County Commissioner Carlos Leon held his 1st Annual Blood Drive/Health Fair yesterday, August 27, 2015, at the El Paso County Eastside Annex. Commissioner Leon wants to thank everyone who came together to make the 1st annual blood drive a success by surpassing our goal and adding 43 blood donations to our local supply.
The Blood Drive will benefit United Blood Services, which supplies area hospitals with the lifesaving blood our community depends on. On August 26, 2009 Commissioner Leon himself depended on volunteer blood donors following a serious motorcycle accident in Mesilla, New Mexico, which nearly ended his life. After receiving several blood transfusions and undergoing multiple surgeries, Commissioner Leon made a significant recovery, and today wants to give back to the community and help ensure there is blood available when needed.
Donors visited with representatives from University Medical Center, Texas Tech, Smile Magic, El Paso Diabetes Association, Desert Imaging and were treated to free breakfast provided by Taco Bell.
On the morning of August 10, 2015 during commissioners court, Commissioner Carlos Leon recognized the week of August 17th-21st 2015 as “David L. Carrasco Job Corps Week” in El Paso County.
Job Corps is a no-cost education and career technical training program administered by the US Department of Labor that helps young people ages 16 through 24 improve the quality of their lives through career technical and academic training.
The center opened in 1970 in downtown El Paso as the El Paso Job Corps Center. In 1979, the center moved to a larger five-acre campus on the east side of El Paso. In 1991, the center name was changed to honor David L. Carrasco, who served as the center's first director for over twenty years.
On Tuesday, August 4, 2015, Commissioner Leon had the privilege to speak for the Texas Citizen Police Academy Alumni Association.
Texas Citizen Police Academy Alumni Association
The mission of the Texas Citizen Police Academy Alumni Association is to assist and educate the various Citizen Police Academy Alumni Associations within the State of Texas to better serve their communities by more effectively partnering with and supporting the law enforcement agencies in their area.
By Aileen B. Flores / El Paso Times / Follow @AileenBFlores
El Paso Times Posted: 08/02/2015 04:44:22 PM MDT
University Medical Center President and CEO Jim Valenti, right, addresses county commissioners Wednesday. Chief Financial Officer Michael Nunez is at center, and Board President Steve DeGroat is at left. (VICTOR CALZADA — EL PASO TIMES)
University Medical Center of El Paso CEO Jim Valenti angered a county commissioner by saying during a recent meeting that last year's layoffs at the hospital were used to oust poor performers.
Valenti and his staff presented UMC's proposed budget to Commissioners Court on July 29, when Commissioner Carlos Leon asked whether UMC might rehire some of the 56 people the county hospital laid off last year. UMC is projecting some growth for the coming fiscal year.
"Those areas were in support departments and administrative, and quite frankly, when you look at those and size up the actual persons that left, and I don't want to be crass about it, but I want to say that a good third of it were on disciplinary measures that you don't want back," Valenti said.
But in a letter sent to UMC employees announcing the layoffs on July 25, 2014, Valenti said the layoffs had nothing to do with job performance.
"Please know that this action is in no way a reflection of your work. Each of you has contributed so much to our incredible transformation during the last decade," Valenti wrote.
Valenti didn't return calls for comment. UMC spokesman Ryan Mielke declined to comment about Valenti's remarks about the layoffs.
Leon, who last year said he had lost trust in Valenti, in a Friday interview with the El Paso Times sharply criticized the CEO for his recent remarks. He said it was unacceptable for Valenti to refer to some laid-off employees as "subpar."
"I don't understand his lack of honesty when dealing with the Commissioners Court, and shame on him that he has said that about his own employees," Leon said.
"Why are you going to embarrass employees in public? As every decent manager knows, always praise employees in public and reprimand them in private," Leon continued. "Was he lying to me last year, or was he lying to me this week? I'm just very disappointed at him, again."
The layoffs came as bonuses for Valenti and other top administrators came into question.
Leon said his distrust in Valenti grew in August 2014, when the hospital CEO sent Leon an email stating that neither he nor his staff would be receiving bonuses that year.
However, only four months after the layoffs when UMC officials claimed that the hospital was going through tough economic times, the hospital board awarded Valenti a $120,000 bonus. Valenti gave other executives bonuses totaling $180,000.
During UMC's budget presentation to commissioners, Leon told Valenti to be mindful of bonuses.
For the proposed 2016 fiscal budget, UMC is expected to award almost $4 million in bonuses — $1.7 million more than the current year.
According to an incentive analysis provided by UMC to Commissioners Court, the main growth in the incentive amount is due to $1.6 million in incentives budgeted for the doctors at the new neighborhood clinics.
A breakdown on the individual bonus amounts and who might receive them was not immediately available.
University Medical Center of El Paso's proposed budget for the 2016 fiscal year is about
$587 million, an increase of about 6 percent over the current year. The budget must first be approved by the UMC board of managers as well as Commissioners Court. It would become effective Oct. 1.
Commissioner Leon welcomed Chuy's Mexican Restaurant at their Ribbon Cutting Ceremony on Tuesday, July 21, 2015 at The Fountains shopping center in East Central El Paso. The El Paso restaurant is the chain's 64th location, reported Morgan Korous, the restaurant's general manager.
Chuy's opened on April 16, 1982 in an old, abandoned Texas Barbeque joint on iconic Barton Springs Road in Austin, TX. There was seating for about sixty, a women's restroom the size of a broom closet and a men's restroom that was, well, outside. Founders Mike Young and John Zapp had a vision of a fun and funky Tex-Mex restaurant that served authentic and fresh food in an atmosphere that appealed to everyone. From these humble beginnings Chuy's was born, and is now loved by thousands of people around the nation.
On the evening of July 6, 2015, Commissioner Carlos Leon and the El Paso County Public Works Department met with the Desert Acceptance area (Square Dance) community about an upcoming $8.5 million United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Wastewater Project.
Community members from the Square Dance area had the opportunity to convey an existing 30 foot road easement to the County of El Paso. The property conveyed will allow the County the ability to make improvements with the proposed wastewater improvement project.
El Paso County is proposing to extend wastewater service to the Desert Acceptance (Square Dance) neighborhood located in eastern areas of El Paso outside the City Limits. Currently, this neighborhood does not enjoy any existing public wastewater services, and the disposal of wastewater via individual septic tanks. The proposed wastewater collection system will provide residents with wastewater services and reconnect with existing wastewater systems in the surrounding area. Project stakeholders include the County of El Paso, United States Department of Agriculture Rural Development (USDA-RD), El Paso Water Utilities (EPWU), and property owners located within the Square Dance neighborhood.
County Commissioner Carlos Leon wants to thank the Eastside community for the kindhearted support and welcome at the 36th Annual Del Norte Fourth of July Parade this past holiday weekend.
Commissioner Leon honored Corporal Sergio Camacho during Commissioners Court for his courageous and generous organ donation for a fellow employee, Lt. Michaela Hebeker, of the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office.
Corporal Camacho made the donation possible through the process of joining the kidney exchange program at the Texas Transplant Institute in San Antonio, where compatible donor and recipient pairs are matched. Corporal Camacho ultimately had a kidney removed which enabled Lt. Michaela Hebeker to receive a compatible kidney from a donor, giving her a chance to live a normal life with a working kidney.
Currently in the United States there are over 100,000 individuals waiting for a kidney transplant, with 3,000 new patients added to the list each month and twelve people dying each day waiting for a kidney donation. Out of 17,000 kidney transplants performed last year, only 5,535 came from living donors and 11,570 came from a deceased donor. An organ donation is the greatest gift that an individual may convey to another in need, and the number of people who may benefit from an organ replacement far outnumber the available organ donations.
The evaluation process entails blood labs, cardiology exams, EKG, ultrasounds, and psychosocial testing among other extensive exams, and often leaves the financial burden for travel and testing on the donor.
June 29, 2015 is recognized by the El Paso County Judge and Commissioners Court as “Corporal Sergio Camacho Day in honor of his courageous and generous organ donation for a fellow employee of the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office.”
County Commissioner Carlos Leon held a community meeting, Thursday, June 25, 2015 at the newly opened Eastside Annex located on 2350 George Dieter. He provided the community with the latest information on the construction of the Sportspark, Eastside Annex, USDA Sewer Grant Project (Desert Acceptance-Square Dance), new county kiosks and other current issues.
Joy Martinez, one of the newest board members of the University Medical Center of El Paso, was also present and took part in a Meet-and-Greet with the eastside community. Mrs. Martinez shed light and answered questions on current issues with UMC and El Paso’s Children’s Hospital.
County Commissioner Carlos Leon held his monthly Roundtable meeting the morning of Tuesday, June 23, 2015. Guest speaker Joy Martinez, UMC board member, was present at the meeting to answer questions concerning University Medical Center and Children’s Hospital.
The eastside advisory board meets monthly to discuss issues that impact the eastside and the entire county. The goal of the Roundtable is to converse on issues without injecting political biases and continuously sustain a nonpartisan stance.
On June 17, 2015, Commissioner Carlos Leon spoke at the El Paso Veterans Court Graduation Ceremony held in the 346th District Court under the Honorable Judge Angie Juarez Barrill. Commissioner Leon left the graduates with encouraging words as he spoke on the tremendous mile stone they have reached, and the important role they will play as they become mentors to other veterans and active service members.
The mission of the El Paso Veterans Court Program is to divert justice-involved veterans and active service members from the traditional criminal justice system by providing them treatment and judicial monitoring to afford them the tools needed to lead a productive and law-abiding life.
El Paso was the second in the State of Texas to launch a Veterans Court in 2009. The 346th District Court officially opened its doors to the felony component on August 2012. This program provides a means to divert eligible veterans and active service participants from the traditional criminal justice system and provide them support and rehabilitation through comprehensive substance abuse and/or mental health treatment, education, vocational programs, and community resource referrals for housing, childcare, and transportation, all while being judicially monitored.
On June 9 2015, during Southwest University’s Ribbon Cutting Ceremony, Commissioner Leon presented the university with a certificate of appreciation for the important role they play in higher education and providing the local community with job opportunities.
The mission of Southwest University at El Paso is to provide exceptional career and technical training, promote intellectual growth, critical examination and informed understanding. Through general education and a commitment to educational excellence, Southwest University strengthens quality instruction by providing a positive learning environment that integrates emerging technologies.
Southwest University is proud to be one of the first universities in the United States to go digital using the latest technology.
On June 2, 2015, keynote speaker Commissioner Carlos Leon spoke to the second graduating class (Class of 2015) at the Harmony School of Innovation Commencement Ceremony. The topic of the afternoon was, “Never Tell Yourself No.” Commissioner Leon stressed the importance of never stopping yourself from doing anything, “let someone else tell you no,” stated Leon as he sent off the graduating class of 2015 into a bright and promising future.
Harmony School of Innovation (El Paso) is a Kindergarten thru 12 model middle-high school in El Paso, TX. In 2009, Texas Education Agency granted a middle-high charter to Harmony Schools and opened its doors to students in 2009-2010 school.
Harmony School of Innovation is dedicated to preparing each student for higher learning in a safe, caring and collaborative atmosphere through a quality learner-centered educational program with a strong emphasis on math, science, engineering and technology.
Harmony’s vision is to prepare students for academic success in their future education, enable students to have a broad spectrum of options for their future endeavors, and prepare them to be responsible and productive citizens.
On the evening of May 20, 2015, Commissioner Leon met with the residents of Desert Acceptance (Square Dance) to address any questions regarding the $7.4 million USDA sewer wastewater project. Residents had the opportunity to become more familiar with the project and were encouraged to participate in the development.
Square Dance is located approximately 1.6 miles from El Paso Water Utilities’ nearest wastewater collection system in Far East El Paso. This project requires a permanent connection to EPWU’s existing wastewater collection system on Montana Ave. The project consists of constructing a wastewater collection system inside the subdivision and extends the collection lines to Montana Ave.
Commissioner Leon was honored to be a testimonial speaker at the United Blood Services Luncheon on May 6, 2015 to thank all the volunteers that spend a tremendous amount of time helping and supporting this organization. He emphasized the important role they play in their community, and reminded them that because of their efforts he, like many others, are still alive.
Founded in 1943, United Blood Services provide blood, blood components and special services for patients in more than 500 hospitals in 18 states. More than 25 million people in communities throughout these states depend on United Blood Services' generous volunteer blood donors and dedicated staff to make sure lifesaving blood is available when and where it is needed. This organization is responsible for providing blood for all 19 hospitals in this region; 70% of the blood that is collected comes from volunteer blood drives.
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