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Weslaco airport legislation by Rep. Martínez set for House committee hearing on Wednesday, April 8

Hidalgo County Precinct 1 Commissioner Sylvia Handy, shown here in early December 2008 successfully championing the extension of the proposed Hidalgo County Loop through her district, on Thursday, April 2, was named in a six-county indictment charging her, her spouse, Juan Gabriel Espronceda, 35, María De Los Ángeles Landa de Hernández, 27, and Eloisa Andrade Uriegas, 58, with harboring aliens for financial gain. 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. Handy has said she is innocent. Following news of her indictment, Hidalgo County Judge J.D. Salinas III released the following statement: “Today, we became aware that Pct. 1 Commissioner Sylvia S. Handy and three others were arrested on the allegation of defrauding taxpayers for personal gain. We will withhold our own judgment, as this is an ongoing investigation and is in the hands of the court system. However, my office has been in contact with Commissioner Handy’s chief of staff to offer our help. My office pledges to the public that all vital public services for the families of Pct. 1 will continue.” Featured in this file photo, to her right, is Congressman Ruben Hinojosa, and to her left, is Salinas. See story later in this posting. 

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Sen. Juan "Chuy" Hinojosa, D-McAllen, who serves as the vice-chair of the Senate Finance Committee, led the workgroup on that panel that developed state funding for general government, the judiciary, natural resources, and regulatory services.  The Senate Finance Committee, which writes the Senate’s version of the two-year state budget, on Wednesday, April 1, approved a $182 billion budget, which would cover the period between September 1, 2009 and August 30, 2011. This biennial budget is a seven percent increase over 2008-2009, but nearly half that growth is attributable to federal stimulus money. Actual state spending grows only about two percent per year over the next biennium. See story later in this posting. 

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On September 8, 1993, Gov. Ann Richards appointed the founding South Texas Community College (now South Texas College) Board of Trustees, which included Manuel Benavidez, Jr., of La Grulla in Starr County, who passed away on Saturday, March 28. Sen. Judith Zaffirini, D-Laredo, whose district includes Starr County, expressed her condolences to his family and friends. "I am profoundly saddened by our loss of Manuel Benavidez, a champion of higher education, economic development and housing, and am among the countless South Texans who will miss him greatly," she said. "His legacy as a regent for South Texas College and the Starr County Housing Authority reflects his lifelong commitment to creating a brighter future for our families." Highlights of his life are featured in an article composed by one of his daughters, which is featured later in this posting. In this 1993 file photo, the founding board of trustees posed for their portrait, including, seated, from left: Rosalinda González and Pearl Mathis; and standing, from left: Glen Roney (vice chair); Manuel Benavidez, Jr.; Dr. Amparo Cárdenas; Gary Gurwitz (secretary); and Rubén Hinojosa (chair). 

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Rep. Armando "Mando" Martínez, D-Weslaco, and Sen. Eddie Lucio, Jr., D-Brownsville, recently welcomed the 2008-09 Leadership Mid Valley class, which visited the Capitol to gain further insight into the workings of state government. Leadership Mid Valley provides opportunities for developing leadership skills and increasing knowledge of vital public issues. Members of this year’s class, from left to right, are: Annette Turner, Nels Anderson, Allison Summersett, Martínez, Priscilla Castañeda, Jesse Colin, Yvonne Chamblin, Vicky De La Garza, Lucio, Mari Avilés, Nancy Peña and Rolando Pedraza. On Wednesday, April 8, a bill by Martínez which would designate the Mid Valley Airport in Weslaco as the emergency headquarters for the Valley during times of natural and man-made disasters will be heard by the House Defense and Veterans’ Committee. See lead story in this posting. 

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Trustee Carmen González praises passage of $112M bond issue, ethical reforms, high academic honors

Edinburg school board trustee Carmen González, who is finishing up her first term on the seven-member school board, greets Saúl Ortega of Edinburg, one of several hundred supporters who showed up on Thursday, August 21, for her campaign reelection bid kick-off, held at the ECHO in Edinburg. A retired educator whose career saw her rise from the classroom to the top leadership position as interim superintendent of ECISD, González is being challenged by a former and longtime ECISD trustee, Gilbert Enríquez, a renowned leader in business construction projects in the region. The election is on Tuesday, November 4. In gearing up for her race against Enríquez, González pledged to focus on her continuing vision for the school district, not personal attacks. “For my part, and in my campaign, there will be no mud thrown from my direction, from my camp,” she promised. “I will not throw mud, and I know I will be blessed because I will not be interrupted by negativism that may be circulating. I hope this will be a clean race, like it was when I ran (in 2005) against Obie Salinas, who was a gentleman with me all the way. We ran a good, clean campaign. I am going to ask the public to keep it clean.” See lead story later in this posting.

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After a final round of interviews, the Hidalgo County Elections Commission on Wednesday, August 20, unanimously selected Yvonne Ramón to lead the Hidalgo County Elections Department. “Ms. Ramón was chosen today to uphold core values of trust, responsibility and commitment to public service,” said Hidalgo County Judge J.D. Salinas III, who is Chairman of the Hidalgo County Elections Commission. “Out of 66 applicants, she is what we consider the best of the best.” The other members of the commission are Hidalgo County Clerk Arturo Guajardo Jr., Hidalgo County Tax Assessor-Collector Armando Barrera, Hidalgo County Democratic Party Chair Dolly Elizondo and Hidalgo County Republican Party Chair Hollis Rutledge. See story later in this posting.

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For the second year, new faculty at The University of Texas-Pan American were welcomed to campus on Tuesday, August 19 as part of the New Faculty Support Program, which helps incoming faculty members adjust to their new environment. Fifty-five full-time, tenure and tenure-track faculty who are new this fall to UTPA attended the program’s opening reception and a two-day academic orientation. The year-long initiative was designed to help incoming faculty adjust to their new academic and community surroundings at UTPA. Featured here, from left during the first day of the academic orientation are: Dr. Paul Sale, UTPA Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs; UTPA student Tony Matamoros; Keith Patridge, the president of the McAllen Economic Development Corporation; and Dr. Ala Qubbaj, director of the New Faculty Support Program Director Qubbaj. See story later in this posting.

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The City of Edinburg was founded in 1908, where it was first named Chapin, Texas. In 1911, the town of Chapin was newly named Edinburg, and will officially reach its centennial of its founding on October 10, 2008. During the week of October 5 – 11, Edinburg will reflect on the establishment and growth of the community with a series of historic events, which are being organized the Centennial Committee. Local institutions which will spearhead the celebrations include The Dustin Michael Sekula Memorial Library, the Museum of South Texas History, the Edinburg Chamber of Commerce, the City of Edinburg, the Edinburg Economic Development Corporation, Edinburg Consolidated Independent School District, Daughters of the American Revolution, the Edinburg Volunteer Fire Department, and other various businesses, and organizations The event will feature Edinburg’s largest birthday cake, free ice cream, a city proclamation, poetry readings, an essay contest, a historic exhibition, Fireman’s Parade plus more. Some of the members of the Centennial Committee are, from left: Flo Prater; Joel A. Garza; Migdalie Rodríguez; Lynne Beeching; Miguel Gamboa; Elva Jackson Garza; Frank Lara; Letty González; Letty Reyes; Evana Vleck; Frank Garza; Viviana Ozuna; Rubén J. López; and Marco Cordova. Not shown are Valerie M. Haesly-Parson, Imelda Rodríguez, Lucy Robinson and Valerie Ramírez. Log on to http://www.edinburg.com for a complete calendar of events, or call 956-383-4974 for more information.

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Gilberto Garza, superintendent of the Edinburg school district, on Tuesday, August 19, addressed the elementary teachers and paraprofessionals at the General Assembly. “It isn’t by accident that the district had 12 Exemplary and 15 Recognized campuses last year, or that we had six schools named in Texas Monthly’s Best Public Schools in Texas list, or that 33 schools received Gold Performance Acknowledgments for high academic accomplishments, or that we have two high schools who have been awarded the College Board Inspiration Award, or two high schools named in Newsweek magazine among the Top Five Percent of Schools in the nation,” said Garza. See story later in this posting.

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Santana Textiles Corporation of Brazil to build $180 million manufacturing plant in Edinburg

A South American textile company will build a $180 million denim-manufacturing plant, featured in this artist’s rendition, in Edinburg, creating 800 new jobs and pumping millions of dollars into the local economy, Gov. Rick Perry and the Edinburg Economic Development Corporation announced on Wednesday, July 2. Santana Textiles Corporation of Ceara, Brazil, one of the world’s largest denim manufacturers, plans to construct – on a 23-acre site located in Edinburg’s North Industrial Park – a 300,000-square-foot complex.  The first phase of the sprawling facility, which will be built in three stages, is slated to open in 2010. When the three phases are completed in 2014, the foreign-owned enterprise, which will include a treatment plant, will eventually encompass about 400,000-square-feet of manufacturing space.  See lead story in this posting.

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Gov. Rick Perry (featured left) on Wednesday, July 2, reacts to humorous comments while sharing the stage at the University of Texas-Pan American with two members of the Delfino family of Brazil, owners of a planned manufacturing center projected to use much of the cotton produced in Texas to make denim, the fabric made famous by blue jeans. The governor reassured the Delfinos (son Raimundo “Neto”, the firm’s general manager, center, and his father, Raimundo, president of the major company).  “I’m kind of like this denim thing the way I was about Toyota and their pick-up trucks,” Perry said, referring to his successful venture in early 2003 that helped bring a Tundra truck manufacturing plant to San Antonio. “If you are going to manufacture a pick-up truck, where else are you going to build it except in Texas? Now, if you are going to process and produce denim, where else are you going to do it except in a place where they wear more denim than anywhere else in the world?”  See lead story in this posting.

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With area and regional news media in the background, City Councilmember Alma Garza, Councilmember Noé Garza (no relation), and Mayor Pro Tem Gene Espinoza  listen during a Wednesday, July 2 press conference in Edinburg about the projected economic impact on the city with the scheduled construction of a state-of-the-art denim manufacturing plan at the Edinburg North Industrial Park. Councilmember Noé Garza agreed with Gov. Rick Perry’s assessment during the morning press conference at the University of Texas-Pan American that Santana Textiles Corporation’s move to Edinburg is a “pivotal” event for the local and regional economies. “This will bring other firms who have hesitated before. Now, they know that it can be done, and they will be coming down,”  Noé Garza said. “This is just a start – in the very near future, there will be other major announcements coming for Edinburg. For the longest time, people have looked at McAllen as the place to be, but Edinburg is the place to be, both now and in the future.”  See lead story in this posting.

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Raimundo “Neto” Delfino, featured left, worked the Edinburg crowd on Wednesday, July 2, following an major announcement by Gov. Rick Perry that the Delfino family, owners of Santana Textiles from Brazil, would be investing up to $180 million to build a major denim manufacturing plant in Edinburg.  The company selected Edinburg after a competitive search throughout locations in North and South America. They chose Edinburg because of the state and local incentives, as well as the city’s proximity to cotton growers, said “Neto” Delfino. “After evaluating all the sites, we decided that Edinburg offered all the right conditions to expand our denim manufacturing operations in the U.S.,” he added. “We couldn’t find a better partner than the State of Texas and the City of Edinburg.”  With Delfino in this portrait are, from left: Rep. Ryan Guillen, D-Rio Grande City;  Ramiro Garza, executive director of the Edinburg Economic Development Corporation; and Rep. Aaron Peña, Jr., D-Edinburg.  See lead story in this posting.

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Renowned as one of the few “Three-Time All-America City” recipients in Texas – a civic honor bestowed upon successful, citizen-driven communities in the nation by the National Civic League – Edinburg may have to change that slogan to reflect the planned $180 million infusion of private capital from a South American company that will be building a denim manufacturing complex in Edinburg.  The news of a major manufacturing business making Edinburg their latest home – and their first in the U.S. – was roundly applauded during a Wednesday, July 2 press conference at the University of Texas-Pan American.  Among the leaders in attendance were, from left: Hidalgo County Judge J.D. Salinas, III; Rep. Veronica Gonzales, D-McAllen;  Raimundo “Neto” Delfino, general manager of Santana Textiles Corporation of Ceara, Brazil; Mayor Joe Ochoa; former Mayor Richard García; and Raimundo Delfino, president of the South American company.  See lead story in this posting.

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Former Mayor Richard García reappointed to new term on Edinburg EDC Board of Directors

Edinburg Fire Chief Shawn Snider, featured here with his wife, the former Edna Casas, and their 13-year-old daughter, Sarah, on Tuesday, June 17, was honored by the Edinburg City Council for his recent selection as president of the State Firemen’s and Fire Marshals Association of Texas. In the 132-year history of the group, only three other Valley residents – including two other fire chiefs from Edinburg – have ever held the top leadership position of the association. Snider, who was born in San Diego, California on July 10, 1964, and was raised by his grandparents in San Juan, has been Edinburg Fire Chief since 1991. He now resides in Edinburg. See story later in this posting.

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The Region One Education Service Center is one step closer to realizing a 38,171 square foot expansion to its Edinburg facility, located immediately west of the University of Texas-Pan American. The new construction, which officially began with a May 7 groundbreaking ceremony, will increase its size from 74,000 square feet to more than 112,000 square feet. The total project will take about 474 days, with a completion date in mid-August 2009. Featured in this portrait taken at the groundbreaking are, from left: Region One Board of Trustees members Abel Cavazos (Place 7-Willacy County); Alicia E. Requenez (Place 1-Hidalgo County); Dora Ruiz (Place 5-Cameron County); Jack Damron (executive director); Richard R. Cantú (Place 4-Hidalgo County); Dr. Manuel Gómez, Jr., (Place 6-Cameron County); and Noé R. Sánchez (Place 2-Jim Hogg, Starr, and Zapata Counties). See story later in this posting.

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U. S. Representative Rubén Hinojosa, D-Mercedes, featured left, along with Rex Tillerson, the chairman and chief executive officer of Exxon, on Thursday, June 19, were chosen as the 2008 recipients of the Hispanic Heritage Foundation (HHF) Inspira Award. The annual award honors leadership in education and community service for Latinos and for inspiring a new generation of Hispanic leaders in the United States. Actor and CSI: Miami star Adam Rodríguez will be the third Inspira Award recipient and presented during the National Youth Awards Ceremony in Kansas City, Missouri on July 11. See story later in this posting.

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Former Mayor Richard García, feature here in a file photo, was reappointed by the Edinburg City Council to another two-year term on the board of directors for the Edinburg Economic Development Corporation, the jobs-creation arm of the Edinburg City Council. He currently serves as the president of the EEDC board of directors. Under García’s leadership, as well as during the first and current administrations of Mayor Joe Ochoa, Edinburg has seen unprecedented economic development and growth in new construction, record-low unemployment rates, advances in higher education, and the development of a significant medical corridor that includes two comprehensive hospitals, a women’s hospital, a children’s hospital, two behavioral health care centers, a high-tech cancer treatment complex, and a University of Texas Regional Academic Health Center. “I’ve seen Richard García in action, and he’s not doing just a good job, he’s doing an excellent job in bringing commerce to this city,” said Councilmember Alma Garza. “In my opinion, it is in the city’s best interest to keep him in this position.” See lead story in this posting.

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Judge Susan Criss launches Internet fundraising effort for TV spots against Republican high court

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Hidalgo County Treasurer Norma G. García, featured second from left, has been named Texas County Treasurer for 2007 by her colleagues with the County Treasurers Association of Texas – the first time since 1971 that a local county treasurer has earned that prestigious honor. “Once again, Hidalgo County is recognized for outstanding leadership and performance in public service,” said García. “It is especially important for the public to have full confidence that their hard-earned tax funds are being taken care of at the highest standards and principles, which produce the most beneficial consequences to those whom I serve.” Featured with her during the award ceremony held in mid-October were: Kleberg County Treasurer Priscilla A. Cantú; García; Zapata County Treasurer Romeo Salinas; and Taylor County Treasurer Lesa Crosswhite, who also serves as CTAT president. See story later in this posting.

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Rep. Aaron Peña, D-Edinburg, focused on his legislative efforts on behalf of the youth in his district during his Thursday, November 8 campaign kick-off, held at the ECHO in Edinburg.  Peña, who was born in Austin but grew up in Edinburg, reminded voters from the key Delta Area portion of his House District 40 of his deep roots in those communities. “My grandfather would never imagine what has happened to this community,” Peña fondly recalled his paternal grandfather, Baltazar Peña, who migrated from Mexico to the Edcouch-Elsa region. “Who would have imagined that we would move so quickly to have the sort of growth that we have here? That was done because of the dreams that they had, the dreams of a better future, the dreams of educating our kids. So, that has always been my commitment, as it is yours, that we invest in our kids.” Featured with Peña are, from left, back row: his wife, Mónica; daughter-in-law, Clarissa; granddaughter Addison; son Aaron Peña; daughter Adrienne Peña Garza; and in the front row: son Anthony; and granddaughter Chelsea Peña. The Edinburg lawmaker is facing a challenge from Eddie Sáenz, a civil engineer also from Edinburg, in the March 4, 2008 Democratic Party primary. See story later in this posting.

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Rep. Verónica Gonzáles, D-McAllen, whose House District 41 includes southwest Edinburg, on Thursday, November 8, helped welcome dignitaries to the campaign kick-off for her colleague, Rep. Aaron Peña, D-Edinburg. Gonzáles, along with Rep. Armando “Mando” Martínez, D-Weslaco, and Rep. Ryan Guillen, D-Rio Grande City, showed up at Peña’s event, even though Peña is facing a challenge from a fellow Democrat – Eddie Sáenz of Edinburg. Gonzáles will be having her own campaign kick-off on Tuesday, November 27, from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. at the International Museum of Arts and Science, located at 1900 Nolana Avenue in McAllen. Gonzáles’ campaign kick-off, which is being underwritten by her law firm, Kittleman, Thomas & Gonzáles, LLP, is free and open to the public. For more information, residents may call her campaign at 212-8950. Gonzáles is facing at least one opponent so far – fellow McAllen lawyer Javier Villalobos, who is seeking the Republican Party nomination. Both parties will hold their primary elections on March 4, 2008.

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