African country aided by Fort Bliss unit making progress 1 year after Ebola outbreak

EL PASO — A year after the Ebola epidemic ravaged West Africa the risk of resurgence lingers, but communities continue to make progress toward rebuilding due to brave international humanitarian efforts, including those of soldiers from El Paso. Months after the Ebola outbreak began killing thousands of people in Liberia, more than 250 soldiers from here shuttled the sick by helicopter from isolated villages to Nairobi for treatment at facilities they helped build. The soldiers, primarily from the 501st Aviation Regiment deployed last October from Fort Bliss to participate in “Operation United Assistance” in Liberia. “It was not a combat mission,” said Chief Warrant Officer Landon Dykes. “This was a different scenario, a different role for the entire task-force and our entire purpose was to help the people of Liberia combat Ebola.”

Pet ducks dumped at El Paso lake struggle to survive

EL PASO — Ascarate Park in East-Central El Paso has recently become home to a flock of aggressive, starved and abused birds — primarily ducks — as Easter gifts and unwanted pets have been dumped at the lake. Animal rescue workers estimate some 200 ducks and geese have been abandoned at Ascarate as the pets became too much for their owners to handle. “People sometimes don’t know what they are getting themselves into,” said Julie Ito Morales, member from local wildlife rescue Stick House Sanctuary. “They start as small cute birds, but they will grow in size and need care just like a dog or any other type of pet.” Although no official cause has been established as to how the large white ducks got into the park, Morales believes that it is the result of people who saw the park as a solution to their problem.

Texas stares down the barrel of ‘open carry’ and ‘campus carry’ debate

I was watching a weightlifting competition in a Juarez gym not too far from my old home near Plaza Juarez Mall in 2009. As I sat near the stairs toward the back of the gym, a young man was struggling to lift an absurd amount of weight when two men who did not seem interested in the competition came in through the back entrance . I remember hearing a loud metal clanging noise like the sound of weights dropping, followed by gun shots. Everything after that is a blur — running up the stairs, finding a place to hide, people screaming. Only one particular detail remains clear, the jet black 9mm handgun in the killer’s fist.

Girls build to win in Lego League robotics challenge

EL PASO – As schools work to encourage more women to enter science and tech fields, a recent Lego League championship at UT El Paso saw progress when the all-girl Loretto Angel Bots Blue team won the competition. “It was the most exciting thing that has ever happened in my life,” said Samantha Perez, a member of the Loretto Angel Bots Blue team. “At first i wasn’t expecting to win anything, but this was a nice surprise.” More than 100 students from El Paso elementary and middle schools spent the day building with Legos and participating in dancing and cheering exercises as part of the high-energy competition in the 7th annual FIRST Lego League (FLL) and Jr. FLL Championships Feb. 7 in the Memorial Gym at the University of Texas at El Paso.