Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Inventive Piña Brothers to Upscale Piedras Quality Food Mart

It was announced this past July that El Paso's Piña brothers (Mike, Oscar and Armando) had bought the five Quality Food Marts in El Paso including the one at 3116 N. Piedras. The brothers have already opened successful upscale Hispanic grocery stores including Vista Central Market on East El Paso's Zaragosa Road.

Officials from nearby Price's Dairy say that the new ownership will be good for the neighborhood. "These brothers are really inventive and interesting."

Tortillerias, bakeries, meat markets and Mexican delicatessens are part of the signature design that the Piñas bring to their stores.

Reporting about her first visit to the Zaragosa store, Newspaper Tree reporter, Elizabeth Ruiz wrote:

". . . standout aspects of the family-run supermarkets . . . include its panaderia, tortilleria, a build-your-own-burrito stand and aguas frescas sold in-store. The prodcuts include standard grocery store fare, some Mexican products, and locally made products, such as asadero cheese from the local Lincon Dairy. After I made a go-around in the Ikea-like maze of colorific shopping, I got a glass of horchata and a burrito with papas con chile verde. The tortillas used for the burritos are made several feet away in the tortilleria."
Plans are to remodel one store at a time and rename each Vista Quality Market. A wider-open look at the Piedras store has already replaced the once dark and crowded shelves.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Newman Park from Comanche Peak

Newmanista Alex Limon of Texas Gas Service was on Comanche Peak recently with his telemetry technicians. One of the crew members had a camera and Alex asked him to take some pictures of Newman Park. In an email to the Newman Park Neighborhood Association President Lynn Coyle, Alex wrote: "You and the neighborhood association have done a great job with the Park."

Lynn responded: "The park is a gem . . . without a vibrant city parks department, attentive city representative and crack staff and committee association board members, we would not have the gorgeous park that we have today."

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Our Beloved Chihuahuas: Demitri

Don't you wish I was your present!

Today we begin a new series for our blog: "Our Beloved Chihuahuas". Featured here are pictures of Demitri, adored pet and family member of Robert Taylor and Tony Duran.

Why do they do this for Halloween?

How can you resist that face?

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Capstone Productions Announces Premier of New Ghost Stories

Jackson Polk has probably done more than most in his generation to put El Paso on the map. His company, Capstone Productions, has produced some great videos: El Paso's Mount Cristo Rey, El Paso's Transportation History, Historic Sites, the Mexican Revolution, the Magoffin Home and more. Jackson co-hosts a live call-in talk show with Leon Metz on KTSM 690 AM on Saturdays from 10 to Noon.

Jackson is also a former Newmanista, having grown-up on Frankfort Avenue and graduated from Austin High School.

His company previously produced the film, "Ghost Stories of El Paso, Volume 1". Now our native Newmanista and El Pasoan has announced the release of "Ghost Stories of El Paso, Volume 2".

Here's his press release:




Screenings open to the public each weekend in October

El Paso, Texas (Sept. 21, 2009) --- Capstone Productions Inc. announces the premiere of its latest film, "Ghost Stories of El Paso, Volume 2," at screenings in the Scottish Rite Theater in Downtown El Paso and in San Elizario throughout the month of October.

Just in time for the Halloween season, the new film presents El Paso history as only spirits can tell it. Viewers go on ghost tours with psychics who talk to spirits --- and the spirits talk back --- at some of El Paso's most historic locations.

The film is a followup to Capstone Production's successful 2008 film "Ghost Stories of El Paso, Volume 1." The new film, "Volume 2," presents all-new stories and visits more locations, including the Ysleta Mission and a mine shaft in the Franklin Mountains.

"Ghost Stories of El Paso, Volume 2" goes inside a haunted building on Fort Bliss, and finds ghosts at the L&J Cafe and Monteleone's restaurant. In San Elizario, a psychic confronts a legend about Billy the Kid and the local jail. The program also visits Concordia Cemetery, the Magoffin Home and Sunset Heights Grocery.

"Ghost Stories of El Paso, Volume 2" is not intended to prove or disprove ghost stories, but to explore some of the legends and folk tales that are a part of El Paso's rich history.

The public is invited to attend screenings of "Ghost Stories of El Paso, Volume 2" each weekend in October, either at the Scottish Rite Theater, 301 W. Missouri, in Downtown El Paso, or at the Adobe Horseshoe on the Plaza in San Elizario. Clear Channel Radio El Paso is the media partner for screenings of "Ghost Stories of El Paso, Volume 2."

The screening schedule for "Ghost Stories of El Paso, Volume 2" is:

2 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 3 Scottish Rite Theater, 301 W. Missouri, Downtown

2 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 10 Scottish Rite Theater, 301 W. Missouri, Downtown

2 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 17 Adobe Horseshoe, On the Plaza, San Elizario

2 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 18 Adobe Horseshoe, On the Plaza, San Elizario

2 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 24 Scottish Rite Theater, 301 W. Missouri, Downtown

Special double showings on Halloween

2 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 31 Scottish Rite Theater, 301 W. Missouri, Downtown

4 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 31 Scottish Rite Theater, 301 W. Missouri, Downtown

Tickets for all shows are available each week for $6 per person at these locations:

Scottish Rite Theater, 301 W. Missouri, Downtown

The Texas Store, 6232 Gateway East

The Texas Store, 5020 N. Desert Blvd.

Dance Designs, 929 Raynolds

The Feng Shui Institute, 4026 N. Mesa

Stay after the screenings, except for Oct. 31st, to attend spirit readings with psychic Diana Calamia for an additional $25 fee. Some audience members will receive personal spirit readings. Spirit reading tickets are available at the locations listed above.

For information and lists of screenings and ticket locations for "Ghost Stories of El Paso, Volume 2," go online to

Friday, September 18, 2009

Art in the Park

Click on the image to enlarge

From a City of El Paso Press Release:

The City of El Paso Parks and Recreation Department will be having the Fall Art in the Park on September 19 & 20 at Memorial Park.

This is a handcrafted arts and crafts show, featuring live entertainment, food for sale, and children's entertainment. This family oriented event has free admission. Event hours are 10 to 6 both days.

Get Outdoors!

Any time is a good time to get outdoors. In El Paso, the fall months are particularly good for longer hikes.

Plan to attend the Chihuahuan Desert Fiesta tomorrow at the Tom Mays Unit of the Franklin Mountains State Park. Entrance to the park will be free. There will be informative booths about the desert, the mountains and the flora and fauna. You can hear educational presentations and learn more about native plants. The mountain bike association will be giving free 20-minute introductory mountain bike rides. There's going to be a chili cook-off. Fuddruckers will be on hand. You can buy some good used camping and hiking equipment and know that the proceeds will go to benefit the park.

The fiesta is the official kick-off of Celebration of Our Mountains, a 2 month long program of scheduled guided hikes throughout our region. Email me to get on my list of hikes and to get information about a number of hikes. Also, get on the El Paso Ridgewalkers email list. They hike every weekend throughout the year.

Remember that Scenic Drive is closed every Sunday morning to motorists. You and your family and friends can walk or jog or bicycle the drive.

The big thing is to beat Nature Deficit Disorder, a condition of losing connection to the natural world that leads to added stress, lack of creativity and obesity. Richard Louv discussed this disorder in his book, Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature Deficit Disorder.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

UTEP to Sponsor War on Drugs Conference

We have all seen those news stories about people who witness a violent crime and do nothing. There are plenty of reports of someone being molested and no one coming to the rescue. Such stories tug at our consciences. In a way that is what is happening to all of us in El Paso now. We stare at the hideous violence in Juarez. Is there nothing that we can do?

In her blog entry, War on Drugs: Is It Working?, our City Representative Susie Byrd says it best:

"So it is easy to seal ourselves off from the violence in Juarez, not cross over. Bemoan the daily headlines and trust the law enforcement agencies that it will not spill over. But as citizens of El Paso, as citizens of the United States, we should not let our sense of security distance us from the violence in our sister city, from the violence begat from an insatiable hunger for illegal drugs in the United States and the laws that have created irresistible profit margins for greedy thugs with guns. The violence in Juarez is our problem. This region, El Paso and Juarez, have sat perched at the edge of a great renaissance. The insecurity in Juarez has unraveled economic gains in our region. Momentum is lost. Worry sets in.

We can't really afford to just stand by."

The University of Texas at El Paso is sponsoring a two day conference on the U.S. war on drugs beginning with a reception this coming Sunday night. Scholars, journalists, politicians and others will discuss the American drug war policy since its inception under President Nixon, its broad consequences and possible alternative strategies. For more information, go to

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Flags Fly Over Neighborhood

Newmanistas experienced an extra special treat on Labor Day this past Monday: Flags flew in one yard after another. Thanks to the Friesenhahns (Michael, Becky, Valerie, Rueben and Jacquelyn) American flags were placed in a number of yards early in the morning.

The sale of the flags (including installation) benefits the Newman Park Neighborhood Association The price is just $15. Orders are being taken now for Veteran's Day, November 11th. Just email Becky and let her know that you want a flag in your yard too.

Help with preparing the flags for installation is also needed. Small holes must be drilled in the pole and the flag attached. This takes some time. If you can help, let Becky know.

The Newman Park Neighborhood Association offers this flag etiquette: Raise your flag from sunrise to sunset and never let it touch the ground. The holidays to display your flag are:

New Year's Day January 1
President's Day 3rd Monday in February
Armed Forces Day 3rd Saturday in May
Memorial Day Last Monday in May
Flag Day June 4
Independence Day July 4
Labor Day 1st Monday in September
Remember 9/11 September 11
Columbus Day 2nd Monday in October
Veteran's Day November 11

Monday, September 7, 2009

Want a Whippet?

This beautiful dog needs a new home. With a new baby in the family, his owners feel that it is unfair to this 25 pound, very energetic (but not nervous) pet not to have more attention.

The owner writes:
Here are some pics for Devo. He is a mixed whippet. Great with kids, even toddlers. Is up to date on all shots, is microchipped and neutered. He's pretty obedient (doesn't sit on furniture or lay on beds, doesn't wander away from the house even if outside unleashed, knows not to go into the kitchen unless invited). However, he does not know any tricks.
If you are interested or know someone who is, email Geeta.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Citizens’ Commission on Best Practices in Government

200 people attending the first forum of the Citizen's Commission on Best Practices in Government is a very good start. If you are just learning about this group, check out their web site. You may especially want to watch their video. It just takes a few minutes to do so.

David Crowder's story in the Newspaper Tree about last evening's forum is well worth the read.

If any of you attended, it would be great to get your comments.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

New Ethics Commission Message from Commissioner Escobar

As you probably have learned, County Commissioners just passed legislation for a new Ethics Commission. Much thanks goes to our County Commissioner, Veronica Escobar, a reform leader. Here is her emailed message about the new commission and the appointment of its members:

September 2, 2009

Dear Friends,

Commissioners approved implementation of the ethics legislation yesterday by vote of the court. That means we have 60 days to nominate and vote on the new members, and the new commission will meet for the first time on November 2.

Help Spread the Word

Each member of the court is allowed to nominate one person; five additional nominations will come through five other entities. We need strong, thoughtful leaders to serve on this commission - volunteers who can spend the time listening to the public's concerns, evaluating the current ethics code, creating new processes, and individuals who will safeguard the confidentiality of both parties - the individual filing the complaint and the accused. All nominations have to be voted on by the court.

Please feel free to suggest people or even to submit your own name/resume for consideration.

If you haven't had a chance to read through the final version of the bill or the fact sheet, they are available for your review on our home page.

You can send your resumes or recommendations to one or all of us at the following email addresses:

County Judge Anthony Cobos,

Commissioner Anna Perez, Pct. 1,

Commissioner Veronica Escobar, Pct. 2,

Commissioner Willie Gandara Jr., Pct. 3,

Commissioner Dan Haggerty, Pct. 4,

Public Forum Tonight

For your information, a group of community members independent of El Paso County's efforts has come together to host a public forum, and I'd like to encourage you to attend if you can. The Citizen's Commission for Best Practices in Government will host its forum, "Power, Greed and Politics," at the El Paso Community College Administrative Services Building in the board room, 9050 Viscount. For more information call 532-2104.

Thank you

I appreciate the input and questions I received throughout this process. Thank you for caring about your county government. Please let me know if I can continue to answer any questions or address your concerns.

Have a great day!


Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Where Is the Standing Push-up Exercise Station?

Board Vice-President, Becky Friesenhahn makes a suggestion to City engineers

Board members, Becky Friesenhahn and Jim Tolbert, met with City engineers and the contractor who did the park improvements today. Still at issue are some slabs whose corners jut out dangerously for lack of enough sod and soil and an exercise station that is not what the Association ordered.

It was originally agreed that concrete slabs would only be placed around those tables that needed to be ADA compliant. The other tables would be placed directly onto the turf using buried concrete pillars. Parks and Recreation changed the order to make it easier for their mowers. The change was made without consultation with Association representatives. Many of those slabs have sharp concrete corners because the turf is not raised high enough around them. One board member mentioned concern that the City is putting itself at risk if some should be injured on the exposed corners.

One of the exercise stations ordered was a Standing Push-up Station. It was not among the stations installed.

Has anyone seen the Standing Push-up Station?

Prior to the beginning of work on the park, Association board members, Jim Tolbert and Becky Friesenhahn, requested the City to let them go over the orders before starting actual work. Repeatedly after the work was done, the same board members asked the City to let them be part of any inspection with the contractor. City officials continued to reply in emails that non-City officials checking an order and doing a punch list was not standard practice. Wouldn't it have been much easier and saved much money and time had the Association requests been granted in the first place? The mission statement of the Association includes "care and attention to the park". Although the park improvements as a whole are the rave of the neighborhood, more care and attention must be done.

Lender Retains McKee Home

Board President, Lynn Coyle, and member, Lisa Degliantoni watch as the McKee Home is auctioned

The McKee home went on public auction this morning and the lender, GMAC, bought it. Newman Park Neighborhood Association President and attorney, Lynn Coyle, expressed that the sale was exactly what the Association wanted. "We can now work with them," she said.

The Association's goal of finding "a good, long-term owner for the house - a person or family or an organization which will restore the house to its original beauty, preserve its historical integrity, and be an active, caring neighbor" is closer to becoming reality. The fear that a private individual or entity might have bought the home just to sit on is now gone. The Association can work directly with GMAC through its attorney.