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School district’s achievements and future have never been better, says Carmen González, as she seeks reelection to Edinburg school board

Miriam Martínez leading by example on term limits Photograph by Heriberto Reyes

Term limits, which are being proposed for the McAllen mayor and McAllen city commissioners by the McAllen Police Association, help promote democracy so much that Miriam Martínez, the Republican nominee for State Representative, House District 41, on Thursday, October 4, signed a notarized statement that she would not serve more than two terms in the Texas House of Representatives. “I always believed that one should lead by example, and that’s why I am swearing, under oath, that I would limit myself to two terms in the Texas House of Representatives if I were to be elected state representative,” Martínez said. The term for state representative is two years. Martínez said four years in the Texas House of Representatives is more than enough time for a legislator to do good for their constituents. “Understanding the legislative process is not rocket science, it’s about doing what is right for your community,” said Martínez. “If an elected official is that good, they should seek higher office after two terms.” Featured, from left, are Fern McClaugherty, a member of the Objective Watchers of the Legal System, a taxpayer watchdog organization best known as the OWLS; Miriam Martínez; and Rev. Armando Vera, president of the first-ever Hispanic Tea Party, which is based in Hidalgo County. Martínez is facing Rep. R.D. “Bobby” Guerra, D-Sharyland, in the November 6 general election for the two-year term that begins in mid-January 2013. House District 41 includes southwest Edinburg, north, central, southeast and portions of west McAllen, Palmhurst, Sharyland, Alton, and portions of Mission and northwest Pharr. See story on term limits later in this posting.

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R.D. “Bobby” Guerra, D-Sharyland, on Tuesday, September 25, takes the oath of office from Speaker of the House Joe Straus, R-San Antonio, during public ceremonies held on the floor of the Texas House of Representatives at the State Capitol in Austin. Guerra, a McAllen attorney, is finishing the final few months of the unexpired term of former Rep. Verónica Gonzáles, D-McAllen, who retired from the Legislature late last spring to accept the position as Vice President for University Advancement at the University of Texas-Pan American. Later, Straus appointed Guerra to the House Committee on Public Health and the House Committee on Border and Intergovernmental Affairs – the two legislative panels on which Gonzáles served before leaving the House of Representatives. The Public Health Committee is an 11-member panel whose responsibilities including dealing with the supervision and control of the practices of dentistry and medicine. “Public Health is a crucial committee for the Rio Grande Valley,” Guerra said. “The border area faces many unique health challenges including a physician shortage crisis, high rates of chronic diseases, lack of insurance coverage for many families, and most recently, unintended affects of the new managed care system. I look forward to fighting to improve conditions for both the Valley and my state.” The Border and Intergovernmental Affairs Committee, with nine members, considers legislation that affects counties along the Texas-Mexico border region. “Recently, the issue of security has been on the forefront of our border communities and I am honored to be the voice for the Valley on the Border and Intergovernmental Affairs Committee,” Guerra said. “It is important that we keep working to find ways to keep our borders safe without impeding trade or economic development.” Guerra is facing Republican Miriam Martínez of Edinburg, a small business owner and international journalist, in the November 6 general election for State Representative, House District 41, for a two-year term that begins in mid-January 2013. House District 41 includes southwest Edinburg, north, central, southeast and portions of west Mcallen, Palmhurst, Sharyland, Alton, and portions of Mission and northwest Pharr.

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The Edinburg Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors and staff are planning the Annual Installation Banquet scheduled for Saturday, November 3, 2012 at 6 p.m. This year, the ceremony will take place at Legacy Chapels Life Events Center located at 4610 S. Jackson Road. in Edinburg. The banquet will honor Dina Araguz, featured left, as incoming chairman, and Edna Peña, featured right, as outgoing chairman for the Edinburg Chamber of Commerce. It will also provide dinner and entertainment by comedian and magician Mark Robinson, plus the announcements of “Man and Woman of the Year, “Leadership Award” and “Ambassador of the Year”. Tickets to attend the Annual Banquet are $40 per person, or $400 for a table of 8. Attire will be business casual and all are encouraged to attend the magical night. More information is available by contract the Edinburg Chamber of Commerce at 383-4974.

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Edinburg Rotarians, Mari De León, featured left, and Jane Cross serve up healthy samples to the parents participating in Boys & Girls Clubs Day for Kids, held on Friday, September 21, at The Legacy Center@Boys & Girls Clubs of Edinburg RGV, located at 702 Cullen Street. This event, the first in a series of Healthy Lifestyles for a Lifetime cooking demonstrations, was sponsored by H-E-B and the Edinburg Rotary Club in an effort to educate parents and families on how to make better healthier food choices, and how parents can use dinner time to stay connected with their children. Other supporters included the Food Bank of the RGV. The event featured, among other things, audience sampling of all healthy food choices prepared, including salsa, chicken fajita, and even desserts. The food sampling trays were served up by Edinburg Rotarians. I love this,” said one parent, who husband recently suffered a heart attack. “I did not know how to read food labels before this event and now I feel like I can better help him.”

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On Wednesday, September 13, the Edinburg Chamber of Commerce hosted its final monthly Ambassador meeting of the fiscal year at the historic Edinburg Depot, located at 602 West University Drive. Ambassadors consist of business professionals and members within the community, and they play key roles in supporting the organization’s overall mission of member acquisition and retention. They welcome new chamber members, attend ribbon cuttings, visit members, and answer questions about services and benefits offered by the Edinburg Chamber of Commerce. “The Chamber Ambassadors are a special group of volunteers that play a vital role for the chamber,” said Martín Rivas, Membership Director for the Edinburg Chamber of Commerce. “Being an ambassador is a good way to make new contacts, strengthen relationships, and build more resources, and most important, work with the community.” For more information, Rivas may be contacted at 383-4974. Featured, seated from left: Lidia Díaz (Premium Automotive Services); Charlene Kuprel (Private Financial); Letty González (President, Edinburg Chamber of Commerce); Imelda Rodríguez (Director of Tourism, Edinburg Convention and Visitors Bureau); and Stephanie Ozuna (University of Texas-Pan American Graduate Office). Standing, from left: Lee Castro (Legacy Chapels Life Events Center); Marty Martin (Rio Valley Realty); Dean Reger (Atlas Electrical and Air Conditioning Services); Ismael De León (Alpha and Omega Services); Martin Baylor (University of Texas-Pan American); Martin Rivas (Membership Director, Edinburg Chamber of Commerce); Dr. Walter Greene (Greene and Associates); Alex Ríos (Kids College Learning Center); Flo Prater (Rio Valley Realty); and Juan Tijerina (RGV Statewide Insurance).

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The State of Texas has proclaimed October as Financial Exploitation Awareness month. In accordance with that designation, Silver Ribbon Community Partners, Adult Protective Services in Hidalgo County, the Rio Grande Valley Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, Lone Star National Bank and Costco is inviting the public to attend the 2012 Financial Exploitation Awareness Kick-Off, which will be held Monday, October 23, at Lone Star National Bank, 520 E. Nolana in McAllen. The event, which will begin at 10 a.m., will feature area city officials, members of law enforcement, elected officials, and representatives from financial institutions. In 2011, Adult Protective Services in Hidalgo County received more than 2,500 intakes regarding abuse, neglect and exploitation of disabled persons 18 of age and older and the elderly age 65 and older. Of these reports, more than 1,500 were confirmed. Shown meeting to discuss final arrangements for the workshop are, from left: Alina Cantú, RGV Hispanic Chamber; Rose Ramírez, Silver Ribbon; Edna de Saro, Marketing Director, Lone Star National Bank; and Jason Torres and Blenda Cantú of Costco. See story later in this posting.

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Carmen González, the president of the Edinburg school board, says the school district's finances, academic performances, campuses, and future have never been better, offering a 69-page factual report, The Legacy of Excellence Continues, as proof of those successes under her leadership and tenure. González, a retired professional educator with 37 years experience – including her last 25 years in Edinburg – also highlighted her impressive professional and public service careers on Thursday, September 20, during her campaign kick-off before a full house at the ECHO. “Our district is committed to providing the very best education to our children,” González reflected following her standing-room only reception, which drew constituents from all walks-of-life, ranging from parents, educators and taxpayer activists to business leaders and state legislators. “It is truly an honor for me for voters to have given me the opportunity to serve our community for the past eight years,” she said. “I am respectfully asking all constituents to take a close look at my achievements on their behalf, and please vote for me once more.” See lead story in this posting.

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Following banner years for Edinburg school district, Robert Peña, Jr., files for reelection for Place 4 seat on school board

Francisco G. Cigarroa, M.D., Chancellor of the University of Texas System (featured third from right) on Friday, August 17, 2012 was welcomed at the UT Regional Academic Health Center in Edinburg by UT, Edinburg and state leaders, including Mayor Richard García and Rep.-elect Terry Canales, D-Edinburg. Cigarroa announced plans to significantly expand medical education in South Texas and graduate the first class of medical school students in the region in 2018. “On behalf of The University of Texas System Board of Regents, I am honored to make two announcements. First, the year 2018 will be a very special year for all of us. It will be the year that we graduate our first class of medical school students in South Texas,” said Cigarroa. “Second, we are beginning the transition of the UT Health Science Center – San Antonio Regional Academic Health Center—known as the RAHC – into an independent, freestanding, comprehensive and research intensive regional medical school, with its own president and structure, for South Texas.” Cigarroa outlined a blueprint that he developed in coordination with UT System Chairman of the Board of Regents Gene Powell and Regent Robert Stillwell, Chairman of the Health Affairs Committee. The plan was developed to bring the new South Texas medical school to life, and it addresses a significant list of past commitments and future steps to move the project forward. Featured, from left: Harlingen Mayor Chris Boswell; retiring Rep. Aaron Peña, Jr., R-Edinburg; Sen. Eddie Lucio, Jr., D-Brownsville; Chancellor Cigarroa; Mayor García; and Rep.-elect Canales. See story later in this posting.

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Sen. Juan "Chuy" Hinojosa, D-McAllen, featured here in mid-August at the McAllen Convention Center as the keynote speaker during the summer graduation ceremony for the University of Texas-Pan American, is hailing a federal court ruling on Thursday, August 30, that overturned the state’s so-called "Voter ID Law". The measure, made possible last spring with the passage of Senate Bill 14, popularly known as the Voter ID Law, does disenfranchise certain segments of the voting-age population in Texas, the Washington, D.C. federal court ruled. "From the day this legislation was filed we voiced as loudly as we could that Voter ID legislation is designed to stop minorities and the indigent population from exercising their constitutional right to vote," said Hinojosa. Under Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, any changes to the elections process in Texas must be approved by the United States Department of Justice before it can be implemented. See story later in this posting.

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South Texas state and congressional leaders on Wednesday, August 15, saluted retiring U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, R-Texas, for the work she has done  on behalf of the state, including help secure federal funding for the new McAllen VA Outpatient Clinic. Hutchison was addressing more than 100 Valley veterans and other local leaders during the groundbreaking of the new 58,500 square-foot medical facility, set to open late next summer, which will improve services to McAllen area by providing extended primary care services and outpatient specialty care. Featured, from left: Rep. Sergio Muñoz, Jr., D-Mission; Sen. Eddie Lucio, Jr., D-Brownsville; Congressman Henry Cuellar, D-Laredo/McAllen; Congressman  Rubén Hinojosa, D-Mercedes, and Sen. Hutchison. See story later in this posting.

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With area students of all ages returning to school for the fall semester, the Edinburg Economic Development Corporation on Friday, August 10, organized a Back to School Runway Show, featuring fashions being sold locally by Wal-Mart, Bealls, and Kenya Rose. Young women with Missy’s Modeling Studio showcased the latest back-to-school styles as part of iShop Edinburg’s ongoing campaign at the monthly Jardín Del Arte’s Summer Nights Jazz Series 2012, held free-of-charge and open to the public, at the City Hall Courtyard, 415 West University Drive. The modeling show, live music, and other activities – which showcased more than 20 artists and artisans, and food from local vendors – drew hundreds of area residents. Musical performances were delivered by Del Viento, and Bongo Bob & The Bobaloos. Among the other local talent featured at the event were: Benjamin Varela; Anna Varela; Celerrino Castillo; Rubén Ríos; Julián Rodríguez; Raúl Treviño; Ramón Vela; Ernesto Gómez; Lupe Vázquez; Raquel Hinojosa; Isis D. Camarillo; Paul Valadez; Martha Hinojosa; and Anna Ramírez – Robot Annie. Jardín Del Arte is organized by the EEDC, which is the jobs creation arm of the Edinburg City Council. The City of Edinburg and the Edinburg Chamber of Commerce also are sponsors of Jardín Del Arte and iShopEdinburg.

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The Edinburg Cultural Activities Board along with Edinburg Arts recently made a connection between the Evins Regional Juvenile Center in Edinburg and the Emmanuel Project. The Emmanuel Project provides art supplies and creative learning materials for incarcerated youth ages 12 to 21 to help engage them in academics and facilitate success in the classroom. The project is named after Emanuel Martínez, a master painter and sculptor, and includes a customized mural for each center in which 80 percent is painted by the center’s youth. “The Arts can improve the quality of life in our community as they lift our spirits and touch our deepest emotions, as well as teach us to appreciate all cultures and traditions. The Arts are a vital component of our children’s education because they inspire and expand the creative mind, and promote development of analytical and critical thinking skills," Guerra said. "The Arts sustain and preserve the heart and soul of our civilization, and, in short, the Arts make us better people." She continued, "We are very happy to have facilitated this opportunity for the inmates in the Evins Regional Juvenile Center, with the hope of touching and possibly transforming a young life in Edinburg. These are the types of projects that the Edinburg Cultural Activities Board strives to bring to our community." Featured, posing in front of the working mural earlier this summer, are, from left: Dr. Dahlia Guerra; Emanuel Martínez; Letty Leija; and Ronaldo Chávez, the principal at the Evins Regional Juvenile Center. See story later in this posting.

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Ladies, come out and enjoy an evening of shopping, dinner, cocktails, pampering, silent auction and a Men’s Style Show comprised of local business and community leaders on Thursday, September 27, at La Antigua Revilla in Edinburg from 5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. The Women’s Committee of the Rio Grande Valley Hispanic Chamber of Commerce has scheduled this event to raise funds for their upcoming Women’s Conference. Enjoy yourself as you get pampered with free massages, nail color change, make up makeover’s and new hair do’s. RGVHCC male board members will be bartenders and butlers to the ladies present. The Men’s Style Show will be coordinated by Debi Lou Productions. They will be showcasing casual, sport, business, western and formal wear. Ladies will have the opportunity to take pictures with the popular men. Several single and eligible models will be auctioned off for Dinner Dates hosted by several restaurants in the Valley. Tickets for the fundraiser are $25 each, and $300 for a reserved table of 10. Sponsorships of $3,000, $2,000, $1,000 and $500 are also available. Sponsorships include reserved tables in priority seating, ads in the program book and a vendor table. For more information call the RGVHCC office at 928-0060. Helping promote the fundraiser with Cynthia M. Sakulenski, the president and CEO of the RGV Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, are some of the male models. Featured, from right; Sergio Contreras, ATT; Ray Cantú, Frank Smith Toyota; Johnny R. Cavazos, Johnny’s BBQ; Cynthia M. Sakulenzki; Emilio de los Santos, Lone Star National Bank; J.C. Cervantes, Pangea Floor Covering; and Joe Smith, L3 Technologies.

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The Miss Edinburg 2013 Scholarship Pageant is accepting applicants for the Saturday, October 6 pageant, which will be held at the historic City Auditorium, located at 415 W. McIntyre, next to Edinburg City Hall. Registration is officially underway and will take place until the end of September. "We are looking forward to our upcoming pageant and are very excited to meet all interested applicants. Miss Edinburg and Miss Teen Edinburg 2013 will receive a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to serve their community with honor by promoting different events throughout Edinburg and the Rio Grande Valley," said Minerva Olivarez, Pageant Director. Featured promoting the pageant are, from left: Imelda Rodríguez, Director of Tourism, Edinburg Chamber of Commerce; Rachel Tunberg, Miss Teen Edinburg; Letty González; President, Edinburg Chamber of Commerce; Miranda Gracia, Miss Edinburg; and Minerva Olivarez, Pageant Director. See story later in this posting.

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The Rio Grande Valley Hispanic Chamber of Commerce is well underway in preparing for the annual “Hispanic Heritage Fiesta & Cook Off” that is scheduled for Friday, November 9 and Saturday, November 10 at the Mercedes Livestock Show Grounds. The Cook Off is a Sanctioned IBCA Cook Off with cash prizes over $10,000.  Besides the sanctioned chicken, brisket and ribs, additional categories that can be entered into are Pan de Campo, Fajitas, Chef’s Choice and Beans. Cooking Teams can register for $200 and pick their cooking spot on a first come first serve basis. Other new events that will occur this year are a Chihuahua Race, Jalapeno Eating Contest, Horseshoe Toss and Chihuahua Costume Contest.  The popular Kiddie Cooking Contest,  Biker Poker Run & Field Events hosted by SPI BikeFest and Kiddie Land will return. Car dealerships will also display some of their new vehicles as well as compete in a Car Dealership Cook Off.  Live entertainment from popular local bands will also be on stage all day Saturday. For information on the Fiesta & Cook Off call the RGV Hispanic Chamber at 928-0060. Featured working on the event details are, seated, from left: Lee Cabrera, Marti Miller and John Kowalski. Standing, from left: Anthony Covacevich, Cynthia M. Sakulenzki and Ronnie Bernal.

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Hidalgo County Clerk Arturo Guajardo, Jr. and his Office of Records Management were recognized by the members of Hidalgo County Commissioners’ Court for receiving a national "Best Practice" Award by the National Association of County Records, Election Officials and Clerks (NACRC). The achievement, which was announced by the NACRC at their annual conference held in July, recognizes the County Clerk’s Office for their newly implemented program, "Records Management: Record, Retain, Recycle," which began with the initiative to reduce overcrowding, manage bulk paper waste, and promote environmental preservation of the county’s records management system. As the program evolved, the County Clerk’s Office successfully included a county-wide recycling strategy that is both efficient and effective, resulting in a tremendous environmental impact as well as a revenue-making stream. Featured, from left: Hidalgo County Judge Ramón García; Precinct 3 County Commissioner Joe M. Flores, Armando Pérez, a staff member with the Office of Records Management; Hidalgo County Clerk Arturo Guajardo, Jr.; Precinct 2 County Commissioner Héctor "Tito" Palacios; and Precinct 1 County Commissioner Joel Quintanilla. See story later in this posting.

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Congressman Rubén Hinojosa, D-Mercedes, on Friday, August 10, announced that $129,534,387 in disaster recovery funds were awarded to several counties, a city and to the Lower Rio Grande Valley Development Council through the Texas Community Development Block Grant Disaster Recover Grant and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). "This funding will help thousands of people by upgrading their quality of life when it comes to health and safety," said Hinojosa. "We are still recovering from the effects of Hurricane Dolly, which hit the Rio Grande Valley in 2008 and caused severe wind damage and flooding. This grant award is very much needed and appreciated." According to Wikipedia, Hurricane Dolly – which hit the Valley and deep South Texas in 2008 – was the third most powerful hurricane to hit the U.S. in the month of July in recorded history, behind a storm in 1916 and Dennis in 2005. Dolly was also the second most destructive U.S. hurricane in July, behind Dennis. See story later in this posting.

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