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Concealed handguns at UTRGV, trademark agreement with Doctors Hospital at Renaissance, and new Ph.D program tied to SpaceX set for action this week by UT System Board of Regents

Photograph By PAUL CHOUY

The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley Chapter of the American Marketing Association recently earned awards at the AMA shown here with their awards from the AMA annual competition in New Orleans. Featured, from left, are Eric Rodríguez, Saydahli Mejía, Julio Salinas, Óscar Ramos, David Pérez, Fabiola Cortés, Fuad Chagollán, Jolene Arellano, Martín Nievez, Ángela López, Albert Adame and Alexandra García. The AMA Collegiate Case Competition is an annual, international contest open to undergraduate teams at schools that have an affiliated AMA Collegiate Chapter. The purpose of the competition is to provide AMA Collegiate members an opportunity to work together on a problem that illustrates a real marketing situation, and to provide competition sponsors direct contact with marketing students who have possible real-world solutions to a marketing problem.

Photograph By PAUL CHOUY

Where and when concealed handguns may be carried at The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley, allowing Doctors Hospital at Renaissance to use trademarks of UTRGV’s School of Medicine, and creating a new Ph.D program to take advantage of the coming creation of the SpaceX launch site are among key items that will be taken up on Wednesday, May 11 and Thursday, May 12, 2016, by the UT System Board of Regents, the Edinburg Economic Development Corporation has announced. The EEDC, along with the City of Edinburg, promote the best interests of UTRGV and the UTRGV School of Medicine through its extensive legislative lobbying efforts before the UT System Board of Regents, the Texas Legislature, and Congress.

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Day Surgery at Renaissance opens for business as Edinburg approaches $86 million in construction activities from January through August 2015

Mayor Richard García

Featured, Mayor Richard García, who also serves on the Board of Directors for the Edinburg Economic Development Corporation, on Wednesday, May 13, 2015, signs documents relating to Edinburg municipal business as Myra L. Ayala Garza, City Secretary, reviews his action at the raised platform used for city council, EEDC and Planning and Zoning board meetings. Those public sessions are held in the council chambers at Edinburg City Hall.
Photograph By MARK MONTEMAYOR

With construction and related building activities in Edinburg from January through August 2015 totaling almost $86 million, area leaders on Thursday, September 17, gathered at Doctors Hospital at Renaissance to celebrate the grand opening of the city’s latest architectural showpiece – Day Surgery at Renaissance. Day Surgery at Renaissance, located at 5520 Leonardo Davinci, immediately east of Women’s Hospital at Renaissance, is a 90,000 square foot, two-story outpatient surgical center that features eight operating rooms, 40 pre-operative beds, 40 recovery beds, and 10 endoscopy suites. Day Surgery at Renaissance, based on the building permit issued more than a year earlier, in August 2014, by Edinburg’s Code Enforcement Department, represents an investment of $14 million for its construction. As a result, the value of Day Surgery at Renaissance is not included in the year-t0-date total construction figures of almost $86 million for January through August 2015. Ellie M. Torres, who serves on the Board of Directors of the Edinburg Economic Development Corporation, and who also is a member of the Edinburg school board, was on hand for the 2 p.m. standing-room only event. “This outstanding facility will have significant economic and quality-of-life benefits for our hometown and our neighboring cities,” said Torres. “Along with our other excellent hospitals, physicians, health care professionals, and our University of Texas medical school that will open in the Fall of 2016, Edinburg continues to build on its deserved reputation as a preferred city in which to live, raise a family, work or own a business, and succeed.” The EEDC, of which Agustín García, Jr. is Executive Director, is the jobs-creation arm of the Edinburg Mayor and Edinburg City Council. The EEDC Board of Directors is comprised of Mark Iglesias as President, Harvey Rodríguez as Vice President, Ellie M. Torres as Secretary/Treasurer, and Mayor Richard García and Richard Ruppert as Members. Richard García and Agustín García, Jr. are not related. Mayor Richard García noted that Edinburg is blessed with nationally-recognized hospital systems. “In mid-July, Doctors Hospital at Renaissance and South Texas Health Systems, which includes Edinburg Regional Medical Center and Edinburg Children’s Hospital, were ranked among the top 20 hospital complexes in Texas, according to U.S. News and World Report,” Mayor García said. “Across-the-board, from education to health care, from entertainment to construction, these and other economic development advances continue to lead to new jobs and stronger businesses.” EEDC Board President Iglesias said the city’s construction activities so far this year also reflect strong growth in new homes. “From January through August 2015, Edinburg has seen 223 new single-family homes, valued at more than $31 million, authorized to be built – including 41 homes approved for construction during the month of August alone,” Iglesias reported. “During the same eight months in 2014, there were 199 homes, valued at more than $23.8 million, issued building permits. Those statistics and more reflect the overall strength and consumer confidence that speak volumes about our city’s economy.” EEDC Executive Director Agustín García, Jr. added that Edinburg also benefits from another DHR complex, the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley Family Medical Center, literally located across Owassa Road but in the city limits of McAllen, which was part of the September 17 ribbon-cutting ceremony for Day Surgery at Renaissance. “As a direct result of state legislation passed in 2013, the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley was given the authority and resources to build a full-fledged School of Medicine, with a major presence in Edinburg,” said the EEDC executive director. “But in helping shape the creation of the School of Medicine, the Edinburg mayor, Edinburg City Council, and EEDC Board of Directors always took a regional approach in order for the Valley to stay united and strong in order to make the medical school a reality. “That is what the UTRGV Family Medical Center symbolizes, and Edinburg also benefits as a result.” The Family Medicine Center will serve as a physician training center for family medicine medical residents. That newly-constructed facility will serve as a base for integrated programs of health care and education that are built around a team approach to cover a spectrum of health services, including prevention and treatment.

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Construction begins in Edinburg on first new $54 million building for University of Texas medical school

Photograph by MARCO MARTÍNEZ
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Edinburg’s key governments and businesses were among the big winners in the 2014 Monitor’s Readers’ Choice Award, according to the McAllen-based newspaper, which honored all recipients of that honor during a ceremony on Tuesday, September 30, at the McAllen Chamber of Commerce. “For nearly three decades, Hidalgo County institutions have looked forward to The Monitor’s annual Readers’ Choice Award,” the publication stated in its Wednesday, October 1 edition. “Among the big winners were the City of Edinburg, with many businesses there garnering the endorsements of Monitor readers.” In addition to Edinburg being named the Best City, the Edinburg school district was named best school system, and the Edinburg Chamber of Commerce took to top ranking in its respective category. Featured, seated, from left: Imelda Rodríguez, Director of Tourism, Edinburg Chamber of Commerce; Letty González, President, Edinburg Chamber of Commerce; Sonia Marroquín, Edinburg Assistant City Manager; Myra C. García, First Lady, City of Edinburg; Nicole Sosa, Kids’ Kollege Learning Center; and Concepción “Connie” S. Hernández, New York Life Insurance. Standing, from left: Agustín “Augie” Lozano, Bert Ogden Rio Grande Valley; Edinburg City Councilmember Richard Molina; Dr. René Gutiérrez, Superintendent, Edinburg Consolidated Independent School District; Edinburg School Board President Juan “Sonny” Palacios, Jr.; Edinburg Mayor Richard García; Alex Ríos, Kids’ Kollege Learning Center; and Velma Sue De León, Memorial Funeral Home. See story later in this posting.

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Photograph By MARK MONTEMAYOR
http://www.EDINBURGPOLITICS.com

Amidst the pomp and circumstance of community-wide events on Tuesday, September 16 and Wednesday, September 17, honoring the 100th anniversary of The Edinburg Review, the milestone for the newspaper also provides residents with the opportunity to appreciate a free and independent press, city and state leaders say. “There is a saying that the press can be good or bad, but most certainly without freedom, the press will never be anything but bad,” said Edinburg Mayor Richard García. “In honoring The Edinburg Review on its centennial, we are also paying respect to the most important right of every American – freedom of speech.” García, who also serves as president of the Edinburg Economic Development Corporation Board of Directors, was joined by the Edinburg City Council on Tuesday, September 16, to present the leadership of The Edinburg Review a city proclamation honoring the history and impact of newspaper on its hometown and region. Featured at Edinburg City Hall on Tuesday, September 16, are, front row, from left, representing The Edinburg Review: Ricardo De Luna, Account Executive; Pedro Pérez, IV, Editor; Gustavo Díaz, Advertising Director; Laura García, Staff Writer; Linda Medrano (holding framed proclamation), Publisher, The Edinburg Review/Town Crier; Claudia García, Fulfillment Specialist; Javier Silva, Account Executive; and Jimmy Rocha, Production Manager. Back row, from left: Councilmember Richard Molina; Mayor Pro Tem Elías Longoria, Jr.; Mayor Richard García; Councilmember J.R. Betancourt; and Councilmember Homer Jasso, Jr. See story later in this posting.

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Photograph by DIEGO REYNA
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If there were ever any doubts, a music video featuring almost 200 Edinburg residents, including the cheerleaders and other key staff for the Rio Grande Valley Vipers, the NBA-affiliated professional basketball team, shows that the community is optimistic about the present and future – and its people used rhythm, dance and video to let the whole world know. In a first-class production by the Edinburg Economic Development Corporation, entitled “Edinburg EDC IS HAPPY”, the positive and catchy music of Pharrell Williams’ smash hit, Happy, serves as the soundtrack for the five minute and 22 second local music video. By utilizing YouTube, the EEDC is getting their message out on a global level, since the video sharing website, by its own accounting, “allows billions of people to discover, watch and share originally-created videos. YouTube provides a forum for people to connect, inform, and inspire others across the globe and acts as a distribution platform for original content creators and advertisers large and small.” Mayor Richard García, who is no stranger to the spotlight, and who as a younger man performed in a band, praised everyone who volunteered for the music video. “I know a picture tells a thousand words, but this music video goes even further,” the mayor said. “This is an extraordinary and true representation of the people of Edinburg, the Rio Grande Valley, and South Texas. We are energetic, intelligent, confident, diverse, young, strong, successful, accomplished, experienced, wise, beautiful, handsome, and full of hope.” “Edinburg EDC IS HAPPY” had its “world premiere” on Thursday, July 24, before a packed house of more than 220 area business and community leaders who had gathered at the Edinburg Conference Center at Renaissance for the quarterly Public Affairs Luncheon organized by the Edinburg Chamber of Commerce. (The “Edinburg EDC IS HAPPY” video is available online at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XaApcFHVr3o). More than 2,000 views had been registered of that video as of August 15. Featured on Tuesday, July 29, reenacting their performance for the “Edinburg EDC IS HAPPY” music video are, kneeling, from left: Nallely Cáceres; Ashley Torres; Sarah Echevarría; and Laura Perales. Middle row, from left: Liana Cisneros; Hondo Candelaria; Rebecca Sweat; and RGV Vipers mascot Fang. Back row, from left: André Burns; Laura Cisneros; and Gabriel Ramírez. See story later in this posting.

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Photograph by JOSUE ESPARZA
http://www.EDINBURGPOLITICS.com

Five cadets in The University of Texas-Pan American’s U.S. Army Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) were commissioned on Friday, August 22 during a ceremony held at UTPA’s Albert L. Jeffers Theatre. Col. Hugh Davis, adjunct professor at the National Defense University Eisenhower School of National Security Strategy and Resource Management, commissioned the cadets as second lieutenants in the U.S. Army during the ceremony attended by family, friends and university officials. Since its inception in 1981, 272 students in the UTPA ROTC program have transitioned from cadets to commissioned U.S. Army officers serving in active, national guard or reserve duty. Featured from left at the ceremony are: Second Lieutenants Leslie Amaya (Reserves); Manuel Aranda (Active Duty); José Nava López (Reserves); Betty Preciado (National Guard); and Amara Ríos (Reserves). For more information on UTPA’s ROTC program, call 956/665-3600 or 3601.

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Photograph Courtesy of U.S. LIBRARY OF CONGRESS
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Hidalgo County is asking for area residents to provide information about women from the region who participated in the “Rosie the Riveter” movement during World War II. “Rosie the Riveter” was the star of a U.S. government campaign aimed at recruiting women for the munitions industry. In movies, newspapers, posters, photographs and articles, the campaign stressed the patriotic need for women to enter the work force and many did. “We are reaching out to everyone for information on women, especially those from the Rio Grande Valley, who answered the call to duty during World War II as widespread male enlistment left gaping holes in the industrial labor force,” explained Julie Benítez Sullivan, Director of Public Affairs for Hidalgo County. “Rosies were crucial to the war effort and Hidalgo County would like to help recognize them for their service to our country.” Individuals are asked to contact Sullivan via email at public.affairs@co.hidalgo.tx.us or by phone at 956/292-7026. In this image, provided by the U.S. Library of Congress, a man and a woman riveting team in 1942 work on the cockpit shell of a C-47 transport aircraft at the plant of North American Aviation, Inc. in Inglewood, California. More than six million female workers helped to build planes, bombs, tanks and other weapons that would eventually win World War II. They stepped up to the plate without hesitation and gave up their domestic jobs to accomplish things that only men had done before them. They became streetcar drivers, operated heavy construction machinery, worked in lumber and steel mills, unloaded freight and much more. Proving that they could do the jobs known as “men’s work” created an entirely new image of women in American society, and set the stage for upcoming generations. Every day the women, both young and old, would punch into work at the shipyards, factories and munitions plants across America. During the war the women increased the workforce by 50 percent. Racial barriers were broken as various minority members went to work. Coming from all walks of life, there were those already working who switched to higher-paying defense jobs, those who had lost their jobs due to the Depression, and then of course there were the women who worked at home.

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Photograph By RONNIE LARRALDE
http://www.EDINBURGPOLTICS.com

The Edinburg Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors and Staff are planning the Annual Installation Banquet scheduled for Thursday, October 23, 2014 at 6 p.m. The banquet will take place at the Echo Hotel and Conference Center, located at 1903 S. Closner Boulevard in Edinburg. The banquet will honor Edinburg Municipal Court Judge Toribio “Terry” Palacios as incoming chairman and Robert McGurk, featured in this image, as outgoing chairman for the Edinburg Chamber of Commerce. The banquet will also feature dinner and the announcements of “Man and Woman of the Year”, “Leadership Award” and “Ambassador of the Year”. Tickets to attend the Annual Banquet are $30 per person, or $300 for a table of 8. Attire will be business casual and is open to the public. For more information, please call the Edinburg Chamber of Commerce at 956/383-4974. Dina Araguz, immediate past chairwoman of the Edinburg Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors, also is featured in this image.

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Photograph by RONNIE LARRALDE
http://www.EDINBURGPOLITICS.com

The Edinburg Chamber of Commerce will host its Public Affairs Luncheon on Thursday, October 16, at the Echo Hotel & Conference Center, 1903 S. Closner Boulevard in Edinburg. The topic will be a legislative update, featuring highlights from the regular session of the Texas Legislature held in the spring of 2013, and looking ahead to the upcoming five-month regular session, which begins in early January 2015. Sen. Juan “Chuy” Hinojosa, D-McAllen, Rep. Terry Canales, D-Edinburg, and Rep. R.D. “Bobby” Guerra, D-McAllen, are the invited speakers. Featured promoting the event are, from left: Letty González, President, Edinburg Chamber of Commerce; Lucy Canales, partner, Linebarger, Goggan Blair & Sampson, LLP; Kelly Rivera Salazar, Linebarger, Goggan Blair & Sampson, LLP; and Elva Jackson Garza, Vice President, Marketing & Business Development, Edwards Abstract and Title Company. For more information or to make a reservation for the luncheon, please call the Edinburg Chamber of Commerce at 956/383-4974. The October 16 luncheon also allows business professionals to meet, network and create opportunities for the companies they represent. Cost to attend the luncheon is $12 per person or $125 for a table of 8, and includes a hot lunch, beverage and dessert. The Public Affairs Luncheons are an initiative introduced in 2006, and since then have featured popular topics with speakers who cover important community and legislative issues. The vision is to inform, involve and educate chamber members and civic leaders. For 38 years, Linebarger Goggan Blair & Sampson LLP, a nationally-recognized business, has successfully focused on helping local governments ensure that all taxpayers meet their legal obligations. The firm is a major player in public-sector collections, serving more than 2,300 clients from offices in California, Colorado, Delaware, Florida, Illinois,Michigan, Missouri, Nevada, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Texas.

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Photograph by MARTHA E. PEÑA
http://www.EDINBURGPOLITICS.com

Elected officials and higher education leaders from across America came together at the St. Regis Washington, D.C. Hotel on Tuesday, September 30, to honor the South Texas College Dual Enrollment Academies program as a Finalist among America’s top programs that increase academic opportunities and increase achievement for Latino students. The South Texas Dual Enrollment Academies program was selected from among 217 competitors from 26 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico as one of 14 Finalists for the 2014 Examples of Excelencia Award. Conceived and run by Excelencia in Education, this is the only national initiative to systematically identify, recognize, and catalogue evidence-based programs that improve Latino college success. Featured at the STC Pecan Campus in McAllen are, front row, from left: Bianca Peralez, STC Secretary for High School Programs; Rickey Banda, STC Academies Specialist; and Alejandra López, STC Academies Specialist. Back row, from left: Javier González, STC Academies Specialist; Rebecca De León, STC Coordinator for High School Programs; Kimberly Crawford, STC Director of Academies and High School Projects; and Alejandro A. García, STC Training Manager. See story later in this posting.

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Photograph by MARK MONTEMAYOR
http://www.EDINBURGPOLITICS.com

McAllen Mayor Jim Darling, featured left, observes as Edinburg Mayor Richard García on Tuesday, August 26, signed a Memorandum of Understanding between the University of Texas System and the cities of Edinburg, McAllen, Pharr and Mission, along with Hidalgo County, to provide $47.5 million over the next 10 years to support medical training operations in Hidalgo County. The agreement was part of a groundbreaking ceremony at The University of Texas-Pan American, which will be home to a significant portion of a Valley-wide UT medical school. The gathering was the official kick-off for the beginning of construction of a $54 million medical school academic building in Edinburg. Occupying more than 88,000 square feet, that complex will be a teaching facility that promotes faculty and student interaction at the beginning stages of medical school. The building will include an auditorium, digital library, clinical skills center, pre-clinical laboratories and an anatomy teaching facility. Multiple small classrooms, seminar rooms and other features will offer opportunities for small group problem solving and inter-professional educational experiences. UT System Chancellor Francisco Cigarroa, second from left, and Mission Mayor Norberto Salinas, both featured in the background, took part in the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding. See lead story in this posting.

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Seeing is believing – Cinemark opens first-of-its kind theatre in company’s history in Edinburg

As Hidalgo County leaders prepare for the inevitable expansion or construction of a new courthouse in downtown Edinburg, the Edinburg Economic Development Corporation has begun a regional market survey to determine the demand for a privately-funded Class A office tower as part of the city’s ambitious downtown revitalization goals. Agustín “Gus” García, Executive Director for the EEDC, which is the jobs-creation arm of the Edinburg City Council, is hopeful that the proposed construction of a $100+ million Hidalgo County Courthouse would help encourage the private sector to finance the creation of an office tower. “This effort is only the initial step to identifying a need,” said García. “If a need is found, then phase 2 – looking for a developer – would proceed.” The privately-funded professional services complex, envisioned through a collaborative effort between the EEDC and the city, would primarily cater to attorneys and other legal professionals. But it also could draw high-end shops, restaurants, and entertainment venues, whose tenants could capitalize on the thousands of people who come to the courthouse and downtown daily to conduct their business. The EEDC leader, along with other elect included in this image, are featured in this recent portrait taken during the Public Affairs Luncheon at the ECHO Hotel and Conference Center. Featured, front row, from left: Liz Gómez-Adamson, Chief Nursing Information Officer, Doctors Hospital at Renaissance (DHR); Marissa Castañeda, Chief Operating Officer, DHR; Maggie Kent, Member, Board of Directors, Edinburg Chamber of Commerce (ECC); Dr. Carlos J. Cárdenas, M.D., Chairman of the Board, DHR; McAllen Mayor Jim Darling; Edinburg Mayor Richard H. García; Edinburg School Board Trustee Carmen González; Dr. Robert S. Nelsen, President, The University of Texas-Pan American; Hidalgo County Judge Ramón García; Elva Jackson Garza, Member, ECC Board of Directors; Letty González, President, Edinburg Chamber of Commerce; Dina Araguz, Chairman of the Board, Edinburg Chamber of Commerce; Alex Ríos, Member, ECC Board of Directors; and Marty Baylor, Member, ECC Board of Directors. Back row, from left: Norma Terán, Chief Nursing Officer, DHR; Lisa Woodward, Assistant Chief Nursing Officer, DHR; Lucy Canales, Member, ECC Board of Directors; Susan Turley, Chief Financial Officer, DHR; Dr. René Gutiérrez, Superintendent, Edinburg Consolidated Independent School District (ECISD); Dr. Martín Castillo, Vice-President, ECISD Board of Trustees; Edinburg Mayor Pro Tem Elías Longoria, Jr.; Jaime R. Solis, Board Secretary, ECISD Board of Trustees; Ramiro Garza, Jr., Edinburg City Manager; Hiren Govind, Member, ECC Board of Directors; Jacob De León, Member, ECC Board of Directors; and Agustín “Gus” García, Jr., Executive Director, Edinburg Economic Development Corporation. See story later in this posting.

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Key South Texas lawmakers on Wednesday, August 21, provided highlights from Texas Legislature’s regular session and three special sessions during a legislative luncheon hosted by the Rio Grande Valley Hispanic Chamber of Commerce at The Club at Cimarron in Mission. “We are extremely proud of our South Texas delegation. Not everyone is able to keep up with the activities at the Texas Capitol, so this annual Legislative Report Card Luncheon is very valuable to the communities as we are informed of the legislation passed,” said Cynthia M. Sakulenzki, the organization’s President/CEO. “We are extremely lucky that this session was very fruitful for the Rio Grande Valley. The South Texas Delegation was able to get us funding for transportation, education, water infrastructure, an increase in the Texas Retirement fund, and so on, besides the creation of the new University of Texas regional university and planned UT Medical School, which will have a tremendous economic and educational boost for the Rio Grande Valley.” Sakulenzki also expressed appreciation for video updates provided by Congressman Rubén Hinojosa, D-Mercedes, and Congressman Henry Cuellar, D-Laredo/McAllen. “Even though Congressman Hinojosa and Congressman Cuellar were not present because they were in session in Washington, D.C., we want to thank them for the videos they sent answering our questions on veterans affairs, immigration, student loans, the Affordable Care Act and the border fence.” Featured, from left, are RGV Hispanic Chamber board members, including: Jeniffer C. Garza, Vice Chair of Health Issues; Brenda Lee Huerta, Vice Chair of Governmental Affairs; Cynthia M. Sakulenzki, President/CEO, RGV Hispanic Chamber of Commerce: Rep. Sergio Muñoz, Jr., D-Mission; Rep. Terry Canales, D-Edinburg; Sen. Juan “Chuy” Hinojosa, D-McAllen; Adelita Muñoz, Vice Chair of Women’s Issues; Rep. Óscar Longoria, Jr., D-La Joya; Jenise Díaz, Vice Chair of Public Relations; and Pete Morales, Vice Chair of International Trade.

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Jared Matthew Janes, a five-year veteran journalist for The Monitor who in August left his profession to attend the University of Texas School of Law in Austin, was honored for his news reporting skills on Tuesday, July 30, by the Hidalgo County Commissioners Court – which was one of his numerous “beats” – subject areas assigned to a reporter – in which he excelled. Janes also extensively wrote about the City of Edinburg and its jobs-creation arm, the Edinburg Economic Development Corporation, as well as generated significant coverage of the major actions of the Texas Legislature and the Hidalgo County state legislative delegation. He also reported on the Hidalgo County Regional Mobility Authority, and statewide and regional political campaigns. Janes, a native of Sydney, an unincorporated town in the north-central Texas region of Comanche County, serves as proof of the famous adage, “From small things, big things one day come.” In his time at The Monitor, Janes has comprehensively covered issues that affect every resident in the county, from health care and transportation to the environment and legal affairs, noted Karina Cardoza, Director of Public Affairs for Hidalgo County, who wrote the resolution in Janes’ honor. That declaration was unanimously approved by the county judge and county commissioners. Featured, front row, from left: Carlos Sánchez, Editor, The Monitor; Jared Janes; Hidalgo County District Clerk Laura Hinojosa; and Hidalgo County Tax Assessor-Collector Paul Villarreal. Back row, from left: Precinct 4 County Commissioner Joseph Palacios; Hidalgo County Judge Ramón García; Precinct 2 County Commissioner Héctor “Tito” Palacios; and Precinct 1 County Commissioner A.C. Cuellar, Jr.

See story later in this posting.

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Led by Rep. Sergio Muñoz, Jr., D-Mission, local leaders and trade stakeholders met on Friday, August 30, at the Anzaldúas International Bridge in Mission to discuss the next steps for designation of an Overweight Vehicle Corridor in Hidalgo County. Passage of House Bill 474, authored by Muñoz and sponsored by Sen. Juan “Chuy” Hinojosa, D-McAllen, authorized the establishment of this corridor and marks a milestone in the region’s economic development efforts. The corridor will also promote safety as businesses begin to utilize the corridor for movement of goods through Hidalgo County. “This corridor is a key piece of infrastructure needed to promote trade and attract jobs and investments,” said Muñoz. “We know that with the opening of the Durango- Mazatlán Highway, many produce businessmen will be turning to our region for expedient delivery of products. But we need to have infrastructure such as this corridor in place.” In this image, Muñoz presented signed copies of House Bill 474 to key South Texas leaders who endorsed his legislation. Featured, from left: Rigoberto Villarreal, Director of Operations for the Anzaldúas International Bridge and Hidalgo International Bridge, and Rep. Sergio Muñoz, Jr., D-Mission. Back row, from left: Mayor Leopoldo “Polo” Palacios, Jr. of Pharr; Councilmember Rubén Plata of Pharr, and Keith Patridge, President and CEO of the McAllen Economic Development Corporation. See story later in this posting.

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Hidalgo County has earned 2nd Place in the Metro County Division for its efforts to increase public awareness of county programs and services while incorporating this year’s theme of “Smart Justice: Creating Safer Communities.” Celebrated in April, Hidalgo County was one of only six counties across the nation honored for outstanding public outreach. The purpose of the National County Government Month Award program is to encourage counties to participate in National County Government Month (NCGM) and recognize those counties that sponsor outstanding programs to reach out and educate citizens about county government during the month of April. Featured, first row, from left: Former 92nd District Court Judge Ricardo Rodríguez, Jr.; Public Affairs Director Karina Cardoza; District Clerk Laura Hinojosa; and Adult Probation staff member Faustino López. Second row, from left: Pct. 4 Commissioner Joseph Palacios; Pct. 3 Commissioner Joe M. Flores; County Judge Ramón García; Pct. 2 Commissioner Héctor “Tito” Palacios; and Pct. 1 Commissioner A.C. Cuellar, Jr. See story later in this posting.

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A bipartisan coalition of state legislators, including, from left, Rep. Sergio Muñoz, Jr., D-Mission, Rep. Terry Canales, D-Edinburg, Sen. Juan “Chuy” Hinojosa, D-McAllen, and Rep. Óscar Longoria, Jr., D-La Joya, are working to rally voter support during the November 5, 2013 statewide constitutional amendment election in favor of Proposition 6, which would help communities statewide pay for needed water and conservation projects. Water Texas, an advocacy group in favor of Proposition 6, announced on Wednesday, August 21, the members of its Statewide Leadership Team, a bipartisan coalition of legislators working to help pass Proposition 6, which is designed to address the state’s water crisis. The Statewide Leadership Team includes 152 members of the 181-member Texas Legislature. Canales said the Valley, with its rapidly-growing population – Hidalgo County alone has more than 840,000 residents as of 2012 – needs to have access to funding options in order to manage the continuing positive growth of deep South Texas. “Water is life, and it is our duty as Texans to protect, conserve, and plan for the future water needs of our state, taking in to account population growth and the reality of severe drought,” Canales. “This measure is the first of many steps we must take to not only protect our economy, but our very way of life and the lives of future Texans.” The proposed amendment is a response to the severe strain that drought and rapid population growth have put on the state’s water supply. While the population of Texas is expected to nearly double by 2060, existing water supplies are projected to decrease by 10 percent during that time, creating a need for an additional 2.7 trillion gallons of water. See story later in this posting.

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The Hobo Hap’nin’ Reunion 2013 “Crew” is getting bigger. The Hobo Hap’nin’ Reunion is scheduled for Saturday, September 21, at 6:30 p.m. at 602 W. University Drive, the home of the Edinburg Chamber of Commerce, Edinburg Economic Development Corporation and Edinburg Convention and Visitors Bureau. This event brings the community to the Edinburg Chamber of Commerce Depot for one common historical purpose: setting the goal of raising $50,000 for the ongoing restoration of the Edinburg landmark. Lone Star National Bank, the ECHO Hotel and Conference Center, and Memorial Funeral Home have been leaders in helping support this fundraising effort. Tickets for the reception are $75 each, and that sponsorship also covers dinner, refreshments, live music, and the option to participate in a silent auction. The Depot Restoration Committee is asking for further support from anyone interested in preserving a very historic and beautiful architecturally designed facility. Donations for the live and blackboard auctions are being accepted. For more information, please contact Letty González, President of the Edinburg Chamber of Commerce at 956/383-4974 or chamber@edinburg.com. In this image, representatives of the Edinburg Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors Depot Restoration Committee, and “Trainmaster” sponsors of the Hobo Hap’nin Reunion gathered at the Edinburg Chamber of Commerce. Featured, seated, from left: Alex Ríos, Laura Guajardo, Elva Jackson Garza, León De León, Velma Sue De León, and Pedro Salazar. Standing, from left: Jacob De León, Flo Prater, Edinburg Mayor Pro Tem Elías Longoria, Jr., Byron Jay Lewis, Hiren Govind, Dina Araguz, Robert McGurk, Edna Peña, Dina Pérez, Letty González, Marty Martin, and Maggie Kent.

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Dr. Robert S. Nelsen, President of the University of Texas-Pan American (featured second from left), on Thursday, August 15, said he will ask the UT System Board of Regents at its November meeting to provide $148 million for the construction of a new science complex and business building at the Edinburg campus. If approved, UTPA would receive a major boost in plans to be transformed into a first-class university serving the four-county Rio Grande Valley. UTPA is going to be merged with the University of Texas at Brownsville in order to create a new, yet-to-be-named higher education system for the Valley that will feature a full-fledged UT medical school. Nelsen, who also confirmed he would be seeking the presidency of the new UT university/medical school, said he will ask for $100 million for the science building and $48 million for a business building. The construction, if funded by the UT System, would help create many direct and indirect jobs, he added. “The Science Building alone would generate, on top of the $100 million (that it will cost to construct), $145 million in economic impact when it is built here. It will generate hundreds of jobs. It will help lift the entire Valley as we go forward,” Nelsen said. “It’s mind-blowing, right? It truly is.” Nelsen made the announcement at the ECHO Hotel and Conference Center in Edinburg, during the Public Affairs Luncheon coordinated by the Edinburg Chamber of Commerce and sponsored by Doctors Hospital at Renaissance. Featured, from left: Dr. Carlos J. Cárdenas, Chairman of the Board of Directors and interim Chief Executive Officer for Doctors Hospital at Renaissance; UTPA President Dr. Robert S. Nelsen; Edinburg Mayor Richard H. García; Hidalgo County Judge Ramón García; and Edinburg Mayor Pro Tem Elías Longoria, Jr. See story later in this posting.

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Cinemark Holdings, Inc., one of the world’s largest motion picture exhibitors, on Thursday, August 29, provided a sneak preview for Edinburg leaders and residents of their first Cinemark Movie Bistro. The new six-screen theatre, located at 2001 West Trenton, is the first in-theatre dining experience for the entire corporation. The family entertainment venue, which will serve as the major anchor for adjacent businesses and restaurants, features state-of-the-art visual and audio, along with premium plush seating with snack tables to allow patrons to enjoy meals ordered at the theatre while enjoying their favorite movies. Featured during the ceremonial tearing of the first admission ticket, are, front row, from left: Nelda Ramírez, Assistant Executive Director, Edinburg Economic Development Corporation; Ramiro Garza, Jr., Edinburg City Manager; Frank Torres, General Manager, Cinemark Movie Bistro; Mayor Pro Tem Elías Longoria, Jr.; Mayor Richard García; Art Murtha, Vice President of Theatre Operations, Cinemark Theatres; Letty González, President, Edinburg Chamber of Commerce; and Dina Araguz, Chairman, Board of Directors, Edinburg Chamber of Commerce. Featured back row are Johnny Cisneros, Broker, Cadence Commercial Real Estate, and Jennifer Frederick, Marketing Manager, Cinemark Theatres. See top story in this posting.

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Doctors Hospital at Renaissance lands $2.25 million from Edinburg to help build $14 million center

Thousands of U.S. military families who come the Lone Star State will no longer have to pay the more expensive out-of-state tuition and fees to attend any of Texas’ public colleges and universities, and any student whose parent is deployed into a combat zone will pay no tuition and fees while the parent serves in harm’s way, according to Rep. Ismael "Kino" Flores, D-Palmview, who served as a sponsor of the law. In this portrait, taken in Houston with Flores featured second from left, Perry signs into law a related measure that contains language drafted by Flores which will give up to a 100 percent exemption from all home property taxes for Texas veterans who are disabled as a result of physical and mental wounds suffered as a direct result of their U.S. military service.  On November 3, Texans will participate in a statewide election regarding Proposition 8 – another measure passed last spring by Flores – which is designed to speed up the state’s involvement in bringing a Veterans Administration Hospital to South Texas. Senate Bill 297, sponsored by Flores, which lowers tuition and fees for many veterans and their families, is the latest round in a series of major laws authored or sponsored by Flores last spring that will help many of Texas’ estimated 1.7 million veterans. See story later in this posting. 

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Lions Club leaders and members recently finalized an agreement with South Texas College administrators to set up new student chapters at three campus locations in McAllen, Weslaco and Rio Grande City.  Featured, seated from left: Lions Club member Salvador Claflin, who is a STC assistant professor of government; Joe Treviño, Lions Club District 2-A3 Governor; STC President Shirley A. Reed; and Lions Club P.D.G. Ernesto De Léon. Featured standing, middle row, from left: William Serrata, STC Vice President for Student Affairs and Enrollment Management; Joe Guerra, Lions Club member; Mark Alvarado, Second Vice District Governor; Raúl Leal, Lions Club member; and Jesús Rodriguez, McAllen Palm City Lions Club President. Featured standing, back row, from left: Juan Mejia, STC Vice President for Academic Affairs; Jerry Inmon, Lions Club Member; Mike Shannon, STC Dean of Student Life; and Armando Ponce, STC Coordinator of Student Activities. See story later in this posting. 

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The McAllen Hispanic Chamber of Commerce on Wednesday, August 12, will host its Legislative “Report Card” Dinner beginning at enter time at the McAllen Country Club. State legislators, including (from left) Rep. Ryan Guillen, D-Rio Grandey City, Rep. Verónica Gonzáles, D-McAllen, and Rep. Armando "Mando" Martínez, D-Weslaco, will have the opportunity to mingle and talk with members of the community and give a report on the recently concluded legislative session and plans for the legislative interim and next session. There is a fee to attend, however: sponsorships for the event include the following rates: Presidential $3,000; Governor $2,000; Statesman $1,000; and Civic Leader, $500. All sponsors will get to sit with an elected official. Individual tickets are $35. For more information on the Legislative Dinner and/or to buy tickets, call the McAllen Hispanic Chamber at 928/0060. Sen. Eddie Lucio, Jr., D-Brownsville, Rep. Aaron Peña, D-Edinburg, and Rep. Ismael "Kino" Flores, D-Palmview, are also scheduled to participate.  

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McAllen construction magnate Alonzo Cantú, featured right with Sen. Juan "Chuy" Hinojosa, D-McAllen, was successful in helping convince the Edinburg City Council to invest more than $2 million towards the construction of a planned $14 million Edinburg Medical Conference Center, which will be owned by Doctors Hospital at Renaissance. Cantú, who is a leader of the DHR Board of Directors, says the state-of-the-art medical facility will have many benefits for the region and the city, including creating almost 300 new jobs, and could help bring to Hidalgo County a planned University of Texas medical school authorized by legislation co-authored last spring by Hinojosa.  The site for the medical school, which is scheduled to begin construction in 2015, will be determined by the UT System Board of Regents.  See the lead story on the Edinburg Medical Conference Center later in this posting. 

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