This is your Friday Update, which takes a quick look at some developments that El Paso Matters is following.
UTEP Dinner Theatre’s Final Curtain Call: The University of Texas at El Paso is ending its long-running and award-winning dinner theater program. “UTEP Dinner Theatre has been a staple on campus for theatre goers over the past 40 years. That was in part due to the stewardship and promotion of theatre arts by Greg Taylor, who after a long career, has decided to retire,” Anadeli Bencomo dean of the College of Liberal Arts, said in an email to dinner theater supporters. Bencomo said UTEP is “currently planning what transformations will take place, how performances will be invigorated, and what the best avenue will be to showcase the talent of our students, faculty, and community partners.”
The dinner theater was founded in 1983. Its performance of the musical “Chess” in 1989-90 won several awards, including being selected to be staged at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts as part of the American College Theatre Festival. The UTEP Dinner Theater’s final season opens Oct. 6 with “Damn Yankees.” Other performances this season have not been announced.
FBI El Paso Agent In Charge Named: John Morales, a 20-year veteran of the FBI, has been named the new special agent in charge of the agency’s El Paso Field Office.
Since 2022, he has served as deputy assistant director of the FBI’s Weapons of Mass Destruction Directorate. Morales earned bachelor’s degrees in bio-medical science and microbiology, as well as master’s degrees in finance, accounting, and industrial management from the Inter-American University of Puerto Rico.
He succeeds Jeffrey Downey as special agent in charge in El Paso. Downey was reassigned to FBI headquarters in Washington, D.C.
Texas Regulator OKs El Paso Electric Bill Increase: El Paso households’ monthly electric bills will rise by $3 on average after El Paso Electric got approval this week from Texas regulators to recoup from customers the money that the utility has spent building the Newman 6 natural gas-fired power plant unit in the far Northeast. Average household electric bills will climb to $97, likely beginning early next year, once the Newman 6 plant is up and running. El Paso Electric this week said Newman 6 is scheduled to start generating power in December – six months later than the utility anticipated.
A Texas consumer advocate agency and the city of El Paso sought to limit how much EPE could charge customers for the new plant, which will cost tens of millions of dollars more to build than El Paso Electric initially estimated. But the Public Utility Commission of Texas approved EPE’s bill hike, at least for now. The coming bill increase is meant to collect $157 million that El Paso Electric spent building Newman 6 as of the end of 2022, and the utility next year plans to boost bills again to collect the money it spent in 2023 constructing the new power plant – possibly another $35 million or so, according to the utility’s cost estimates. EPE will profit a return of $11.9 million annually on the cash it has so far invested to build the plant.
Honor Flight Returns: The Mission 16 Honor Flight of Southern New Mexico and El Paso returns Saturday with 30 Korean War and Vietnam War Veterans. The community is invited to welcome the veterans after their trip to Washington, D.C., to visit the memorials built to honor and remember those who served. The trip was made to provide closure, healing and a community welcome, officials said in a press release. El Pasoans are encouraged to take signs, flags and well wishes for the veterans at 2 p.m. Saturday at the main lobby of the El Paso International Airport. Visit HonorFlightNM.org for more information.