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Rep. Gonzáles reelection bid fueled by almost $196,000 in campaign cash

Congressman Henry Cuellar, D-Laredo/McAllen, featured second from left, on Thursday, August 12, announced that more that $1 million from the U.S. Department of Education had been awarded to South Texas College to help support STC’s campus-based child care programs, which primarily serve the needs of low-income students enrolled at any STC campuses in McAllen, Rio Grande City, and Weslaco. Cuellar, an attorney whose extensive educational career includes earning an associate’s degree from Laredo Community College, met with STC and area leaders during his swing through McAllen. Featured, from left, were STC leaders who accepted a symbol of the $1,002,156 grant: Juan Mejia, STC’s vice president for academic affairs; Congressman Cuellar; Verónica Rodríguez, chair of STC’s Child and Family Development Program, and Luzelma Canales, interim associate dean for STC’s Community Engagement and Workforce Entitlement.   

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McAllen Mayor Richard Cortéz practices a grito (Spanish for a war cry, which was used by Mexicans during the battle for independence from Spain, a two-year revolution which began on September 16, 1810) in anticipation on the upcoming first annual 16 de Septiember Fiesta, scheduled for Saturday, September 18, and sponsored by the McAllen Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. Cynthia M. Sakulenzki, president and CEO of the McAllen Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, featured with the mayor, said the Mexican independence day celebration – the first for the organization – will be held at the McAllen Convention Center’s pond area from 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. The 16 de Septiembre Fiesta will feature live entertainment, different vendors with food, crafts, clothing, jewery, etc. and a Kiddie Land for youngsters. Along with the live entertainment, there will be a talent contest for dancers or musicians and a grito de independencia contest. Participants in the talent show will get three minutes to perform. Participants in the grito contest will be judged by their gusto (passion) in their grito. Both competitions will have 1st, 2nd and 3rd place winners.  The South Padre Island Bike Fest will also participate with a poker run, field events and bike show. Vendors are still needed as well as entertainment for the main stage.  Additional information on the 16 de Septiembre Fiesta is available by contact the McAllen Hispanic Chamber of Commerce at 928-0060.

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Auditions for the Spanish language play Una Huelga Singular, written by José Manuel Álvarez, will be held on Tuesday, August 24 and Wednesday, August 25 from 6:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. at the Pharr Literacy Project & Cultural Arts Center, located at 203 West Park Avenue in Pharr. The comedic yet poignant play is set around the household of Teresa Pacheco, who is about to have a breaking point due to her abusive family, especially her husband, the tyrannical Rafael Pacheco. The play, to be directed by Pedro García, seeks four women and four men ranging in ages 13 to 75. No appointments necessary and tryouts will be cold reading from the script. The production will have nearly a dozen performances spread out from October to January, including several outreach tours around the Valley. Persons interested in being understudies are also encouraged to audition. For more information call 956/655-9308 or 956/783-7746. Pharr Community Theatre actors featured here, waiting to go onstage earlier this year for another play, Bless Me Ultima, are, from left: Anna Mardiros, Inocente  Gutiérrez, Raúl López and Armandina Sesin.

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Rep. Verónica Gonzáles, D-McAllen, featured first from left, who is facing a challenge in November from Rebecca Cervera, the Republican nominee for the House District 41 House seat, had more than $195,000 in her campaign war chest as of June 30, according to the Texas Ethics Commission. House District 41 includes southwest Edinburg, all but southwest McAllen, the northeastern and central portions of Mission, all of Palmhurst, Sharyland, Alton, and western portions of Hidalgo County. According to Gonzáles’ campaign finance report, the three-term lawmaker received $164,708.22 in financial contributions and spent $62,622.57 during the first six months of this year. With money forwarded from previous years, Gonzáles was able to maintain a balance of $195,349.34 as of June 30. She did not have any outstanding loans as of June 30. In this photograph, Gonzáles posed with area, state and federal leaders following her participation in a recent legislative luncheon hosted by the local chamber of commerce. Featured, front row, from left: Rep. Gonzáles, Edna Peña, Marissa Castañeda, Lucy Canales, Mari Garza Bird and Armando Díaz. Featured, back row, from left: Flo Prater, Eduardo Parra, and Ana García. See lead story on Gonzáles’ campaign report activities in this posting.

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Gov. Perry endorses Proposition 8 by Rep. Flores, Sen. Hinojosa, Rep. Martínez to build Valley VA Hospital

 

A state constitutional amendment that is designed to bring a Veterans Administration Hospital to deep South Texas picked up a major endorsement on Tuesday, September 1, when Gov. Rick Perry, who was in Harlingen for a bill signing ceremony relating to a planned medical school for the Valley, enthusiastically revealed his support for Proposition 8. Proposition 8, which will be on the November 3 statewide ballot, is the result of legislation spearheaded by Valley veterans and successfully carried through the Texas Legislature last spring by Rep. Ismael "Kino" Flores, D-Palmview, who was the author of the bill, and Sen. Juan "Chuy" Hinojosa, D-McAllen. Hinojosa was the lead Senate sponsor of the legislation. Sen. Eddie Lucio, Jr., D-Brownsville, was also a sponsor of that measure. Rep. Armando "Mando" Martínez, D-Weslaco, Rep. Ryan Guillen, D-Rio Grande City, and Rep. David Leibowitz, D-San Antonio, were co-authors of the Valley VA Hospital constitutional amendment. "Vote Aye!" Perry quickly declared, prompting cheers from a delegation of veterans who were part of a packed house of business and community leaders, medical students, and legislative leaders who gathered for the bill-signing ceremony. See lead story later in this posting. 

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The Texas Association of Community Health Centers (TACHC) on Tuesday, September 1 presented its Legislative Champion Award to Sen. Juan “Chuy” Hinojosa, D-McAllen, for his work during the 81st Texas Legislature to bring more doctors to South Texas and the Coastal Bend. Hinojosa authored the senate version of the legislation and carried the final bill (House Bill 2154) through the Senate. He was instrumental in the overwhelming 29-2 vote in the Senate to pass the physician loan repayment program. The program will be available to primary care physicians who agree to practice in underserved areas of the state and will assist in paying off student loans amassed during medical school training.  Medical school graduates carry an average debt as high as $160,000 in student loans. See story later in this posting. Featured, from left, at the Community Action Corporation of South Texas, are: Dr. Vandana Kamat, a family practice physician from Alice; Sen. Hinojosa; Dr. Diana Franco Bill, the health director for the Community Action Corporation of South Texas in Alice; Director: Dr. Diana Franco Bill; and José Camacho, TACAC executive director. See story later in this posting. 

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With the opening of the new University of Texas-Pan American Teaching Site on Thursday, August 26, access to advanced education will now be a few miles closer for many Rio Grande Valley residents, saving them travel time and costs. Initiated by UT-Pan American in partnership with the City of McAllen, the new 10,000-square-foot leased facility is located at 1800 South Main Street in the Main Place Shopping Center adjacent to the La Plaza Mall. A map showing the site’s location is available at http://www.utpa.edu/mcallen. This first fall semester features 12 graduate-level courses in the Colleges of Education, Business Administration, Arts and Humanities, and Science and Engineering. Additionally, English Language Institute classes and some continuing education courses in educational leadership and the Certified Public Manager program will also be offered. Students must be formally admitted to UTPA before enrolling in any of the following classes: History of Rhetoric, Composition & Literacy Studies; Writing Academic Discourse; Direct Readings US History; Organizational Leadership; Introduction to Educational Administration; Public School Law; Algebra I; Statistical Foundations; Introduction to Finance; and International Business Foundation; For more information about the UTPA McAllen Teaching Site, call 956/381-2071. Featured during the ribbon cutting ceremony on August 26 at the teaching site are, from left: McAllen City Commissioner Marcus Barrera; McAllen Mayor Richard Cortéz; Dr. Charles A. Sorber, UTPA interim president; James D. Dannenbaum of Houston, member of the University of Texas System Board of Regents; Dr. Paul Sale, UTPA provost and vice president for academic affairs; and Rep. Verónica Gonzáles, D-McAllen.  

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The McAllen Hispanic Chamber of Commerce is celebrating their 10th Annual Hispanic Heritage Month Student Art Contest. September 15 through October 15 is considered Hispanic Heritage Month in the United States. To remind students of Hispanic Heritage, the MHCC sponsors an art contest open to all students in the middle and high schools in Willacy, Hidalgo, Cameron, Webb and Starr counties. The theme to the art contest is “Mi Cultura” or “My Culture”. Students are asked to submit a 16 x 20 size entry with any art medium being accepted. Trophies will be awarded to the 1st, 2nd and 3rd place winners in both the Middle and Senior High School divisions at a special “Día de la Raza” reception to be held on October 14 sponsored by Combined Insurance. For more information, call the MHCC office at 928-0060. Featured, with some of last year’s entries, are, from left: Cynthia M. Sakulenzki, MHCC president and chief executive officer; Lisa Díaz, MHCC intern; Carol Schmitt, MHCC board member; and Ceci Peña, MHCC intern. 

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Gloria Segovia-Zúñiga, Noelia Sánchez, and María T. Medina, featured from left, have recently completed all requirements for membership into the Academy of Boys & Girls Club Professionals at the Professional Level for the Management & Youth Development categories.  Segovia-Zúñiga attained the Youth Development Professional Level, Sánchez achieved the Youth Development and Management Professional Levels, and Medina attained the Management Professional Level. The Academy of Boys & Girls Club Professionals is part of Boys & Girls Clubs of America’s strategic initiative, which helps clubs expand their youth development capacity, while recognizing the value of career and professional development. See story later in this posting. 

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