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Edinburg retail economy for March 2011 shows best improvement among major Valley cities

President Barack Obama and Vice-President Joe Biden, along with members of the national security team, on Sunday, May 1, are shown receiving an update on the mission against Osama bin Laden in the Situation Room of the White House in Washington, D.C. "As nervous as I was about this whole process, the one thing I didn’t lose sleep over was the possibility of taking bin Laden out," the president told 60 Minutes correspondent Steve Kroft in the Roosevelt Room of the White House on Wednesday, May 4. "Justice was done. And I think that anyone who would question that the perpetrator of mass murder on American soil didn’t deserve what he got needs to have their head examined." The transcript, along with video, of the 60 Minutes interview with Obama is available online at http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-504803_162-20060530-10391709.html. Seated, from left, are: Brig.-Gen. Marshall B. ‘Brad’ Webb, assistant commanding general, Joint Special Operations Command; Deputy National Security Adviser Denis McDonough; Secretary of State Hillary Clinton; and Secretary of Defense Robert Gates. Standing, from left, are: Admiral Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff; National Security Adviser Tom Donilon; Chief of Staff Bill Daley; Tony Binken, national security adviser to the vice-president; Audrey Tomason, director for counterterrorism; John Brennan, assistant to the president for homeland security and counterterrorism; and Director of National Intelligence James Clapper. A classified document seen in front of Clinton has been obscured by the White House, which provided what has become an iconic photograph in American history.

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The Edinburg school district’s Vision Academy of Excellence, a high school senior recovery school, was recognized earlier this spring by the Texas House of Representatives for helping non-traditional students graduate from high school. The recognition came via Texas House Resolution 770 authored by Rep. Aaron Peña, R-Edinburg. The resolution was introduced during Edinburg Day at the State Capitol. Featured acknowledging the legislative honor are, front row, from left: Nelda Ramírez Garza, director of the ECISD Vision Academy of Excellence; Edinburg City Councilmember Alma Garza, who completed her term of office on Tuesday, May 17; and Rep. J.M. Lozano, D-Kingsville. Featured, middle row, from left: Rep. Armando "Mando" Martínez, D-Weslaco; and Rep. Verónica Gonzáles, D-McAllen. Featured, top row, from left: Rep. Sergio Muñoz, Jr., D-Mission; Rep. Aaron Peña, R-Edinburg; President Robert S. Nelsen, the University of Texas-Pan American; Edinburg Mayor Richard García; Rep. José Aliseda, R-Beeville; and Johnny Rodríguez, chairman of the board of the Edinburg Chamber of Commerce.

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Norma Catalina Olivarez and Kristy Dee De La Garza, featured front row, third and fourth from left, respectively, were publicly recognized by the Edinburg School Board for recently being named Elementary and Secondary Teachers of the Year for 2011-2012. Their honors were bestowed upon them during the annual Teacher of the Year Banquet held on May 2. Formally congratulating the two outstanding educators during a May school board meeting are, front row, from left: ECISD board trustee and board secretary Ciro Treviño; ECISD board trustee and vice president Carmen González; honoree Norma Catalina Olivarez; honoree Kristy Dee De La Garza; and Jeffrey Moats, president of the Edinburg Teachers Credit Union, who presented $1,000 checks to each woman, as well as $200 checks each to every campus teacher of the year. Featured, back row, from left: Dr. Martín Castillo, ECISD board trustee; Dr. René Gutiérrez, Superintendent of Schools; and David Torres, ECISD board trustee. See story later in this posting.

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The McAllen Chamber of Commerce scheduled its annual Top 25 Scholarship Banquet for Thursday, May 19, 2011 to honor the top 25 graduates from each of the three McAllen high schools – McHi, Memorial, and Nikki Rowe. The chamber has sponsored this event for the past 26 years to show support of McAllen graduates wishing to continue their education and as a reward for a job well done. The Chamber’s Top 25 committee once again diligently worked to achieve its goal to raise $75,000 to award this year’s top 25 graduates each a $1,000.00 scholarship. Committee members featured, front row, from left: Glenda McClendon; Rachel Archaute; Isela Herrera; Muryel García, Leticia Hernández; and Yajaira Villarreal. Featured, back row, from left: Luis Cantú; Antonio Rosales; and Bill Stoker.

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Communication students from The University of Texas-Pan American heard first-hand from media professionals in public relations, advertising and health communication fields at the second annual Communication Showcase hosted by the Department of Communication April 28-29 at the Communication Radio and TV Studios’ Media Theater. The showcase kicked off April 28 with an emphasis on health communication, which is one of the fastest growing academic fields of study within communications. The showcase continued April 29, with a panel of media professionals in public relations and advertising who were invited to exemplify the other side of mass communication careers beyond print and broadcast journalism, which was the focus of last year’s showcase. Featured, from left: Dr. Aje-ori Agbese, UTPA assistant professor of communication; Liana Cisneros, director of community relations and group sales manager for the Rio Grande Valley Vipers; Tricia Barrera, public relations coordinator for the Texas Organ Sharing Alliance; Cynthia Puryear, senior strategist of corporate communications for Mitchell Communications Group; Dr. Timothy Mottet, chair of the UTPA Department of Communication and Henry W. and Margaret Hauser Endowed Chair in Communication; Helen Escobar, public relations coordinator for South Texas College; and Shannon Ponce, director of community outreach for Palm Valley Animal Center. See story later in this posting.

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Want to be eligible to win awesome door prizes while enjoying a wonderful lunch and watching the latest women’s spring fashions being modeled by local ladies and professional models?  Then come to the RGV Hispanic Chamber of Commerce Women’s Spring Luncheon & Style Show, scheduled for Tuesday, May 24, from 11a.m. to 1 p.m at Embassy Suites Hotel. Vendors will also be present selling jewelry, clothing, crafts, etc. Many local businesses have also donated gifts for door prizes. A special treat will be a $5 discount of the ticket price if an attendee wears a hat to the luncheon.  Featured gathering to discuss the Style Show part of the event are, from left: Becky Malcik, owner of Bec’s; Lisa Olivo representing Our Secret; Sandy Pena, owner of Lionel’s; and Cynthia M. Sakulenzki, president and CEO of the RGV Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. See story later in this posting.

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Administrators from The University of Texas-Pan American praised all of the institution’s staff members Wednesday, April 20 during the 23rd annual Staff Employee Awards Ceremony for continuing their hard work and dedication to UTPA despite looming budget cuts from the state. In this portrait, employees of UTPA’s Budget Office received the Teamwork Excellence Award from UTPA President Robert S. Nelsen. This year, the university honored 177 employees who have completed working at least five years of service at the institution by the end of the 2010 calendar year. Seventy people received certificates for serving five years, 48 received certificates for working 10 years, 28 received certificates for 15 years of service, 19 people received certificates for 20 years of service, six people received certificates for 25 years of service, and four people received certificates for 30 years of service. Featured, from left: María Teresa Capistrán; María E. Rincón García; Esmeralda G. Ríos; Richard E. Wilson; UTPA President Nelsen; Juan Claudio "J.C." González; Francisca Anita Rivera; Eduvina Rodríguez; Roy Treviño; and Martin Baylor, UTPA Vice President for Business Affairs. See story later in this posting.

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As part of its efforts to inform the public of key developments in their city, the Edinburg Chamber of Commerce scheduled a Wednesday, May 18 Public Affairs Luncheon to hear updates on local economic trends. Pedro Salazar, the executive director for the Edinburg Economic Development Corporation, was scheduled to address the gathering, set from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m., at the Echo Hotel and Conference Center. "Through the efforts of the board of directors and EEDC staff, Edinburg will continue to benefit with the creation of hundreds of jobs in 2011,” said Elva Jackson Garza, vice chair of the Board of Directors for the  Edinburg Chamber of Commerce. Featured, from left: Mark Peña, a member of the EEDC Board of Directors and partner in the law firm of Lewis, Monroe & Peña; Elva Jackson Garza, vice chair for the Public Affairs Committee (and representing Edwards Abstract and Title Co.); Pedro Salazar, EEDC executive director; Kathy Salazar, purchasing agent, and Agustín Hernández, Jr., attorney with Linebarger Goggan Blair & Sampson, LLP; Melissa Rodríguez, Edinburg Chamber of Commerce ambassador; and Johnny Rodríguez, chairman of the Board of Directors for the Edinburg Chamber of Commerce (representing Austin Personnel Service).

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Linebarger Goggan Blair & Sampson, LLP has recovered almost $3.3 million in back taxes for City of McAllen in past two years

Alonzo and Yoli Cantú, with Alonzo’s mother Elida Cantú  and sister Elvia Sáenz, established two family endowments at the University of Texas-Pan American in memory of Hilda Cantú Garza and Guadalupe Cantú. Funds from The Hilda Cantú Garza Endowed Scholarship at the College of Education go to assist education majors, while The Guadalupe Cantú Endowed Scholarship at the College of Business Administration goes to help business majors. Featured at a recent luncheon joining scholarship recipients with the donors are, from left: Saúl Tamez of Edinburg, Guadalupe Cantú Endowed Scholar; Zachary Manuel of Edinburg, Hilda Cantú Garza Endowed Scholar; Cantú family members Elvia Sáenz, Yoli Cantú, Alonzo Cantú, and Elida Cantú; and Guadalupe Cantú Endowed Scholars Alheli González of Edinburg, Rebecca Velasquez of Pharr and Alejandra Borrego of Alamo. See story later in this posting.

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Mike Allen, 72, whose extensive credentials and achievements included serving as the District 3 representative on South Texas College’s Board of Trustees, passed away in McAllen on Wednesday, August 25. Allen, featured here during a recent graduation ceremony at STC, lived a remarkable life of service, according to area leaders. Hidalgo County Judge René A. Ramírez credited Allen for doing "so many positive things for the residents of Hidalgo County, the Rio Grande Valley and the entire border region. He spent his entire life advocating for the education, transportation and economic development needs of our region." Congressman Rubén Hinojosa, D-Mercedes, who was a founding member of STC’s Board of Directors in the early 1990s, also publicly shared his sentiments regarding Allen. “I was deeply saddened to learn of the passing of my friend, Mike Allen," said Hinojosa. "I have known Mike for many years. I knew him when he was a priest who was always looking for ways to help people in the community. He was a tireless advocate for economic development and higher education." See story later in this posting.  

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"You guys need a hospital, you really do" Mrs. Dolia González of Edinburg, the mother of Medal of Honor Recipient Sgt. Alfredo "Freddy" González, recently rallied members of the Veterans Alliance of the Rio Grande Valley during that group’s meeting on Sunday, August 22, at the ECHO in Edinburg. Mrs. González, featured seated, second from left, is a longtime champion for veterans issues in deep South Texas, and she promised to continue supporting the effort to bring a Veterans Administration Hospital to the Rio Grande Valley "as long as my health allows it." Posing with Mrs. González are some of the members of the Veterans Alliance. Seated, from left: Arturo Treto Garza, co-chair of the Veterans Alliance; Mrs. González; Irene T. Garza, historian for the Veterans Alliance; and Udelia Cortéz. Standing, from left: Mike Escobedo; Adelaido Cantú; Homer Gallegos, chair of the Veterans Alliance; Joe Ibarra; and Rey Molano. More information on the Veterans Alliance is available online at ValleyVets.ning.com. See story later in this posting.  

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Armed with a $50 gift card, a volunteer chaperone, and two hours to make selections; 100 club members from the Boys & Girls Club stormed JC Penney Edinburg on Monday morning, August 30, shopping for clothes for the new school year. Thanks to volunteer shopping buddies from Edinburg Rotary Club, First National Bank, and Azteca Millings, it was easy for club members to pair the right shoes, shirts and pants for the right price. “The kids learn from shopping buddies what things are acceptable for school and what’s not, and they learn to budget,” according to Sabrina Walker-Hernández, Chief Professional Officer. “Also it’s a great way for the kids to spend time with a caring adult.” In this photograph, Edinburg Rotarian Elias Longoria helps club members select the right shoes as a part of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Edinburg RGV Shopping Spree and Back to School Education Rally. See story later in this posting.

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The 2010 Edinburg Home Buyers and Business Expo, set for Saturday, October 2 at the ECHO, will have a new twist as the Edinburg Chamber of Commerce has partnered with the Expo Committee. All Edinburg chamber members are invited to join the revamped event, which will include services and education for home buyers as well as the perfect opportunity for local businesses to capture a large group of shoppers at one location. The Edinburg Home Buyers & Business Expo committee met recently to begin strategizing and planning details for upcoming event. Featured in this photograph are several Expo Committee members. Seated, from left: Letty González, the president of the Edinburg Chamber of Commerce; Elva Jackson Garza, Vice President/Marketing Officer with Edwards Abstract and Title Co. who is serving as chairwoman of the Expo Committee; and Flo Prater, Rio Valley Realty. Standing, from left: Imelda Rodríguez with the Edinburg Convention & Visitors Bureau; Verónica Guerrero with the City of Edinburg; Marty Martin with Rio Valley Realty; and Edna Peña with Horizon Properties. See story later in this posting.  

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Hispanic Heritage Month is celebrated from September 15 through October 15 in the United States. The McAllen Hispanic Chamber of Commerce traditionally celebrates this occasion with a Student Art Contest for middle school and high school students enrolled in 37 school districts and 24 charter school campuses in Hidalgo, Cameron, Starr, Web, Willacy, Zapata, and Jim Hogg counties. Students must draw a rendition of how they interpret Mi Cultura or “My Culture” on any medium of their choice. A panel of professional art judges will review the art work and judge in both categories of Beginning and Advanced art students. Prizes will awarded in the Best in Show, 1st, 2nd and 3rd Place at a reception on October 14. Entries are judged on creativity and talent. The winning art work is displayed in Washington, D.C. in the Capitol offices of Congressman Rubén Hinojosa, D-Mercedes, and Congressman Henry Cuellar, D-Laredo/McAllen. The deadline to submit entries is Thursday, October 7. Details on the competition are available by contacting the McAllen Hispanic Chamber of Commerce at 956/ 928-0060. Featured, from left, displaying some of the previously submitted art work, are: MHCC board member Yoli González; Cynthia M. Sakulenzki, MHCC president and CEO; and MHCC board members Armando Garza; Roxanna Godínez; and Ronnie Bernal. 

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When Valente Rodríguez (featured third from right) graduated from high school, one of his teachers encouraged him to start college right away. But Rodríguez gave his teacher many excuses, including that he did not have the money to enroll in classes. That’s when his teacher helped find him a $100 scholarship from a community organization from Rodríguez’ hometown of Edcouch. "That $100 scholarship introduced me to this whole other world and was the opening of the door that led me to where I am now," said Rodríguez, an alumnus of The University of Texas-Pan American and a Hollywood actor best known for his role as Ernie in the George López Show. He also has appeared in many films including Erin Brokovich and It’s Complicated. He credits UTPA and its faculty with his success and several years ago decided to pay it forward to help university students just like him. Rodríguez, who was back in the Rio Grande Valley this summer working on his master’s degree in theatre and film at UTPA as well as some film projects, recently contributed $10,000 to the university’s Theatre Special Account to help its theatre/TV/film program. Featured, from left: Tom Grabowski, associate professor of communication; Janice Odom, vice president for University Advancement; Dr. Dahlia Guerra, dean of the College of Arts and Humanities; Dr. Marian Monta, professor emeritus of theatre; and Dr. Timothy Mottet, professor of communication and chair of the Department of Communication. See story later in this posting.

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Rep. Gonzáles picks up at least $46,000, key endorsements, during fund raiser

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 Rep. Verónica Gonzáles, D-McAllen, thanks several hundred supporters on Friday, August 24, as she participates as a model for her unique fund raiser, which featured her and other lawmakers in a fashion style show at the Embassy Suites in McAllen.  She picked up almost $50,000 for her campaign war chest, along with endorsements from key political figures. She is facing at least one opponent in 2008: Republican Javier Villalobos.  Both of them are McAllen-based attorneys.  See story later in this posting. 

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Estella Treviño, longtime executive director for the Edinburg Housing Authority, beamed with pride on Monday, August 20, as she posed with the Edinburg City Council, which presented her a proclamation chronicling many of her achievements on behalf of the community. Among her accomplishments are helping provide affordable housing to thousands of residents, creating opportunities for property owners to rent homes to qualified families, and fighting the negative image of public housing.  “Ms. Treviño and the agency have received a host of awards for her diligent efforts including the Outstanding Services Award in 1975; the Specific Activity Award for outstanding programs offered through the Drug Elimination Program in 1994; the Award for Excellence in Youth Sports in 1995; the Family Self-Sufficiency Program Award in 1996; the Texas NAHRO Member of the Year Award in 1998; and the 2005 Texas NAHRO Hall of Fame Award,” said Mayor Pro Tem Alma Garza. “Widely known as an advocate of public housing and the elderly Ms. Treviño has changed the agency from merely providing assisted housing to helping residents achieve self-sufficiency and marketable skills enabling many of them to move beyond subsidized housing to homeownership.”   

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South Texas College’s Valley Scholars Program is celebrating its 10th anniversary at its annual Night with the Stars this October. The special event is designed to celebrate 10 years of academic excellence and pay tribute to ten outstanding Valley Scholar students, who have continued on to successful careers and have made positive changes in their communities. The celebration will take place on Thursday, October 4, 2007 at the Cimarron Country Club and will be an evening of celebration, recognition and entertainment. All proceeds from the event will benefit future South Texas College Valley Scholars Program students. As a result of the 2006 event, more than $40,000 was raised for the program. The coordinating team for the event includes, from left, seated: Sora Yañez, graphic designer; Marie Olivárez, STC Valley Scholars coordinator, Anahid Petrosian STC Assistant to the Vice President for Instructional Services , and  Sylvia Bernal, administrative assistant. From left, standing, are:  Roberto Gutiérrez, STC Fundraising Development Associate; George McCaleb, STC Director of Operations; and Ginna Gutiérrez, secretary. 

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