This is your Friday update, which takes a quick look at some developments that El Paso Matters is following.

New Ascarate Park Sculpture: During its April 4 meeting, the El Paso County Commissioners Court approved proceeding with plans to build a 130-foot by 130-foot yellow abstract sculpture at Ascarate Park that is expected to cost $3 million. County Judge Ricardo Samaniego said taxpayer money will not be used, reiterating that donations and grant money would pay for it. However, several commissioners acknowledged that county employees and public funds will be needed to build the sculpture and that an analysis and public input is needed before the project proceeds as other artists might want to participate. Samaniego said Ascarate Park is the ideal site for this project because it is within the vicinity of the huge red X sculpture in Juárez. The proposed sculpture designed by sculptor Pedro Francisco Rodrigez was not bidded out, and may incorporate an amphitheater, which is a part of the county parks master plan.

Governor Coming to El Paso: Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, who just announced that every commercial vehicle entering Texas through the ports of entry will be inspected by state troopers, will be in El Paso on Monday to speak at the Texas Border Sheriffs Coalition Spring Meeting. The coalition is meeting at the Double Tree Hotel, 600 N. El Paso Street, in Downtown El Paso. The governor is expected to discuss the state’s ongoing border security efforts and how Texas is helping local law enforcement. Abbott is scheduled to speak at 8:30 a.m.

$1,000 Bonus For New City Hires: Any new city of El Paso employee who is hired between April 10 and August 31, 2022, will receive a $1,000 bonus if the City Council approves the measure at its Tuesday meeting. Under the proposal, the first half of the bonus will be paid after the employee has been with the city for 30 days and the remaining $500 will be paid at the end of a six-month probation period. The sign-on bonus only applies to non-uniform, full-time, part-time and temporary employees. Also, during Tuesday’s meeting the council will be asked to increase the city’s minimum wage to $11.11, which is a 7.2% increase for the lowest paid employees. This wage increase also applies only to non-uniform, full-time, part-time and temporary employees. El Paso County raised its minimum wage to $13 an hour on Jan. 1, 2022.

Opening Day: Baseball returns to El Paso for its eighth season as the El Paso Chihuahuas’ home opener is set for 6:30 p.m. Tuesday at the Downtown stadium.  The Chihuahuas are the Triple A affiliate of the San Diego Padres and play in the Pacific Coast League. Last year, the team had its lowest attendance year as 403,657 went to a game. The current attendance record was set in 2015 when 578,95 visited the stadium. The Chihuahuas play in a $78 million, 7,500-seat stadium that opened in  2014 and was named the best new Ballpark of the Year by Baseballparks.com.

Ramon Bracamontes

Ramon Bracamontes is editor of El Paso Matters. He may be reached at ramonb@elpasomatters.org.