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Edinburg lays out comprehensive legislative agenda for action by state lawmakers in Austin

 

As powerful special interest groups, wealthy lobbyists, political operatives, and literally thousands of other Texans from all walks of life descend upon the Texas Legislature during the next five months, the City of Edinburg and the Edinburg Economic Development Corporation will be presenting their own legislative wish list designed to improve the quality of life for its constituents. All three members of Edinburg’s state legislative delegation – including, featured here, from left: Rep. Verónica Gonzáles, D-McAllen, and Sen. Juan "Chuy" Hinojosa, D-McAllen – as well as Rep. Aaron Peña, R-Edinburg, are ready to help promote the city’s legislative agenda, which includes more than 40 measures. "As county seat, as a center of higher and public education, and as a growing leader in health care and economic development, Edinburg has been an effective player in the legislative process," said Hinojosa. "They know how to work with their legislative delegations, both in Austin and in Washington, D.C., they are well-respected by the state’s top legislative leadership, and they always come to the table well-prepared and ready to advocate for and protect their citizens’ best interests." Also featured with the two legislators during this October function in Edinburg are Texas Supreme Court Justice Nathan L. Hecht and Mario Hinojosa, administrator for the Edinburg law office of Rep. Sergio Muñoz, Jr., D-Mission. See lead story in this posting. 

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Edinburg school district South Middle School math teacher, Jennifer Alaniz-López, featured center, was the recipient of a $2,000 Classroom Energy Innovation Grant sponsored by First Choice Power. The grant called for teachers to submit proposals concerning special energy-related projects in the classroom. "Teachers have the power to engage their students’ minds and imaginations, but because of budget shortages, it is often difficult for them to implement projects that require additional funds," said Brian Hayduk, president, First Choice Power. "This grant program allows teachers to provide something special for their students, making energy an exciting topic in the classroom." Also participating in the grant presentation were Sonia Guajardo-López, representing First Choice Power, and Anthony Garza, the principal of South Middle School.     

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Congressman Rubén Hinojosa, D-Mercedes, featured left, stands with UTPA President Robert S. Nelsen during a moment of silence in honor of the six people who were killed and several who were injured, including U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, in the January 8 shooting in Tucson, Arizona. Hinojosa held a press conference at UTPA on Wednesday, January 12 to address what measures Congress is taking in light of the incident. Hinojosa told a packed room inside the university’s International Trade and Technology building’s International Room that he would be meeting with the U.S. Marshals, FBI, as well as state and local law enforcement agencies to determine what security measures can be taken to ensure that constituents and others who attend public events he holds for them will be safe. See story later in this posting.  

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Jacob De León from Memorial Funeral Home presents a sponsorship check to Letty González for Fiesta Edinburg 2011, which is being organized by the Edinburg Chamber of Commerce. In conjunction, Fiesta Edinburg has announced that New Boyz will be the headline musical act on Friday, February 25, along with Jimmy González y Grupo Mazz on Saturday, February 26,  with Elida Reyna y Avante plus others. Featured, from left:  Edinburg Chamber of Commerce leaders Johnny Rodríguez, who is chairman of the board of directors; Elva Jackson Garza, a member of the board of directors; Letty González, the president of the Edinburg Chamber of Commerce; Jacob De León with Memorial Funeral Home; Edna Peña, the incoming chairwoman of the board of directors for the local chamber; Jason De León  with Memorial Funeral Home; and Cris Torres and Dalia Arce from Inter National Bank. Torres is also co-chair for Fiesta Edinburg and serves on the board of directors for the Edinburg Chamber of Commerce. More information on Fiesta Edinburg, including limited sponsorship opportunities for the event, are currently available at 956/383-4974,. See story later in this posting. 

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Sen. Eddie Lucio, Jr., D-Brownsville, featured right, has filed two bills that address the intensification of drug violence in northern Mexico and its effects here in Texas. Lucio, who was at Edinburg City Hall on Monday, January 3 as part of the swearing-in ceremony for Hidalgo County Precinct 4 Commissioner Joseph Palacios, has filed Senate Bill 288, which would allow the state police to set up southbound checkpoints on roads leading to international bridges, and Senate Bill 289, which would outlaw the sale, use, manufacture, transportation and repair of "caltrops" – nails which are used to disable the tires of police cars in pursuit of criminals. Lucio said those two measures will be carried in the House of Representatives by Rep. Aaron Peña, R-Edinburg. The senator will be working with other Valley legislators and area leaders, including Palacios, on major measures designed to improve border security in the Valley. Featured, from left: Rep. Sergio Muñoz, Jr., D-Mission; Rep. Verónica Gonzáles, D-McAllen; Commissioner Palacios; and Sen. Lucio. See story later in this posting. 

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Hidalgo County Commissioners Court approves key feasibility study for commuter rail system envisioned by Sen. Hinojosa, Rep. Martínez

Magdalena Díaz Tellez, deputy consul at the Mexican Consulate in McAllen, and Hidalgo County Judge  René A. Ramírez on Wednesday, September 15, presided over the unveiling of a plaque in the downtown square in Edinburg that helped mark Mexico’s 200th anniversary of its declaration of independence from Spain. On September 16, 1810, Catholic priest Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla declared Mexican independence, which helped ignite what would become a war that did not end until 1821. Hidalgo County bears the namesake of the Catholic priest, who was captured and executed by Spanish forces. A bust of the hero priest is located in the downtown square, which is owned by the county to help handle parking demands for visitors doing business at the nearby county courthouse.

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Congressman Ruben Hinojosa, D-Mercedes (featured first on right), on Wednesday, September 15,  presented Arturo Sarukhan, the Mexican Ambassador to the United States, with a congressional resolution commemorating the important dates in Mexican history in honor of Mexico’s Bicentennial. “As a Mexican-American, I am very proud of my heritage and culture” said Hinojosa. “My parents never forgot where they came from and taught all 11 of their children to cherish our history and our ties to Mexico." Hinojosa made the presentation on behalf of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus. He joined Congresswoman Lucile Roybal-Allard, D-California, in making the formal introduction of the resolution to Congress. “We have and always will be associated with our neighbor to the south and although we are facing new challenges along our border, we must never forget how much our two countries need each other to flourish,” said Hinojosa.

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Namaste Valley Magazine will be hosting a seminar on domestic violence and self-defense for women on Tuesday, September 28, from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. at the RGV Hispanic Chamber of Commerce offices, located at 3313 N. McColl Road in McAllen. Tony Torres of Torres Martial Arts will also demonstrate two self-defense techniques that all women should know. "’The ultimate tragedy is not the oppression and the cruelty by the bad people but the silence over that by the good people,’" said Martin Luther King, Jr. Domestic violence robs you of your hopes and your identity," noted Lana de Leon of Namaste Valley Magazine. “We encourage ladies to attend and take a step at being safer.” An Avon Reese Witherspoon bracelet will be given away as a door prize. The bracelet helped raise $4 million nationally in 2009 to  help  reducing domestic violence. Additional door prizes will be given away from Avon in honor of Avon’s Speak Out Against Domestic Violence campaign. Call to register at the RGV Hispanic Chamber at 928-0060 because seating is limited. Featured, from left:  Lana De León, Tony Torres and Stephanie Ramírez, who is an intern with the Rio Grande Valley Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.

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The Texas Secretary of State on Wednesday, September 8, approved a request by the McAllen Hispanic Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors to change its name to the Rio Grande Valley Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. "We intend to offer our services in all four counties and represent the area as a region in Washington, DC and Austin” said Cynthia M. Sakulenzki, RGV Hispanic Chamber Pres/CEO. "We want to be able to state that we represent the largest group of Hispanic and small business owners in the country." The business organization was initially chartered in 1997 as the RGV Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, but in February 2001, its leaders changed the group’s name to the McAllen Hispanic Chamber.  With the growth of the business community in deep South Texas, the Rio Grande Valley Hispanic Chamber will continue focusing on key constituencies and issues, including small business, economic development, women, cultural events, health, and international and local governmental affairs. Officials with the RGV Hispanic Chamber of Commerce featured here are, seated, from left: Roxanna Godínez, Vice Chair of Membership and Adelita Muñoz, Vice Chair of Education. Standing, from left, are:  Ronnie Bernal, Vice Chair of Small Business and Economic Development; Celina González, Events Committee; Cynthia M. Sakulenzki, president and CEO; Hari Namboodiri, Advisory Board; and Brent Smith, treasurer.

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The University of Texas-Pan American at Starr County has a permanent building to call its own. On Wednesday, September 8, UTPA officials were joined by local and state dignitaries, as well as representatives from its new neighbor, South Texas College (STC), in dedicating the 17,391-square-foot facility located on Farm-to-Market Road 3167 in Rio Grande City. "Having a local university is sometimes taken for granted in communities because they’ve been there for generations, but they bring opportunities, they bring growth and they bring prosperity to the local communities," said Rep. Ryan Guillen, D-Rio Grande City. "This facility, working closely with STC, will do the same for our area. This facility will enhance the ability of UTPA to touch the lives for more students right here in the Valley." Featured, during the ribbon cutting, from left: Dr. Ana María Rodríguez, UTPA Interim Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs; Rose Benavidez, South Texas College Board of Trustees member; Eloy Vera, Starr County Judge; Sen. Judith Zaffirini, D-Laredo; Dr. Robert S. Nelsen, UTPA President; Rep. Ryan Guillen, D-Rio Grande City; Rubén Sáenz, administrator of the South Texas College Starr County campus; and Dr. Alma Pérez, director of The University of Texas-Pan American at Starr County. See story later in this posting.

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A $1 million gift from VAMOS (Valley Alliance of Mentors for Opportunities & Scholarships) that will be matched dollar-for-dollar by The University of Texas -Pan American Foundation is a boon to the university in its efforts to help more and more students succeed, said UTPA President Robert S. Nelsen. Sonia Falcón, VAMOS president, and several members of the board convened on the UTPA campus on Monday, August 30 to present a $1 million check to Nelsen, who accepted on behalf of the UTPA Foundation Board of Trustees.The $2 million from VAMOS and the UTPA Foundation will fund the VAMOS/UTPA Endowed Scholarship program exclusively for Hidalgo, Cameron and Starr county students who enter the university as freshmen. The scholarships are then renewable for up to four years as long as the VAMOS/UTPA Scholars meet the eligibility criteria. Featured, seated, from left: Alonzo Cantú, chairman emeritus of VAMOS and vice chair of the UTPA Foundation board, Sonia Falcón, VAMOS president, and Dr. Robert S. Nelsen, UTPA president. Standing, from left: Johnny Oliva, VAMOS vice president; Rodrigo Reyna, VAMOS treasurer; Maritza Rodríguez, executive director of VAMOS; Olga López, VAMOS board member; and Paul R. Rodríguez, VAMOS board member.

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