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The Texas Secretary of State on Thursday, September 6, certified that R.D. "Bobby" Guerra, D-Sharyland, is declared elected as the new state representative for House District 41 and will serve the unexpired term of former Rep. Verónica Gonzáles, D-McAllen, which ends in mid-January 2013. Guerra, the Democratic Party nominee who also is seeking a full two-year term in the November 6 general election, was the only candidate to file for the special election to fill the unexpired term for District 41, which includes southwest Edinburg, north, central, southeast and portions of west McAllen, Palmhurst, Sharyland, Alton, and a portion of northwest Pharr. Guerra, an attorney, is facing Miriam Martínez, R-Edinburg, a small business owner and international journalist, in the November 6 general election for the new two-year term that begins in mid-January 2013. All state representatives serve two-year terms. "Being declared state representative for District 41 to serve the unexpired term in the Texas House is a tremendous honor for me. I am truly grateful for the overwhelming community support I have received for the privilege of wanting me to represent our Valley families," said Guerra. See story later in this posting.

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The appointment of Democrat Bobby Guerra to finish the final months of former Rep. Verónica Gonzáles’ term in the Texas House of Representative has little value for South Texans, says Miriam Martínez, the Republican nominee for House District 41. The Texas Secretary of State on Thursday, September 6, certified that R.D. "Bobby" Guerra, D-Sharyland, is declared elected as the new state representative for House District 41 and will finish out the final months of Gonzáles’ term, which ends in mid-January 2013. Guerra was the only person to file paperwork with the Texas Secretary of State to complete the remaining portion of Gonzáles’ term, which became vacant on June 30, when Gonzáles, a Democrat, retired from the Texas House of Representatives in order to take a $170,000-a-year job with the University of Texas-Pan American. "I remain on the general election ballot, and that is what is most important," said Martínez, R-Edinburg. House District 41 includes southwest Edinburg, north, central, southeast and portions of west McAllen, Palmhurst, Sharyland, Alton, and a portion of northwest Pharr. See story later in this posting.

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The Boys & Girls Clubs of Edinburg RGV on Tuesday, September 4, received a city proclamation recognizing Saturday, September 15, as Boys & Girls Clubs Day for Kids. BGC Day for Kids is an annual event highlighting the value of meaningful time between caring adults and children. This year, in celebration of Boys & Girls Clubs Day for Kids, The Boys & Girls Clubs of Edinburg RGV  is partnering with H-E-B and the Edinburg Rotary Club to host a family cooking demonstration on Friday, September 21, from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at The Legacy Center@Boys & Girls Clubs of Edinburg RGV, located at 702 Cullen Street (near the intersection of Rogers Road and U.S. Expressway 281). Featured during the city ceremony on September 4 are, front row, from left: Carrie Gutiérrez, Devin López, Alex Castillo, Carina Espinoza, and Abigail González. Second row, from left: Dazzrae López, Jaime Vega, Amaya Hernández, Ashley Garza, Miguel Espinoza, and Araceli Valencia, Program Supervisor, Boys & Girls Clubs Edinburg RGV. Third row, from left: Armando Chapa, Rotarian; Beverly Land, Rotarian; and Sabrina Walker-Hernández, Chief Operating Officer, Boys & Girls Clubs of Edinburg RGV. Back row, from left: Mayor Pro Tem Agustín "Gus" García; Eddie Villanueva, Members, Board of Directors, Boys & Girls Clubs of Edinburg RGV; Councilmember Elías Longoria, Jr.; Mayor Richard García; Councilmember Homer Jasso, Jr.; Councilmember J.R. Betancourt; and Michael Le Coste, Member, Board of Directors, Boys & Girls Clubs of Edinburg RGV.

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U.S. Expressway 281, which is the main transportation corridor linking the Valley and Mexico to major cities in Texas and beyond – plus the proactive approach by Edinburg’s city leadership in helping existing and prospective businesses – were among the key messages delivered on Wednesday, September 5, during the first annual International Business and Franchise Investment Expo. The event, hosted by the Edinburg Economic Development Corporation, drew more than 160 local, state and Mexican business, community and government leaders to the gathering, held at the Edinburg Conference Center at Renaissance. Among the speakers and organizers of the expo were, from left: Adrian A. Arriaga, CCIM, CIPS, broker/owner of AAA Real Estate and Investments; Guillermo Canedo, who leads the City of Edinburg’s office in Monterrey, Mexico; Nelda T. Ramírez, Executive Director, Edinburg Economic Development Corporation; Letty Reyes, Project Manager, Edinburg Economic Development Corporation; Juan R. López, A.I.C.P., Director of Planning and Zoning, City of Edinburg; César Cepeda, FranNet; and Pablo Cerda, Building Official, City of Edinburg. See lead story later in this posting.

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Sabrina Walker-Hernández, featured center, Chief Professional Officer for The Boys & Girls Clubs of Edinburg RGV, was recently honored as the 2012 Inspiration Award Winner for many achievements on behalf of the local chapter. The Inspiration Award, announced on Monday, September 3, is given to an outstanding professional whose leadership serves as an inspiration and catalyst resulting in transformational change with the Boys & Girls Clubs movement. Featured, from left: Teresa Walch of Dallas, the Regional Vice President at Boys & Girls Clubs of America; Sabrina Walker-Hernández, CFO, The Boys and Girls Clubs of Edinburg RGV; and Lorraine Orr of Atlanta, Senior Vice President of Field Services for Boys and Girls Clubs of America. See story later in this posting.

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On Thursday, October 4, from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m., South Texas Health System and the Edinburg Chamber of Commerce Public Affairs Committee will present a Public Affairs Luncheon featuring Jennifer Garza, Chief Executive Officer for Edinburg Regional Medical Center/Edinburg Children’s Hospital. The cost to attend the luncheon is $12 per person or $125 for a table of 8, and includes a hot lunch, beverage and dessert.  The luncheon will take place at The Echo Hotel and Conference Center, located on 1903 South Closner in Edinburg. Featured promoting the upcoming luncheon are, seated from left: Catherine Domian, Chief Nursing Officer, Edinburg Regional Medical Center; Elva Jackson Garza, Vice President/Marketing Manager, Edwards Abstract & Title Company; Jennifer Garza, Chief Executive Officer, Edinburg Regional Medical Center; Lisa Killion, Marketing Executive, South Texas Health System; and Letty González, President, Edinburg Chamber President. Standing, from left: Imelda Rodríguez, Director of Tourism, Edinburg Convention and Visitors Bureau; Jacob De León, Funeral Director, Memorial Funeral Home; Martín Rivas, Membership Director, Edinburg Chamber of Commerce; Michael LaCoste, Associate Administrator, Edinburg Regional Medical Center; and Jason Chang, Chief Operating Officer, Edinburg Regional Medical Center. For more information on this event or to make a reservation please call the Edinburg Chamber of Commerce at 956/383-4974.

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On Wednesday, September 26, from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. the Edinburg Chamber of Commerce and the Dustin Michael Sekula Memorial Library will feature art from beginners to practicing professionals at the Historic Train Depot, located at 602 W. University Drive. More than a dozen artists will display their art work made possible through instructional classes supported by Friends of the Edinburg Library. There is no admission charge and the artwork will be available for sale. For more information on this event or to RSVP by September 25, individuals may call the Edinburg Chamber of Commerce at 956/383-4974. Promoting the event are students from the 2012 Summer Art classes, from left: Letty Leija; Imelda Canales; Ramón Vela; Nelly Villarreal; and Zack Sáenz.

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The McAllen Chamber of Commerce and FECANACO Tamaulipas on Thursday, September 27, will host the Bi-National Reunion of Chambers of Commerce Meeting at the McAllen Chamber of Commerce, located at 1200 Ash Avenue. The meeting will feature local and regional leaders of chambers of commerce from the Rio Grande Valley and Tamaulipas. During the gathering, important issues that are common to chambers of commerce on both sides of the border will be addressed. Featured, from left: Luis Cantú, Vice President of International Business, McAllen Chamber of Commerce, and Alma Ortega-Johnson, Member, Board of Directors, McAllen Chamber of Commerce. See story later in this posting.

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The Rio Grande Valley Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and New York Life will celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month with a fiesta – which is free and open to the public – on Tuesday, September 25, from 5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. at the Nuevo Santander Gallery, 717 North Main Street in McAllen. Each year, Americans observe National Hispanic Heritage Month from September 15 to October 15, by celebrating the histories, cultures and contributions of American citizens whose ancestors came from Spain, México, the Caribbean and Central and South America. The observation started in 1968 as Hispanic Heritage Week under President Lyndon Johnson and was expanded by President Ronald Reagan in 1988 to cover a 30-day period starting on September 15 and ending on October 15. It was enacted into law on August 17, 1988, on the approval of Public Law 100-402. The day of September 15 is significant because it is the anniversary of independence for Latin American countries Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua. In addition, México and Chile celebrate their independence days on September 16 and September18, respectively. Also, Columbus Day or Día de la Raza, which is October 12, falls within this 30 day period. Featured helping prepare for the local fiesta are, front row, from left: Nancy Pascual, Michelle Guajardo, Rhonda Zavala, Connie Hernández, and Cynthia Sakulenzki, President and CEO for the RGV Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. Back row, from left, are: Gus Pascual, Arlene Villarreal, Gilbert Pérez, Noemi Hernández, Bertha Z. García, and James Burmane. More information on the event and the RGV Hispanic Chamber of Commerce is available by calling 956/928-0060.

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Edinburg’s pro-business policies, safe environment promoted by Edinburg Economic Development Corporation to recruit top Mexican investors

By DAVID A. DÍAZ

U.S. Expressway 281, which is the main transportation corridor linking the Valley and Mexico to major cities in Texas and beyond – plus the proactive approach by Edinburg’s city leadership in helping existing and prospective businesses – were among the key messages delivered on Wednesday, September 5, during the first annual International Business and Franchise Investment Expo.

The event, hosted by the Edinburg Economic Development Corporation, drew more than 160 local, state and Mexican business, community and government leaders to the gathering, held at the Edinburg Conference Center at Renaissance.

The EEDC is the jobs-creation arm of the Edinburg City Council.

Participants in the expo – which was open to the public and free-of-charge – received expert advice, resources, contacts and information needed to start or grow a successful business in Edinburg. The presentations, provided by individuals and panels of speakers, were delivered in a bilingual format, or with live English and Spanish translations for the diverse audience.

Featured speakers included Adrian A. Arriaga, CCIM, CIPS, Broker/Owner of AAA Real Estate and Investments; Cynthia Contreras Gutiérrez with The Law Office of Cynthia Contreras Gutiérrez, speaking on Investor Visa programs; Merri Cronk, Franchise Specialist with FranNet, speaking on franchising basics; and S. Leticia Flores, Lower South Texas Regional Representative for the Office of The Governor-Economic Development and Tourism, speaking on local and state incentives.

The expo also provided audience members opportunities to meet directly with prospective investors. In addition, exhibit tables with additional information were provided by the speakers and representatives of other businesses and governments, including ACCIÓN Texas, American General Construction, Auriel Investments, City of Edinburg Department of Code Enforcement, Solavei, The University of Texas-Pan American Small Business Development Center, Unique HR Human Resources, and Villarreal Builders.

Edinburg’s strong population and economic growth, and the desire by Mexican business owners to reduce risks back home associated with the ongoing drug cartel battles in Mexico, were among the many elements highlighted during the half-day series of meetings.

"Some of the speakers today focused on the value of construction in Edinburg, expected to grow to $100 million for the calendar year 2012," said EEDC Executive Director Nelda T. Ramírez. "This is a significant number. If you drive around the city, you see much construction ongoing, both residential, multi-family, and commercial, including industrial and manufacturing."

Ramírez reported that the EEDC meets with leaders of 10 Mexican businesses per week – "people who have companies in Mexico who are interested, because of the security issues over there, in establishing or bringing businesses to the U.S. Many want to find out what kind of franchises in which they can invest so they may qualify for visas and bring their families to the U.S."

Other foreign investors place a high value on having their goods appeal to American patriotism.

"They want to have some type of ‘Made in the USA’ label on their product so it can be easier for them to distribute north," she said. "Others want to find properties and how to go about obtaining the permits and licenses needed. They are also finding out about programs available from the city and state to help them out."

Having a presence in Edinburg, which is served by U.S. Expressway 281, has many advantages to Mexican companies, such as produce firms, which already have huge markets throughout the U.S.

"The Mazatlán-Durango Highway, which was recently completed, cuts their driving time in half," Ramírez noted. "Much of the produce companies like that because they can distribute their products faster and fresher to U.S. markets, and that’s why they also like the U.S. Expressway 281 corridor.

"They like that U.S. Expressway 281 is the corridor north of the Valley. Anyone located in the Valley has to pass though Expressway 281 and Edinburg to go north," Ramírez continued. "It is very easy for them to pass through the Pharr-Reynosa International Bridge, go straight to Expressway 281 and go to their warehouses to distribute their packages to the north."

The Pharr-Reynosa International Bridge handles the majority of commercial truck traffic into Hidalgo County.

The Mazatlán-Durango Highway, which is a hallmark of Mexican President Felipe Calderón’s ambitious plans to modernize his nation’s transportation network, is being built to profoundly improve safety and significantly reduce the time it takes to travel from Mazatlán, one of Mexico’s largest commercial ports, to Durango, the capital of the state of Durango.

The Mazatlán-Durango Highway, renowned as an engineering marvel with its system of underground tunnels and what is Latin America’s tallest cable-based bridge, will make driving – particularly the transportation of commerce such as produce – much safer through the hazardous western Sierra Madre range that separates Mazatlán, which is in the state of Sinoloa, from the City of Durango.

From the city of Durango, travel to Edinburg and the United States is much more accessible with the continuing expansion of Mexican Federal Highway 40, also known as the Carretera Interoceánica (Interoceanic Highway), a four-lane divided highway that links Durango with Reynosa, located about 25 miles south of Edinburg.

From Reynosa, commercial and passenger vehicles cross into Hidalgo County through the Pharr-Reynosa International Bridge.

The Edinburg Economic Development Corporation is the jobs-creation arm of the Edinburg City Council. It’s ?ve-member governing board, which is appointed by the Edinburg City Council, includes Mayor Richard García as President, Dr. Glenn Martínez as Vice-President, Fred Palacios as Secretary-Treasurer, Felipe García and Jaime A. Rodríguez. For more information on the EEDC and the City of Edinburg, please log on towww.EdbgCityLimits.com

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Edinburg’s retail economy for July 2012 shows an almost 16 percent improvement

By DAVID A. DÍAZ

Edinburg’s retail economy, as measured by the amount of local and state sales taxes generated by a wide range of local businesses, for the month of July 2012 showed an almost 16 percent improvement over the same month in 2011, the Edinburg Economic Development Corporation has announced.

The EEDC is the jobs-creation arm of the Edinburg City Council.

This latest economic indicator, released by the Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts on Wednesday, September 12, was better than the 13.2 percent improvement combined average for all city economies in Texas.

For the month of July 2012, Edinburg generated $1,335,443.54 in local sales taxes, compared with $1,151,365.57 for the month of July 2011, representing an improvement of 15.89 percent.

The local sales taxes are used statewide by local governments to help fund their operating budgets. In the case of Edinburg, a portion of the local sales tax revenue is used by the EEDC to help pay for vital economic development projects.

The sales tax figure represents monthly sales made in July as well as money remitted at the close of the tax amnesty period.

Under the reporting system used by the state comptroller’s office, local and state sales taxes generated on retail sales in July were collected by the state in August. During September, the state sends back the local sales tax portion – called a rebate – to the cities in which the retail sales were made.

Year-to-date, from January through July, Edinburg’s sales tax collections are more than two percent better than for the same seven months in 2011.

The monthly and year-to-date figures represent combined money from Edinburg’s 1.5 cent local sales tax and the half-cent economic development sales tax, which is administered by the Edinburg Economic Development Corporation.

Between January and July 2012, Edinburg generated $12,328,167.73, compared with $12,068,772.51 between January and July 2011, representing an improvement of 2.14 percent.

Also year-to-date, Edinburg’s local sales tax total represents the second-best showing among all cities in Hidalgo County.

The state comptroller’s office reported that the following amounts of local sales tax revenue have been raised between January 1 and July 31 of this year:

• McAllen: $42,213,613.51;

• Edinburg: $12,328,167.73

• Mission: $11,021,322.33;

• Pharr: $9,931,302.96; and

• Weslaco: $8,128,589.39.

Brownsville, the Valley’s most populous city, saw its retail economy generate more than $25.4 million in local sales tax from January through July, while Harlingen reports more than $15.4 million raised in local sales taxes during the same period, according to the comptroller’s office.

At the state level, Texas Comptroller Susan Combs noted that the latest figures throughout Texas represented continuing positive economic news.

"The strong business and consumer spending trend boosted the monthly sales tax revenue, as did money remitted at the close of the state’s tax amnesty which ended in August," Combs said. "The state’s sales tax revenue for fiscal 2012 was $24.1 billion, about 12.6 percent higher than the previous fiscal year. Collections from business sectors such as the oil and natural gas industry and consumer sectors including retail trade increased sales tax revenue for the fiscal year."

The State Sales and Use Tax is imposed on all retail sales, leases and rentals of most goods, as well as taxable services, according to the comptroller’s office. Texas cities, counties, transit authorities and special purpose districts have the option of imposing an additional local sales tax for a combined total of state and local taxes of 8 1/4% (.0825)

For details of the July 2012 local sales tax figures for all cities, counties, transit systems, and special purpose taxing districts, located the Monthly Sales Tax Allocation Comparison Summary Reports at the comptroller’s website, log on to:

http://www.window.state.tx.us/taxinfo/allocsum/compsum.html

The Edinburg Economic Development Corporation is the jobs-creation arm of the Edinburg City Council. It’s five-member governing board, which is appointed by the Edinburg City Council, includes Mayor Richard García as President, Dr. Glenn Martínez as Vice-President, Fred Palacios as Secretary-Treasurer, Felipe García, and Jaime A. Rodríguez. For more information on the EEDC and the City of Edinburg, please log on to: http://www.EdbgCityLimits.com

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R.D. "Bobby" Guerra to serve final months of remaining term for retired Rep. Gonzáles

By RICARDO LÓPEZ-GUERRA

The Texas Secretary of State on Thursday, September 6, certified that R.D. "Bobby" Guerra, D-Sharyland, is declared elected as the new state representative for House District 41 and will serve the unexpired term of former Rep. Verónica Gonzáles, D-McAllen, which ends in mid-January 2013. 

Guerra, the Democratic Party nominee who also is seeking a full two-year term in the November 6 general election, was the only candidate to file for the special election to fill the unexpired term for District 41, which includes southwest Edinburg, north, central, southeast and portions of west Mcallen, Palmhurst, Sharyland, Alton, and a portion of northwest Pharr.

As a result, no special election will be needed and Guerra will take office after a swearing-in ceremony.

Guerra, an attorney, is facing Miriam Martínez, R-Edinburg, a small business owner and international journalist, in the November 6 general election for the new two-year term that begins in mid-January 2013. All state representatives serve two-year terms.

"Being declared state representative for District 41 to serve the unexpired term in the Texas House is a tremendous honor for me. I am truly grateful for the overwhelming community support I have received for the privilege of wanting me to represent our Valley families," said Guerra, a former chairman of the Hidalgo County Democratic Party.

The importance of this declaration is significant, particularly for the Valley, he noted.

Guerra will have the unique advantage of being sworn in earlier than other freshmen state representatives, especially important in this election cycle with such a large number of incoming new members. 

Having more seniority, a critical ranking for legislators at the Capitol, means that Guerra will have a huge jump-start in his ability to get things done for District 41. He can immediately start working with fellow legislators, forge crucial relationships and fully participate in the legislative process while preparing for the upcoming session in January.

"When filing my candidacy for both the general and special elections, I made an important and genuine commitment to the people of District 41– to treat my campaign with the utmost seriousness and to work tirelessly to promote the best interests of the Rio Grande Valley," Guerra said. "As state representative, I pledge to do so with integrity and professionalism and will continue the fight to ensure the Valley receives adequate funding, effective legislative representation and a strong voice in our state’s decision making."

According to his official biography:

R. D. "Bobby" Guerra was born in Edinburg in 1953. 

His family, both paternal and maternal, have been South Texas ranchers since the mid 1700’s. 

Guerra graduated from Pan American University in 1977 with a B.S. degree and a double major in Biology and Chemistry.

For several years, he was a television news reporter and anchor at the ABC affiliate KRGV-TV Channel 5 prior to attending law school.  In 1985 he graduated with cum laude honors from Texas Southern University Law School in Houston, Texas. 

He was admitted to the bar in 1985 and is licensed to practice in Texas and the United States District Courts for the Northern and Southern Districts of Texas. 

Upon graduation from law school, Guerra practiced with the law firm of Peña, McDonald, Prestia & Ibanez in Edinburg. In 1986, he joined the McAllen law firm of Ewers & Toothaker and became partner after 3 ½ years. 

In August 1991, Guerra left Ewers & Toothaker to begin a practice of his own. He has practiced in all of the state courts in the Rio Grande Valley and parts of South Texas. 

He served for several years as Director of the Hidalgo County Bar Association and was elected HCBA President for the 1993-94 terms. He is currently a member of the American Bar Association and State Bar of Texas. He is also a Texas Bar Foundation Life Fellow. 

Guerra was elected by his peers and served as State Bar Director for District 12 from 1996 to 1999.  His district encompassed 17 counties in and around the South Texas area. He was selected as a Texas Super Lawyer in 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, and 2011.

In March of 2000, Guerra was elected Chairman of the Hidalgo County Democratic Party where he served two terms.  He has also served on the board of directors of the University of Texas-Pan American Alumni Association and was elected president of the board in 2003. 

He is currently serving as President Elect on the Easter Seal’s Board of Directors.

(David A. Díaz contributed to this article.)

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Bobby Guerra’s appointment of little value To House District 41, says Miriam Martínez

By HEIDI ARTEAGA

The appointment of Democrat Bobby Guerra to finish the final months of former Rep. Verónica Gonzáles’ term in the Texas House of Representative has little value for South Texans, says Miriam Martínez, the Republican nominee for House District 41.

The Texas Secretary of State on Thursday, September 6, certified that R.D. "Bobby" Guerra, D-Sharyland, is declared elected as the new state representative for House District 41 and will finish out the final months of Gonzáles’ term, which ends in mid-January 2013. 

Guerra was the only person to file paperwork with the Texas Secretary of State to complete the remaining portion of Gonzáles’ term, which became vacant on June 30, when Gonzáles, a Democrat, retired from the Texas House of Representatives in order to take a $170,000-a-year job with the University of Texas-Pan American.

"I remain on the general election ballot, and that is what is most important," said Martínez. R-Edinburg.

House District 41 includes southwest Edinburg, north, central, southeast and portions of west McAllen, Palmhurst, Sharyland, Alton, and a portion of northwest Pharr.

Martínez said she did not file for the special election to finish out Gonzáles’ term because her paperwork did not get to the Secretary of State’s Office by the late August deadline.

Martínez disputed Guerra’s claim that his appointment to fill out Gonzáles’ term for November and December have any benefits for House District 41 constituents.

"The Speaker of the House, who is Republican, decides who gets to serve on the most influential committees in the House of Representatives, and the House of Representatives will continue to be controlled by the Republican Party," said Martínez. "Bobby Guerra is a Democrat, which means he won’t have any influence or powerful allies in the House of Representatives. As a Republican, I would be much more successful on behalf of House District 41 because my party is in complete control. But Bobby Guerra doesn’t want voters to know that truth."

Martínez, a small business owner and international journalist in the South Texas/Mexico region,  

said if elected, she would take a pro-business, pro-family philosophy into the Texas House of Representatives.

"I oppose any increase in the state sales tax, I oppose expanding the state sales tax to any other goods and services, and I oppose creating a state personal income tax. Any such tax increases would hurt the poor, the middle class, and every type of legitimate business in Texas," Martínez said.

If elected, Martínez said she would continue fighting for more state money and policies for Medicaid, for public education, for transportation, for border security, and for the creation of thousands of new jobs in House District 41.

Martínez said a special election, which now will not be held, would have been waste of county taxpayer money.

"By me not filing for the special election, Hidalgo County won’t have to waste thousands of tax dollars for a special election that was the result of Veronica Gonzáles’ quitting on her constituents in order to make a fortune with taxpayers’ money at UT-Pan American."

Gonzáles, D-McAllen, who was one of more than a dozen candidates, was selected by UTPA President Robert S. Nelsen to become Vice President for University Advancement at the local university.

"Verónica Gonzáles has been a major ‘mover and shaker’ in the Rio Grande Valley and the State of Texas for years," Nelsen said last spring following his decision to hire her. "She is committed to UT-Pan American’s mission of reaching out to the Valley and transforming the Valley through higher education. Verónica is a proven fundraiser with a brilliant mind and will make a difference at the University, just as UT Pan American is making a difference in the Valley."

According to Martínez’ official biography:

Like most South Texans, Martínez knows the value of hard work, perseverance, and education. A native of Mexico, she began work at age 14 in Spanish-language media, a move that would later transform her into one of the top American journalists in our region. A champion for education, Martínez studied law and marketing in Reynosa and Monterrey, Mexico.

Her parents, María Del Socorro Velásquez De Martínez and Leonardo Martínez Gallardo, also born in Mexico, loved the United States and what it stands for. Her parents became legal U.S. residents 25 years ago. They brought Miriam and some of their other children – including Miriam’s brother, who served the U.S. in combat in Iraq – to the Valley. In 2010, Martínez become a naturalized U.S. citizen.

For Martínez, learning is a lifelong passion, as evidenced by her rise in the media profession. Between 1998 and 2000, she excelled in a wide range of specialized, state-of-the-art education and training in local and national sales practices, broadcast production and editing, journalism, community leadership, technology, and meteorology. She traveled to local, state and national centers in Brownsville, Corpus Christi, El Paso, Miami and New York City to learn from the best in their respective professions.

Fluent in English and Spanish, Martínez used her professional skills and impressive international contacts to help build news organizations along the Valley-Mexico border region. Her remarkable tenure in international journalism includes serving as news anchor for Univision 48, being the host, reporter, producer and sales representative for Televisa Channel 9, and serving as news anchor for Noticias Channel 40. She also worked with the Telemundo television network.

Martínez leads Trevi7 Productions, which creates video documentaries and provides other broadcast services. In addition, she has a nonprofit organization, Trevi7 Foundation, which is dedicated to helping other area nonprofit organizations to serve South Texans.

Martínez has been blessed with the opportunities to best understand the economic and social issues most important to South Texans. Education, health care, jobs creation, immigration, border security, transportation and public safety are among her legislative priorities.

(David A. Díaz contributed to this article.)

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Jennifer Garza, CEO for Edinburg Regional Medical Center/Edinburg Children’s Hospital, to keynote Public Affairs Luncheon on Thursday, October 4 at ECHO in Edinburg

By RONNIE LARRALDE

On Thursday, October 4, from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m., South Texas Health System and the Edinburg Chamber of Commerce Public Affairs Committee will present a Public Affairs Luncheon featuring Jennifer Garza, CEO for Edinburg Regional Medical Center and Edinburg Children’s Hospital.

The cost to attend the luncheon is $12 per person or $125 for a table of 8, and includes a hot lunch, beverage and dessert.  The luncheon will take place at The Echo Hotel and Conference Center located on 1903 South Closner in Edinburg.

On December 5, 2011, Garza began her work CEO of the two hospitals.

Prior to her arrival to Edinburg, she served as the Chief Operating Officer at St. Joseph Medical Center, a 792-bed acute care hospital in Houston. Before that she was the Chief Operating Officer and Ethics and Compliance Officer at HCA – The Woman’s Hospital of Texas. Garza has more than 10 years of experience in healthcare management and is an active member of the American College of Healthcare Executives.

Garza earned her Master’s degree in Healthcare Administration from Trinity University of San Antonio and a Bachelor of Science from Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi. She and her husband are originally from McAllen. She is a mother to three daughters.

The Public Affairs Luncheons are an initiative introduced in 2006, and since then have featured popular topics with speakers that cover important community and legislative issues. The vision is to inform, involve and educate chamber investors, civic leaders and the community.

The event also allows business professionals to meet, network and create opportunities for

the companies they represent. 

The Edinburg Chamber of Commerce also thanked South Texas Health System for their generous sponsorship.

South Texas Health System is a network of six acute care hospitals and one behavioral health hospital that together provide care for patients throughout South Texas. The hospitals are

accredited by The Joint Commission and offer a comprehensive range of healthcare services including cardiovascular, maternity and women’s health, neuroscience, emergency and surgical care, along with specialty programs in transplant, stroke, chest pain, asthma, pediatrics, diabetes, wound care, bariatrics and rehabilitation.

For more information on this event or to make a reservation please call the Edinburg Chamber of Commerce at 956/383-4974.

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McAllen Chamber of Commerce to host Bi-National Reunion of Chambers of Commerce

on Thursday, September 27

The McAllen Chamber of Commerce and FECANACO Tamaulipas on Thursday, September 27, will host the Bi-National Reunion of Chambers of Commerce Meeting at the McAllen Chamber of Commerce, located at 1200 Ash Avenue.

The meeting will feature local and regional leaders of chambers of commerce from the Rio Grande Valley and Tamaulipas. During the gathering, important issues that are common to chambers of commerce on both sides of the border will be addressed.

Among those concerns to be covered will be immigration, safety, infrastructure, border crossings, tourism and commerce. In addition, there will be presentations by leaders of the McAllen Chamber of Commerce, FECANACO and Hidalgo-Anzalduas International Bridges.

FECANACO Tamaulipas stands for Chamber of Commerce Federation of Tamaulipas and is led by Julio Almanza Armas, a renowned leader who ran for governor of Tamaulipas in 2010.

"We are very proud of hosting this important meeting at the McAllen Chamber of Commerce," said Luis Cantú, Vice President of International Business at the local chamber. "Although each one of the chambers works on attracting businesses and tourism to their cities, we have problems in common that are easier to face if we partner to address them. Issues like border crossing times and immigration are good examples."

For more information about the meeting, individuals may contact Cantú at (956) 682-2871.

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Edinburg City Council, H-E-B, and Rotary Club help celebrate Boys & Girls Clubs Day for Kids

By SABRINA WALKER-HERNÁNDEZ

The Boys & Girls Clubs of Edinburg RGV on Tuesday, September 4, received a city proclamation recognizing Saturday, September 15, as Boys & Girls Clubs Day for Kids.

BGC Day for Kids is an annual event highlighting the value of meaningful time between caring adults and children.

This year, in celebration of Boys & Girls Clubs Day for Kids, The Boys & Girls Clubs of Edinburg RGV  is partnering with HEB and the Edinburg Rotary Club to host a family cooking demonstration on Friday, September 21 from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at The Legacy Center @Boys & Girls Clubs of Edinburg RGV, located at 702 Cullen Street (Rogers & 281). 

During the September 21 healthy cooking demonstration class, families will enjoy food samples and healthy tips from dieticians and nutrition specialist.  Each family will receive an H-E-B food/recipe starter kit and a $10 H-E-B Gift Card. Registration is limited to the first 50 families.

"We understand the kids make the decisions about the food items purchased," said Julie Lara, Public Relations for H-E-B. "This event will help parents and kids understand their healthy food choices better."

Unlike most other industrialized nations, the U.S. was one of the few nations that did not have an official day set aside to honor its young people. In a country ranked first in wealth and productivity, the U.S. does not have a day to recognize its young people, any nation’s most precious resource. 

Americans recognize the link between spending meaningful time with their kids and the tough issues facing young people, but say they don’t have the time, skills or resources to do as much for their children as they feel they should.

BGC Day for Kids will be celebrated with millions of adults and kids participating in some 2,000 events at Boys & Girls Clubs and other locations nationwide. But while September 15 is the official day, created to bring attention to the message of BGC Day for Kids, in reality every day should be a day for kids.

Since 1969, the Boys & Girls Clubs has played an integral role in the Edinburg community providing daily programs and services to more than 18,000 young people. 

During the school year, the Clubs is open on Monday through Friday, from 3:30 p.m. to 8 p.m., and during the summer the hours are from 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. 

The Clubs has moved its main site and administration to its new building the Legacy Center, located at 702 Cullen Street (Rogers and 281).

The Clubs offers programs that emphasize character and leadership development, education and career development, health and life skills, the arts, and sport, fitness and recreation. More information on their schedule activities may be obtained by calling 956/383-2582, or by visiting its  website at http://www.edinburgkids.com. 

Individuals who would like to make a contribution may also call the Club at 956/383-2582 or email swalker@edinburgkids.com. Supporters of the Club may also may text "CLUB" to 20222 to donate $5.

The Boys & Girls Clubs of Edinburg Rio Grande Valley is a City of Edinburg partner and United Way of South Texas Agency.

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Sabrina Walker-Hernández receives 2012 Inspiration Award from Boys & Girls Clubs of America

Sabrina Walker-Hernández, Chief Professional Officer for The Boys & Girls Clubs of Edinburg RGV, was recently honored as the 2012 Inspiration Award Winner for many achievements on behalf of the local chapter.

The Inspiration Award, announced on Monday, September 3, is given to an outstanding professional whose leadership serves as an inspiration and catalyst resulting in transformational change with the Boys & Girls Clubs movement.

Teresa Walch of Dallas, the Regional Vice President at Boys & Girls Clubs of America, and Lorraine Orr of Atlanta, Senior Vice President of Field Services for BGCA, were among the national organization’s leaders who congratulated Walker-Hernández for the prestigious recognition.

Walker-Hernández joins Roxanne Spillett, the former BGCA president, as the second recipient of the award.

During her more than 13-year career in Boys & Girls Clubs, Walker-Hernández has seen many trees planted, served as an admired mentor to her staff, even operating the large local club while finding time to mentor six youths – several of many illustrations of her professional and personal commitments to serving deserving young people in need.

Walker-Hernández has been successfully dedicated to quality and outcome-driven program experiences, one who is on the forefront of creative and collaborative funding partnerships and social entrepreneurship.

She was also a driving force who had a vision for the new $11.4 million complex that features a 32,700 square-foot facility located on a 20-acre tract at 702 Cullen Street, near the intersection of U.S. Expressway 281 and Rogers Road.

The Boys & Girls Clubs has played an integral role in the Edinburg community for 41 years, providing daily programs and services to more than 18,000 young people. 

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Up to 1.7 million children of undocumented immigrants may benefit from new immigration rules recently approved by President Obama

By RUSS OATES

Up to 1.7 million unauthorized immigrants ages 30 and under who arrived in the U.S. as children could potentially qualify for a new Obama administration program that goes into effect tomorrow that would shield them from deportation for two years and enable them to apply for temporary but renewable work permits, according to updated estimates from the Pew Hispanic Center, a project of the Pew Research Center.

Announced on June 15 by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), the new program, known as "Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals," potentially provides relief from deportation for eligible unauthorized immigrants. According to the updated eligibility guidelines published by DHS on August 3, unauthorized immigrants ages 15 to 30 who arrived in the U.S. before age 16 may qualify for deferred action if:

• They have continuously resided in the U.S. since June 15, 2007;

• They were physically present in the U.S. on June 15, 2012;

• They are enrolled in school, have a high school diploma or a GED, or have been honorably discharged from the military or Coast Guard by the time of their application; and

• They have not been convicted of a felony, a significant misdemeanor offense, or three or more other misdemeanors, and do not present a threat to national security or public safety.

The new Pew Hispanic Center estimate of 1.7 million potential beneficiaries is an increase over the estimated 1.4 million potentially eligible unauthorized immigrants previously reported by the Center.

As a result of the updated eligibility guidelines, as many as 320,000 more unauthorized immigrants may be eventually eligible for relief from deportation. These additional potential beneficiaries are unauthorized immigrants ages 16 to 30 who came to the U.S. as children, currently do not have a high school diploma and are not enrolled in school. If these young people enroll in school by the date of their application, they could become eligible for relief from deportation.

Under the updated guidelines, the Pew Hispanic analysis also finds that as many as 950,000 unauthorized immigrants may be immediately eligible for deportation relief. Another 770,000 not currently eligible for deferred action may become eligible in the future.

Among the 1.7 million young unauthorized immigrants eligible for the administration’s new program, 85% are Hispanic. That is higher than the Hispanic share (77%) among the nation’s estimated 11.2 million unauthorized immigrants.

Not all unauthorized immigrants ages 30 and under are eligible for deferred deportation action under the new program. According to the Pew Hispanic analysis, some 2.4 million meet the program’s age requirement, but arrived in the U.S. after age 15 or have been here less than five years, making them ineligible. An additional 280,000 unauthorized immigrants are under age 15 but would not be eligible since they have not been in the U.S. for at least five years, the program’s cutoff residency requirement.

The deferred action policy also excludes any unauthorized immigrants under age 16 who arrive in the U.S. after June 15, 2012. These new arrivals do not qualify for deferred action and unlike some, cannot age into eligibility.

There are an estimated 11.2 million unauthorized immigrants in the U.S., according to estimates from the Pew Hispanic Center. They include 4.4 million who are ages 30 and under. An additional 6.8 million unauthorized immigrants ages 31 and older, who make up more than 60% of the nation’s 11.2 million unauthorized immigrants, are not addressed by the deferred action program.

The report, "Up to 1.7 Million Unauthorized Immigrant Youth May Benefit from New Deportation Rules," authored by Jeffrey S. Passel, senior demographer, Pew Hispanic Center and Mark Hugo López, associate director, Pew Hispanic Center, is available at the Pew Hispanic Center’s website, http://www.pewhispanic.org.

The Pew Hispanic Center, a project of the Pew Research Center, is a nonpartisan, non-advocacy research organization based in Washington, D.C. and is funded by The Pew Charitable Trusts.

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Sen. Cornyn sponsors resolutions celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month, National Hispanic-Serving Institutions Week

As the nation marks the beginning of Hispanic Heritage Month, U.S. Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, on Friday, September 14, joined Sen. Robert Menéndez, D-NJ and Sen. Harry Reid, D-NV, in introducing a resolution designating Hispanic Heritage Month as September 15-October 15, 2012, and honoring the heritage, culture and contributions of Hispanic Americans.

"Throughout the course of history, Hispanics have made rich contributions to our culture and way of life. Today, Hispanic Americans are leading the way in every area – from business and education to science, public service, and more. I am proud that Texas is home to the second-largest Hispanic population in the nation and pleased to join Sen. Menéndez in supporting this legislation to pay tribute to the millions of Hispanic Americans who have lived the American dream and helped to make America the greatest nation on earth," Cornyn said.

Additionally, Cornyn joined Menéndez in introducing a bipartisan resolution designating the week of September 16-22nd as National Hispanic-Serving Institutions Week to recognize the more than 300 non-profit Hispanic-Serving Institutions (HSIs) throughout our nation for their work, achievements, and critical role in educating and empowering Hispanic youth. 

"Hispanic-Serving Institutions are responsible for providing thousands of Hispanic young people with a quality education and access to unlimited opportunities each year. Texas is home to more than 40 Hispanic-Serving Institutions, and I commend the faculty and leadership at each of these HSI’s for the excellent work they’re doing to prepare the next generation of Hispanic leaders," Cornyn added.

Hispanic Heritage Month is celebrated every year from September 15th to October 15th. During this month, our nation celebrates the culture and traditions of those who trace their roots to Spain, Mexico and the Spanish-speaking nations of Central America, South America and the Caribbean.

Cornyn serves on the Finance, Judiciary, Armed Services and Budget Committees.  He serves as the top Republican on the Judiciary Committee’s Immigration, Refugees and Border Security subcommittee. He served previously as Texas Attorney General, Texas Supreme Court Justice, and Bexar County District Judge.

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