sharing sites are growing quickly. Because people love watching videos. Use videos to promote your business in Texas. Create video tutorials and submit them to video sharing websites. Create video reviews. Create quality videos if you want people to trust you.

3 – Social Media Marketing

Billions of people use social media websites every month. It is easy to grow a business with social media. It is cheap. And it takes a short time to get the results you want. Social media can help you build trust with your potential customers. But make sure that you are sharing useful content with your followers.

4 – Marketing Agencies

Hire the best marketing agencies in Texas to handle your marketing. These agencies hire the best marketing experts who are good at promoting any business. They can help you come with clever marketing strategies. Choose the right marketing agency.

You now know how to promote your business in Texas. It is important to choose the right marketing strategy. Pick a strategy you love. Focus on that strategy until you are making money. Move on to another marketing strategy once you are making enough money with your chosen strategy.

El Paso restaurant managers get chains’ top awards

Posted by Roberto Cline on October 27, 2017 with No Comments

Darden Restaurants

Deborah Wratten and Erika Amador, managers for two of Darden Restaurants Inc. restaurant brands in El Paso, have received the Florida company’s annual Diamond Club Award for being among its top managers in North America. Wratten is managing partner of the Cheddar’s Scratch Kitchen in Las Palmas Marketplace in East El Paso. Amador is general manager of the Olive Garden at 1870 Joe Battle Blvd., also on the East Side.

Erika Amador, general manager of the Olive Garden restaurant on Joe Battle in El Paso.

Wratten is one of only five general managers and managing partners to get the award among 156 Cheddar’s in North America. Amador is one of only 42 general managers in about 800 Olive Garden restaurants to get the award — the second time she has received the honor. The awards go to managers deemed to provide high-quality customer service, strong employee relations, and are active in their communities.

Left to right: Aliana Apodaca, Angelica Rosales, Joe Rosales Sr., Kathy Santos, Joe Rosales Jr., and Richard Castro at CommUnity en Acción’s first Latino Legacy Awards y Fiesta Oct. 14. Joe Rosales Sr., founder of of JAR Construction Inc., was given an award. Apodaca, is chairwoman, and Castro founder of the community group. community group.

Joe Rosales Sr., and Jose Santos were given CommUnity en Acción’s first Latino Legacy Awards at a ceremony Oct. 14. Rosales is founder of JAR Construction Inc., and Santos is founder of Food City. The two were honored as Latino business owners who overcame adversity, including discrimination, to build their El Paso businesses, Aliana Apodaca, CommUnity en Acción chairwoman, said in a statement.

Jose Santos, founder of the small Food City grocery store chain, was given CommUnity en Acción’s Latino Legacy Award at an Oct. 14 ceremony.

Rosales started JAR Construction, formerly JAR Concrete, in 1957, and in 1969 became the first minority contractor in Texas to do highway work. It’s now a large road contractor in Texas. The company is now operated by Rosales’ son, Joe Rosales Jr.

Santos opened his first grocery store, El Rancho Mart, in 1964 on South Stanton Street in Downtown. Today, the company operates three El Paso Food City grocery stores. The small chain is now operated by Santos’ son, Stanley Santos, and other family members.

Hunt Companies

El Paso-based Hunt Companies Inc., a national real estate development and management group, recently acquired the syndication division of Alden Capital Partners from Denver-based Alden Torch Financial for an undisclosed amount.

The firm, to be renamed Hunt Capital Partners, will focus on the syndication, or sale, to investors, of federal and state low-income housing, historic and solar tax-credit investment funds. Hunt Capital Partners was an affiliate of Hunt until it was sold to create Alden Capital Partners in 2015. Hunt Capital Partners now has 35 institutional investors in its tax-credit funds in 41 states, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and Puerto Rico.

"This acquisition represents our continued commitment to the affordable housing industry," Hunt CEO Chris Hunt said in a statement.

El Paso-based Mimco has bought the 40-tenant City Base Landing shopping center in San Antonio.

Mimco, an El Paso-based shopping center developer and owner, has acquired City Base Landing shoppping center in San Antonio. The 200,000 square-foot center, located at Interstate 37 and SE Military Drive, is Mimco’s largest shopping center outside El Paso, reported Troy Marcus, Mimco’s Central Texas president. No sales price was disclosed, but City Base is appraised for tax purposes at $45.1 million, Marcus said. City Base has about 40 tenants, including Best Buy, Office Depot, and JoAnn Fabric and Craft Store. Wal-Mart and Sam’s Club stores are adjacent to City Base.

Greg Watters, GECU board chairman, with scissors; Armando Jimarez, GECU board member; and Crystal GECU CEO, cut the ribbon at the Oct. 21 grand opening of the credit union’s new branch at 716 N. Piedras in Central El Paso.

GECU, El Paso’s largest credit union, had the grand opening of its 16th high-tech, neighborhood branch Oct. 21 at 716 N. Piedras St., and Yandell Drive in the Five Points neighborhood in Central El Paso. It has four virtual tellers, two automated teller machines, and an office for people to open new accounts, and apply for loans.

GECU also operates four large, traditional branches, and special branches inside Del Valle, Pebble Hills, and Coronado high schools for students and the schools’ staffs. The 85-year-old credit union has about 360,000 members, about 800 employees, and $2.6 billion in assets.

FirstLight Federal Credit Union officials celebrated the grand opening Oct. 21 of FirstLight’s newest branch at 2200 N. Zaragoza in East El Paso. Left to right, front row: Margie Salazar, Debbie Ferreira, FirstLight officials; Rosalyn Thorton, executive director of Legal Shield; Karl Murphy, FirstLight CEO; Teresa Vargas, Rapid Refill sales representative; and Marcos Lozano, Luemar representative.

FirstLight Federal Credit Union celebrated the grand opening of its 10th branch Oct. 21. The new, high-tech branch, which features virtual teller machines, is located at 2200 N. Zaragoza Road and Charles Schulte Drive in East El Paso. The 62-year-old credit union has total assets of about $960 million. Three of its branches are in Las Cruces.

Meghan Curry, new program manager at Insights Science Center.

Meghan Curry was hired in September to be program manager for Insights Science Center. She’ll use her scientific and entrepreneurial experience to help Insights bring science, technology, engineering and math, or STEAM, experiences to area schools. She has a master’s degree in entomoloy. She had an edible insect advocacy business after graduate school, and co-founded a global virtual conference for the edible insect industry.

Mary Kipp, El Paso Electric CEO. (Photo: COURTESY)

El Paso Electric CEO Mary Kipp has been elected to a three-year term on the Smart Electric Power Alliance board of directors.The alliance, based in Washington, D.C., helps utilities, customers, and others deploy and integrate solar, storage, demand response and other distributed energy resources. The alliance board’s 22 members include executives from electric utilities, solar firms, and other distributed-energy developers, as well as former policymakers.

Chris Morrill, left, and Santiago Reyes, chefs and owners of Gallery 3 Kitchen inside the Best Western Plus Hotel in East El Paso.

El Paso chefs Chris Morrill and Santiago Reyes are now operating Gallery 3 Kitchen inside the Best Western Plus Hotel at 6655 Gateway West and Airway Boulevard. The chefs first business was Around the World Catering, which began in 2011 out of a small kitchen in an apartment complex in South Central El Paso, reported the El Paso Small Business Development Center, which helped them with their businesses.

They now operate the catering service from their new restaurant location. Gallery 3 serves American-Latin fused food, or what Morrill and Reyes call "comfort food with a twist."

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Blue light building to be transformed into residential complex

Posted by Roberto Cline on October 21, 2017 with No Comments

EL PASO, Texas – The iconic blue flame was reignited in Downtown El Paso Wednesday morning to shine a light on the redevelopment of the building on which it sits.

The building, located at the corner of Stanton and Texas, will be remodeled into the city’s first high-rise residential development in the downtown area.

It will be 18 stories with the first floor dedicated to commercial space, and the remaining floors for 180 units: 120 affordable housing units, and 30 market-rate living spaces.

"We’re going to have to gut the entire building," said Gerald Cichon, CEO of the Housing Authority of the City of El Paso. "Everything that was here from 1953 is so outdated, it’s just not really practical to keep it anymore."

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The Blue Flame Building was originally built in 1954 as the official headquarters to the now-Houston based El Paso Natural Gas Company. The building was vacated in 1986 when EPNG relocated to Colorado.

The Blue Flame will be lit at dusk each night until construction begins in February 2018. When the residential high-rise is completed, the housing authority will unveil a "revived Blue Flame."

The cost of the project is approximately $40 Million, per a news release. In July 2017, the housing authority received a $15 million tax credit award from Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs for the redevelopment of the building. The housing authority is currently pursuing both federal and state historic tax credits that could net an additional $8 million in tax credits.

Other renovations in the downtown are are are also underway. The Savoy Lofts opened earlier this year and Bassett Tower is getting a revamp.

"To have a thriving downtown you have to have a residential component," Cichon said.

All of the construction is to pave the way for the city’s Historic Downtown Redevelopment Effort.

"This is really a beacon to the American dream," said Cichon. "It’s a beacon of hope, and as that is lit it’s going to make sure that we’re here to take care of those less fortunate as they pull themselves up from economic challenges."

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The Latest: Texas Dems apologize for ‘campus carry’ tweet

Posted by Roberto Cline on October 10, 2017 with No Comments

LUBBOCK, Texas (AP) — The Latest on the fatal shooting of a Texas Tech University police officer (all times local):

11:50 a.m.

The Texas Democratic Party is apologizing for a tweet that linked the state’s "campus carry" law to the arrest of a Texas Tech University student in the fatal shooting of a campus police officer.

As news of the shooting was breaking late Monday, the Texas Democrats’ Twitter account posted, "Allowing concealed guns on college campuses was a dumb and dangerous idea."

That referred to a law that took effect last year allowing Texans with concealed carry permits to bring guns into university classrooms and buildings.

Critics noted that you have to be 21 to get a concealed carry permit and the suspected Texas Tech shooter is 19.

Texas Democratic Party Deputy Executive Director Manny Garcia said in a statement Tuesday that "our words were inadequate, hurried and we apologize," adding that the tweet has been removed.

Authorities say Hollis Daniels III fatally shot officer Floyd East Jr. while being booked on a drug possession charge.

10:50 a.m.

Authorities say a Texas Tech University student confessed to killing a campus police officer who was booking him on a drug possession charge.

Det. Thomas Bonds of the Lubbock city police department says in an affidavit released Tuesday that 19-year-old Hollis Daniels III wasn’t handcuffed while campus police officer Floyd East Jr. was processing him Monday.

Bonds says another officer left the room and then heard a loud bang. When he returned, he found East mortally wounded and Daniels gone. East’s body camera was taken.

Daniels was recaptured Monday evening following a foot chase near the police station. Bonds says he had the body camera and a handgun.

The affidavit says Daniels told officers he had done "something illogical" and that "he was the one that shot their friend."

University officials say East had gone to Daniels’ room for a welfare check and found evidence of drugs and drug paraphernalia.

9:30 a.m.

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton says he’ll travel to Texas Tech University to meet with administrators and law enforcement officials following the fatal shooting of a campus police officer.

Paxton said in a statement that he’ll be in Lubbock on Tuesday "to offer the entire support" of his office.

School officials say campus police took a 19-year-old student into custody after conducting a welfare check Monday and finding evidence of drugs and drug paraphernalia in the student’s room.

Authorities say the student, identified by the university as Hollis Daniels, was taken to the campus police station, where he pulled a gun and killed an officer.

Daniels fled but was recaptured and charged with capital murder of a peace officer.

Authorities say Daniels is from Seguin (sih-GEEN’), just east of San Antonio.

6:30 a.m.

A 19-year-old student at a West Texas university has been charged with capital murder of a peace officer in the shooting of a campus officer at the school’s police headquarters.

Texas Tech University officials identified the gunman as Hollis Daniels, who was booked into the Lubbock County jail early Tuesday. Online jail records don’t indicate if he has an attorney to comment on his behalf.

The gunman fled police headquarters after mortally wounding the unidentified officer Monday night. He was later spotted by university police. A foot chase ensued and he was tackled then taken into custody.

In a statement, the university says campus police took Daniels to the police station after finding evidence of drugs and drug paraphernalia in a room.

It is not clear if Daniels had the gun on him at that point, or if he took the weapon from an officer.

12:30 a.m.

Authorities have arrested a 19-year-old student accused of fatally shooting a Texas Tech University police officer at the campus police station.

University officials identified the suspect Monday night as Hollis Daniels.

In a statement, the university says campus police made a student welfare check Monday evening and — upon entering the room — found evidence of drugs and drug paraphernalia. Officers then brought the suspect to the police station.

While at the station, Texas Tech Police Chief Kyle Bonath says the suspect pulled out a gun and shot the officer. The suspect was later apprehended near the Lubbock Municipal Coliseum.

Additional information was not immediately available.

Texas Tech officials initially issued a lockdown alert to students on social media, urging those on campus "to take shelter in a safe location."

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Texas Really Is Like Its Own Country

Posted by Roberto Cline on October 7, 2017 with No Comments

Many people say that Texas is essentially like its own country. Despite being an overall proud part of the United States, TX is absolutely expansive and it has a wide variety of different cultures throughout its abundant population. Whether you’re in Austin or Dallas or anywhere between, there are a wealth of different local atmospheres to take in. Many longtime residents have yet to even experience the entirety of what the great state has to offer.

The top of Texas being like a country in and of itself is rather interesting given common talk of secession. For a multitude of reasons, murmurings have surfaced about Texas potentially cutting ties with the rest of the United States. It would certainly be quite an ordeal should that ever come to pass. Overall however, most Texans are more than happy to call themselves Americans as well. As one of the most well known areas of the US, it would certainly be a great loss if Texas were to essentially strike out on its own someday.

The large melting pot of different cultures and backgrounds present in Texas is quintessential America, if you really think about it. There isn’t just one type of person, way of life, or ideology present there. Traveling from one corner of the state to the next could take a day (or more) depending on the route you take; there’s literally a lot of ground to cover! Within that great expanse, there are lifetimes upon lifetimes of experiences to lose yourself in.

There’s simply no denying that Texas is a true marvel in every sense of the word. Anyone expressing the notion that it’s essentially like an individual country itself is honestly spot on. If you have yet to at least take a trip through Texas, you owe it to yourself to change that as soon as possible.


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