A newly arrived Cuban migrant fills out paperwork in El Paso.

El Paso social services respond to Cuban refugee surge

Cuban refugees continue to seek asylum in the U.S., traveling from Juarez, Mexico to El Paso for a third straight week, with many staying in El Paso longer than expected, which could strain local organizations that traditionally provide services such as food, shelter and legal advice to immigrants. Elizabeth O’Hara, communications director of Catholic Diocese of El Paso, said about 300 Cuban migrants have been arriving each day since May 9 for a total of about 3,000 in the last three weeks. “Some of them will stay 24-36 hours, but now we’re seeing some of them staying longer,” O’Hara said, adding that the first wave of refugees seemed to be better off financially. “Most of the first ones to arrive had money left so they could bounce out of El Paso faster.”

That seems to be the case as well at the Ysleta Lutheran Mission, which is housing up to 80 refugees at a time. Karla Gonzalez, Ysleta’s chief operating officer, said most immigrants will just pass through El Paso on the way to family or friends in other parts of the country.

Downtown El Paso set to ride streetcar revival

Beginning in 2018, El Paso residents will be riding the rails again. Streetcars, once a staple in El Paso, will return. A $97 million grant from the Texas Transportation Commission and $4.5 million from the City of El Paso is funding the 4.8-mile route. The revamped streetcar system is an example of art becoming reality. A graduate thesis by City Council Representative, Peter Svarzbein, was the impetus for the project.

El Paso becoming new frontier for space research, business ventures

Our lives are full of consumer products that can be traced back to NASA: invisible braces, infrared ear thermometers, memory foam and cordless drills. Now one El Paso-area organization has partnered with NASA to make this kind of technology transfer easier. The Space Race challenge offers business planning, networking, mentorship and support to teams who are competing for up to $1.2 million in funding from venture capital investors. The Center for Advancing Innovation, a global public-private nonprofit is facilitating the program with El Paso-based Medical Center of the Americas Foundation. “NASA has a very large number of researchers who are primarily dedicated to solving NASA’s problems, but once that technology has done its job for NASA, by and large, that’s the end of the road, said Jeff Fuchsberg, the director of intellectual property and innovation projects at the center.

Latino entrepreneurs make their mark through microbrewing

El Paso, TX – Carlos Guzmán opened his first bar while he was stationed in Iraq. Well, it was sort of a bar. And it sort of just happened. Guzmán was having a hard time buying liquor in Iraq, so he asked his friends and family to stash some little bottles in their care packages. “Little did I know that within a month we’d have over 50 bottles,” said Guzmán who was in the U.S. Army.

El Paso filmmakers explain why Texas is not Hollywood

El Paso — Lights, cameras, but not much action in this nascent filmmaking community far from Los Angeles, the epicenter of global entertainment. There is no filmmaking infrastructure in this high desert community to entice venture capitalists and support movie producers, directors, actors and ancillary businesses that contribute mightily to the economic engines driving film industry friendly states like New York, Georgia, Louisiana and neighboring New Mexico, local officials and filmmakers said. There are several reasons why Texas is not Hollywood, local industry insiders said. In the last decade, the state has slashed the financial incentives it offers to filmmakers who want to make movies here. Currently, Texas incentives range from 5 percent to 20 percent based on the amount of money a film company is projected to spend before it wraps production in the state.

Wetlands, retired professor offer refuge to wildlife

Emu eggs used to fetch $100 apiece. Now, they’re worthless. After people started

releasing the ostrich-like birds, Carol Miller adopted four at her wildlife rescue. The emus joined a menagerie of other abandoned, injured and abused animals at

Miller’s home in El Paso’s Upper Valley. People bring her baby rabbits, squirrels,

ducks, geese, songbirds and even snakes.

UT El Paso transforms heart of campus with plaza renovation

The University of Texas at El Paso unpaved parking lots, roads and walkways, and transformed the space into paradise, according to landscape architect Christine Ten Eyck. The Centennial Plaza project, which created a common area featuring native vegetation, arroyos and bubbling fountains in an amphitheater setting, was part of a $25 million renovation project timed to the university’s 100-year anniversary. University officials said the plaza, “will continue to contribute to a sense of community, and offer students greater opportunities to excel.”

A major feature of the plaza is a Bhutanese lhakhang, a temple that had been installed on the mall in Washington, D.C., in 2008 as part of a cultural exchange. It was transported beam by beam to El Paso, and opened in April. Artisans from Bhutan painted lush Buddhist scenes on the altar, walls and interior columns.

UTEP researchers developing water filter to help colonias

Maricela Reyna and her family pay property tax on their home, located in an

El Paso County colonia. Yet they lack access to municipal water and gas services. Instead,

they hire a tanker truck to deliver water each week, and buy propane for cooking. City trash trucks do not run down the unpaved road outside Reyna’s home, either. Instead, she shells out $80 a month for a private hauler to take the family’s waste.

El Paso group moves to save mountains

EL PASO — Although the Franklin Mountains Wilderness Coalition can’t move mountains, they’re hoping a petition can move the boundaries that protect them. The coalition’s “We the People” petition aims to preserve the undeveloped land owned by the city of El Paso to the west and the east of Franklin Mountains State Park—making the land part of the park. The petition, said Jim Tolbert, member of the Franklin Mountain Coalition, garnered more than 6,000 signatures. He plans to present it to the Public Service Board next week. “Privately owned land is not part of the petition,” Tolbert said.

About 25 people participate in the Huerto Amistad garden on Beverly Ann in San Elizario. The garden was started in 2013. (Kirstie Hettinga/Borderzine.com)

Water, commitment are challenges for sustainable gardens in El Paso

EL PASO — San Elizario, Texas is a newborn city with a long history. The area was established in the mid-18th century as part of the Spanish colonial mission trail, but it’s only been officially incorporated since November 2013 and its first mayor took office on May 22, 2014. The rich history of San Elizario is largely agricultural and according to Mayor Maya Sanchez, honoring those roots and protecting the rural community is critical. “My family goes back five generations in San Elizario. It’s an agricultural community, historically has been.