501 apartments provide new Downtown living option

Posted by Roberto Cline on August 30, 2017 with No Comments

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Downtown Living

Providing a new Downtown living option, the 501 apartments at 501 Campbell Street held its grand opening Thursday.

The new five-level building houses 87 apartments ranging from one to three bedrooms with a parking garage and retail spaces on the ground floor. Each unit features high ceilings, granite tops, wood floors and energy efficient lighting.

The apartment complex, owned by Lisa Soto and Joe Soto, is just just a few blocks south of the El Paso County Courthouse.

“Downtown El Paso is chocked full of small businesses, cultural amenities, restaurants, bars and coffee shops. You can walk to them from the 501, you’ll soon be able to hop on the streetcar nearby, and residents have easy access to Interstate 10 and the Border Highway,” Soto said in a statement.

“Our family has been part of downtown El Paso for three generations," he added. "So having the opportunity to showcase what we love about Downtown while helping to build an exciting future for Downtown is doubly exciting."

View of Downtown El Paso from a third floor apartment balcony at the 501 apartments.
The 501 apartments officially opened Thursday.

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Six Flags Over Texas removes Confederate flag, reversing earlier decision

Posted by Roberto Cline on August 20, 2017 with No Comments

The Six Flags Over Texas theme park continues to fly a Confederate flag over their entrance (Reuters)

The Six Flags Over Texas theme park has reversed their decision to fly the Confederate States of America flag on display over the park entrance.

In a statement released Friday, a park rep explained their decison to remove the controversial flag, after first deciding it would remain.

"At Six Flags Over Texas we strive every single day to make people happy and to create a fun, thrilling and safe family friendly experience for our guests. We always choose to focus on celebrating the things that unite us versus those that divide us. As such, we have changed the flag displays in our park to feature American flags."

The Arlington theme park was named for the six flags that have flown over the state of Texas in its history, the Confederate flag being one of them. Park officials previously told TMZ they saw a fundamental difference between the flag they fly and the Confederate Battle Flag.

The Confederate States of America flag was the first design flown during the Civil War and is still flown today at Six Flags Over Texas

They claimed that white supremacists and neo-Nazis adopted the Battle flag, not the original Confederate flag they have at the park. However both flags flew during the Civil War.

The "Southern Cross" Confederate flag replaced the original design, which caused confusion on the battle field because of similarities to the Union flag

The first official flag of the Confederacy was used in 1861, but was too similar to the Union Stars and Stripes flag, which caused confusion on the battlefield, according to Britannica. So Confederate commanders petitioned for a new flag, which led to the Confederate Battle Flag most are familiar with today, known as the “Southern Cross” design.

Despite the fraught history associated with the Confederate flag, Six Flags previously stood behind the decision to keep it on display, saying they believe their patrons "are astute enough to know the difference," TMZ reports.

The park’s decision comes after a “Unite the Right” neo-Nazi rally in Charlottesville, Va., turned deadly when a car rammed into a crowd of counter-protesters, killing one woman and injuring some 19 other people.

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Three El Paso projects get builders’ awards

Posted by Roberto Cline on August 14, 2017 with No Comments

Jordan Foster Construction

The Roderick Artspace Lofts, the MCA Cardwell Collaborative biomedical research building, and Southwest University Park are among six projects built by Jordan Foster Construction, a large El Paso construction company, that won awards recently in three builder organizations’ annual competitions.

The Roderick Lofts, a 51-unit, low-income apartment complex for artists in Downtown El Paso, won a merit award in the Best Affordable Housing Community category, 60-100 units, in the Gold Nugget Awards given by the PCBC West Coast homebuilders show and Builder magazine.

More: EP condo towers developer names real estate director

The Medical Center of America’s $29 million biomedical research building in Central El Paso won a runner-up Aurora Award for Best Commercial Project, 20,000 square feet and over, from the Southeast Building Conference.

The Medical Centers of America’s Cardwell Collaborative biomedical research building won an award from the Southeast Building Conference.

(Photo: COURTESY)

And the Downtown Southwest University baseball stadium won a merit award in the Innovative Design in Engineering and Architecture with Structural Steel award from the American Institute of Steel Construction.

Other Jordan Foster winners: Pinnacle Bank Place, a luxury apartment complex in Fort Worth, got a runner-up Aurora Award for Best Mixed-Use project from the Southeast Building Conference; Pinnacle Place won a merit award and Harmony Hill Luxury Apartments, in Rowlett, Texas, won a safety award in Engineering News-Record magazine’s Best Projects and Excellence in Safety competitions.

El Paso businessman Paul Foster and Paco Jordan, founder of CF Jordan Construction, and Darren Woody, company CEO, are partners in the El Paso construction company.

Centro San Vicente officials Aug. 3 celebrate the opening of its third clinic at 10780 Pebble Hills Blvd. in East El Paso. From left: Jose Luna, CEO; Rick Fernandez, secretary-treasurer; David Porras, board chairman; Presi Ortega Jr., vice chairman; Richard Castro, agency supporter; and Monica Miranda, board member.

Centro San Vicente officials on Aug. 3, celebrated the opening of the El Paso agency’s third medical clinic at 10780 Pebble Hills Blvd., in East El Paso.

The center, in the Pebble Village Shopping Center, is aimed at providing health care for hundreds of medically underserved residents in the 79935 ZIP code, officials said. The 3,200 square-foot clinic has six exam rooms, a pharmacy, lab and conference room equipped with telemedicine technology.

Centro San Vicente is a not-for-profit agency affiliated with Ascension, a large Catholic health system based in St. Louis.

UTEP
Isabel Baca, English professor at UTEP.

Three University of Texas at El Paso professors are getting the 2017 University of Texas System Board of Regents’ Outstanding Teaching Awards.

The award winners are: Song An, assistant professor of mathematics education; Isabel Baca, English professor; and Ann Branan Horak, associate professor of practice of religious studies and women’s and gender studies.

Ann Branan Horak, associate professor at UTEP.

The regents’ awards recognize faculty from the UT System’s 14 campuses for quality teaching in the classroom, laboratory, field and online.

Each winner will get $25,000 at an Aug. 23 celebration in Austin. Sixty-eight UTEP faculty members have received the award since the program’s inception in 2008.

Contract Associates

Contract Associates, an Albuquerque-based supplier of office furniture and other workplace fixtures, has opened a showroom at 500 W. Overland, Suite 250, in the Union Plaza district in Downtown El Paso.

The company has hired eight people for the new location, Maria Griego-Raby, company CEO, said in a statement.

Song An, assistant professor of mathematics education at UTEP.

Contract Associates was founded in 1988, employs 33 people, and is a dealer for Haworth Inc., a Michigan-based office furniture designer and manufacturer.

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What To Do To Prepare To Live In A Texas Apartment

Posted by Roberto Cline on August 12, 2017 with No Comments

Prior to moving to Texas to rent an apartment, you need some advice. You want to make sure that you’re getting the best deal and that you’re living somewhere that is nice enough for you and your family.

Before you move you should look into how much space is going to be in your new apartment. If there’s not enough room for everything, then you may have to rent a storage unit which will be like having another bill. Think about how much that will cost in addition to your apartment, and it may may more sense to just get a bigger place that costs a little more. It’s all a matter of finding what you can afford and not just finding a place at random that you think may be good without being sure about it.

You’re going to have to move by using a moving service of some kind. Or, you can rent a truck if you’re coming from far away that you can then turn in when you’re done with it in the city you land in. When renting a vehicle of any kind to move with, you should pay the little extra to get the insurance in case something were to happen on the way there. If you don’t pay for the insurance, then if something happens you may have to pay the rental company the money it costs to fix the problem which can be pricey.

When you finally move to Texas, you’ll be glad you did if you find the right place to stay. This is a large state with a lot of options in it. Find the right city with the right prices on their places. Also make sure you know that your neighbors will be easy to live around.

City Helps 50+ Homeless Veterans find Permanent Housing

Posted by Roberto Cline on July 26, 2017 with No Comments

Photo courtesy: City of El Paso
56 veterans who once were homeless now have permanent housing.

The update was provided Tuesday to City Council as part of a presentation by the City of El Paso’s Military Affairs Liaison Dwayne Williams.

“Veterans have risked their lives for us. We owe them our respect and every opportunity possible to help them live comfortably,” Mayor Dee Margo said.

Williams, who joined the City in March 2017, participates in bi-weekly meetings with the El Paso Coalition for the Homeless and partners on “Veterans Functional Zero.” The coordination has helped place 56 veterans in permanent housing within the last 90 days.

“We are making great strides in building partnerships necessary to provide a support system for our veterans,” City Manager Tommy Gonzalez said.

Since Williams came on board, the City has established and strengthened its relationships with various groups to include the Veterans Affairs Advisory Board, the El Paso Veterans Treatment Court, Armed Forces Chamber Sub-Committees, and Veterans Functional Zero.

Other City initiatives for veterans include:

Veteran Resources Website – The informative website provides valuable information in a centralized location to help veterans and their families better find resources and services. It features information on education, training, employment, childcare, healthcare, food assistance, transportation, and housing. Veterans Affairs Advisory Committee – This committee was formed to serve as a source of information related to the status, resources and services available within El Paso to the City’s large veteran population. In addition, the committee is asked to evaluate and recommend programs, policies and practices designed to alleviate veterans’ difficulties in meeting basic needs related to transportation, housing, employment and other areas affecting veterans. Annual Veteran City Employee Luncheon – Knowing that veterans are living and working all around us, the City of El Paso started a new tradition, a Veterans Day Luncheon for its more than 600 employees who are proud veterans. This luncheon allows City leaders to thank our veterans not only for their service to El Paso, but also for their service to our Country. It will mark its third year in November. Veteran Employment Incentive – In 2015, the City introduced an economic development incentive policy which includes a bonus rebate (property or sales tax) for companies that actively employ veterans (15% of their workforce) and establish a formal veteran hiring program.

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Amelia Earhart flew into El Paso in 1928

Posted by Roberto Cline on July 20, 2017 with No Comments

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Amelia Earhart visited El Paso on Sept. 11, 1928. Here is the report from the El Paso Times:

Miss Amelia Earhart, the only woman air passenger to make the Atlantic hop, flying solo, drove her little Avero Avian into the Municipal airport yesterday afternoon at 4 p.m. She plans to take off in the direction of Los Angeles at 5 o’clock this morning.

Ever since last Thursday she has been trying to fly into El Paso from Pecos. She finally accomplished it. All of which explains her undaunted determination to do the thing she plans.

Small and slender, with sparkling blue eyes, she looked like a little girl as she sat in the plane after landing on the Municipal field. She has a flashing smile that lights up her face and makes for her immediate friends. It is much the same smile as Col. Charles Lindbergh.

“I really started out as a hobo flyer on this Los Angeles trip,” Miss Earhart said, “but I have started and I intend to get there, if I arrive on the last day. I will help them pull down the tents if I do not reach there soon enough for the air show.”

“I had a wonderful trip,” she said “Perfectly wonderful. If there is no wind, my cruising speed is around 70 miles. If there is a breeze my ship gets down to about 40.”

Just before Miss Earhart hove into sight, a huge Army bomber was high up battling with the strong wind, battling and drifting somewhat.

The few on the Municipal field thought the first bomber was Miss Earhart’s plane, but her little plane could have been put into the big Army ship — almost. Shortly after the bomber landed at the Fort Bliss landing filed, Miss Earhart landed on the Municipal ground. She made a perfect landing.

“I flew high up coming in,” Miss Earhart stated. “My ship being light, I could feel the bumps. So, I tried to fly where it was smoothest, some 7,000 or 8,000 feet high.”

She was enthusiastic about the El Paso sunshine. The evidence of her real affection for it was a burned spot on the end of her little nose. She has a straw sombrero in the ship and was told to wear it on her trip over the Southwestern country, but she didn’t.

“I love this sunshine,” she said, “I have been living in New York where one’s clothes never get dry.

She was asked to pose for a picture, which she readily and graciously did.

“I think you ought to let me powder my nose first,” she said, smiling one of her rare smiles.

The plane Miss Earhart is flying she purchased from Lady Heath when she was in London, shortly after her Atlantic flight. A number of Lady Heath’s medals are attached to the side. There is room for the pilot and one passenger. Miss Earhart on this journey is the pilot and only passenger. After buying the plane abroad, Miss Earhart had it shipped to this side. A new motor was installed.

When Miss Earhart started to get out of the plane, she made for the left side. There is no door on that side.

“I continually forget,” Miss Earhart said, “that the doors on these British ships are on the wrong side.”

She was asked if she might fly back through El Paso on her return trip to the east.

“I never make any flying dates,” she replied.

Miss Earhart made two starts out of Pecos yesterday morning before she reached here. She got away the first time at 8:40 a.m. and was out only a short distance when the engine of her plane got hot. She flew back to Pecos, waited there and after having lunch, took to the air again, about 1:10 p.m. (El Paso time).

Miss Earhart was expected in El Paso last Thursday and she did her best to get here. The day before she had flown out of Pecos and was forced down at Hobbs, N.M. by a heated engine. She spent three hours there as the guest of the Rotary Club and then hopped off, returning to Pecos.

Thursday morning she was in the air again for the El Paso air journey, but at Toyah she was forced to land again. Ralph Sparks, Pecos member of the El Paso Aero club, drove out in a car and took her back to Pecos. During Miss Earhart’s stay there she was the guest of Mr. and Mrs. Sparks. Sunday they took her to visit the Carlsbad Caverns.

Robert Dake, Pittsburgh, who was second in New York-Los Angeles class A races, saw Miss Earhart at Pecos. She served as one of the official judges of the race at that point.

“Any pilot in the race would have brought her on,” Dake said. “She is certainly a wonderful little woman — not one you would imagine would do anything like hopping over the Atlantic. On the other hand, when she talks to you and smiles, you are convinced that she is the very one who would accomplish such a thing.”

H.W. Waller, manager of the Hotel Hussmann, was on the ground to meet Miss Earhart, as were Don Thompson, president of the El Paso Aero club, and Arthur M. Lockhart, chairman of the Chamber of Commerce aviation committee.

Before leaving the field with Mr. Waller, Miss Earhart gave instructions for her motor to be thoroughly checked.

“I want to leave here at 5 o’clock in the morning,” she said. “That is, I am going to leave at that hour if my ship is working all right and the sun is shining.” She smiled again that rare smile and added, “I know the sun will be shining here.”

Back in her home town, Boston, Miss Earhart is a social worker and one instinctively knows, particularly when she smiles, she must also be tremendously successful in this work.

Trish Long is the El Paso Times’ archivist and spends her time in the morgue, where the newspaper keeps its old clippings and photos.

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Texas Rangers’ Adrian Beltre hits HR No. 450, still hates head touches

Posted by Roberto Cline on June 28, 2017 with No Comments

June 28 (UPI) — Texas Rangers third baseman Adrian Beltre has proved two things this week: he can still rake and he really hates having his head touched.

The slugger entertained baseball fans Monday by first hitting a three-run home run and then freaking out after his teammates rubbed his hair. Beltre smashed the hit off of Cleveland Indians starter Carlos Carrasco for 410 feet in the Rangers’ 15-9 loss at Progressive Field.

After rounding the bases, he headed back to the dugout. Elvis Andrus ran up behind the slugger and carefully lifted off his helmet. He then swiped his head with his right arm, before running away. Beltre gave him the stare of death and swung his burly right arm at his teammate. Luckily for Andrus, he missed.

The 38-year-old Dominican is likely a Hall of Famer. He is hitting .303 this season with five home runs and 22 RBI. Beltre is a career .286 hitter with 450 home runs and 2,969 hits.

He hit home run No. 450 Tuesday off of Cody Allen in the Rangers’ 2-1 win against the Indians. That shot traveled 402 feet and was the go-ahead run in the ninth inning. He has now homered in three straight games.

"I think that is just another piece of the legend of Adrian Beltre," Rangers manager Jeff Banister told MLB.com. "What he is able to do, especially late in a game, we saw it so much pretty much for two years. Last year, coming back from the injury like he never missed an at-bat, or a game, to be able to swing the bat the way he has been able to do since then is incredible. Professional hitter, a big-time clutch hitter."

But back to this head thing.

Beltre absolutely despises having it touched. Throughout the years, teammates and foes have rejoiced in this fact, often taunting him with follicular grazes. Beltre always flips out.

An MLB.com article from 2011 traced the origins of the head-rub annoyance back to Beltre’s time with the Seattle Mariners.

"It was my fault," Beltre told MLB.com. "I don’t remember, but somebody did it and I told them I didn’t like it. That’s like telling them to do it again. You know they’re going to do it because you don’t like it. So they started doing it over and over again."

Andrus appears to enjoy annoying his teammate the most. So much so that the four-time All-Star, five-time Gold Glove winner and four-time Silver Slugger recipient said he has "thought about killing him," according to MLB.com.

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Schimpf Okay in El Paso, Striving for Big Leagues

Posted by Roberto Cline on June 22, 2017 with No Comments

El Paso, TX – Ryan Schimpf is back in El Paso, where he made a great run before the call up to the Padres in 2016. Schimpf was a big reason the El Paso team batted as well as they did, but his number have not translated to the Major Leagues. Schimpf was optioned to El Paso on June 9.

The 29-year old infielder has a team high 14 home runs, but is batting a majors-low .158 while striking out in more than a third of his plate appearances. Schimpf had just eight hits, five of them home runs, in his last 61 at-bats. Over that span, he drew six walks and struck out 31 times.

"I wasn’t performing like I was capable of doing. It’s not fun to come down, but I definitely need to improve, get more consistent, and hopefully get back up there soon," said Schimpf. Chihuahuas manager Rod Barajas added, "My message to him is you did this last year. You dominated at this level. Just go up there with confidence and just play the game that you know how to play and you’ll get back to where you need to be."

Chihuahuas are 36-36 overall, and will start a four-game series at Albuquerque on Thursday, June 22.

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Life In El Paso, Texas

Posted by Roberto Cline on June 17, 2017 with No Comments

El Paso, Texas is a great place to live and you can find housing that is affordable when you move there, whether it is an apartment or a house. El Paso has lots of outdoor and cultural activities to enjoy and if you love Mexican food, you will find plenty of amazing Mexican restaurants to enjoy.

You can have a great quality of life in El Paso and the city is safe with a low unemployment rate. If you hate snow and long cold winters, you are going to love living in Texas because you get to enjoy warm sunny days most of the time. You won’t have to deal with snow anymore and you can enjoy warm weather.

If you are looking for an apartment, you can find some great deals and low rents when you live in El Paso. If you are moving from a part of the country that has really high rent, you will have more money in your pocket because the rents are so low. Property values are very reasonable as well and you can buy a house for a very affordable price when you move to El Paso.

The unemployment rate is low and there are lots of jobs to choose from. The cost of everything is lower in Texas and you can save a lot of money when you move there. Texas is a fun state overall and there are lots of outdoor activities you can enjoy when you move there.

The food scene is great in El Paso and you can always find some affordable and delicious food to eat when you move there. If you need a change, Texas is a great state to move to, especially if you want to enjoy a lower cost of living.

El Paso Youth Symphony Orchestra celebrates 25th year with California tour

Posted by Roberto Cline on June 17, 2017 with No Comments

The highly acclaimed documentary "Landfill Harmonic" follows the story of a Paraguayan music school that teaches its students to play music using instruments made from pieces of discarded rubbish. Video provided by AFP

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Calling El Paso Youth Symphony Orchestra maestro Phillip Gabriel Garcia passionate about music would be an understatement.

During rehearsals for its Electric Rock Orchestra’s upcoming tour of California, Garcia directs the roughly 30-piece ensemble through the ’80s classics “Come On Eileen,” by Dexys Midnight Runners, “Rock You Like a Hurricane,” by The Scorpions, and Nena’s “99 Luftballoons.” He plays along on piano, sings and flails his long hair around like a man possessed by the sounds being played back at him.

The orchestra’s tour includes performances at Disney California Adventure Park, Pacific Park on the Santa Monica Pier, SeaWorld and Knott’s Berry Farm from Saturday through June 26. The tour kicked off Thursday with a performance at Shawver Park in the Lower Valley. The orchestra also will perform July 22 after the El Paso Chihuahuas game at Southwest University Park.

The Electric Rock Orchestra features El Paso Youth Symphony Orchestra members playing alongside adult rock musicians from El Paso.

Garcia said he first became passionate about music through his teacher and mentor, Abraham Chavez.

“It was through Abraham Chavez that I met my wife and we’ve been trying to carry on his tradition,” Garcia said. “He was a family friend and I was enamored by him as a kid. I loved that he was such a great musician. When I was a kid, I would go to my grandfather’s house. My grandfather and Abraham Chavez were best men at each other’s weddings; they were very close. At Christmastime, (Chavez) would be playing the piano, playing the violin, and I said, ‘Oh my God, this guy is the life of the party.’ I wanted to be like that.”

Chavez was a renowned, longtime conductor of the El Paso Symphony Orchestra and professor at the University of Texas at El Paso. He died in 2000.

Garcia’s wife, Irene, also was a student of Chavez’s and is the orchestra’s co-director.

“This is his life,” Irene Garcia said. “He loves doing this; he’s been doing it for 25 years.”

Garcia founded the orchestra in 1993 at the age of 17 while he was still a student at Hanks High.

Since then, the group has gone on 10 tours, performed with Beatles tribute bands, performed in Washington, D.C., and embarked on a tour that included then-Mayor John Cook and several City Council members.

That tour featured the El Paso Youth Symphony and 270 students from a Juárez youth symphony. Juárez’s mayor and its City Council also went along for the ride.

But the pinnacle, Garcia said, was taking the group to perform at Carnegie Hall in New York last year. The tour was part of the group’s America United tour.

“I’ve heard stories about (Carnegie Hall), dreamed about it as a kid,” Garcia said. “When you finally step onto that stage, you walk into this air; you can feel history all around you. Even the seasoned musicians that were with us, their eyes lit up.”

El Paso Youth Symphony Orchestra conductor Phillip Gabriel Garcia leads rehearsals for the group’s upcoming Dare to Dream tour June 10 at El Paso Community College’s Valle Verde campus.

Garcia said that audiences and organizers at the esteemed concert hall were so impressed that the El Paso Youth Symphony was almost immediately asked to return in 2018. It’s an offer Garcia gladly accepted.

The El Paso Youth Symphony performs a variety of styles of music, from classical to pop. Membership, which costs $20 per rehearsal, is open to any musician who wants to join, with no audition.

“When a student comes to our orchestra, they’re auditioning us,” Garcia said. “They want to see if we’re good enough for them and if it fits them.”

Monica Guardado’s son, Ivan, joined the orchestra two years ago. Her daughter, Paloma, followed in her brother’s footsteps the next year. Ivan plays violin, while Paloma plays viola.

“Going to Carnegie Hall was incredible for my son,” Guardado said. “In fact, when he found out he was going to New York, he started to practice three hours every day. It was a great experience. It gave him a lot of discipline and being a member of this orchestra has helped him a lot.”

Guardado said that her children’s music education has been important to their development.

“Before they would spend all their time playing X-Box and since, they just practice,” Guardado said. “It’s helped him become more motivated in school, as well.”

After 25 years at the helm, Garcia said, he is looking for a new conductor for the orchestra so that he can focus on fundraising and his family.

“All the tours and being on your feet, it takes its toll,” Garcia said. “These tours, they’re an homage to my parents. Every summer they would take us to Disneyland, Universal Studios, SeaWorld, San Diego Zoo, Knott’s Berry Farm; one after the other.”

What makes the Garcias the proudest is seeing El Paso Youth Symphony alumni go on to become musicians and music teachers themselves.

Garcia said that the 25 years have passed “in the blink of an eye.” Along the way, the group has been recognized by the city of El Paso, the city of San Diego, the Texas Senate and the U.S. House of Representatives.

“When I was 17 I remember lying down on the driveway at my parents’ house and looking up to the stars and saying, ‘God, help me become a conductor one day,’ ” Garcia said. “I wanted to make music, and he made me one. It wasn’t the kind I was looking to be: I wanted to be a world-class conductor and have everything given to me. It’s been 25 years of hard work, blood, sweat and tears and perseverance. We’ve been lucky. It’s like the Rolling Stones say, ‘You don’t get what you want, you get what we need.’ We’ve gotten everything we need to be successful.”

Dave Acosta may be reached at 546-6138; dacosta@elpasotimes.com; @Chuy_Vuitton on Twitter.

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