Monday, September 26, 2011

Inventive Piña Brothers to Upscale When?

Piedras Quality Food Mart on September 26, 2011. Compare with picture posted on September 30, 2009.

According to Rep. Susie Byrd, grocer Mike Piña indicated that it was his company's intent to really spruce up the Quality Food Mart on Piedras and Porter as they had done to other stores they had purchased. He made the same claim over two years ago!

Compare the picture above taken today to one taken from the same street corner in September 2009! See the September 30, 2009 Newman Park blog post. See any differences? Anything spruced up? There's a new tortilla factory inside but that's about it. Meat selection is poor and the produce must be what's left over from the Vista stores.

Byrd recently inquired what Piña and his brothers intended to do with the other Quality Food Mart on Wheeling and Alabama. It has been closed for several months now. Owners of the Vista Markets, the Piñas have decided to close it because of low volume sales and that they had it under contract for a Dollar Store. A Dollar Store!

I might add that, while I was taking the picture above, I was briefly approached by a woman who seemed to me to be a hooker. She left me alone (and didn't solicit me) as she could probably tell I was more focused on the photography. I saw her later working the ticky-tacky bars a block up and across the street from the non-spruced up Quality Food Mart.

These places border our Newman Park neighborhood where great things are happening. But it is time to do better with our businesses on Piedras and Alabama. Time to do a lot better.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Help Police Track Crime Patterns

Commander Mark Austin addresses concerns at a meeting of the Newman Park Neighborhood Association Board.

Commander Mark Austin of the EPPD Central Regional Command visited with members of the Newman Park Neighborhood Association Board during their regular meeting last Saturday. Commander Austin was accompanied by Neighborhood Relations Coordinator, Leslie Canada.
Addressing several recent concerns voiced by Association members, Austin stressed the need for neighbors to help police identify crime patterns. Even if someone takes a small item from the yard (a flower pot, a solar light), it should be reported so that police can track the pattern or trail of the thief. He mentioned that storage sheds have been a recent target of thieves and asked that people keep their sheds locked. He also said that suspicious persons or situations should be reported - vehicles parked in alley ways or persons or cars not normally "belonging" to the neighborhood were two examples. He emphasized that neighbors should talk to their neighbors and know what is happening.

Byrd Gets Park Olympics Trophy

Rep. Susie Byrd, Chuy, Jim Tolbert, Judy Gutierrez

This past Saturday Representative Susie Byrd received the coveted traveling trophy won by the Newman Park Neighborhood Association Fighting Chihuahuas at the 2nd Annual Park Olympics. Newman Park Neighborhood Association President Jim Tolbert presented her and her Assistant, Judy Gutierrez, with the prize. They will display it proudly at the El Paso's District Two office at City Hall during the coming year. Although Chuy, the trophy, will be up for grabs again next year, Las Vegas odds makers are already saying that the Mexican mongrels are the odds-on favorites to win again.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011


The shape of someone's hibachi has been burned into the grass at Newman Park.

Recently there have been two instances of the consequences of hibachi use on the grass in Newman Park. The most recent and egregious happened this past Labor Day weekend. You can see the result in the picture above.

Nothing is mentioned about hibachi use under park rules for the City of El Paso. The Director of Parks and Recreation, Nanette Smejkal, says that bringing grills to the parks is not prohibited. "Prohibitions are determined by City Council and set forth in Code 13.24."

You would think that common sense would tell anyone to use hibachis or other grills only in the concrete areas – not on the grass!

Ellen Smyth: Portrait of Caring and Service

Ellen Smyth speaks at Rep. Susie Byrd's monthly breakfast.

Ellen Smyth listens and takes notes. She doesn't get defensive when someone mentions a concern nor does she try to explain away a problem. She takes notes. Literally. That's what she was doing at the most recent breakfast meeting hosted by Rep. Susie Byrd. As Director of the City's Environmental Services, she didn't just come to tell about the new jobs her department was taking on. She came to listen.

Beginning this month, Environmental Services adds Animal Services to its existing divisions which include air monitoring, recycling, sustainability, landfills, code enforcement, building inspections and more. Environmental Services does everything from vector control to tattoo parlor inspections to monitoring air for biochemicals and other potentially lethal hazards as part of the City's responsibilities to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

Ms. Smyth handed out the brochure Know What to Throw and discussed the City's recycling program. Although glass and grass are not yet recyclable, Environmental Services will be taking the first steps toward composting by purchasing a chipper. She hailed the success of the curbside recycling program. Prior to the program only about 10% of the City's trash was diverted to recycling - now it is 18% and growing. Attendees of the breakfast asked questions about flow control which has been postponed until 2014. Ellen mentioned that Ft. Bliss wants City trash as part of its goal to have all of its power come from renewable resources.

People voiced some concerns and mentioned some problems. Ms. Smyth took notes and wrote down locations. She's a problem-solver not a justifier - a breath of fresh air when too often some in governmental services can't be bothered by the people they serve.

For more information, visit and the Environmental Services web page.