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.
On Monday, May 11, 2015, Commissioner Leon presented Chief Tom Whitten and Commander Kevin Lanahan from the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office with a resolution designating May 10-16, 2015 as Police Week in El Paso County. During Commissioners Court, Commissioner Leon publicly saluted the service of law enforcement officers in our community and in communities across the nation.
There are more than 900,000 law enforcement officers serving in communities across the United States, including the dedicated members of the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office and all other local, state and federal Law Enforcement Agencies in El Paso County. Since the first recorded death in 1791, more than 20,000 law enforcement officers in the United States have made the ultimate sacrifice and have been killed in the line of duty, including 56 members of Law Enforcement Agencies in El Paso County, including Constable Robert Parker White who died November 1, 2014. The names of these dedicated public servants are engraved on the walls of the National Law Enforcement Officers’ Memorial in Washington, D.C. or recognized on the Texas Peace Officers’ Memorial in Austin, Texas.
The names of 117 brave men and women killed in the line of duty during 2014 will be added to these memorials. By joint resolution of Congress and signed by President John F. Kennedy on October 1, 1962, and proclaimed by President Barack Obama, May 15, 2015 is designated as Peace Officers Memorial Day and May 10 through May 16, 2015 as Police Week to honor those fallen officers and their families. President Barack Obama directs that on Friday, May 15, 2015, the flag be flown at half-staff on Peace Officers Memorial Day.
On Monday, May 4, 2015 Commissioner Leon honored Mr. Harry Edward Steen Sr., a courageous World War II veteran who died in his sleep on April 18, 2015 in his home at the age of 97. He was the last surviving Bataan Death March member in El Paso. Today, there are less than 25 survivors left in the country.
Mr. Steen’s widow, a close family friend and family from Arizona and Allen, TX were present to receive this resolution in his honor.
Harry Edward Steen, Sr. was born on March 7, 1918 in St. John's, Arizona to Tex Annie Laura Birmingham and Harry Steen. After graduating from Reserve High School in 1936, moved to Albuquerque, New Mexico where he was drafted into the US Army on April 3, 1941, and initially assigned to Fort Bliss, Texas.
Mr. Steen was part of the first battalion that boarded the ship USS Pearce not knowing where they were headed over-seas until noticing a sign with the word “Manila” posted on the windshield of one of the Army trucks on the ship, realizing they were headed for the Philippines arriving on September 16, 1941.
In December 1941, during World War II, Mr. Steen was present during an attack by the Japanese Military on Clarke Air Field, 200 yards away from where he stood. In April of 1942, The Island of Corregidor was attacked, and after a three month battle Bataan surrendered, leaving many dead and Mr. Steen and other Americans taken as prisoners.
Harry E. Steen Sr. along with other Americans and Filipinos begin to endure what was known as the ‘Bataan Death March’, leaving thousands of prisoners with no food or water and suffering from extreme hunger, disease and abuse. Over a period of three and a half years, he and other tortured prisoners were fed a rice ball a day, returning at a mere eighty pounds when he was liberated at war’s end in 1945.
Upon his return to the states, Mr. Steen met and married his wife, Mary Lou Steen, and moved the family to El Paso in the early 1970s and called El Paso home ever since. Mr. Steen was married to Mary Lou Steen for 58 years and had 5 children.
Commissioner Carlos Leon hosted a ribbon cutting ceremony this morning to commemorate the opening of the El Paso County Eastside Annex.
In an effort to better serve the community, the Eastside Annex will provide convenient access to offices for County Commissioner Precinct 1, Justice of the Peace Precinct 4, Constable Precinct 4, Adult Probation, and County Clerk. It will also house a community meeting room with a 100-seat capacity.
The Eastside Annex allows constituents to receive some of the same services as they would at the El Paso County Courthouse, improving the level of service and communication with their elected officials.
On the morning of April 3, 2015, Commissioner Carlos Leon spoke at Representative Carl Robinson’s Prayer Breakfast at the YMCA located on the Northeast side of town. Commissioner Leon gave a testimonial on his near death experience when he was involved in a severe car accident.
In August 2009, Commissioner Leon was involved in a serious motorcycle accident in Mesilla, New Mexico, that nearly ended his life. After being airlifted to El Paso University Medical Center, he spent 10 days in the ICU followed by two weeks at a rehabilitation hospital in addition to several months of VNA care at his home. Though the accident was difficult for him and his family to endure, they are happy to still have each other. Carlos views his remarkable recovery as a second chance at life -- a second chance to enjoy time with his family and friends, and another opportunity to serve the community he has called home all of his life.
In honor of World Wish Day, and with the help of Make-A-Wish, Commissioner Leon and the court grant Elijah his wish to meet Captain America in Disney World during Commissioners Court on Monday, April 20, 2015. Elijah and his family were presented with a Resolution recognizing April 22, 2015 as “Elijah Garay’s Wish Day.”
A wish experience can be the catalyst for children fighting life-threatening conditions that rekindles their belief in themselves and the promise of their future. Children are encouraged to ask for their most heartfelt wish – whether their wish is to “I wish to go,” “I wish to meet,” “I wish to have” or “I wish to be.”
By fulfilling these requests, Make-A-Wish North Texas El Paso Regional Office delivers hope, strength and joy to the children of our community to improve and forever impact the lives of these children. Wishes are far more a singular event in time, positively impacting everyone involved – including families, volunteers, donors, medical professionals and the entire community.
Both parents and physicians confirm that wish experiences play a unique role in the healing process for children and their families. Wishes have a positive effect on children's emotional health and attitude, which in turn promotes better physical health and an improved quality of life. World Wish Day, on April 29, honors the anniversary of the wish granted to a boy named Chris, who wished to be a police officer. Granting his wish inspired the creation of Make-A-Wish® and sparked a global wish-granting movement.
Commissioner Leon and the court approved and adopted a resolution recognizing April 6, 2015 as “Juvenile Probation Day, during commissioners court this morning.
The El Paso County Juvenile Probation Department was established in 1950 with the opening of the first Juvenile Detention Facility in the State of Texas. Throughout the 65 years since, there have been many programs and enhancements to the department.
The El Paso County Juvenile Drug Court Program is one of twelve juvenile drug courts in the country and the only program in the State of Texas to be selected by the National Council of Juvenile Family Court Judges to participate in the Juvenile Drug Court Learning Collaborative for the next two years to enhance program operations and outcomes.
The Challenge Academy has consistently received high marks on state audits (the latest Texas Juvenile Justice Department Audit score was 99.12%).
A recent 2 ½ year state recidivism study, “Closer to Home”, conducted by Dr. Tony Fabelo on behalf of the Council of State Governments equated all program outcomes to their recidivism rates. The report placed Counties into 3 levels or tiers with El Paso County JPD, falling under the designated recidivism rate, placed on Tier 1 (Tier 1 being the highest, best performing due to lowest recidivism rate). In 2010 our recidivism rate was 46% and in 2011 to 2013 it was at its lowest, 28%.
On Wednesday, March 18, 2015, Commissioner Carlos Leon held his monthly Rountable meeting on the Eastside of town. Guest speaker, John Balliew, President and CEO of the El Paso Water Utilities was present at the meeting to talk about several topics including water, wastewater, stormwater and reclaimed water systems.
Mr. Balliew has worked for El Paso Water Utilities since 1983. He has held various positions of increasing responsibility during his tenure, including vice president of operations and technical services, before becoming the utility's president in January 2013.
Montwood Drive has reopened to all traffic following more than two years of work to reconstruct the roadway, improve stormwater facilities, upgrade sidewalks, and enhance landscaping.
The $11 million reconstruction project, which began in January 2013, will alleviate persistent street flooding in the area by more effectively funneling rainfall runoff to the nearby Eastwood Dam. The project not only provided this neighborhood with upgrades to the streets and drainage system, but it has also enhanced the visual image of the area by providing new landscaping and an irrigation system in the medians. New sidewalks which incorporate ADA-compliant ramps were also part of the project.
Though the road has been re-opened to all traffic, motorists are asked to continue using caution in the area. Contractors and city crews will remain in the area assessing and completing any final tasks which are necessary.
Sun Metro Route 53 will return to its regular route.
*Information provided by City of El Paso - Engineering and Construction Management Department
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Montwood Drive will be temporarily closed to all traffic between McRae Boulevard and Wedgewood Drive
beginning on Monday, February 23, 2015.
The closure is necessary to complete the Montwood Drive Reconstruction Project on schedule. This
24-month-long project will provide the neighborhood with new trees, sidewalks, pavement, and drainage.
The temporary closure will begin at 6am on Monday and continue for two weeks. Motorists should follow
marked detours and consider alternate routes while the work is in progress.
*Information provided by City of El Paso Engineering and Construction Management Department
On January 26, 2015, Commissioner Leon presented the Loya Family with a resolution recognizing January 29th, 2015 as “El Paso Christmas Light Show Day.”
Fred Loya and his family have enriched El Paso through their creativity, hospitality and generosity for the past ten years. Year after year, the Loya Family create a holiday light spectacular and open their home to all children and families in the El Paso region.
The Loya’s El Paso Christmas Light Show was featured on ABC’s The Great Christmas Light Fight, and had the opportunity to show the entire country the overflowing holiday spirit El Pasoans share during this magical time.
The El Paso Christmas Light Show won the national competition during the broadcast and the Loya Family graciously donated the $50,000 prize to local El Paso charities.
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