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Three Edinburg school board trustees want U.S. Department of Justice to throw out election changes

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Gov. Rick Perry will be in Edinburg on Monday, February 4, to posthumously bestow the Texas Legislative Medal of Honor in memory of Alfredo “Freddy” González. Perry, who served four and a half years in the air force, will be in the three-time All-America City for the much-anticipated state ceremony, where he will deliver the Texas’ highest medal of valor to Dolia González of Edinburg, the mother of the famous hometown U.S. Marine sergeant who was killed in action in Vietnam. The governor’s appearance will come on the 40th anniversary of the young man’s death. On February 4, 1968, despite being seriously wounded in an early battle with communist troops, González aggressively moved against heavily fortified enemy emplacements, knocking them out of action, thus saving his platoon of about three dozen American marines. He was killed in action. See story later in this posting.

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Edinburg City Councilmember Gus García, Jr., featured third from left, was one of the hosts on Tuesday, January 29, for Rep. Rick Noriega, D-Houston, shown next to the local political leader. Noriega is seeking the March 4 Democratic Party nomination for U.S. Senate for the right to challenge Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, in the November statewide general election. Noriega’s appearance at The Social Club in Edinburg was part of his “Answering the Call to Service – South Texas Barnstorming Tour”, a three-day swing through the Rio Grande Valley to introduce himself to voters. Three other men are in the race for the Democratic Party nomination: Gene Kelley, Ray McMurrey, and Rhett R. Smith.

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As part of Board Appreciation Month, South Texas College honored its trustees at the January board meeting. The board’s seven members were recognized for their ongoing support of the college’s vision and mission to create a college-going culture in the Valley. “During the 2007-2008 school year, we have focused on creating a college-going culture in the Valley and this vision and mission has been endorsed by our visionary trustees, who can truly see a day when every student in Hidalgo and Starr counties will attend college,” said Dr. Shirley A. Reed, president of South Texas College. “Our seven dedicated members have each overcome obstacles in their lives and understand the value of an education and so they have made a promise to our future generations that college will not just be an option – it will be a guarantee. There are no words to fully express our gratitude for their support and continued dedication to the college and our communities.” STC Board of Trustees members were presented framed pictures from future STC students representing communities across the Rio Grande Valley. From back row left are Roy de Le?n, Manuel Benavidez Jr., Dr. Alejo Salinas Jr., Jesse Villarreal, Reed, Mike Allen and Garry Gurwitz. From front row left are Gus McKay, Vincent Olivarez, Eric Castillo, Cassie Muñoz and Abby Talbot.

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U.S. Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison, R-Texas, on Wednesday, January 30, wrote a letter to President Bush asking the White House to fund a South Texas project developed by local elected officials in Cameron and Hidalgo Counties that will repair the levees along the Rio Grande while securing the border. Also on January 30, Hidalgo County Judge J.D. Salinas released an artist’s rendition of how the planned levees. Hutchison is specifically urging that Bush request sufficient funding through the International Boundary and Water Commission (IBWC) to repair the levees and construct strategic fencing “in accordance with the proposal offered by locally elected officials” working with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS). “We have an outstanding project developed at the local level that will secure our border while protecting Texas residents from the dangers of flooding caused by natural disasters,” said Hutchison. “I will work with the President, the Office of Management and Budget, IBWC, Congress, and local officials to repair the levees and secure the border.” See story later in this posting.

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Hundreds show up for ribbon cutting ceremony at sophisticated DHR Cancer Center in Edinburg

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Medical, legislative, and community leaders from Edinburg and Hidalgo County participated in a July 11 ribbon-cutting ceremony welcoming the $15 million Cancer Center at Renaissance to southwest Edinburg, the latest phase in a $150 million expansion of Doctors Hospital at Renaissance. The 54,000-square-foot facility will bring 50 new employees and generate a $30 million economic impact to the city and the surrounding communities, said Mayor Joe Ochoa. “This is only a tip of the iceberg, knowing that we will have, when all of this expansion is finished, more than 1,000 employees and more than $1 billion in economic impact to this region and its economy,” Ochoa added. Former Mayor Richard García, who serves as the president of the Edinburg Economic Development Corporation – of which Ochoa is also a member – said the Cancer Center serves as another economic-development prize and recruiting tool for the city. “From an economic development standpoint, a facility such as this helps to retain and attract major employers, because one of the things their employees look for is access, locally, to very high-quality health care,” said García. “Many people were having to go to San Antonio and Houston to receive the technology that this hospital now has available.” See story later in this posting.

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U.S. Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, left, meets with Cameron County Judge Carlos Cascos (center) and Hidalgo County Judge J.D. Salinas, III, on Wednesday, July 11, to hear concerns from border leaders over key issues. Among other topics, Cornyn updated Valley leaders on border security and immigration reform. He reiterated his commitment and work to ensure that no border fencing will move forward without local input. He also committed to work with them to find innovative solutions to border security, like enhancing natural barriers and the control of Carrizo cane. See relates story later in this posting.

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Mikal Watts, center, is one of two Democrats who have announced preliminary plans to challenge U.S. Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, in the November 2008 general election. Watts, shown here during a recent fundraiser hosted in Edinburg at the home of former Hidalgo County Judge Ramón García, could be facing Houston state Rep. Rick Noriega, D-Houston, for the March 2008 Democratic Party nomination to face Cornyn. Rep. Aaron Peña, D-Edinburg, has signed a letter urging Noriega to run for U.S. Senate, while Rep. Verónica Gonzáles, D-McAllen, who represents southwest Edinburg, says she is not ready to take a sides in the potential Democratic showdown. Featured with Watts at the local fundraiser are, from left: García; Rep. Armando “Mando” Martínez, D-Weslaco; Watts; Edinburg Mayor Joe Ochoa; and Judge Linda Yañez of the Texas 13th Court of Appeals. See story later in this posting.

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