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Hidalgo County Judge García raises possibility of courthouse being moved out of Edinburg

State Rep.-elect Sergio Muñoz, Jr., D-Mission, featured second from left, says South Texans should be much more than just observers when the Texas Legislature returns to work on Tuesday, January 11. Valleyites should be key players in the many legislative battles that will impact the border region – and he’s ready to help his constituents learn how to succeed in the legislative process. "There are going to be tremendous challenges and opportunities that will affect almost every aspect of our lives during the legislative session," Muñoz is encouraging his constituents in House District 36. "Be a participant, not a bystander. No one has a monopoly on good ideas." House District 36 includes Granjeno, Hidalgo, southern McAllen, most of Mission, Palmview, Peñitas, and Pharr. As part of his legislative duties, Muñoz on Friday, December 17, helped The Greater Mission Chamber of Commerce pay tribute to its past by recognizing their former chairmen of the Board of Directors as well as honoring their longest standing members, including Thompson’s Electric Service, which recently celebrated 65 years of continuous membership in the local chamber. Featured, from left: Ismael Estrada, general manager; Rep.-elect Sergio Munoz, Jr; J.C. Thompson, Jr. owner; Ada Manrique, office manager; and Fred Kurth, chairman of the board of directors for the Greater Mission Chamber of Commerce. See lead story later in this posting.

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Hidalgo County District Clerk Laura Hinojosa, featured first row, third from left, on Wednesday, December 29, helped present a check totaling $3,000, generated from contributions from her staff members, to the Edinburg  Explorer Fire Post 2002. This latest charitable donation by Hinojosa and her office staff is part of the district clerk office’s Blues for Bucks Workplace Fundraising Campaign, benefiting local charitable organizations. The Explorer Fire Post is a non-profit division of the Boy Scouts of America and is part of the Learning for Life career education program for young men and women who are 14 years of age but have not yet reached their 21st birthday. “Fire Service Exploring” is a worksite-based program that helps youth interested in the field of fire service gain insight through its five areas of emphasis: career opportunities, life skills, service learning, character education, and leadership experience. “Our staff is delighted to contribute to the Edinburg Explorer Fire Post, which is helping to promote growth and development of adolescent youth in our community,” said Hinojosa. “We hope our donation will help to continue engaging our youth in gaining the knowledge and experience necessary for fire service, which is in itself an important contribution to our society.” See story later in this posting.

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The Edinburg Chamber of Commerce will host the quarterly Public Affairs luncheon on Thursday, January 13, at the Echo Hotel and Conference Center, located on 1903 S. Closner.  The luncheon will take place from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. and is $15 per person or $150 for a reserved table of 8. Dr. René Gutierrez, the superintendent for the Edinburg school district, will be the guest speaker, addressing education as the topic. This event is being sponsored by Inter National Bank. For more information or to make a reservation, please call 956/383-4974. Featured promoting the luncheon are, from left: Elva Jackson Garza (Co-chairman for the Public Affairs Committee); Cris Torres (Inter National Bank); Letty González (Edinburg Chamber of Commerce president); Dalia Arce (Inter National Bank); and Johnny Rodríguez (Edinburg Chamber of Commerce chairman). 

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Put on those boots and jeans and dress it up with gems and jewels and attend the 12th Annual Noche de Gala, to be hosted by the Rio Grande Valley Hispanic Chamber of Commerce on Saturday, January 22.  The evening will not only have a dinner, dance and silent and live auctions, but it will also have a Las Vegas style casino as part of the evening’s festivities.  Guests will get to play and bid on some big items donated by business people in the communities. The casino will offer poker, roulette, craps and Black Jack.  Professional dealers will man the tables from 9 p.m. to 12:30 a.m. Other highlights of the evening will be the awarding of the Posthumous Golden Eagle Award to the late Mike Allen, an economic development leader and South Texas College board trustee who passed away in late August. Scheduled to accept the award on his behalf is Theresa Allen, his widow. Mike Allen was a well-known and respected individual on both sides of the border whose life saw him help people, first as a Catholic priest, then as longtime leader of the McAllen Economic Development Corporation. His dedication to the economic development of both sides of the border, education and humanity are considered as part of his legacy.  For more information on ticket or sponsorship information on the Noche de Gala, please call the RGV Hispanic Chamber at 928-0060. Featured, practicing their Black Jack skills are, from left: Joe Roxx, dealer; and representing the RGV Hispanic Chamber of Commerce are Hari Namboodiri, Jeanette Noone, Cynthia M. Sakulenzki and Yoli González.   

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The Edinburg Chamber of Commerce will host Fiesta Edinburg the last weekend in February, from the 24th through the 27th. Linebarger Goggan Blair & Sampson, a national law firm that has offices in Edinburg and Brownsville, is one of the major sponsors for the event, which will include Jimmy González y Grupo Mazz as the headlining musical act. Jimmy González y Grupo Mazz are scheduled to perform on Saturday, February 26, along with Elida Reyna y Avante plus others. For 43 years, Fiesta Edinburg has been giving people a reason to celebrate the three-time All America City of Edinburg. Featured presenting a check to members of the Fiesta Edinburg Committee are, from left: Josie Ríos (First National Bank); Penny the Pig (First National Bank); Letty Reyes (Edinburg Economic Development Corporation); Rey Garza (HEB on Freddy González Drive); Edward Greaves (HEB on Freddy González Drive); Johnny Harris (HEB on Closner Boulevard); Letty González (Edinburg Chamber of Commerce); Dalia Arce (Fiesta Edinburg Committee member), and Cris Torres (Fiesta Edinburg Chair and board member for the Edinburg Chamber of Commerce). See story later in this posting.  

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House passes bill by Rep. Martínez to protect Texas’ $159 million citrus industry from new plant plague

 

Hidalgo County leaders on Friday, May 1, commemorated the historic infusion of about $300 million in federal funds for the Hidalgo County Levee Rehabilitation Project during a special recognition ceremony and press conference at the Hidalgo Pump House Museum and World Birding Center Nature Park.  Hidalgo County Judge J.D. Salinas, III, featured first on right, released an economic impact study, commissioned by his office and conducted by Sai Mullapudi of the University of Texas-Pan American’s Data and Information Systems Center Division of Community Engagement, that highlighted the economic impact of the levee upgrades.  The study indicates that the entire levee rehabilitation project, when completed, will produce nearly 5,000 local jobs and generate $508 million in economic impact. From left, in this photograph, are: Ron Vitiello, chief for the Rio Grand Valley Border Patrol sector; Mayor John David Franz of Hidalgo; Congressman Henry Cuellar, D-Laredo/McAllen; and Salinas. See story later in this posting. 

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May marks National Mental Health Month and to recognize the month-long health campaign in the Rio Grande Valley, the South Texas Behavioral Health Center hosted an advocacy reception for community leaders on Friday, May 1. Area leaders spanning from law enforcement, military, elected officials, health care practitioners and social service providers attended the event in recognition of the advancements and challenges of mental health care in the Valley. Standing, from left, are: Solomon Torres, District Director for Congressman Rubén Hinojosa, D-Mercedes; Doug Matney, Vice President of Acute Care and Group Director for South Texas Health System; César Matos, MD; Joe Rodríguez, CEO for South Texas Behavioral Health Center and Michael Sauceda, Business Development Director for South Texas Behavioral Health Center. See story later in this posting. 

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Manuel Garcia and Johnny Rodriguez, two of the board members for Edinburg Child Care, Inc., a non-profit business dedicated to providing nutrition and education services to children in day care homes, display a cake that helped mark the 25th anniversary of the local entity.  The local firm, which helps generate a multi-million dollar economic impact for the region, hosted a celebration in the Edinburg/San Manuel region on April 25, 2009, as a treat for many of its participants. Operations consist of reimbursements to day care homes and day care centers for meals served to children under their care and administrative costs.  All seed funds/startup costs were provided by Romeo Villarreal, a local businessman and educator. The policy-making board of directors oversees the program, which is administered by an executive director. Since 1991, this program has generated between $2 million to $2.3 million dollars annually and disbursed to providers from Corpus Christi to Laredo, to Brownsville and the Rio Grande Valley. Three hundred to 500 small business owners of day care centers are being supplemented annually through this agency. Edinburg Child Care, Inc. is located 2002 West University, Suite 3, Edinburg, 78539. They may also be contacted by telephone at 956/383-6789; by fax at 956/383-6888; and toll-free at 1/800-281-6780. Mary Villarreal, the company’s executive director, may also be reached via Internet mvillarrealmmv@sbcglobal.net or edinburgchildcare@hotmail.com. 

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The Texas Senate on Monday, May 4, unanimously voted for Senate Bill 1443 by Sen. Judith Zaffirini, D-Laredo, Chair of the Senate Higher Education Committee,  that would provide financial relief to students and their families, while recognizing the shared responsibility of the legislature and higher education institutions to keep college affordable and accessible without sacrificing excellence. The bill focuses on total academic costs, not simply on tuition; caps increases and links them to formula funding; offers an optional 4-year guaranteed tuition rate; includes additional cost-cutting measures; and establishes legislative oversight. See story later in this posting. 

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Asian citrus psyllid nymphs, shown here in their development stages by a U.S. Department of Agriculture photograph, can live on citrus trees that are infected with the Citrus Greening Disease and can acquire that plague just before reaching the adult stage. Once that happens, those insects can immediately transmit the disease to uninfected trees, which ruin the trees and citrus.  The greening disease, which has not yet been detected in Texas, could devastate the state’s $159 million citrus industry, most of which is located in Hidalgo County. A bill by Rep. Armando "Mando" Martínez, D-Weslaco, has been passed by the House of Representatives. The measure would give the Texas Department of Agriculture the needed policy powers to help citrus growers prevent a potentially-devastating outbreak of this plant disease. See lead story later in this posting. 

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Dozens of area leaders receive education on how to apply for $45 million in grants

State and local leaders met in Edinburg on Wednesday, August 27, as part of a two-hour session sponsored by the Texas Valley Communities Foundation to help area nonprofit groups apply for $45 million in AmeriCorps grants that will be awarded in Texas during the next three years. Featured, from left: Dr. Roland S. Arriola, Ph.D., president of Texas Valley Communities Foundation; Rosa Moreno-Mahoney, Associate Director of Service and Volunteerism for the One Star Foundation; Dr. Beverly Ashley-Fridie, Ph.D., a gubernatorial appointee from Edinburg who serves on the board of directors for the One Star Foundation; and Courtney Suhrs, Senior Strategic Communications Specialist for the One Star Foundation. “One Star Foundation is looking for partners to invest an anticipated $45 million in grant funding to support programs for the educational success of Texas’ youth over a three year period through AmeriCorps funding,” said Arriola. “One Star will partner with organizations that focus on quality early childhood education, school-readiness programs, improving literacy rates, increasing the obtainment of high school equivalencies, increasing grade level achievement, and increasing post-secondary attendance and completion.”  See story later in this posting.

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Congressman Rubén Hinojosa was the special speaker on Thursday, August 21 for the legislative luncheon hosted by the Edinburg Chamber of Commerce’s Public Affairs Committee, led by Ramiro Garza, executive director for the Edinburg Economic Development Corporation. Hinojosa talked about recent legislative issues, including education priorities, that will emphasize financial literacy, encourage financial partners in student loan programs, increasing need-based grant aid through Pell grants, and other measures. Sponsors for the event were Rio Valley Realty, and Edwards Abstract and Title Co.  Featured, back row, from left: Johnny Rodríguez; Hayden Prater; Flo Prater; Jared Prater; Elva Jackson Garza; Marty Martin, and Imelda.  Front row, from left: Rep. Aaron Peña, D-Edinburg; Mayor Joe Ochoa;Hinojosa; Byron J. Lewis; and Maggie Kent.

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The Edinburg Volunteer Fire Department will collaborate with the Edinburg Chamber of Commerce, and the Dustin Michael Sekula Memorial Library in celebrating Edinburg’s Centennial on Monday, October 6, at the Edinburg Municipal Park. As part of its participating, the fire department will host National Fire Department Week, and provide – for free – live entertainment, music, dancers, a karate show and demo, fire safety, cokes and hot dogs, as well  ice cream, courtesy of the Edinburg Chamber of Commerce,  and Edinburg’s biggest birthday cake, courtesy of the Dustin Michael Sekula Memorial Library.  The event will be from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m., with a Fire Prevention/Caravan/Parade to kick off the celebration at 5:30 p.m.  The fire department will also work in partnership with the Museum of South Texas History, on Sunday, October 5, and kick off the week with “Museum Day”.  Residents will be welcomed to visit the Museum of South Texas History on McIntyre and Closner, and then walk one block west to the Edinburg Volunteer Fire Department Museum located on McIntyre and 10th street.  Both museums will be open to the public from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., with free admission. Featured, from left, are: Fire Marshal Richard Drewery; Centennial Chair Evana Vleck; Library Director Letty Leija; Lucy Robinson; Fire Chief Shawn M. Snyder; Fire Inspector John R. Ovalle; and Assistant Fire Marshal Omar Garza.

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Dust off those boots and sharpen your casino skills as the McAllen Hispanic Chamber of Commerce has scheduled their 2nd annual “Back to School Casino and Dance Scholarship Fundraiser” for Saturday, September 6, at The Tower Club, located in the Chase Tower, 200 South 10th Street in McAllen. The event is from 7 p.m. to midnight, with Country Western band Crossfire performing, food and refreshments, and a Casino with Black Jack tables, Craps, Roulette and Poker.  Local merchants are also providing gifts and certificates for the silent auction. MHCC’s Education Committee schedules several fundraisers during the year to help raise funds for scholarships.  Sponsorships for the Back to School Casino and Dance are: Title $5,000, High Roller $3,000, Dealer $2,000, Bookie $1,000 and Casino Table $300.  Reserved Tables are $750 for a table of 10 with individual tickets $50. For more information, to inquire on sponsorships and tickets call the McAllen Hispanic Chamber at 928-0060. Featured, sitting: Diana Gonzáles, Vice Chair of Education. Standing, from left: Cynthia M. Sakulenzki, MHCC President/CEO; Hari Namboodiri, Chair-elect, and Verónica Vela, Vice Chair of Women’s Issues.

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