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As the family of the late Pedro Cano of Edinburg listen intently, Gov. Rick Perry, whose image towered over them on a video screen in the Edinburg Auditorium, on Tuesday, May 18, praised the late World War II hero as "a young man who left this beautiful town to defend his adopted country and achieved far above and beyond the call of duty." Perry was in Edinburg to  posthumously bestow the Texas Legislative Medal of Honor upon Cano – and in a reference to all other men and women from Edinburg who have fought – and many who have died – for America, proclaimed Edinburg as the "Hometown for Heroes". Featured, from left: son Stephen Cano; daughter María Cano Arías; sister Alvina Cano Martínez; and daughter Dominga Cano Pérez. See story later in this posting. 

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Sen. Juan "Chuy" Hinojosa, D-McAllen, and Rep. Verónica González, D-McAllen, extend the region’s gratitude to several of Pedro Cano’s family on Tuesday, May 18, during a major gathering in the Edinburg Auditorium to posthumously bestow the Texas Legislative Medal of Honor upon the late World War II military hero. "Pedro Cano repeatedly risked his life to save the lives of his fellow soldiers and to help advance their mission, and for his extraordinary heroism he is most assuredly deserving of this state’s supreme military award; now," said Hinojosa, a U.S. Marines combat squad leader during the Vietnam War. "The 81st Legislature of the State of Texas hereby posthumously confers the Texas Legislative Medal of Honor on Pedro Cano in recognition of his courageous actions in World War II and express to his family its deepest appreciation on behalf of all his fellow Texans." Featured, from left: Sen. Juan "Chuy" Hinojosa, D-McAllen; Cano daughter María Cano Arías; Cano sister Alvina Cano Martínez; Cano daughter Dominga Cano Pérez; and Rep. Verónica Gonzáles. See story later in this posting. 

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Members of the Pedro Cano family, flanked left by Rep. Aaron Peña, D-Edinburg, and Gov. Rick Perry, flanked right, on Tuesday, May 18, accepted the Texas Legislative Medal of Honor from the state and local leaders, including (not shown in this image) Sen. Juan "Chuy" Hinojosa, D-McAllen, Rep. Verónica González, D-McAllen, and Edinburg Mayor Richard García, on behalf of the late World War II hero. The Texas Legislative Medal of Honor was established to honor gallant and intrepid service by a member of the state or federal military forces, and through his courageous actions in World War II, United States Army Private Pedro Cano distinguished himself as a worthy recipient of this prestigious award. See story later in this posting. 

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Flags in a row stand tall in front of their respected marker. More than 350,000 were placed in the ground during the “Flags In”  ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery, Arlington, Virginia, on Thursday, May 27, 2010. As South Texans marked the national holiday, a local veterans organization has released the names of 146 Valley men who were killed in action during the war in Vietnam. Fifteen of those Valley men killed in action in Vietnam were from Edinburg while were from McAllen.  Harlingen and Brownsville saw the largest numbers of local men from deep South Texas make the ultimate sacrifice – 23 and 22 killed in action, respectively – fighting for America’s freedom in Vietnam. See story later in this posting. 

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Rey Leal Jr. of Edinburg, a South Texas College student who served as a Marine during some of the heaviest fighting in Operation Iraqi Freedom, was recently profiled on CNN’s web site with a story entitled Facing enemy fire from behind the lens. CNN covered the prolific images captured by Leal during his tours in Iraq. Having served in the Marine Corps as an infantryman from 2004 to 2008, he  captured the behind-the-scenes moments that ordinary Americans rarely see. “By the time I joined the Marine Corps, I always had my camera with me,” he said. "When you look at the news, when you look at newspapers, you always see not the worst, but you always see the action," said Leal. "You never see the calm before the storm. A lot of the stuff I did was not actual combat, it was just the stuff we did, the down time, the stuff you never see. The profile of Leal can be found at http://www.cnn.com/video/#/video/us/2010/05/26/military.photographer.leal.cnn?iref=allsearch. See story later in this posting. 

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Nine-year-old Jonathan Lerma of Edinburg on Monday, May 24, was able to return home from the hospital in his new wheelchair after an access ramp was graciously donated by two local businesses. Upon learning of the boy’s need, State Wide Roofing and Bullard Construction collaborated to provide the materials and labor to help build a ramp for Jonathan’s home while he underwent inpatient therapy at Edinburg Regional Rehab Center. “I think it’s fantastic that some of our local businessmen are joining in to help out,” said Edinburg City Councilmember Gus García. “It’s just an example of the fine leadership we have here in the community.” Featured, from left, front row: Dan Ogletree, Bullard Construction; Donato “Donut” Amaya, State Wide Roofing; Jonathan Lerma; Rubicella Salazar, Edinburg Regional Rehab Center; Edinburg City Councilmember Gus García. Back row, from left: Ronnie Martínez, Kevin Waters, and Joe Cano, Bullard Construction. See story later in this posting. 

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Mike Allen, featured left, and Gary Gurwitz, featured right, were sworn in on Thursday, May 27,  to continue serving District 3 and District 4, respectively, on South Texas College’s Board of Trustees. Both incumbents were the winners of elections held in early May. Allen will represent the interests of the constituents of south McAllen, southwest Pharr, Hidalgo, Sharyland, southeast Mission and Granjeno. Widely known as the retired president and CEO of the McAllen Economic Development Corporation, Allen has been a member of the board since May 2004. As the District 4 representative on the board, Gurwitz represents the constituents of north McAllen, northwest Pharr, Palmhurst, northeast Mission, and a portion of Edinburg. The managing partner at Atlas and Hall, Gurwitz was hand-selected by former Gov. Ann Richards to serve on STC’s founding Board of Trustees in 1993 with the inception of the college. Featured, from left: Mike Allen and his wife, Theresa Allen; U.S. District Judge Randy Crane, who administered the oaths of office; and Bailey Gurwitz and her husband, Gary Gurwitz. The terms for Allen and Gurwitz expire in May 2016. See lead story in this posting.    

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Gary Gurwitz, Mike Allen begin new six-year terms; South Texas College predicts 30,000 students by fall

By DAVID A. DÍAZ 

Incumbents Gary Gurwitz and Mike Allen on Thursday, May 27, were sworn into office in McAllen for new six-year terms on the South Texas College Board of Trustees.  

The two men, whose districts share key cities such as Edinburg, McAllen, Pharr and Mission, were winners of their elections on May 4.   

But the May 27 afternoon festive reception in their honor at the STC Pecan Campus will probably be the last breather both men get for a while because the business of higher education is about to get even more serious in the coming months. 

Even before the final rounds of congratulatory applause for Gurwitz and Allen had been delivered, STC President Dr. Shirley Reed, who praised the accomplishments of the two South Texas leaders, noted their skills will be put to the test as the college system prepares to figure out how to best deal with its impressive status – and financial burden – of being the largest institution of higher education south of San Antonio. 

"The team at STC is very fortunate to have both of these men back on the board. None of us have easy jobs, a lot of responsibility and a tremendous amount of growth and expansion before us," Reed told about 100 supporters who had gathered for the investiture of the two reelected trustees. "Their role and stewardship of the board and fiscal responsibility are going to be critical. We have much to do." 

Also at the event was STC trustee Rose Benavidez of Rio Grande City, who District 1 is comprised of Starr County. 

45,000 students by 2020? 

Reed, who served as the mistress of ceremonies for the Allen/Gurwitz celebration, continued to press her point that STC, which has campuses in McAllen, Weslaco, and Rio Grande City, is literally, as well as figuratively, approaching critical mass. 

A much anticipated and expensive in-depth study that could shed light on how – and where – STC could expand, and how to pay for it – was scheduled to be unveiled during STC’s regular board of trustees meeting in April, but Reed said that presentation – which would have come on the first day of early voting in Allen’s and Gurwitz’ elections – was tabled. 

Following the swearing-in of Allen and Gurwitz, the STC Board of Trustees was scheduled to meet for their regular monthly meeting at the Pecan Campus, but STC officials said a majority of seven board members was not available to make a quorum, so that meeting was canceled. 

STC Trustee Benavidez, who represents Starr County, was the only other board member who had made to the McAllen campus. 

Regardless, the agenda for the May 27 STC board meeting did not include any mention of the STC master plan, which will deal with expansion and how to meet tremendous student enrollment growth.  

"We have shared with the public, many times, that our master plan is showing that we probably be in the range of 45,000 students by the year 2020, and we expect to be over 30,000 students this fall," said Reed, who is the only president in the history of the two-county college system. "Gentlemen – and Miss Benavidez – we have a lot of hard work to do." 

Allen, Gurwitz express thanks 

For their parts, Gurwitz and Allen were gracious and appreciative in their remarks, pledging their continued service on behalf of their constituents as they shared credit for STC’s achievements with the leadership, employees, and students of STC. 

"I believe what it shows is that you believe in what we are doing, you believe we are on the right track, you believe we are doing a good job, and you believe in the way the college is going and the way the college is being run," said Gurwitz. "We are going to continue to progress in the future and we are going to continue to be a very, very substantial part of this community and of this part of the state. The better we do, the better the community does. I appreciate the opportunity to be part of this program. It is extremely gratifying and satisfying."  

As the District 4 representative on the board, Gurwitz represents the constituents of north McAllen, northwest Pharr, Palmhurst, northeast Mission, and a southern portion of Edinburg. The managing partner at Atlas and Hall, Gurwitz holds the distinction as the only original member of STC’s first board of trustees from when the community college system – which serves Hidalgo County and Starr County – was created in 1993. 

Allen will continue to represent the interests of south McAllen, southwest Pharr, Hidalgo, Sharyland, southeast Mission and Granjeno. Widely known as the retired president and CEO of the McAllen Economic Development Corporation, Allen has been a member of the board since May 2004. 

But while on the STC Board of Trustees, Allen has also been bravely struggling with cancer, yet he has managed – he credits the power of prayer from his many, many friends – to continue his legacy of community service. 

"I have a lot of people to thank, too, but mainly my wife, Theresa. She is the one who, no matter how things looked at different times, she just kept pitching in and pushing," Allen said, referring to his wife’s incredible roles in his life, including helping him battle his cancer, and as well as his successful reelection bid. 

Allen said the STC family is the one which deserves praise for how it has helped reshape the educational and economic landscape of deep South Texas., 

"I think the real issue, though, is the tremendous job that Dr. Reed and her people have done for this college," he said. "Yes, we (STC board of trustees) improve a lot of things, we do things, but the drive and direction come from her and from her people. They are the ones who have pushed this college to the success it has, and I take my hat off to each one of you who are working here." 

"Reluctant politicians

Pat Townsend, a former mayor of Mission who now helps lead that city’s economic development strategies, suggested that public service, not political ambition, is why both STC trustees sought reelection. 

"If you think about how this thing started, it started with reluctance, is the way I’m going to characterize it," Townsend told the gathering. "Both of these gentlemen have served us, and I say ‘us’, our community – this community of South Texas College – but both of them are reluctant politicians. They don’t want to accept that responsibility, they want to do their job as a trustee.  

"So when it came time for this election to take place, to actually put your name on the ballot, and do all the things you have to do as a candidate, neither one of them really wanted to do it," Townsend continued. "I have to tell you that there are a bunch of us here who had to continue to prod and kick and remind them this is a service, but you only have the right to deliver a service through a process that requires an election." 

Townsend credited the two men’s families and business associates for "putting up with the election process and getting six more years. 

"In order for us to function as a community, people have to give back," Townsend said. "I really believe that is what you are doing, and I thank you a lot for your service."

Benavidez echoed Townsend’s sentiments. 

"I know it was a tough election, but we knew that the people understood that the work they have been doing jointly for the years they have been serving has really shown in the policies and the directions that the college is taking," she said. 

For Benavidez, STC’s policies and politics have been part of her life for many years. 

In November 2009, she was sworn in to fill out the term of her late father, Manuel Benavidez, Jr., who had tragically passed away from cancer earlier that year. 

Like Gurwitz, Manuel Benavidez was an appointee of then-Gov. Ann Richards, and was a member of the original STC Board of Trustees. 

"I’m the new kid on the block – the newest board member – but I have to tell you that from day one, they have taken me under their wings, they have been great mentors and great examples for me to follow on the board," said Rose Benavidez. "It will be a pleasure to serve with you for the next few years, until I’m up for election, also." 

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Gov. Perry presents Legislative Medal of Honor to family of Edinburg’s Pvt. Pedro E. Cano

Gov. Rick Perry on Tuesday, May 18,  presented the Texas Legislative Medal of Honor to the family of Pvt. Pedro E. Cano, a Mexican immigrant who served in the U.S. Army during World War II. Cano was killed in a traffic accident in 1956, six years after receiving his American citizenship. 

The event, which was open to the public, was held inside the Edinburg Auditorium. 

“It is my great honor to present to Private Cano’s family the Texas Legislative Medal of Honor in memory of an incredibly brave man,” said Perry. “His gallantry inspires us all and reminds us of the true cost of freedom, a freedom that we can never take for granted.” 

Cano suffered injuries in the line of duty that left him permanently disabled. He was awarded the Purple Heart, two Silver Stars and a Distinguished Service Cross.   

The Texas Legislative Medal of Honor is the highest military decoration that can be awarded to a member of the Texas Military Forces. 

The award was bestowed upon Cano as a result of legislation authored during the Texas legislative session in 2009 by Rep. Aaron Peña, D-Edinburg, and Sen. Juan "Chuy" Hinojosa, D-McAllen. 

The governor’s remarks follow: 

Thank you, Sen. [Chuy] Hinojosa and thank you for your ongoing support of the men and women in our armed forces. 

It is a beautiful day to be here in Edinburg to honor the memory of a true American hero. 

It is hard to believe that it’s been two years since I came to Edinburg to present the Medal of Honor to the family of Freddy González for his valor in the Vietnam war. 

It may be time for a new nickname for Edinburg the “hometown for heroes.” 

When a community produces one highly-decorated combat veteran, it just might be a fluke but producing two warriors of this caliber speaks volumes about the values, the work ethic, and the patriotism of this community. 

The street and school that bear the name of Pedro Cano are a persistent reminder of his sacrifice. However, the valor he displayed in the fight for America’s freedom has not been lost in history because it is alive today in a new generation of warriors who are defending freedom halfway ‘round the world in our armed forces. 

Our nation was blessed by a “greatest generation” that repelled the onslaught of oppression from the Axis powers in World War II and we now have a new “greatest generation” serving in our military today. 

Whether I’ve met them at the military installations across our state or while visiting our troops in the Middle East I have found this new military generation to be every bit as committed and even better-equipped. 

We can never truly repay the sacrifice our service members make but we are fiercely committed to honoring and supporting them and their families and sustaining the special relationship that has long existed between Texas and the military. Like Pedro Cano did, many Texans are returning from the combat zone with wounds some visible and others that go a little deeper. 

As benefactors of their sacrifice, we all have a role to play in ensuring our veterans move smoothly from the field of battle to a life of dignity. 

That’s why I worked with the Legislature during the last session to put measures in place that are helping returning veterans deal with PTSD or traumatic brain injuries. 

I also signed a bill that created mental health programs for veterans including those in which veterans help each other through veteran-to-veteran, or vet-to-vet, groups. 

I also worked with the Legislature and our health agencies to secure an additional $5 million to supplement the $1.2 million from the state budget to expand mental health treatment and support programs for veterans and their families. 

Across the state, those dollars are funding programs that support veterans including expanded trauma therapy and peer-to-peer support groups throughout the state. 

We have also looked out for our veterans by creating a VA claims processing team that has helped clear more than 4,000 claims from Texas veterans that had gotten hung up in the system. 

We do that sort of thing here in Texas because we’re not only obligated to support our veterans and their families, we are honored to do so. 

I applaud Rep. Aaron Peña for his efforts to honor U.S. Army Private Pedro Cano with the passage of House Concurrent Resolution 5 during the 81st Legislative session. 

That resolution tells the story of a young man who left this beautiful town to defend his adopted country and achieved far above and beyond the call of duty. 

For his valorous actions as the Allied forces pushed their way into Germany actions undertaken at great risk to his personal safety in the bloody chaos of the Hurtgen forest Private Pedro Cano set a standard of bravery that bears recognition in the form of the highest honor awarded by the state of Texas. 

It is my great honor to present to Private Cano’s family the Texas Legislative Medal of Honor in memory of an incredibly brave man and favorite son of Edinburg, Texas. 

His gallantry inspires us all and reminds us of the true cost of freedom a freedom that we can never take for granted. 

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Legislation by Rep. Peña, Sen. Hinojosa provides details into bravery of World War II hero Pedro Cano, adopted son of South Texas

By DAVID A. DÍAZ 

According to the U.S. Army, the Distinguished Service Cross is awarded "to a person who, while serving in any capacity with the Army, distinguishes himself by extraordinary heroism; while engaged in an action against an enemy of the United States; while engaged in military operations involving conflict with an opposing/foreign force; or while serving with friendly foreign forces engaged in an armed conflict against an opposing Armed Force in which the United States is not a belligerent party. The act or acts of heroism must have been so notable and have involved risk of life so extraordinary as to set the individual apart from his comrades." 

But for Private Pedro Cano of Edinburg, that national recognition of valor in combat – second only to the Congressional Medal of Honor – was bestowed upon him not by an American political leader or a United States general, but in an astonishingly humble way – via the U.S. mail.  

That episode, along with other events that were truly a worthy portrayal of an American hero, are detailed in legislation by Rep. Aaron Peña, D-Edinburg, and Sen. Juan "Chuy" Hinojosa, D-McAllen, approved by the Texas Legislature in 2009 that led to the May 18 arrival to Edinburg of Gov. Rick Perry, who posthumously bestowed Texas’ highest medal of valor upon Cano. 

That resolution, which was signed by Perry, follows: 

HOUSE CONCURRENT RESOLUTION   

WHEREAS, The Texas Legislative Medal of Honor was established to honor gallant and intrepid service by a member of the state or federal military forces, and through his courageous actions in World War II, United States Army Private Pedro Cano distinguished himself as a worthy recipient of this prestigious award; and 

WHEREAS, Born to Nicholasa González Cano and Secundino Cano on July 7, 1920, in Nuevo León, Mexico, Pedro Cano moved with his family to Texas as an infant and spent the rest of his life, except for his time in the Army, in the Rio Grande Valley; and  

WHEREAS, After joining the armed forces during World War II, Private Cano was deployed to Europe, where he fought with the 4th Infantry Division; in December 1944, he was advancing with his company near Schevenhutte, Germany, when they came under withering fire from German machine guns; with his comrades pinned down, Private Cano worked his way forward alone, through a hail of fire and over more than 100 yards of heavily mined terrain, until he was within 30 feet of the nearest German emplacement; firing one round with his hand-held rocket launcher, he destroyed the position and killed its two gunners and five supporting riflemen; he then moved on toward a second emplacement, which he attacked with his rifle and hand grenades, killing several more soldiers; and  

WHEREAS, With another American company nearby similarly immobilized, Private Cano crept to within 15 yards of a third emplacement, killed its two gunners with a rocket, and then destroyed yet another emplacement and killed its gunners, enabling that company to also advance; and  

WHEREAS, The next day, the Americans once more encountered heavy German resistance, and Private Cano again moved forward alone with his bazooka; crossing open, fire-swept ground, he succeeded in suppressing three more machine-gun positions and killing their gunners, bringing to nearly 30 the number of German soldiers he killed during that two-day period; and  

WHEREAS, Sometime later, while on patrol, Private Cano and his platoon were surprised by German soldiers, who inflicted heavy casualties; Private Cano lay motionless on the ground until the assailants closed in, then tossed a grenade into their midst, wounding or killing all of them; and  

WHEREAS, It was in this engagement, or shortly afterward, that Pedro Cano sustained injuries that left him permanently disabled; in addition to a Purple Heart, he was awarded two Silver Stars and a Distinguished Service Cross, the nation’s second-highest award for valor; of the more than 16,100,000 individuals who served in the U.S. armed forces during World War II, only 5,059 were recognized with the DSC; and 

WHEREAS, Mr. Cano’s most illustrious medal arrived at his home near Edinburg in the mail, prompting area citizens to plan a formal ceremony, complete with numerous other festivities; on April 26, 1946, Pedro Cano Day, some 4,000 local residents turned out to witness General Jonathan M. Wainwright present the medal to the former private; also present on the dais were other high-ranking American and Mexican military officers, as well as civil officials and several other Rio Grande Valley military heroes; in his remarks, General Wainwright declared that he believed Pedro Cano actually deserved the highest recognition of all, the Medal of Honor; and  

WHEREAS, In May 1946, Mr. Cano realized a longtime aspiration when he received his American citizenship; six years later, on June 24, 1952, he was killed in a traffic accident; survived by his wife, Herminia Garza Cano, his daughters, Dominga and María, and his son, Susano, Pedro Cano was buried with military honors in Edinburg, where today a street and an elementary school both bear his name; and  

WHEREAS, Pedro Cano repeatedly risked his life to save the lives of his fellow soldiers and to help advance their mission, and for his extraordinary heroism he is most assuredly deserving of this state’s supreme military award; now, therefore, be it  

RESOLVED, That the 81st Legislature of the State of Texas hereby posthumously confer the Texas Legislative Medal of Honor on Pedro Cano in recognition of his courageous actions in World War II and express to his family its deepest appreciation on behalf of all his fellow Texans; and, be it further  

RESOLVED, That an official copy of this resolution be prepared for Mr. Cano’s family as an expression of highest regard by the Texas House of Representatives and Senate.  

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Fifteen Edinburg military men gave their lives for America’s freedom during war in Vietnam

"If there’s a generation of veterans that have had a tough row to hoe, it’s the Vietnam generation.”  

– Eric Shinseki, Secretary of Veterans Affairs

By TRETO GARZA 

The words spoken by Sec. Eric Shinseki are true and most Vietnam veterans welcome the recognitions afforded them by this statement.   

Vietnam veterans did not get the reception and/or government benefits afforded to present day veterans. Most veterans continue on their day-to-day life routine.  Most refer to it as " it don’t matter, its just a ‘Nam thing,"  

We are asking news organizations to at least mention the total of men and women that were lost in Vietnam. If possible by listing all the names by city. Just about every community in the Rio Grande Valley lost someone in Vietnam.  

Rio Grande Valley Casualties

VIETNAM  

146 total  

NEVER FORGET   

Edinburg  (15)

  • Pfc. Luis Ángel Alaniz
  • Pfc. Juan Leonardo Contreras
  • LtJg. Edward Pillow Cooper
  • Ssgt. Teodora Ávila
  • Pvt.  Victoriano Espinoza
  • Lcpl. José Manuel Gómez
  • Sgt. Alfredo González (Medal of Honor)
  • Cpl. Florentino Martínez, Jr.
  • Sp4 Rafael Martínez
  • Lcpl. Jaime Arturo Salinas
  • Sfc. Roy Rodríguez Salinas
  • Lcpl. Nolan Lester Simmons
  • Sp4 Noé Tamez
  • Lcpl. Homero Eluid Tijerina
  • Cpt. Joseph Michael Weisher  

McAllen (12)  

  • MSF Samuel Almendáriz
  • Pfc. Julian Martínez Álvarez
  • LTC John Sidney Bonner, Jr.
  • LCdr. Virgil King Cameron
  • Col. William Edward Campbell
  • ADJ3 José Pablo Ramos
  • Pfc. Arturo Rodríguez
  • Pfc. George Ramiro Sosa
  • Pfc. José Benigno Tijerina
  • Ssg. Carlos V. Treviño
  • Cpl. Juan Valenzuela
  • 1st Lt. Jack Allen Whetsel, Jr. 

Harlingen  (23)  

  • Pfc. Francisco Javier Borrego-Ruiz
  • Lcpl. José Luis Caballero
  • Ssg Henry Chamberlain
  • Lcpl. Stephen Gran Conner
  • Cpl. Julian Garza Cordero
  • Ssg. Fernando de la Cruz
  • Pfc. José María Flores
  • Pfc. Pedro Gallardo García
  • Cpl. Rodolfo Marciano González
  • Ssg. Christopher A. Grosse, Jr.
  • 2nd Lt. George Gutiérrez, Jr.
  • 1st Lt William S. Hargrove
  • Ssg.  Kenneth Eugene Helems
  • Ssg.  Antonio Milstead
  • Pfc. Gilberto Méndez Molina
  • Ssg. Manuel Jesús Moreida
  • Pfc.Franciso Hernández Moreno
  • Pfc. Elias Salazar, Jr.
  • Ssgt. Juan Óscar Sánchez
  • Ssg. Wilberto Cabrera Sánchez 
  • Sp4 Donald Paul Schultz
  • Sgt. Óscar Abrego Solis
  • SFC William Carrell Weaver

 Brownsville  (22)  

  • Cpl. Benito Alvaniz
  • Lcpl. Alberto Domínguez Jr.
  • Pfc. Francisco García
  • Spc. Jimmy Lee Myers
  • Sp4 José Manuel Pérez
  • Sp4 Roberto Rocha, Jr.
  • Sp4 Abelardo Vera
  • Sp4 José Francisco Arroyo
  • Capt. Carlos Albert Estrada, Jr.
  • Sp4 Atanacio Gómez, Jr.
  • Pfc. Antonio Morales, Jr.
  • Pfc. Anthony Pérez 
  • Cpl. David Zachary Post, Jr.
  • Sp4 Miguel A. Rubalcaba-López
  • Ssg David Bernard Williams
  • Lcpl. Alberto Ángel Ávalos
  • Sgt. Roberto G. Flores
  • Pfc. Gordon Elliott Guillett
  • Capt. Walter Stephen Mullen
  • Lcpl. Israel Pérez
  • Ssg Teófilo Carmona Ríos 
  • 1s Lt. José Carlos Santos  

  San Benito (12)  

  • Lcpl. Donald Ray Allen
  • CWO Ross Owen Barlow
  • Lcpl. Robert Arnold Corkill
  • Ssg. Genaro Garza
  • Cpl. Antonio Hernández
  • Sp5 Sigifredo Montalvo, Jr.
  • Pfc. Antonio Morado
  • Pfc. Alberto L. Pérez
  • Sgt. Julian Robles Rodríguez
  • Cpl. Timoteo Muñiz Santiago, Jr.
  • Sp4 Rodolfo Villafranco
  • Ssgt. Rolando Villarreal  

   Mission  (11)  

  • Capt. Travis Richard Crockett
  • AN Ramón Garza
  • Ssg. Carlos Saavedra González
  • Ssg. Bobby Glenn Harris
  • Cpl. Walter Merl Lankford, Jr.
  • Ssg. Antonio López, Jr.
  • Sgt. Noé Magallan
  • Pfc. Jesús Martínez
  • Cpl. Francisco Quintanilla, Jr.
  • Ssgt. Mercedes Pérez Salinas
  • Pfc. Jorge Vargas  

Mercedes  (9)  

  • Lcpl. John Doss Allen
  • Sp4 Arturo García
  • Sp5 Edelmiro Leonel García, Jr.
  • Pfc. Tomás Marroquín, Jr.
  • Sp4 Isidro Treviño
  • Pfc. Pedro Martínez
  • Sp4 Guadalupe Prado, Jr.
  • Sgt. Harold Ray Reeves
  • Pfc. Rodolfo Martínez Sáenz  

Weslaco  (9)  

  • Lcpl. Javier Becerra
  • Capt. James Calvin Caston
  • Ssgt. Joe Daniel Dunn
  • Cpl. Robert Bradford Hays
  • Cpl. Roberto Pérez
  • Lcpl. Rubén Rivera
  • Ssgt. José Antonio Rosas
  • Ssgt. Jesús García Sepúlveda
  • Pfc. Mario Ybarra  

 Rio Grande City (4)

  • Pfc. Joel Rodríguez
  • Sgt. Francisco Álvarez
  • Pfc. José Antonio Hinojosa
  • Sp4 Eloy Rubén Valle  

 Donna (4)  

  • Lcpl. Guadalupe Masios Álvarez
  • Pfc. Juan Benítez
  • Pfc. Rafael De León, Jr.
  • Cpl. Raúl García, Jr.  

 Raymondville  (3)  

  • Pfc. Óscar Anzaldúa
  • Pfc. Higinio Ovalle Oviedo
  • Pfc. José A. Sauceda  

 Edcouch (3)  

  • Pfc. Guadalupe Lerma
  • Cpl. Rodolfo Valdéz
  • Pfc. David Ybarra    

Pharr  (3)  

  • Pfc. Joel Corona
  • Ssg. Joe Robert De Bault
  • Sgt. Vicente Quintanilla Rodríguez  

 Roma  (2)  

  • Pfc. Ángel Sosa Moreno
  • Pfc. José Raymundo Lozano   

Elsa (2)

  • Richard Guinn Crossland
  • Sp4 Extrumerbto Solis  

 Los Fresnos (2)  

  • Sgt. James Patrick Riggins
  • Cpl. José Luis Rivas  

 La Grulla (1)  

  • Alberto Ortiz, Jr.  

Hidalgo (1)  

  • Cpl. Óscar Cruz González   

 La Feria (1)

  • Sp4 Francis LeRoy Maples  

 Los Ebanos  (1)  

  • Sfc. José García   

 Lyford  (1)  

  • Ssg. Glen Dorse Lofton   

 Alamo  (1)  

  • WO James Ernest  

 Port Isabel  (1)  

  • Pfc. Adolfo Martínez Bejarano  

 Primera  (1)  

  • Pfc. Adán Serna Najar  

 San Juan  (1)  

  • Pfc. Edwin Russell Grissett, Jr.  

 Santa Rosa  (1)  

  • Sgt. Alberto Torres Anzaldúa   

 Sebastian (1)  

  • Cpl. Martín Cavazos  

 

•••••• 

State agencies ordered to find 10 percent cuts in their budgets to go into effect September 2011

By TRACY YOUNG 

Gov. Rick Perry, Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst and House Speaker Joe Straus – all Republicans – on Friday, May 28, sent a letter directing the process by which each state agency will develop its legislative appropriations request for the 2012-2013 biennial budget. Those requests will be submitted to the governor and Legislative Budget Board between August 2 and 30.  

The 2012 – 2013 biennial budgets for state agencies will cover the period of September 1, 2011 through August 31, 2013. 

The Legislative Budget Board, which includes Sen. Juan "Chuy" Hinojosa, D-McAllen and Rep. René Oliveira, D-Brownsville, is made up of 10 state leaders – including Dewhurst and Straus – who

provide the Texas Legislature with the recommended state budget, prepared by the LBB staff, at the beginning of each legislative session. 

The Texas Legislature returns to work for its five-month regular session in early January 2011. 

The letter also directs agencies to submit a supplemental schedule detailing how they would reduce their baseline request by an additional 10 percent (in five percent increments) in general revenue-related funding.  

“As we move into the upcoming budget cycle, state leadership will continue to identify ways to trim spending, just as families and businesses across the state have done, in order to balance our budget,” Perry said. “This request for 10 percent reduction proposals for the next biennium builds on our ongoing call on state agencies to tighten their belts so Texas can continue our commitment to keep taxes low, attract businesses and create jobs as we continue to lead the way out of the national economic downturn.” 

This notification provides a starting point for state agencies as they prepare their budget requests for the 82nd Legislative Session. It is similar in scope to directives provided by leadership in previous years to begin the budget writing process.  

“Texans demand the same kind of fiscal responsibility with their tax dollars that they exercise at home with their hard earned money. Now is not the time to waver from the conservative budgeting decisions we’ve made over the past eight years that have kept taxes among the lowest in the nation, our economy outpacing the rest of the country and helped make our state a national leader in job creation,” Dewhurst said. “While we face challenges to our budget, Texans can rest assured we will preserve essential services as we identify further savings for taxpayers.” 

The letter also details certain exceptions to the baseline request limitation, including funding for the Foundation School Program, funding to satisfy debt service requirements for bond authorizations, and funds to maintain eligibility in Medicaid entitlement programs, the Children’s Health Insurance Program and the foster care program, among others. 

“These requests are a continuation of efforts to meet our constitutional duty to balance the state budget,” Straus said. “We take our responsibility to Texas taxpayers very seriously, and I believe, together, we can make the necessary choices to help the Texas economy rebound and grow stronger.”  

To view the Republican leadership’s letter to state agencies, please visit: 

http://www.lbb.state.tx.us/LAR/LAR_Policy_Letter.pdf  

To view the LBB’s instructions to state agencies, please visit:

http://www.lbb.state.tx.us/LAR/LAR.htm  

•••••• 

Sen. Hutchison, Sen. Cornyn blame 43 Democrats for blocking amendment seeking $3 billion in new money for border security

U.S. Sen. John Cornyn and Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison  – both Republicans from Texas – on Thursday, May 27, blamed 43 Senate Democrats for killing an amendment to the supplemental appropriations bill, which would have provided significant new money to help secure the nation’s border with Mexico.  

Cornyn had introduced a border security measure, cosponsored by Hutchison and U.S. Senator Jon Kyl, R-Arizona, which would have provided $3 billion for initiatives ranging from increasing border security equipment and personnel to helping state and local law enforcement agencies with border enforcement. 

Cornyn’s amendment, he noted, would not have added to the federal budget deficit because the costs would have been offset by unspent economic stimulus funds. 

Although 54 senators voted for the amendment, it failed to reach the 60-vote threshold to pass and was voted down by a group of 43 Democrats, Cornyn explained. 

“My colleagues keep repeating the White House talking points and congratulating themselves on all they’ve done for border security, but it’s not enough,” said Cornyn. “Visit the border, senators, and see for yourselves. Talk to law enforcement. It’s not enough. My amendment gives law enforcement the tools and technology they need to meet this threat.” 

A few days earlier, President Obama announced his proposal to provide up to 1,200 members of the National Guard across a 2,000 mile border, which only adds one guardsman for every 1.6 miles of border. Under the President’s plan, Cornyn said, if illegal border crossings happen at the same rate as in recent years, there will be 450 illegal crossing for each new National Guardsman.  

“It is unfortunate that many of my Democratic Senate colleagues opposed taking concrete steps to secure our borders and to protect our communities from the violence associated with narco-terrorism and drug and arms trafficking,” said Hutchison. “The President’s call for an additional 1,200 National Guard troops to be sent to the Southwest border falls considerably short of meeting our need for more forces on the border. Texas alone has requested 1,000 National Guard – so spreading 1,200 National Guard over four states is an insufficient response.” 

On the Senate floor on May 27, Cornyn pointed out that Obama’s proposal is an unacceptable short-term solution to a long-term problem. 

Cornyn’s amendment to the Supplemental Appropriations Act, 2010 (H.R. 4899) would correct the "misplaced priorities" of the Obama Administration, dedicating "robust funding for border security and ensuring the President commits the necessary resources to the Southwest border." 

Cornyn’s amendment also would provide resources for federal, state, and local law enforcement officers who work on the frontlines of the U.S.-Mexico border every day.  More specifically, Cornyn’s amendment would fund six important priorities involving border security, which include border security and technology, state and local law enforcement, southwest border taskforces, border  enforcement personnel, detention and removal activities, and ports of entry.  

“Our broken borders must be fixed, and it must be a national priority,” said Hutchison. “This concern is highlighted by the news today that the Department of Homeland Security has alerted Texas law enforcement officials that a suspected member of a Somalia-based al-Qaeda ally may be entering the United States illegally through the Mexican border. This illustrates the national security implications of our porous border. The Senate missed an important opportunity to address this problem, but I will continue the fight to secure our borders.” 

U.S. Senator John McCain (R-Ariz.) introduced a measure, cosponsored by Hutchison, Cornyn, and Kyl, to fund the deployment of 6,000 National Guard troops to the southwest border. The cost of the measure would have been offset by unobligated stimulus funds. 

•••••• 

McAllen Medical Center launches program to allow EMS personnel to transmit vital medical data to hospital about heart attack victims

By DALINDA GUILLEN 

McAllen Heart Hospital announced on Tuesday, May 25, that they have newly implemented the LIFENET System from Physio-Control.  

The first web-based system of its kind, this new solution has the goal of reducing door-to-balloon (D2B) times for patients in the upper Rio Grande Valley who experience a dangerous form of heart attack known as STEMI (ST elevation myocardial infarction).  

STEMI poses a serious threat to the heart muscle, and the quicker patients receive treatment the more likely they are to have a positive outcome. 

The LIFENET System is designed to share patient data between Emergency Medical Services (EMS) responders and hospital care teams.  Hospitals now have the ability to standardize the management of chest pain cases regardless of the monitoring equipment used by EMS in the field. This helps hospital teams prepare for incoming patients and reduces the amount of time that patients wait for care. 

LIFENET is designed to link time-critical transmission and alerts of a potential STEMI patient’s 12-lead ECG data from EMS to the awaiting hospital care team. While the patient is in transit, the hospital staff can review the patient’s baseline ECG report and status updates, determine where to route the patient, and whether to activate a catheterization laboratory. 

“The LIFENET System encourages improved communication between our emergency medical services personnel, physicians and nursing staff so that together, we can further enhance the care we are able to provide to STEMI patients,” says Mike Adams, Chief Operations Officer at McAllen Heart Hospital. “McAllen Heart Hospital is proud to be the first facility in Hidalgo County using this latest digital technology.” 

The system helps manage care for STEMI patients by alerting care teams and transmitting diagnostic-quality ECGs via a secure web-based STEMI alert system to everyone involved in the patient’s care. 

The system allows paramedics in the field transmit ECGs to physicians and nurses at McAllen Heart Hospital so they can prepare for the patient’s arrival while the patient is being transported so D2B time is reduced and heart muscle can be saved. 

“Studies show that time from onset of symptoms to treatment, usually stent placement or angioplasty, is critical to improving survival and outcomes for these patients,” said Sandra L. Martinez, RN, BSN, McAllen Heart Hospital System Chest Pain and Lead Stroke Coordinator. “Having the LIFENET System will enable us to achieve better patient outcomes by further streamlining care and reducing DB2 times.” 

•••••• 

South Texas College student Rey Leal, Jr. profiled by CNN for his combat photography

By HELEN J. ESCOBAR 

South Texas College student and Iraqi veteran Rey Leal Jr. of Edinburg was recently featured on CNN’s web site in a story entitled Facing enemy fire from behind the lens. The broadcast story profiles the prolific images captured by Leal during his tours in Iraq. Having served in the Marine Corps as an infantryman from 2004 to 2008, he witnessed some of the heaviest fighting during Operation Iraqi Freedom and captured the behind-the-scenes moments that ordinary Americans rarely see.  

“By the time I joined the Marine Corps, I always had my camera with me,” he said. ”When you look at the news, when you look at newspapers, you always see not the worst, but you always see the action," said Leal. "You never see the calm before the storm. A lot of the stuff I did was not actual combat, it was just the stuff we did; the down time, the stuff you never see.  

“I’m always careful to not want to romanticize anything because war is not something to be romanticized. War is ugly in the end,” Leal said in the CNN story. “Sometimes you need a person that’s gone through it to tell you, this is real life. So if a photographer is there and he’s documenting Iwo Jima, Guadalcanal, it’s very easy to forget that he’s not going to his rifle – the enemy isn’t not gonna shoot him. The only reason we know, the only reason we have these iconic images is guys like that. Their job was to document and  they took their jobs seriously. And even in the face of extreme danger, they still did their job and they did it well. And they are dodging bullets, dodging mortars, taking that photo. Not for fame, not for fortune, but because the people back home need to see this.”   

Back in the U.S., Leal is working to make a better life for him and his family.  

“Veterans who come back home not only bring with them unique experiences and memories from the battle field, but they also return with a strong commitment to continue serving their fellow man,” he explained. “It took me a while to address my issues with PTSD once I had been discharged, but once I looked for help, I realized that going to college was the only way to get ahead in life. For me, earning my degree and working hard is the best way to continue serving my country and honor my fallen brothers. The men I served with in Iraq, like my squad leader Sgt. Kirk, who didn’t make it back are my inspiration. They never got the chance to do what I’m doing now so I feel like I owe it to them to succeed.”  

Leal has been studying chemistry at STC and plans to transfer to The University of Texas-Pan American next year to earn a bachelor’s degree in environmental science. He is also very active in campus life, which gives him a chance to build on his commitment to service.  

“I think it’s important to get our youth excited about scientific discovery, and this is one of the reasons I joined STC’s Pecan Campus Chemistry Club. Our student organization travels to elementary schools to perform science demos to spark children’s interest in science, and I am proud to be able to teach these students about the value of education,” Leal said.  

“I am also the president of STC’s Veteran’s Association. We’re actively involved in serving our community and fellow veterans,” he explained. “In fact, we started a scholarship fund for qualifying veteran students. It all started about a year ago, when I was looking for a way to give back to other vets. I couldn’t figure out what type of project or initiative would have the most impact. The answer came to me after I led a march to San Antonio with a friend of mine, Jesús Bocanegra, to help raise awareness about the health care needs of veterans in the Valley. During the march, we received so many donations from that we decided to put the extra funds to good use by creating a scholarship for veterans at STC.”  

•••••• 

Congressman Hinojosa secures $950,000 for AVANCE, Inc. for its Head Start programs in Hidalgo County and Val Verde County 

By PATRICIA GUILLERMO 

U.S. Rep. Rubén Hinojosa, D-Mercedes, on Friday, May 28, announced the national non-profit, AVANCE, Inc. has been awarded $950,000 by the Department of Health and Human Services for their Early Head Start Program in Hidalgo and Val Verde Counties with Hidalgo County receiving 70% of the grant. The funding is part of a competitive grant created under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) of 2009.  

“AVANCE is a great partner in our efforts to help educate and prepare the youngest of our children for their future,” said Hinojosa. “In Hidalgo County, as well as all over the country, AVANCE’s work is vital in strengthening families and promoting early childhood education.”  

The grant will provide programming support to Hidalgo  County through 2011. Specifically, 70 low-income families with infants and toddlers and pregnant women will be served in Hidalgo County and 30 in Val Verde County.  

“I believe that it is never too early to begin educating a child and as far as I am concerned the sooner the better," said Hinojosa. “We must continue to invest in our children’s future by making certain that all of our children are school ready when that first school bell rings.”  

The Early Head Start program was created 16 years ago after research supported the vital role that care plays within the early years of a child’s life.  

Since 1973, AVANCE has been providing innovative education and family support services to predominately Hispanic families in underprivileged communities. The program is dedicated to promoting school readiness and supporting family engagement.  

••••••  

Sen. Zaffirini: As of June 1, failure to secure child in booster seat is prosecutable offense

By WILL KRUEGER 

Sen. Judith Zaffirini, D-Laredo, is reminding Texans that as of Tuesday, June 1, failure to secure a child in a booster seat will be a prosecutable offense. The change is a result of Senate Bill (SB) 61 (2009) by Zaffirini, which requires that a child younger than 8 be secured in a child passenger safety seat, unless the child is taller than four feet, nine inches. 

"Each year more than 1,600 children die in vehicular accidents, which is the leading cause of unintentional, injury-related death among children 14 years and younger," Zaffirini said."Research demonstrates overwhelmingly that booster seats save lives." 

SB 61, which went into effect on September 1, is expected to reduce by 59 percent children’s risk of serious head, spinal cord or internal organ injuries. 

Law enforcement officers have been issuing warnings to violators since September, but beginning June 1, violations will result in a $25 fine for a first offense and up to $250 for subsequent violations. 

"Drivers have additional responsibility when they are carrying our most precious cargo," Zaffirini said. "Fining violators will raise awareness and discourage unsafe habits. What’s more, the funds generated by the citations will help the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) provide booster seats to low-income families. 

"It is my prayer that no child dies or is injured because he or she was not secured properly in a moving vehicle," the Laredo senator added. 

Many local police and fire departments will check car seats free to ensure that they are installed properly.  

Additional information regarding booster seat requirements can be obtained via: 

http://www.txdps.state.tx.us/director_staff/public_information/carseat.htm

••••••  

Rep. Riddle to file bill to require photo ID or two forms of non-photo ID for voting in Texas

By JON ENGLISH 

Rep. Debbie Riddle, R-Houston, on Wednesday, May 26, announced that she will once again file ballot security legislation that would require Texas voters to show a photo ID or two forms of non-photo ID at a polling place.  

Riddle, who filed similar legislation in both 2007 and 2009, said her recent trip to Iraq as an election observer strengthened her resolve to file the bill this November in preparation for the upcoming legislative session.  

“The Iraqi people risked their lives to cast their vote, they endured extremely stringent identification standards, and not only did they not complain but they were excited to be participating in a democracy,” Riddle said. “It was a reminder to me that the spirit of our own republic is no less alive. I believe the people of Texas value their right to vote, and I believe they will gladly take whatever steps are necessary to protect the integrity of our system.”  

Public support for the bill has been high in the past. A 2008 Rasmussen poll showed 88 percent of likely voters backed a Voter ID measure. Riddle thinks that number is even higher today in light of pending investigations regarding voter fraud stemming from the 2008 elections.  

“Almost everyone is currently carrying a form of ID that would allow them to vote, and for those that aren’t, the bill would let you get one for free,” Riddle said. “When you weigh that against evidence of widespread voter registration fraud by groups such as ACORN, I think it’s only common sense for us to take our ballot security as seriously as the wrongdoers take voter fraud.” 

•••••• 

Bullard Construction and State Wide Roofing donate expertise, supplies to build access ramp for Edinburg boy who needs to use wheelchair 

By DALINDA GUILLEN 

Nine-year-old Jonathan Lerma of Edinburg on Monday, May 24, was able to return home from the hospital in his new wheelchair after an access ramp was graciously donated by two local businesses.   

Upon learning of the boy’s need, Bullard Construction and State Wide Roofing collaborated to provide the materials and labor to help build a ramp for Jonathan’s home while he underwent inpatient therapy at Edinburg Regional Rehab Center.  

The materials and labor were significant as they did not only include the people to build the ramp, but also the time and effort to design a ramp that meets requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act.   

“It’s for a good cause, and it’s obviously a sad situation; but, we wanted to do something for [Jonathan],” explained Donato “Donut” Amaya of State Wide Roofing.  

Jonathan’s mother, Beatrice Lerma, was very appreciative for all of the time and hard work that went into helping her son.   

“We are very grateful to them [Bullard Construction and State Wide Roofing] and the hospital staff for the care they provided my son,” she said during a visit at their home from the donors and hospital staff.  

Edinburg Regional Rehab Center Social Worker and Case Manager Rubicella Salazar and Edinburg City Councilmember Gus García presented State Wide Roofing and Dan Ogletree of Bullard Construction with a certificate of appreciation for their generous donations during a welcome home visit at the Lerma’s.    

“I think it’s fantastic that some of our local businessmen are joining in to help out,” García commented. “It’s just an example of the fine leadership we have here in the community.  It’s an unfortunate situation but when people come together like this, it makes it that much more bearable.”  

•••••• 

South Texas Literacy Coalition, led by District Clerk Hinojosa, presents donation to Texas State Technical College to develop RIF book

By RICARDO CONTRERAS 

The South Texas Literacy Coalition (STLC) on Thursday, May 27, presented a $2,100 check to the Education and Training Program at Texas State Technical College (TSTC).  

The funding, which will go towards the development of TSTC’s Reading is Fundamental (RIF) Book Distribution Program, will serve as matching funds to supplement RIF’s initial investment in the total cost of the project.  

“The South Texas Literacy Coalition is proud to support TSTC’s efforts in fostering a culture of literacy in our community,” said Hidalgo County District Clerk Laura Hinojosa, who also serves as STLC president. “We commend TSTC for their leadership and initiative in making literacy resources more easily accessible to the children and families who need them most.”   

RIF, a partner of the STLC and the oldest and largest children’s and family nonprofit literacy organization in the United States, approved earlier this year TSTC’s application to coordinate a 10-site book distribution program serving more than 2,200 children. The sites include six Head Start Centers and one Early Head Start center in Harlingen, Ben Milam Elementary in Harlingen, and both Rio Hondo Elementary and Intermediate in Rio Hondo, Texas.  

This donation allows for books to be put directly in the hands of our local area children,” said Dr. Tony Desjardins, TSTC’s Book for Ownership Coordinator.  “We thank the South Texas Literacy Coalition for their generosity and fully support the STLC’s mission of promoting a culture of literacy throughout South Texas.”  

The STLC, established in 2008, is a nonprofit organization working to enhance learning opportunities for all of South Texas by insuring all children and families have access to strong integrated literacy services and resources. For more information regarding the STLC, log on to http://www.southtexasliteracy.org.  

••••••   

Edinburg’s Market Day, scheduled for Saturday, June 5, postponed until the fall

By EVANA VLECK 

Edinburg’s "Market Day", a planned monthly service of the Edinburg Chamber of Commerce and the Edinburg Convention and Visitors Bureau which was set to kick off on Saturday, June 5, has been postponed until the fall. 

Until those dates are set, the local chamber will continue to accept vendor applications for setting up booths for when Market Day begins in earnest.  

Market Day – scheduled for the first Saturday of every month – is designed to help revitalize businesses in that key section of the city, assist small entrepreneurs, and provide family entertainment, according to Edna Peña, a "Market Day" committee member who also serves on the local chamber’s board of directors. "Market Day" will be free to the public, who will be able to purchase various items that will be offered by area vendors.  

Business owners who wish to sell their products and services during "Market Day" may set up a booth for a $25 fee. Any one interested in participating in "Market Day" may contact the  

For more information, residents and prospective vendors may contact the local chamber at 956/383-4974 or by logging on at http://www.Edinburg.com.  

••••••  

McAllen woman sentenced to federal prison for impersonating as a U.S. immigration officer

By ANGELA DODGE 

A McAllen woman’s scheme to solicit thousands of dollars to provide immigration documents while posing as an immigration official has landed her in federal prison without parole, United States Attorney José Ángel Moreno announced on Tuesday, May 25. 

Jennifer Martínez, 36, was sentenced to 57 months in federal prison without parole and ordered to pay $236,430 in restitution to numerous persons victimized by her scheme following a hearing in Houston on May 26 before United States District Judge Vanessa D. Gilmore. 

Martínez has been in custody without bond since her November 2009 arrest and will remain in custody pending a transfer to a Bureau of Prisons facility where she will serve out her sentence.  

Upon release, the court has ordered Martínez serve a three-year-term of supervised release. 

The arrest of Martínez in November 2009 is the result of an 18 month-investigation by special agents of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) which was initiated following the receipt of a complaint alleging misconduct by a Jennifer Martínez, who was purportedly an immigration service employee selling immigration documents in Alamo.  

Through their investigation, ICE agents determined Martínez was not employed by the United States and did not have the ability to assist anyone through the immigration process, but had nonetheless posed as a federal immigration officer and fraudulently obtained thousands of dollars from a number of victims between January 2007 and November 2009 for immigration documents that were never delivered. None of the contact information provided by Martínez to the victims was viable; however, through business records, investigators confirmed thousands of dollars in money wire transfers to Martínez.  

At her re-arraignment hearing, Martínez admitted to having executed the fraud scheme and to specifically having defrauded one victim whom she met at the Galleria in Houston of $3,000 in May 2009 by representing herself as an immigration officer and promising to provide immigration documents for the victim’s husband. The money was wire transferred by the victim from Houston to Martínez in Pharr. 

This case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney James McAlister.   

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