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South Texan Miriam Martínez, featured right, a renowned international journalist, small business owner, and the former 2012 Republican nominee for state representative, House District 41, on Monday, January 21, announced her plan to seek the March 2014 Republican nomination for Texas governor. She said her campaign would focus on key issues, such as job creation, education, child support, and immigration. But she also emphasized the importance of the Republican Party having a candidate who is a woman and a minority to lead the top of the political ticket. “I do not believe in discrimination. I just think it’s time for a woman to do the job,” said Martínez, a survivor of family violence. “I know how to take care of business. As a Mexican American woman, I can handle challenges and defeats. What I can’t handle is living a life of regret and asking myself, ‘What if?'” Featured, from left: Jessica Puente Bradshaw, the 2012 Republican nominee for the 34th Congressional District anchored in Brownsville; George P. Bush, prospective Republican candidate for Texas Land Commissioner; and Miriam Martínez of Edinburg during a Fall 2012 campaign rally in South Texas.

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Rep. René Oliveria, D-Brownsville, seated, on Monday, February 4, signs on as the main author of House Bill 1000, which if approved by the Texas Legislature this spring, would pave the way for the creation of a University of Texas super system that would merge UT-Pan American with UT-Brownsville, and help speed up the creation of a state-of-the-art UT medical school in deep South Texas. “This bill is the framework that will legally create the new university, and allows us, if passed by a two-thirds majority, to access the Permanent University Fund (PUF), and other state and federal research dollars,” said Oliveira, the Dean of the Rio Grande Valley legislative delegation in the House of Representatives. “It will combine existing resources to create a new university maximizing efficiencies in facilities and administration.” Featured with Oliveira, and serving as authors of HB 1000, are, from left: Rep. Terry Canales, D-Edinburg; Rep. J.M. Lozano, R-Kingsville; Rep. Robert “Bobby” Guerra, D-Sharyland; Rep. Armando “Mando” Martinez, D-Weslaco; and Rep. Oscar Longoria, Jr., D-La Joya. Sen. Juan “Chuy” Hinojosa, D-McAllen, is carrying the companion bill, Senate Bill 24, with Sen. Eddie Lucio, Jr., D-Brownsville, and Sen. Judith Zaffirini, D-Laredo, also serving as authors of SB 24. See story later in this posting.

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With the Texas oil and gas industry responsible for thousands of jobs, particularly in Central and South Texas, and generating billions of dollars a year in revenue for the state government, Rep. Terry Canales says his appointment to the House Energy Resources Committee will serve the interests of his House District 40 at many different levels. Speaker of the House Joe Straus, R-San Antonio, featured left, on Thursday, January 31, appointed Canales, D-Edinburg, to the House Energy Resources Committee, and to the House Criminal Jurisprudence Committee, which is also a major House panel that wields great influence over legislation designed to protect Texans from criminals. “Regulating the state’s oil and gas industry is vital, not only because we need to promote this crucial sector of our state economy, but also because we want to protect the environment as we build upon the state’s global leadership role in the production of energy,” said Canales, shown here on the House floor along with Rep. Stefani Carter, R-Dallas. See story later in this posting.

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Mayor Richard H. García on Wednesday, January 30, filed for reelection to a four-year term, submitting the required legal paperwork to Edinburg City Secretary Myra A. Garza at Edinburg City Hall. The Municipal General Election is scheduled for Saturday, May 11. Richard García, a federal criminal law attorney and a senior partner with an established law firm, is currently serving his second term as mayor; his first term was from 2003 to 2006. The Edinburg native graduated from Edinburg High School in 1964 and continued his education at the University of Texas-Pan American and received a Juris Doctorate at Texas Southern University in Houston. He served as Edinburg Municipal Judge from 1975-1978 and was a County Court-at-Law Judge for 16 years. Richard García served as chair of the Texas Border Coalition twice and is proud to have been appointed to serve on the Texas Adult Probation Commission. He is currently the President of the Board of Directors of the Edinburg Economic Development Corporation, which is the jobs-creation arm of the Edinburg City Council. He is married to Myra C. García and they have five children: Gina, Katherine, Chelsea, Daniel and Carlos; son-in-law Daniel; as well as two grandsons, Richard Xavier Pérez and William Alexander Pérez.

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Mayor Pro-Tem Agustín “Gus” García (no relation to the mayor) on Friday, February 8, filed for reelection to a four-year term, submitting the required legal paperwork to Edinburg City Secretary Myra A. Garza at Edinburg City Hall. The Municipal General Election is scheduled for Saturday, May 11. Gus García was elected into office on May 13, 2006 and is seeking his third consecutive term. A native of Edinburg, he graduated from Edinburg High School in 1990 and obtained a Bachelors in Business Administration from the University of Texas-Pan American. He is the current owner of several healthcare facilities. Gus García has been an active member of the business community for years and dedicates his time to enhancing the economic development of South Texas. He is married to Tonya Bailey García of Ennis, Texas and they have four children, Soledad Alexis, Halley Loren, Agustín G. García III, and Pilar Neréa.

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Edinburg Councilmember J.R. Betancourt, accompanied by his wife, Renée Rodríguez-Betancourt, on Wednesday, January 30, filed for reelection to a four-year term, submitting the required legal paperwork to Edinburg City Secretary Myra A. Garza at Edinburg City Hall. The Municipal General Election is scheduled for Saturday, May 11. Betancourt was born and raised in Edinburg. He graduated from Edinburg North High School in 1998 and then graduated from the University of Texas–Pan American in 2001 with a degree in philosophy. He is a certified public accountant and business consultant and is the owner of Joel R. Betancourt, CPA PLLC. He is also a partner with Betancourt & Garza LLP, certified public accountants. Betancourt is a member of the Texas Society of Certified Public Accountants and the Rio Grande Valley Society of Certified Public Accountants. He is a member of the Edinburg Chamber of Commerce. He and his wife Renée Rodríguez-Betancourt, an attorney in Edinburg have two children: Gloriana Gabriela (G.G.) and Carissa Carolina (C.C.).

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McAllen City Commissioner James E. “Jim” Darling on Friday, February 1, filed and submitted the required legal paperwork and petition to City Secretary Annette Villarreal at McAllen City Hall to have his name placed on the ballot for the election of McAllen mayor. The municipal general election is scheduled for Saturday, May 11. Darling is the general counsel at Doctors Hospital at Renaissance in Edinburg. He was the former city attorney of the city of McAllen for 28 years and has served as a city commissioner since 2007. Commenting on his mayoral candidacy Darling said, “Over several years, as a city attorney, a city commissioner and a community volunteer in many different leadership roles, I’ve had the opportunity to be a part of and witness first-hand the development, growth and success of McAllen. I am proud to have been given this privilege and responsibility of duty and service, and would be honored to have the citizens of McAllen elect me as their next mayor.” See story later in this posting.

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With the Texas Legislature’s 83rd regular session underway, the Rio Grande Valley Hispanic Chamber wants to give South Texans on Tuesday, February 26, and Wednesday, February 28, an organized opportunity to voice their concerns to state legislators. The RGV Hispanic Chamber of Commerce will be participating in a Legislative Reception hosted by TAMACC, the Texas Association of Hispanic Chambers of Commerce, on Tuesday, February 26, at the Austin Club in Austin. Appointments with legislators will be scheduled for that Tuesday afternoon and the following morning. “They say there is strength in numbers so we would like to take a large delegation to the appointments, both elected officials and concerned citizens, from the Rio Grande Valley,” said Cynthia M. Sakulenzki, president and CEO for the RGV Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. “Legislators will definitely take note of the region’s concerns on certain issues if we appear in large numbers.” For more information in the RGV Legislative Day, including registering for the event, is available by calling the local chamber’s office at 928-0060. Featured making final plans for the Legislative Trip are RGV Chamber of Commerce board members, including, seated, from left: Brent Smith; Israel Rocha, Chair; David Carrales; and Ronnie Bernal, Chair-Elect. Back row, from let: Adelita Muñoz; Marti Miller; Cynthia M. Sakulenzki; Jenise Díaz; Yoli González; and Pete Morales.

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Edinburg’s leaders are reporting positive trends on the jobs front, with the Texas Workforce Commission showing Edinburg posted a 6.7 percent unemployment rate in December 2012, the second-best showing among the Valley’s major cities for that month. Featured, from left: Rep. Terry Canales, D-Edinburg; Rachel Borchard, Canales’ mother; Precinct 4 Hidalgo County Commissioner Joseph Palacios; Mayor Pro Tem Agustín “Gus” García; and Councilmember J.R. Betancourt. Mayor Richard García, who also serves as president of the five-member Board of Directors for the Edinburg Economic Development Corporation, said 2013 promises to continue bringing positive economic news for the city. “We have several companies with which we are negotiating which are going to bring us a large number of jobs and expansions of existing businesses,” the mayor noted, but explained that the city is not yet at liberty to reveal the details of those discussions. What can be revealed are some of scheduled openings in 2013 for numerous employers, ranging from: the Cinemark Movie Bistro, which will help anchor more economic development along Trenton Road in southwest Edinburg; another projected expansion of The Shoppes at Rio Grande Valley, which just last summer added 90,000-square-feet; and the much anticipated opening of the $180 million Santana Textiles denim manufacturing complex in north Edinburg, which will boast 800 jobs. See story later in this posting.

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Bert Ogden Fiesta Chevrolet and the Edinburg Chamber of Commerce present Fiesta Edinburg on Thursday, February 21, through Sunday, February 24, at the Edinburg Municipal Park.   Country music superstar Mark Chesnutt of Beaumont, who has more than 30 singles on the U.S. Billboard Hot Country songs, including eight No. 1 singles, and the Valley’s own Bo Garza with Texas Desire and Dezeo will be the featured musical acts on Friday, February 22. On Saturday, February 23, musical performances will be delivered by Los Tigrillos, Los Cadetes de Linares de Lupe Tijerina, Los 2 de Nuevo León, and Grupo Zinzzero. This year, Fiesta Edinburg will have plenty to offer, including the traditional “Fiesta” parade, Heart of America Carnival, Family Fun Zone, and an “RGV HAS TALENT” contest. The event costs include: $10 per vehicle, $5 admission, and 10 years and younger are allowed in free. Sponsors for Fiesta Edinburg along with committee members are featured, seated, from left: Imelda Rodríguez (Tourism Director, Edinburg Chamber of Commerce; Cristina Nino Villarreal (Linebarger Goggan Blair & Sampson); Letty González (President, Edinburg Chamber of Commerce); Velma Sue De León (Memorial Funeral Home); and Kelly Rivera Salazar (Linebarger Goggan Blair & Sampson). Standing, from left: Greg Martin (Martins Farm & Ranch Supply); Abraham Quiroga (Magic Valley Electric CO-OP); Letty Reyes (Project Manager, Edinburg Economic Development Corporation); Nelda Ramírez (Executive Director, Edinburg Economic Development Corporation); Leon De León (Memorial Funeral Home); Alex Ríos (Board Member, Edinburg Chamber of Commerce); and Aaron Ramírez (International Bank of Commerce). See story later in this posting.

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Governor Rick Perry recently commissioned Cynthia Moya Sakulenzki, the President and CEO for the Rio Grande Valley Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, with “The Yellow Rose of Texas Award”. Sen. Juan “Chuy” Hinojosa, D-McAllen, made the presentation on behalf of the governor, who could not be present. “The Yellow Rose of Texas Award” is given only through the Office of the Governor to recognize women for their significant contributions to their communities and to Texas in the preservation of Texas history, the accomplishments of our present, and the building of the future. The award is named for Emily Morgan, a 20-year-old slave who was instrumental in the battle to win Texas’ independence, as she gave General Sam Houston’s troops Santa Anna’s location. “Cynthia Sakulenzki deservingly received the ‘Yellow Rose of Texas Award’,” said Hinojosa. “Cynthia has been very active in non-profit organizations and has played a big role in the expansion of commerce to benefit our South Texas Community. I thank her for her service and extend my congratulations.” Ms. Sakulenzki commented, “I am so honored that the governor would feel that I would be worthy of such an honor. Community service has always been my passion, and I will continue to serve the people of South Texas as long as the Lord allows me.”

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It is no secret The University of Texas Pan-American’s Dr. Gregory Selber is a true sports enthusiast. As a young child, Selber would race home after a game and stay up late into the night drafting up the perfect game plays. Much hasn’t changed. You can still find Selber, associate professor of communication, busy on the sidelines writing, taking photos, and reporting for local media on all things sports. As the 2011 recipient of the Putt Powell Sports Writer of the Year award, Selber has placed RGV sports on the map with his noteworthy sports journalism. His first book, “Border Ball: The History of High School Football in the Rio Grande Valley,” was published in 2009. Selber has now poured his passion into a second book, “Bronc Ball: The History of College Basketball at Pan American.” In about 550 pages, Selber chronicles 85 years of UTPA basketball history. See story later in this posting.

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Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst on Friday, January 18, reappointed Sen. Judith Zaffirini, D-Laredo, as Chair of the Senate Government Organization Committee and a member of the Senate committees on Finance, Higher Education, Health and Human Services, and Administration. A member of the Legislative Budget Board, she also serves as Co-Chair of the Joint Oversight Committee on Higher Education Governance, Excellence and Transparency. “Because of these committee assignments, I continue to be well-positioned to make a difference for the families of our district and our state,” Zaffirini said. “I look forward to working with my colleagues to address our state’s pressing challenges, including those related to education and health and human services.” See story later in this posting.

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South Texan Miriam Martínez announces plan to run as Republican for Texas governor

By DAVID A.DÍAZ

South Texan Miriam Martínez, a renowned international journalist, small business owner, and the former 2012 Republican nominee for state representative, House District 41, on Monday, January 21, announced her plan to seek the March 2014 Republican nomination for Texas governor.

She said her campaign would focus on key issues, such as job creation, education, child support, and immigration. But she also emphasized the importance of the Republican Party having a candidate who is a woman and a minority to lead the top of the political ticket.

“I do not believe in discrimination. I just think it’s time for a woman to do the job,” said Martínez, a survivor of family violence. “I know how to take care of business. As a Mexican American woman, I can handle challenges and defeats. What I can’t handle is living a life of regret and asking myself, ‘What if?'”

She said she has proven to her community that she cares and is willing to put up a good fight for the governor’s seat. Currently, she has a radio show called Red Hot Texas Politics with Miriam Martínez, which is broadcast on Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 1 p.m. to 2 p.m. on KIRT-AM 1580. The purpose of the show is to bring awareness about political and community issues.

Martínez also 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.

If nominated by the Republican Party in the spring of 2014, and elected in the November 2014 general election, Martínez would be the first woman since Democrat Ann Richards, who from 1991 to 1995, held the state’s highest political office.

Martínez would also be the first Hispanic to be the gubernatorial nominee for the Texas Republican Party, and the first Mexican American since Laredo multi-millionaire Tony Sánchez in 2002 secured the Democratic Party nomination for Texas governor.

In 1996, high school government teacher Víctor M. Morales became the first minority candidate for either senator or governor nominated by either major party in the history of Texas.

A naturalized U.S. citizen, Martínez, 40, said she knows first-hand how to overcome obstacles and disappointments, and can relate to Texans from all walks of life.

“People sometimes confuse my kindness as a weakness,” she said. “I believe it is my strength to have compassion for those who have struggled in life and who are looking to better their future. I will work hard for everyone, and that will be the key to my success.”

She said her recent campaign for the state legislature was a very valuable experience.

Like longtime incumbent Gov. Rick Perry, who was formerly a Democrat, Martínez said she initially announced as a Democrat before running as a Republican in the local legislative race.

“Although I did not bring the victory, I established credibility and gained valuable knowledge in the political arena,” she said. “It is a dream come true that I will be running for governor. In my mind, you have to be your own person. People are very intelligent. They will decide if I fit the bill for that position.”

Her appreciation of both Mexican and Texan cultures, and being able to represent all women, bring great benefits, she said.

“When it comes to the Hispanic community, I have the finger on the pulse. I am bilingual, fluent in both English and Spanish, and I am a workaholic,” she noted.

Martínez credits her determination to her parents, who said instilled in her “an incredible work ethic and a natural quality for leadership.

“I learned from my father, may he rest in peace. He worked for 34 years in Pemex (in Mexico) as a labor worker and was proud of his accomplishments,” she recalled. “My mother worked cleaning houses in Houston and later worked in McAllen for H.E.B in the deli and bakery department. I am very proud of my parents’ humble backgrounds and their faith in God.”

Martínez is a conservative, proven leader, dedicated to her family and her profession. A South Texas businesswoman, she is raising three beautiful children. A woman of deep faith, she is an active parishioner at Harvey Drive Church of Christ in McAllen.

She shares the traditional views, values and aspirations held by the vast majority of Texans. Her personal and political principles are strongly based on the U.S. Constitution and the Bill of Rights, which serve to promote and protect our God-given rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

Like most 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 (who passed away in mid-December 2012), 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 has been blessed with the opportunities to best understand the economic and social issues most important to Texans. Education, health care, jobs creation, immigration, border security, transportation and public safety are among her legislative priorities.

She has the skills, education, and experiences to help come up with solutions to help Texas.

Martínez wants all Texans to blessed like her by having their American Dream come true, too.

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History is made at Texas Capitol with filing of legislation to create UT super system with medical school in the Valley, says Rep. Canales

By DAVID A. DÍAZ

History was made on Monday, February 4, when landmark legislation was filed at the Texas Capitol that calls for the creation of a new University of Texas super system, complete with a state-of-the-art medical school, that would forever improve life in the Rio Grande Valley, says Rep. Terry Canales, D-Edinburg, an author of House Bill 1000.

Under the legislation, UT-Pan American, with an enrollment approaching 20,000, would remain the dominant academic component in the new system, which calls for it to merge with the University of Texas at Brownsville.

UT-Pan American is located in the heart of Canales’ House District 40, which includes Edinburg, Elsa, and North Pharr.

The UT System also will commission an independent study to determine where a long-sought medical education dream, the “South Texas School of Medicine”, as currently named by state lawmakers, would be located, Canales said. (The final name of the medical school and new university system would be determined at a later date by the UT System Board of Regents.)

“Education is the cornerstone of our society, and the creation of this new university signifies an unprecedented expansion of higher education in our region. The merger of these learning institutions, and the creation of a medical school, will forever change the educational, and economic landscape of the entire Rio Grande Valley” Canales added. “I am deeply honored to have had the opportunity to represent my constituents and the people of South Texas as we turn a new page in the history of education, and equal opportunity.”

Rep. René Oliveria, D-Brownsville, will be carrying HB 1000 in the House of Representatives.

“This bill is the framework that will legally create the new university, and allows us, if passed by a two-thirds majority, to access the Permanent University Fund (PUF), and other state and federal research dollars,” said Oliveira, the Dean of the Rio Grande Valley legislative delegation in the House of Representatives. “It will combine existing resources to create a new university maximizing efficiencies in facilities and administration.”

Valley would gain millions of dollars in new funding

Canales said he had met with UT System Chancellor Francisco Cigarroa, M.D., in Edinburg weeks prior to the UT System announcement in early December regarding its plans for the new university system and medical school.

During the executive session with Cigarroa, Canales said he immediately saw “immeasurable possibilities for the future of our people and our region as a whole.

“It was at this point in our meeting that I wiped a tear from my eye, as I began to fully realize what this meant for the people of my district, and all of South Texas,” Canales revealed. “I apologized to the chancellor for becoming emotional, but my deep-rooted belief that education is the greatest equalizer for the underserved and underprivileged made me swell with happiness.”

“From that moment forward, I immersed myself in understanding just what I and my fellow legislators needed to do to make the dream of a new university and medical school a reality,” Canales emphasized. “House Bill 1000 would mean, for the first time, millions of dollars in revenue from the Permanent University Fund for UT-Pan American and UT-Brownsville as a result of this new university system,” Canales said.

Sen. Hinojosa: “The transformation of the Rio Grande Valley”

“This legislation, creating a new university in South Texas by merging UT-Pan American and UT- Brownsville and establishing a free standing medical school, has the potential of providing endless educational and healthcare benefits for our families in the Rio Grande Valley,” said Sen. Juan “Chuy” Hinojosa, D-McAllen. “I am proud that we stand united as a delegation embracing a regional mindset to draft the legislation we are filing today. The transformation of the Rio Grande Valley through education could soon be a reality and it is critical that we as a state invest in education and in the people of South Texas.”

Sen. Eddie Lucio, Jr., D-Brownsville, agreed with Canales and Hinojosa regarding the significance of the legislation.

“This is a historic day for the Rio Grande Valley. Today’s filing is the first important step toward creating the Valley’s only Tier One research university, with state-of-the art facilities and the ability to attract top-notch faculty. The inclusion of the future South Texas School of Medicine as part of this new university is the culmination of a decade of work expanding medical education in the region,” Lucio said. “The Rio Grande Valley will soon become a center for multinational education, medicine, and, industry.”

In early December, the UT System Board of Regents also approved the allocation of $100 million over the next 10 years to accelerate the pace of transitioning the Regional Academic Health Center network, which has campuses in Edinburg, Harlingen, and Brownsville, into a school of medicine.

If approved by the Texas Legislature and signed into law by Gov. Rick Perry, the legislation would result in a single institution that spans the entire Rio Grande Valley, with a presence in each of the major metropolitan areas of Brownsville, Edinburg, Harlingen and McAllen, according to the UT System.

Rep. Canales protected interests of UTPA, Hidalgo County

Canales said the legislation is the result of “countless meetings and conversations with the University of Texas, county officials, and fellow legislators. We all came together in the spirit of cooperation, and negotiated House Bill 1000,which we all felt was the best for the entire Rio Grande Valley.

“In the words of (early 20th century automobile manufacturer) Henry Ford: ‘Coming together is the beginning; keeping together is progress; working together is success,” Canales added.

The first-term lawmaker said he advocated hard to promote and protect the best interests of his legislative district, while still helping his fellow lawmakers do good for their constituents.

“I began to see the politics of a region unfold before my very eyes, as each state representative and state senator from the Valley began to not only advocate for their district, but also their county, which is expected of all of us,” Canales reflected about the political negotiations that have taken place since the UT System Board of Regents in early December announced their vision for the new Valley wide university system and medical school.

“Having the honor of representing District 40, which is not only the Hidalgo County seat, but is home to the University of Texas Pan-American, the premier university of South Texas, I felt duty bound to ensure that not only was Hidalgo County treated equitably in this merger, but that UT Pan Am was seen for what it truly is: the shining star of South Texas,” Canales said.

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$98 million Science Building for UT-Pan American part of legislative funding request to be sought from Texas Legislature

By DAVID A. DÍAZ

A proposed $98 million Science Building for the University of Texas-Pan American on Wednesday, January 23, was authorized by the UT System Board of Regents to be part of a $1.1 billion financing package that will be presented to the Texas Legislature in the coming weeks, Rep. Terry Canales, D-Edinburg, has announced.

“According to the UT System, the plans call for building a 162,600 gross-square-foot complex that would support biology, math, pre-med and environmental studies, which would help better prepare our students for cutting-edge professions, including medical school,” said Canales. “The action by the UT System Board of Regents was the first step needed to rally legislative support, and I will work very closely with the Valley legislative delegation and the UT System leadership to help secure the needed funding.”

Canales showed up prior to the UT System regents meeting in Austin to support Dr. Robert S. Nelsen, president of the University of Texas-Pan American, who laid out the key reasons the proposed Science Building are needed for deep South Texas.

The proposed Science Building would be added to the existing Science Building, which is located on the northeast corner of campus.

“This will be a great addition,” Nelsen told the UT System Board of Regents, which met early Wednesday morning at UT’s downtown administrative facility a few blocks south of the Texas Capitol. “We are thrilled by what we will be able to do for students and for the Valley.”

Promoting the best interest of the University of Texas-Pan American is part of the legislative agenda of the Edinburg City Council and its jobs-creation arm, the Edinburg Economic Development Corporation. The city council and EEDC have included key measures for UTPA as part of Edinburg’s state legislative agenda.

If financing is secured for construction, the new Science Building also would include three large lecture rooms, 30 research labs of various sizes, 19 instructional labs, five specialized labs, two BSL-3 laboratories, six environmental chambers, a vivarium, and associated support spaces, said Sen. Juan “Chuy” Hinojosa, D-McAllen.

“UT-Pan American has become one of the premier public universities in Texas, changing the Valley and the state for the better through its outstanding leadership, faculty, staff, and especially, its students,” said Hinojosa, himself an alumni. “Throughout its history, this university has played a tremendous role in the socioeconomic development of deep South Texas. Now, through this latest legislative initiative and other pending landmark measures, UT-Pan American is truly standing on the verge of becoming a first-class research university.”

The proposed Science Building for UT-Pan American was part of the projects approved with the stipulation that authorizes Regents Chairman Gene Powell and UT System Chancellor Francisco G. Cigarroa to prioritize the projects if it becomes necessary.

Tuition Revenue Bonds, or TRBs, are issued under the UT System’s Revenue Financing System (RFS) and are secured by a system-wide pledge of all legally available revenue for debt issued on behalf of UT System institutions. However, the expectation is that the state will reimburse TRB debt service from general revenue. In order for that to happen, the Texas Legislature must approve the TRBs by passing a bill introduced in the Legislature.

“We need this building quite dramatically. Probably the most important reason is pedalogical (the science and art of education),” Nelsen told the regents.

“Right now, our students do not have to take their labs at the same time they take the courses. It is a shame to admit this, but it is true,” the UTPA president continued. “You can take chemistry and not take your chemistry lab until the following year. That’s bad pedagogically. But it is a fact of our campus because we don’t have enough labs, we do not have enough big spaces to be able to do that.”

He said the new facility, for which if funding is secured from the Legislature, would increase the number of students who graduate in the fields of STEM, which stands for the categories of science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

“We need the jobs in the Valley, we need STEM credentialed-individuals,” Nelsen emphasized. “STEM education is critical for the Valley.”

According to the U.S. Department of Commerce, by 2017, STEM education “will grow and create 17 percent more jobs than currently are out there,” Nelsen explained. “Those people who get a STEM credential will earn 26.7 percent more.”

“We are in the middle of master planning right now. It is very interesting. We have the acreage on our campus that you could fit all of UT-Austin on our campus. We are not landlocked,” Nelsen said.

Constructing the massive addition would also help generate more money for the university because more students would be able to enroll.

“We have a responsibility to grow, and every time we grow one percent, we are bringing in about $900 thousand to be able to do it. Having these buildings and having the capacity will allow us to do it,” the UTPA president noted.

The strong interest in STEM degrees is evident in the enrollment figures at the local university, Nelsen illustrated.

“The College of Science and Mathematics has grown 17.8 percent in the last four years. It now has over 2,500 majors. The new Science Building will allow us to service those majors and allow us to pedagogically teach the students correctly and adequately,” he said. “For me, one of the best elements of this new building is that we would have four classrooms of 150 students apiece. Now, some people say its not good to have big classrooms. I have on my campus only 12 classrooms that have more than 100 students (each). You can teach general chemistry to large groups, and then you work them in the labs.”

The new Science Building would add 19 additional labs for a total of 54 labs on campus.

“That would sure make a difference. It is crucial as we transition into a new university that we have the research space available that is not available at this point,” he said. “Believe me, if you want us to reduce time to degree, we need this building so that we can teach those classes together and be successful.”

Nelsen said the UT-Pan American currently has less academic space, in terms of facilities, than other major campuses in the UT System.

“We don’t have the opportunity. If I can just give you a simple comparison, at UT-Pan Am, we have 127 gross-square-feet per student. At UT-San Antonio, it is 159 gross-square-feet per student. At UT-El Paso, its 203 gross-square-feet per student. At UT-Austin, its 455 gross-square feet per student,” Nelsen observed. “We simply don’t have the space to be able to put our students into the classrooms to make it work. We absolutely need this building.”

According to the UT System:

Having each UT institution bring TRB requests before the Board of Regents is a new process and signals a very strategic and conservative approach in asking for the Legislature’s assistance in paying for much-needed capital projects on campuses.

Each institution was allowed to bring one project for consideration to the Board of Regents. An exception was made for The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, which is asking for $8 million for a laboratory for research on aging for the San Antonio campus and $6 million for the Diabetes Institute of South Texas, located at the Laredo Regional Campus.

••••••

Sen. Hinojosa lands key role as Chairman
of Intergovernmental Relations Committee, Vice-Chair of powerful Finance Committee

By JENNIFER SÁENZ

Lt. Governor David Dewhurst on Friday, January 18, announced Senate committee assignments for the 83rd Legislative Session, including his selection of Sen. Juan “Chuy” Hinojosa, D-McAllen, as the Chairman of the Senate Intergovernmental Relations Committee and Vice Chair of the Senate Finance Committee.

Hinojosa also was reappointed to the Agriculture, Rural Affairs & Homeland Security, Natural Resources, and Criminal Justice Committees, as well to the Legislative Budget Board.

Hinojosa’s new appointment as a Senate committee chairman secures an influential leadership position that will lead a committee important to the South Texas region, while his continued membership on the Senate fiscal team cements his significant influence on the state budget-writing process.

“I am honored to serve as Chairman of the Intergovernmental Relations Committee and as Vice-Chair of Senate Finance and that Lt. Governor Dewhurst has entrusted me with these important responsibilities,” Hinojosa said. “Through these appointments I am able to put the Coastal Bend and South Texas at the forefront of the critical discussions that will be taking place during this legislative session. I look forward to working with the members of these committees.”

Hinojosa predicted the ongoing five-month regular session “will be yet another challenging one.

“Our communities face challenging issues, our lawmakers face significant hurdles, and the solutions are not always transparent. Now more than ever we need to work together,” he said. “We need to prevent cuts to education and essential healthcare services, invest in our youth and workforce through education and skills training, create more jobs, and invest in the infrastructure we need to pave the way for future success.”

Hinojosa pledged to “work to foster bipartisan collaboration to resolve these difficult questions and bring forth viable solutions that will benefit our Texas workers, families, and schools. I am fully committed to fight for the best interests of our Texas families and to serve the constituents of Senate District 20 through my respective appointments this 83rd session.”

••••••

Rep. Canales receives appointments to Energy Resources, Criminal Jurisprudence

By DAVID A. DÍAZ

With the Texas oil and gas industry responsible for thousands of jobs, particularly in Central and South Texas, and generating billions of dollars a year in revenue for the state government, Rep. Terry Canales says his appointment to the House Energy Resources Committee will serve the interests of his House District 40 at many different levels.

Speaker of the House Joe Straus, R-San Antonio, on Thursday, January 31, appointed Canales, D-Edinburg, to the House Energy Resources Committee, and to the House Criminal Jurisprudence Committee, which is also a major House panel that wields great influence over legislation designed to protect Texans from criminals.

“Regulating the state’s oil and gas industry is vital, not only because we need to promote this crucial sector of our state economy, but also because we want to protect the environment as we build upon the state’s global leadership role in the production of energy,” said Canales.

With plans underway for the privately-funded construction of a $650 million, 700-megatt electricity generating facility in Edinburg, the House Energy Resources Committee will have jurisdiction over any legislative proposals dealing with utility regulation as it relates to energy production and consumption.

“This planned power plant in Edinburg will provide power to 350,000 homes, which gives a good idea of how important the energy industry is to South Texas, let alone my district,” Canales said. “I will help make sure that legislation coming through my committee will be helpful to this project, and other vital energy producing efforts in the Rio Grande Valley, including wind power.”

Regarding his appointment to the House Criminal Jurisprudence Committee, Canales said that legislative panel often shapes state laws and policies that protect Texans from criminals.

“I will always favor state proposals that protect all Texans, especially our most vulnerable citizens, such as the elderly, our children, victims of family violence, and the disabled,” Canales said.

According to House Resolution 4, which details the responsibilities of each House committee, Canales’ committee assignments will have the following jurisdiction:

ENERGY RESOURCES

The committee shall have 11 members, with jurisdiction over all matters pertaining to:

(1) the conservation of the energy resources of Texas;

(2) the production, regulation, transportation, and development of oil, gas, and other energy resources;

(3) mining and the development of mineral deposits within the state;

(4) the leasing and regulation of mineral rights under public lands;

(5) pipelines, pipeline companies, and all others operating as common carriers in the state;

(6) electric utility regulation as it relates to energy production and consumption;

(7) identifying, developing, and using alternative energy sources;

(8) increasing energy efficiency throughout the state; and

(9) the following state agencies: the Railroad Commission of Texas, the Office of Interstate Oil Compact Commissioner for Texas, the Office of Interstate Mining Compact Commissioner for Texas, the State Energy Conservation Office, and the Office of Southern States Energy Board Member for Texas.

CRIMINAL JURISPRUDENCE

The committee shall have nine members, with jurisdiction over all matters pertaining to:

(1) criminal law, prohibitions, standards, and penalties;

(2) probation and parole;

(3) criminal procedure in the courts of Texas;

(4) revision or amendment of the Penal Code; and

(5) the following state agencies: the Office of State Prosecuting Attorney and the Texas State Council for Interstate Adult Offender Supervision.

••••••

Rep. Martínez receives appointments to Transportation, Higher Education, and Local and Consent Calendars committees

By DAVID A. DÍAZ

The fate of major legislation that affects the development of the Valley’s state highway system and the plans for a new University of Texas higher education system, with its proposed state-of-the-art medical school, will be first decided in the Texas House of Representatives by legislative committees which include Rep. Armando “Mando” Martínez, D-Weslaco.

Martínez, the Dean of the Hidalgo County state legislative delegation, on Thursday, January 31, was appointed Vice-Chairman of the House Transportation Committee, and will also serve on the House Higher Education Committee and the House Local and Consent Calendars Committee.

“The overwhelming majority of legislation that will deal with highways and transportation, including jurisdiction over the Texas Department of Transportation and the Texas Transportation Commission, and the upcoming major legislation that will lead to a monumental transformation of our universities, including the proposed UT medical school in the Valley and the merger of UT-Pan American with UT-Brownsville, will first have to come through my committees,” said Martínez. “My leadership and experiences in the Legislature will again place me in an excellent position to help my fellow legislative colleagues on these crucial issues. I am very pleased with these appointments.”

Rep. Robert “Bobby” Guerra, D-Sharyland, a first-term lawmaker, also was appointed to the House Transportation Committee.

Martínez, meanwhile, is beginning his fifth two-year term in the Texas House of Representatives.

While most state representatives are appointed to two House standing committees, Martínez was also included in a third – and equally-influential legislative panel: the House Local and Consent Calendars Committee.

In general, the House Local and Consent Calendars Committee decides whether hundreds of bills that affect local entities, such as county and city governments, make it to the floor with a recommendation for a favorable vote by the House of Representatives. With Hidalgo County approaching one million residents, such so-called “local bills” can affect huge numbers of residents.

“The House Local and Consent Calendars Committee also provides me the opportunity to help other lawmakers pass their key pieces of legislation that specifically benefit their districts, and this allows me to get their support for my legislation and legislation that promotes and protects my legislative district and Hidalgo County,” Martínez explained.

According to House Resolution 4, which details the responsibilities of each House committee, Martínez’ committee assignments will have the following jurisdiction:

TRANSPORTATION

The committee shall have 11 members, with jurisdiction over all matters pertaining to:

(1) commercial motor vehicles, both bus and truck, and their control, regulation, licensing, and operation;

(2) the Texas highway system, including all roads, bridges, and ferries constituting a part of the system;

(3) the licensing of private passenger vehicles to operate on the roads and highways of the state;

(4) the regulation and control of traffic on the public highways of the State of Texas;

(5) railroads, street railway lines, interurban railway lines, steamship companies, and express companies;

(6) airports, air traffic, airlines, and other organizations engaged in transportation by means of aerial flight;

(7) water transportation in the State of Texas, and the rivers, harbors, and related facilities used in water transportation and the agencies of government exercising supervision and control thereover;

(8) the regulation of metropolitan transit; and

(9) the following state agencies: the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles, the Texas Department of Transportation, and the Texas Transportation Commission

HIGHER EDUCATION

The committee shall have nine members, with jurisdiction over all matters pertaining to:

(1) education beyond high school;

(2) the colleges and universities of the State of Texas; and

(3) the following state agencies: the Texas Engineering Experiment Station, the Texas Engineering Extension Service, the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board, the Texas Guaranteed Student Loan Corporation, the State Medical Education Board, the Prepaid Higher Education Tuition Board, and the Texas Transportation Institute.

LOCAL AND CONSENT CALENDARS (PROCEDURAL)

The committee shall have 13 members, with jurisdiction over:

(1) the placement on appropriate calendars of bills and resolutions that, in the opinion of the committee, are in fact local or will be uncontested, and have been recommended as such by

the standing committee of original jurisdiction; and

(2) the determination of priorities for floor consideration of bills and resolutions except those within the jurisdiction of the Committee on Calendars.

••••••

McAllen City Commissioner Jim Darling files to succeed Richard Cortéz, who is not seeking reelection in May 11 citywide election

By BRIAN GODÍNEZ

McAllen City Commissioner James E. “Jim” Darling on Friday, February 1, filed and submitted the required legal paperwork and petition to City Secretary Annette Villarreal at McAllen City Hall to have his name placed on the ballot for the election of McAllen mayor.

The municipal general election is scheduled for Saturday, May 11.

Darling is the general counsel at Doctors Hospital at Renaissance in Edinburg. He was the former city attorney of the city of McAllen for 28 years and has served as a city commissioner since 2007.

Commenting on his mayoral candidacy Darling said, “Over several years, as a city attorney, a city commissioner and a community volunteer in many different leadership roles, I’ve had the opportunity to be a part of and witness first-hand the development, growth and success of McAllen. I am proud to have been given this privilege and responsibility of duty and service, and would be honored to have the citizens of McAllen elect me as their next mayor.”

Darling says that what inspires him to continue serving McAllen is the chance to spend more time building on the innovation that has provided a better quality of life for its people and businesses.

“McAllen has been inventive and ground breaking over the years with its rich history of advanced services and programs. We have built a strong economic foundation for good jobs, new and improved infrastructure to attract industry and investment, and public safety and services to protect our families and help our businesses and neighborhoods flourish.”

Darling highlights some successes that he has been a part of, for example: the creation of the foreign trade zone and international bridges; major transportation projects such as the Bicentennial expansion; McAllen’s recycling program; new public safety initiatives that have helped lower the crime rate; building affordable housing programs that have created new neighborhoods; the new nationally-recognized public library; partnerships with STC and UTPA to build a quality workforce; and improving infrastructure for better drainage and public utilities.

“What I am most proud of is that we did this and more while working together cooperatively to make sound and wise investments, and maintain good fiscal policies. McAllen is financially strong and positioned for a bright future,” he continued to say.

Darling stated that McAllen and the state of Texas still face some challenges ahead and he believes that governmental collaboration and cooperation can improve opportunities to secure more funding and resources for McAllen and the region.

“I intend to focus on building stronger inter- and intra-governmental partnerships with outside and inside agencies and entities to see that we work together to build a better McAllen for our citizens and businesses,” Darling said.

He continued to say, “I want MEDC, the Chamber and the City to work closer together and be more responsive to our business community – those that are here and those that want to come to McAllen. I want our service attitude to always be helpful, friendly and responsive – let’s cut some process and add more results.”

Darling graduated from Baylor Law School after serving two tours of duty with the Air Force in Vietnam. He currently serves as the chairman of Lower Rio Grande River Water Authority, vice chairman of the Region M Water Planning Group, board member of the McAllen Public Utility Board, co-chair of the Texas Municipal League Legislative Committee, board member of the Senior Companionship Program and Lower Rio Grande Development Council, and co-chair of the Hidalgo County Drainage Advisory Committee.

He previously served as president and board member of the Boys and Girls Club of McAllen, president and board member of Communities in Schools, board member of McAllen Crime Stoppers, board member of the McAllen Chamber of Commerce, chair of the McAllen Chamber of Commerce Legislative Committee, president of the PTA Fields Elementary School, chairman of the CPL Cities Steering Committee, president of the STAP Cities Electrical Aggregation Group, board member of the Hidalgo County Bar Association, and the vice chair of the Texas Affordable Housing Task Force.

Darling is the recipient of the Henry B. Gonzalez National Housing Council Award, National Boys and Girls Club Medallion Award, McAllen Chamber of Commerce Man of the Year, USAF Distinguished Flying Cross and the Hidalgo County Bar Association John E. Cook Pro Bono Award.

He is married to Sandra Darling and has three daughters and three sons.

••••••

Sen. Judith Zaffirini, Sen. Juan “Chuy” Hinojosa, and Sen. Eddie Lucio, Jr., draw
four-year terms in post-redistricting lottery

By WILL KRUEGER

Sen. Judith Zaffirini, D-Laredo, on Wednesday, January 23, drew a four-year term that expires in 2016, as she participated in the Texas Senate’s post-redistricting lottery.

“I am delighted to represent the families of Senate District 21,” Zaffirini said. “A four-year term will allow me to focus on representing my constituents and balancing their needs and priorities with those of our great state.”

After the first election following every decennial redistricting, senators draw for four-year or two-year terms to ensure that terms are staggered for the remainder of the decade. Today each Texas senator drew an envelope containing a capsule with either an odd or even number. Those who drew even numbers were awarded terms ending in 2014, while those who drew odd numbers were awarded terms ending in 2016.

Sen. Juan “Chuy” Hinojosa, D-McAllen, and Sen. Eddie Lucio, Jr., D-Brownsville, also drew four-year terms.

First elected in 1986, Zaffirini has sponsored and passed 725 bills and 52 substantive resolutions and co-sponsored and passed another 384 bills. Her work ethic is reflected in her 100 percent voting record in the Texas Senate, where she has cast more than 47,580 consecutive votes since 1987.

She serves as Chair of the Senate Government Organization Committee and Co-Chair of the Joint Oversight Committee on Higher Education Governance, Excellence and Transparency. She also serves on the Legislative Budget Board and the Senate Committees on Finance, Higher Education, Health and Human Services and Administration.

Elected in 1991, Lucio is fourth in seniority in the Texas Senate.

“I am elated to continue serving the Rio Grande Valley through this and the next Legislative Session,” Lucio said. “I also look forward to continuing work on improving higher education opportunities in South Texas and meeting with stakeholders from across the state in building a better Texas.”

Pursuant to the provisions of Article III, Section 3, of the Texas Constitution, Texas’ 31 senators serve four-year terms. However, the Constitution also requires that each decade, after the redistricting process by which legislators redraw political boundary lines, Senators be divided in half, with one half of the membership serving an initial two-year term and the other half serving a four-year term. The goal of this provision is to stagger senators’ terms so that one half of the Senate membership is elected biennially.

Pursuant to a Senate resolution adopted by the members, lots were drawn by lottery. The Secretary of the Senate prepared 31 slips of paper with numbers printed upon them. These slips of paper were placed in sealed envelopes. The members of the Senate were then called in alphabetical order and asked to randomly draw an envelope. Those members who picked a slip of paper with an even number printed upon it had drawn a two-year term. Those senators who drew an odd number, including Zaffirini, Hinojosa, and Lucio, drew four-year terms.

••••••

Edinburg posts 6.7 percent unemployment rate in December; annual rate averages 7.76 percent

By DAVID A. DÍAZ

Edinburg posted a 6.7 percent unemployment rate in December 2012, the second-best showing among the Valley’s major cities for that month, helping keep the annual unemployment rate for Edinburg for 2012 at 7.76 percent, the Edinburg Economic Development Corporation has announced.

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

The December unemployment rate also was the best showing for that month since December 2009, when it was reported also at 6.7 percent by the Texas Workforce Commission.

The Texas Workforce Commission is the state agency charged with overseeing and providing workforce development services to employers and job seekers of Texas

Edinburg’s annual unemployment rate of 7.76 percent was the best for the city since 2009, when it registered at 6.8 percent.

Mayor Richard García, who also serves as president of the five-member Board of Directors for the Edinburg Economic Development Corporation, said 2013 promises to continue bringing positive economic news for the city.

“We have several companies with which we are negotiating which are going to bring us a large number of jobs and expansions of existing businesses,” the mayor noted, but explained that the city is not yet at liberty to reveal the details of those discussions.

What can be revealed are some of scheduled openings in 2013 for numerous employers, ranging from: the Cinemark Movie Bistro, which will help anchor more economic development along Trenton Road in southwest Edinburg; another projected expansion of The Shoppes at Rio Grande Valley, which just last summer added 90,000-square-feet; and the much anticipated opening of the $180 million Santana Textiles denim manufacturing complex in north Edinburg, which will boast 800 jobs.

“Certainly, we have had announcements by the new power plant and what that will bring a lot of new jobs,” García added, referring to the $650 million, 700-megatt electricity generating facility, whose location in Edinburg will soon be announced, that will create 500 construction jobs and provide power to 350,000 homes.

“Job creation, that’s what the EEDC is all about, that’s what we are here doing,” the mayor said. “All these things that are happening combined in Edinburg are putting us where we are. The good news is that with all the recent announcements, it’s only going to get better.”

The December unemployment rate of 6.7 percent was the second-best showing for Edinburg since the previous month, which came in at 6.6 percent in November.

Only McAllen, with a 6.6 percent unemployment rate, had a better month for jobs in December, according to the Texas Workforce Commission.

The unemployment rates in December for the other major cities in the Valley featured Harlingen (8.1 percent), Mission (8.6 percent), Pharr (8.6 percent), Brownsville (10.4 percent), and Weslaco (10.5 percent).

All communities combined in Hidalgo County resulted in a 10.3 percent unemployment rate.

The December unemployment rates for all Texas cities, metropolitan regions, and counties were released by the Texas Workforce Commission on Friday, January 18.

On the local jobs front, Edinburg’s 6.7 percent unemployment rate for December 2012 compared favorably with November (6.6 percent), October (7.3 percent), September (7.4 percent), August (8.6 percent), July (9.2 percent), June (8.8 percent), May (7.8 percent); April (7.2 percent); March (7.7 percent); February (7.7 percent); and January (8.2 percent).

For December, there were 32,760 residents employed in Edinburg, according to the Texas Workforce Commission.

According to the Texas Workforce Commission, the unemployment rate is the number of persons unemployed, expressed as a percentage of the civilian labor force. The civilian labor force is that portion of the population age 16 and older employed or unemployed. To be considered unemployed, a person has to be not working and actively seeking work.

The Texas Workforce Commission maintains a detailed accounting of employment trends for Edinburg and all other cities in the state on its website, located at:

http://www.tracer2.com/cgi/ dataanalysis/AreaSelection. asp?tableName=Labforce

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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EEDC, City to host Friday, February 15 session on Downtown Facade Improvement Matching Grant

By DAVID A. DÍAZ

Edinburg’s city and economic development leaders on Friday, February 15, beginning at 10 a.m., will be hosting a public session on the local government’s Downtown Facade Improvement Matching Grant Program, which can provide up to $5,000 in matching grants for eligible owners to improve the physical appearance of their businesses, the Edinburg Economic Development Corporation has announced.

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

The meeting, which is free and open to the public, will be held at the Edinburg Chamber of Commerce, located at 602 West University Drive.

Juan R. López, A.I.C.P., Director of Planning and Zoning for the City of Edinburg, will be the featured speaker for the event.

“This program is intended to improve the image and vitality in the Downtown District, which is going to continue flourishing into a cultural, economic, and tourist destination point with the growth of the University of Texas-Pan American, the planned expansion of the Hidalgo County Courthouse complex, and the creation and expansion of businesses along this region,” explained Mayor Richard García, who also serves as president of the five-member EEDC Board of Directors.

Funding will be provided on a 50/50 matching basis – up to a $5,000 one-time matching grant – for facade, signs, new windows and doors and other improvements for businesses in the Downtown District.

Eligible businesses must be located in a region that covers from South 4th Avenue to Veterans Boulevard along West and East University Drive in the Downtown District, and includes portions of McIntyre, Cano, Mahl, Stubbs, Peter, Loeb, Kuhn, and Cano streets, along with portions of Closner Boulevard.

A detail map to determine eligible businesses is available online at http://www.EdinburgEDC.com or by calling the Planning and Zoning Department at 956/383-8202.

There are two major types of grants available:

• Sign: 50/50 matching basis. Maximum grant amount is up to $1,000.

All signs shall comply with the city’s Form Base Code, Section VIII. Sign standards for permitted signs in the Downtown District and are subject to application for a sign permit. Sign permit application fee, however, will be waived for grant recipients.

• Facade: 50/50 matching basis. Maximum grant is up to $4,000.

Rehab of building facades visible to the street, including new doors and windows, cornices, gutters, downspouts, awnings, canopies, painting (color, masonry cleaning, architectural features, exterior lighting fixtures) stucco, and brick work, as required by the City’s Form Base Code, Section IV Building Standards, and Section VI. Lighting and Mechanical Standards.

Roof repairs, interior remodeling and replacement of broken glass in windows or doors are not eligible improvements. Facade improvements are subject to required building permit application. Application fees, however, will be waived for grant recipients.

The EEDC created the Downtown Facade Improvement Program in late November 2012 to also help businesses upgrade their facilities as the city and EEDC continue to convert McIntyre Street immediately west and east of Edinburg City Hall into a beautiful pedestrian corridor, complete with wide sidewalks, benches, trees and other green space.

The Downtown Facade Improvement Program was recommended in a master plan completed for the city in 2010.

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:www.EdbgCityLimits.com

••••••

Fallen DPS trooper Eduardo Chávez could have
segment of U.S. 83 named in his honor by Legislature

By DAVID A. DÍAZ

A two-mile segment of U.S. Expressway 83, beginning at the Hidalgo/Starr county line and proceeding northwest for two miles, would be renamed Trooper Eduardo Chávez Memorial Highway under legislation filed by Rep. Sergio Muñoz, Jr., D-Mission.

The measure, House Bill 442, would honor the fallen DPS officer, a 1994 graduate from Edinburg High School, who was killed in the Valley while responding to a call for help in 2006.

House Bill 442, which is also co-authored by Rep. Ryan Guillen, D-Rio Grande City, if passed by the Texas Legislature and signed into law by Gov. Rick Perry, would designate the portion of U.S. Highway 83 in Starr County from the eastern boundary of Starr County to Farm-to-Market Road 2360 in Chávez’ honor.

Rep. Terry Canales, D-Edinburg, will be signing on as a co-author of the legislation in the coming days. A Senate sponsor for HB 442 has not yet been announced.

“The memorial is meant to honor the life and service of Trooper Chávez, who was killed within this designated segment of U.S. 83 in 2006 in the line of duty while responding to a call for assistance with a narcotics arrest,” said Muñoz.

The legislation would require the state government to design and construct markers indicating the highway number, the designation as the Trooper Eduardo Chávez Memorial Highway, and any other appropriate information, and erect a marker at each end of the highway and at intermediate sites along the highway.

According to the Texas Department of Public Safety’s news account of Chávez’ life:

Chávez was stationed in Palmview (which is part of Muñoz’ House District 36), and on May 2, 2006, was responding to a call to assist his brother, Trooper Enrique Chávez, with a narcotics arrest. A tire blowout caused Chávez to lose control and his vehicle rolled several times.

“Trooper Chávez exemplified the highest standards of courage and love for his brother and for all Texans by answering the call for help,” Muñoz said. “He gave his life in service to our state, and he symbolizes the incredible qualities required of all public safety and law enforcement professionals who protect Texans.”

Chávez was born in Reynosa, Tamaulipas, Mexico, and he and his family moved to California when he was about nine years old, then moved to Edinburg when he was a teenager, where he completed high school at Edinburg High School in 1994.

Canales said HB 442 is a tribute to the noblest ideals of all Texans.

“Trooper Chávez, like all law enforcement and public safety officials, exhibited extraordinary bravery by rushing towards danger after receiving a call for help, and that is a remarkable thing for anyone to ever do,” Canales said. “He brought honor to himself and to his family, and to the thousands of fellow law enforcement and public safety professionals who put their lives on the line every day to protect all of us.”

Soon after his untimely passing, Chávez was one of 49 Texas first responders from 2005 and 2006 who were bestowed The Star of Texas Award for their courage and sacrifice by Gov. Rick Perry.

The Star of Texas Award was created by the Texas Legislature in 2003 to honor Texas’ first responders. Awards are issued annually for each peace officer, firefighter, and emergency medical first responder who is seriously injured or killed in the line of duty.

Also in 2006, the Texas Legislature, through House Resolution 511 by then-Rep. Aaron Peña, D-Edinburg, honored Chávez, then age 30, for his selfless act of bravery in the line of duty.

“During his years on the force, Trooper Chávez built a record of meritorious service, loyalty, personal bravery, and self-sacrifice consistent with the high ideals of the law enforcement profession,” HR 511 stated. “A member of a family with a tradition in law enforcement, Trooper Chávez is owed a debt of gratitude none can repay, and his legacy of service will be remembered and honored for years to come.”

Formerly a deputy sheriff with the Hidalgo County Sheriff’s Department, he joined the Texas Department of Public Safety in 2003 and was stationed at the Palmview DPS office at the time of his passing.

Surviving him at the time of his passing in 2006, according to HR 511, were his beloved wife, Iliana Chávez; his parents, Enrique and Isabel Chávez; his two brothers, Enrique Chávez and his wife, Beatriz, and Germán Chávez; his sister, Mónica Chávez; his paternal grandparents, Enrique and Francisca Chávez; his maternal grandmother, Odilia López; his nieces and nephew, Samantha, Felicia, Katie, Toni, and Enrique; and his many other relatives and many friends.

••••••

$9.1 million The Residence at Edinburg latest
economic payoff for city delivered by EEDC

By DAVID A. DÍAZ

A portion of a 20-acre tract of land in southwest Edinburg owned by the Edinburg Economic Development Corporation is paying off big for the community with the ongoing construction of the $9.1 million The Residence at Edinburg, a high-end apartment complex located at 4590 Professional Drive, near Edinburg Regional Medical Center and Edinburg Children’s Hospital.

By May, the 194-unit, 179,490 square-foot complex with six different floor plans (from one bedroom one bath, 654 square foot units to two bedroom, two bath, 1,206 square foot units) will be completed. The eight-building complex, which broke ground in May 2012, will have its first buildings ready for occupancy by mid-February.

As The Residence at Edinburg continues to take shape, it is also serving as proof of the wisdom of a plan put into place by the EEDC leadership in 2008 to take what had formerly been an empty tract of land and convert it into an economic development windfall for the city.

“Originally, that 20-acre tract of land had been reserved for the U.S. Border Patrol, which had built its $18 million, 85,000-square-foot headquarters about a mile away, at 4400 South Expressway 281,” said Nelda Ramírez, Executive Director for the EEDC. “As it turned out, the Border Patrol did not need more space, and the EEDC Board of Directors voted to market it to private investors, and with it, bring new jobs and generate more local property taxes for key public services, not just for the city and EEDC, but also for the school district and county.”

The EEDC wound up selling 11.5 acres of the 20-acre site to the developers of The Residence at Edinburg,

The EEDC, which is governed by a five-member Board of Directors appointed by the Edinburg City Council, is the jobs-creation arm of the elected city leadership.

Mayor Richard García, who serves as president of the EEDC Board of Directors, said The Residence at Edinburg is also a quality-of-life asset to the city.

“It’s location means that many of our health professionals who work at our vital hospital corridors have access to even more outstanding housing choices, and the amenities offered by The Residence of Edinburg put it on the level of the best apartment complexes in South Texas,” said García.

The mayor said that an economic impact analysis of The Residence at Edinburg also shows that the direct, indirect, and induced impact of the construction activities have resulted in 115 jobs, representing a payroll of more than $3.7 million. Local and state tax revenues also increased by more than $352,000 as a result.

“The analyses were done using IMPLAN software from the Minnesota IMPLAN Group,” according to Sai Mullapui, Business Econ Research Assoc III with the University of Texas-Pan American. “The study area observed was Hidalgo County for year 2013. The study only considers the construction phase of the project. The project will have greater and continuous impact after the completion of the apartment complex.”

According to IMPLAN, direct impacts consist of permanent jobs, wages and output of the event itself. Indirect impacts are jobs, wages and output created by business, which provide goods and services essential to the construction of the project. Induced impacts are the result of spending of the wages and salaries of the direct and indirect employees on items such as food, housing, transportation, and medical services.

Haydee Martínez, Property Manager for The Residence at Edinburg, expresses deep pride with the city’s latest addition to its housing market.

“The owners have added upgrades to this property that our sister properties (in other Texas cities) do not offer because we want to offer the best housing option in Edinburg,” Martínez said. “We will have onsite management and 24-7 emergency maintenance. We will also have surveillance cameras on all of our amenities and gates.”

Martínez is bringing professional credentials worthy of her leadership position of the high-end apartment complex.

“I have been in property management for almost nine years, and I have been with Residence Property Company for three years,” she said. “I started in San Marcos, then ventured to San Antonio, then opened The Residence at Eagle Pass in November of 2009. I take care of my properties and try my best to provide an enjoyable living experience for all of my residents.”

Martínez added that The Residence at Edinburg features a high-quality clientele.

“We accept anyone that passes our criteria. We check everyone’s income, rental history, criminal background and credit,” she explained. “This is a gated community. Why is that important to residents? It will have limited access gates. The gates help us insure that only residents and their guest are enjoying the community.”

Among the luxury amenities that will be offered at The Residence at Edinburg are:

• Resort Style Pool;

• 24-hr Fitness Center and Personal Training Room;

• Cyber Café;

• Conference Room;

• Luxury Clubhouse with two seating areas;

• Relaxing Back patio; and

• Outside Covered Kitchen.

The monthly rent ranges from $750 to $1150, and tenants have the options to secure three-month, six-month, or 12-month leases, Martínez added.

Edinburg Venture is the owner of The Residence at Edinburg. The architect is Ted Trout Architect of Houston, and the developer in TYNO Development, also of Houston. Residence Property Company of Houston is the management firm for The Residence at Edinburg.

Updates on construction are available on Facebook at:

http://www.facebook.com/residenceatedinburg

Detailed information is also available online at: http://www.residenceatedinburg.com

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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Former “Panama Unit” officers indicted for alleged roles in drug smuggling schemes

By ANGELA DODGE

A federal grand jury in McAllen returned a six-count indictment against Jonathan Treviño, Alexis Rigoberto Espinoza, Fabian Rodríguez and Gerardo Mendoza- Durán, United States Attorney Kenneth Magidson announced on Wednesday, January 9.

An indictment is a formal accusation of criminal conduct, not evidence. ?A defendant is presumed innocent unless and until convicted through due process of law.

Treviño is a son of Hidalgo County Sheriff Lupe Treviño, and Espinoza is a son of City of Hidalgo Chief of Police Rudy Espinoza.

The defendants, through their attorney, have pleaded innocent.

The indictment includes one count of conspiracy to possess with the intent to distribute more than five kilograms of cocaine, which charges all four men, as well as five substantive counts of attempting to aid and abet the possession with the intent to distribute cocaine. Espinoza and Duran are charged with four of the substantive counts, while Trevino and Rodriguez were indicted on one of those charges.

Treviño, 28, Espinoza, 29, Rodríguez, 28, and Mendoza-Durán, 30, were previously charged by criminal complaint in December and subsequently arrested following a multi-agency investigation conducted in 2012.

The indictment alleges Treviño and Espinoza, former officers with the Mission Police Department, along with Rodríguez and Durán, former deputies with the Hidalgo County Sheriff’s Office, attempted to utilize their positions as law enforcement personnel in order to assist drug traffickers with the distribution of cocaine. On several occasions in October and November 2012, the defendants allegedly provided protective escorts for suspected loads of cocaine as they traveled throughout Hidalgo County.

If convicted, the four face a minimum of 10 years imprisonment and a maximum of life in prison, along with a potential fine up to $10 million.

The case is being investigated by the FBI, Immigration and Customs Enforcement–Office of Professional Responsibility, Drug Enforcement Administration, Homeland Security Investigations, the Texas Rangers and Department of Justice–Office of the Inspector General.

Assistant United States Attorneys Aníbal Alanis and James Sturgis are prosecuting the case.

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Sen. Zaffirini reappointed to key committees

By WILL KRUEGER

Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst on Friday, January 18, reappointed Sen. Judith Zaffirini, D-Laredo, as Chair of the Senate Government Organization Committee and a member of the Senate Committees on Finance, Higher Education, Health and Human Services and Administration.

A member of the Legislative Budget Board, she also serves as Co-Chair of the Joint Oversight Committee on Higher Education Governance, Excellence and Transparency.

“Because of these committee assignments, I continue to be well-positioned to make a difference for the families of our district and our state,” Zaffirini said. “I look forward to working with my colleagues to address our state’s pressing challenges, including those related to education and health and human services.”

A member of the Health and Human Services Committee since 1989, Zaffirini is known for her expertise and leadership in addressing early childhood education, higher education and health and human services issues.

The Senate Higher Education Committee will focus on legislation that impacts Texas colleges and universities, including Sunset legislation relating to the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board.

Zaffirini chaired the Higher Education Committee from 2009 to 2012, the Higher Education Subcommittee (2005-09), Senate Finance Subcommittees on Capital Funding for Higher Education (2006) and on State Contracting Practices (2004) and the Health and Human Services Committee from 1993 to 1999.

Since 2001, Zaffirini has served on the Senate Committee on Administration that certifies legislation for the Local and Uncontested Calendar — approximately 75 percent of the legislation passed by the Senate each session, including many bills important to communities in Senate District 21 and across Texas.

“My committee assignments reflect our priorities of improving educational opportunities for all and maintaining our commitment to the very young, the very old and persons with disabilities,” Zaffirini said.

Second in seniority in the 31-member Texas Senate, Zaffirini is Chair of the Senate Government Organization Committee and Co-Chair of the Joint Oversight Committee on Higher Education Governance, Excellence and Transparency. She also serves on the Legislative Budget Board and the Senate Committees on Finance, Higher Education, Health and Human Services and Administration.

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Big musical acts to headline Fiesta Edinburg at Edinburg Municipal Park on February 21-24

By RONNIE LARRALDE

Bert Ogden Fiesta Chevrolet and the Edinburg Chamber of Commerce present Fiesta Edinburg on Thursday, February 21, through Sunday, February 24, at the Edinburg Municipal Park.

Country music superstar Mark Chesnutt of Beaumont, who has more than 30 singles on the U.S. Billboard Hot Country songs, including eight No. 1 singles, and the Valley’s own Bo Garza with Texas Desire and Dezeo will be the featured musical acts on Friday, February 22.

On Saturday, February 23, musical performances will be delivered by Los Tigrillos, Los Cadetes de

Linares de Lupe Tijerina, Los 2 de Nuevo León, and Grupo Zinzzero.

This year, Fiesta Edinburg will have plenty to offer including the traditional “Fiesta” parade, Heart of America Carnival, Family Fun Zone and an “RGV HAS TALENT” Contest. The event costs include: $10 per vehicle, $5 admission, and 10 years and younger are allowed in free.

The Heart of America Carnival will run from February 21 through February 24, with a $5 special “All You Can Ride” fee on Thursday, February 24.

The main entrance to the festival will be off Raúl Longoria Road. Visitors are encouraged to bring blankets, chairs and umbrellas to enjoy the outdoor event.

Sponsors for the event include Linebarger Goggan Blair & Sampson, Magic Valley Electric CO-OP,

Martins Feed & Ranch Supply, Memorial Funeral Home, International Bank of Commerce, and theEdinburg Economic Development Corporation. For more information on Fiesta Edinburg is available by contacting the Edinburg Chamber of Commerce at 056/383-4974 or by going onine at http://www.Edinburg.com

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UTPA’s Dr. Gregory Selber makes a winning shot with new book on Pan Am basketball

By GAIL FAGAN

It is no secret The University of Texas Pan-American’s Dr. Gregory Selber is a true sports enthusiast. As a young child, Selber would race home after a game and stay up late into the night drafting up the perfect game plays. Much hasn’t changed. You can still find Selber, associate professor of communication, busy on the sidelines writing, taking photos, and reporting for local media on all things sports.

As the 2011 recipient of the Putt Powell Sports Writer of the Year award, Selber has placed RGV sports on the map with his noteworthy sports journalism. His first book, “Border Ball: The History of High School Football in the Rio Grande Valley,” was published in 2009.

Selber has now poured his passion into a second book, “Bronc Ball: The History of College Basketball at Pan American.” In about 550 pages, Selber chronicles 85 years of UTPA basketball history.

“I wanted to write a book about college basketball that was more in depth than just a media guide,” said Selber. “With all the available information UTPA already had in the archives, I felt it was my responsibility to UTPA and to our community to collect all the information and write a comprehensive account of Bronc ball that people could really be proud of.”

Packed within the pages, Selber catalogs a wide range of material from each season–beginning in 1927–with extensive facts on each game.

“At first I didn’t realize how big a project this turned out to be,” Selber said. “I went through every game sheet and wrote details regarding the team, the hype, even about what the fans were like, it really is something.”

Throughout the book, Selber provides important and relevant historical context of UTPA basketball.

“I wanted to include the history Bronc ball has gone through over the years,” he said. “For example, back in 1957, under coach Sam Williams, we were the first integrated sports team long before Glory Road.”

Selber refers to the 1966 NCAA Men’s Division I Basketball Championship in which the all-black starting line-up–the first in history– playing for Texas Western University, now known as The University of Texas-El Paso, won the national championship.

“I dedicate a whole chapter on how racial integration came about through basketball here at UTPA,” Selber said. “I wanted to emphasize the importance of what UTPA did back in 1957. We gave a lot of opportunities to people who had been previously denied those opportunities, which I consider to be the mission of the university today.”

Included are also many interesting facts and UTPA basketball trivia, including the fact that UT Pan American had 18 players drafted to the NBA.

Selber’s tome also contains more than 100 pictures, many dating back to the 1930s.

“Originally, I wanted to write this book as a combination of college and high school basketball here in the RGV, but after I discovered so much fascinating information over the 85 years of UTPA basketball history, I knew I had to dedicate myself exclusively to this college ball project,” Selber said.

In addition, Selber gathers dozens of intermittent oral histories from some of UTPA’s beloved players.

“I interviewed Lucious Jackson, Freddy Taylor, Jim McGirk, Lalo Rios from Edinburg and many others. I wanted to include their stories as a part of UTPA’s basketball history,” Selber said.

“Bronc Ball: The History of College Basketball at Pan American” hits the book shelves this month. Selber will be signing copies of his book during the Bronc Madness Tailgate party Saturday, February 16, from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. in the parking lot outside the UTPA Fieldhouse.

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