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Sen. Hinojosa applauds recommendation to change leadership at Texas Department of Transportation

Edinburg City Councilmember Alma A. Garza, flanked by her parents, Dr. Omar and Dora Garza, took her oath of office on Monday, May 12, for a three-year term on the five-member governing body. Alma Garza, who for the first time in her young political career had faced an opponent, generated 63 percent of the vote, a significant margin of victory.  She was sworn in by Hidalgo County 206th District Court Judge Rose Guerra Reyna. Garza also raised more than $29,000 in campaign funds in the second phase of her campaign to help secure her victory, according to her campaign finance report filed with the City Secretary’s Office. See story later in this posting.

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Gene Espinoza, left, who was reelected to a new three-year term on Saturday, May 10, is congratulated by his uncle, Justice of the Peace Charlie Espinoza, after the city councilmember, who was joined by his immediate family, was sworn in to office on Monday, May 12.  In addition to his own many supporters, Espinoza was helped in his reelection bid by generous contributions for several prominent Edinburg-area business leaders.  The most recent list of his contributors, along with the campaign financial supporters for Councilmember Alma Garza, are featured in a story later in this posting.

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Edinburg Municipal Court Judge Toribio “Terry” Palacios, featured left, on Monday, May 12, was sworn in for another three-year term as presiding judge of the local court by  his nephew, Hidalgo County 92nd District Court Judge Ricardo Rodríguez, Jr.  Palacios, who is also a partner in the law firm of García, Quintanilla and Palacios in McAllen – which includes former Edinburg Mayor Richard García – serves a key role in the administering of justice in the community. Rodríguez was  a former Edinburg City Councilmember before resigning that post in October 2005 to make his own successful bid for district judge. According to CourtReference.com, municipal courts in Texas have original and exclusive jurisdiction over criminal violations of certain municipal ordinances and airport board rules, orders, or resolutions that do not exceed $2,500 in some instances and $500 in others. Municipal courts also have concurrent jurisdiction with the justice courts in certain misdemeanor criminal cases. In addition to the jurisdiction of a regular municipal court, municipal courts of record also have jurisdiction over criminal cases arising under ordinances authorized by certain provisions of the Texas Local Government Code. The municipality may also provide by ordinance that a municipal court of record have additional jurisdiction in certain civil and criminal matters. Municipal judges also serve in the capacity of a committing magistrate, with the authority to issue warrants for the apprehension and arrest of persons charged with the commission of both felony and misdemeanor offenses. As a magistrate, the municipal judge may hold preliminary hearings, reduce testimony to writing, discharge the accused, or remand the accused to jail and set bail.

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Dr. Scott Cook, one of the world’s expert on Mexican brick culture, has a unique window on Valley’s history, and he will be in Edinburg on Wednesday, June 11, to share those perspectives at the Museum for South Texas History, located at 200 N. Closner, immediately northeast of the Hidalgo County Courthouse. Accompanying him will be local musicologists and “North of the Border” radio show hosts Joe and Rosa Pérez (singing songs of the brick-makers).  The presentations will be held from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m., and wine and hors d’oeuvres will be provided.  Cook is professor emeritus of anthropology and interim director of the Puerto Rican and Latino Studies Institute at the University of Connecticut. He lives in Willimantic, Connecticut. There is a $5 donation requested, and the event calls for business casual attire. To RSVP or obtain more information, interested persons may call 956/ 776-0100, extension 311.

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In anticipation of possible Democratic challenge, Rep. Peña defends working with GOP leadership

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Most of the Valley legislative delegation, along with McAllen Mayor Richard Cortéz, surprised Rep. Verónica Gonzáles, D-McAllen, by congratulating her on her birthday in McAllen on Tuesday, June 19. The lawmakers, who were featured speakers during a legislative wrap-up luncheon sponsored by the McAllen Chamber of Commerce, along with Cortéz and a full house in the audience, sang Happy Birthday to Gonzáles, who is the first woman state representative in the history of Hidalgo County. Featured, from left, are Sen. Eddie Lucio, Jr., D-Brownsville; Rep. Aaron Peña, D-Edinburg; Rep. Armando “Mando” Martínez, D-Weslaco; Cortéz; Rep. Ismael “Kino” Flores, D-Palmview; Gonzáles, whose legislative district includes southwest Edinburg; Sen. Juan “Chuy” Hinojosa, D-McAllen; and Rep. Ryan Guillen, D-Rio Grande City. The issue of party politics, including the controversial support by some Valley Democrats for Speaker of the House Tom Craddick, a Republican, was one of the highlights of the event. See story later in this posting.

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The Edinburg Chamber of Commerce, Edinburg Economic Development Corporation, WorkForce Solutions, and the Small Business Development Center organized a Business Development Seminar for Wednesday, June 27 from 11:30 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. at the Depot, located on 602 W. University Drive in Edinburg. This is a free event organized for the community that will include topics on the following: on-the-job training; work experience program; work opportunity tax credit; OSHA training; business loans; market research; and business procurement. More information is available by calling 956-383-4974. This event is being made possible by Austin Personnel Services. Promoting the event are, from left: Haitham Alhaddad, Small Business Development Center; Johnny Rodríguez: Austin Personnel Services; Melissa Rodríguez, Austin Personnel Services; Nancy Reed, Texas Workforce Solutions; Javier Martínez III, Small Business Development Center; Leticia Reyes, Edinburg Economic Development Corporation; and Frank Lara, Edinburg Chamber of Commerce

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State and South Texas College leaders on Friday, June 22, participated in a ceremony announcing two major grants from the Texas Workforce Commission, which was represented at the event by Diane Rath, chair of the TWC. “We are overwhelmed by the continued support we receive from TWC,” said Wanda Garza, executive officer for Workforce Development and External Affairs for STC. “It is clear that the leadership of TWC understands our mission and vision. They have consistently stepped up to the plate to find ways to assist STC’s efforts in building a better workforce for the Rio Grande Valley.” Featured, from left, at the ceremony, which was held at Knapp Medical Center in Weslaco, are Rath; Al Serrano, market manager for Wal-Mart-McAllen District; James A. Summersett III, president and CEO of Knapp Medical Center; Sam Díaz, human resources director for Convergys; Garza; Rep. Armando “Mando” Martínez; and Dr. Shirley A. Reed, president of South Texas College. Also present at the event, but not shown in this photograph, were Sen. Eddie Lucio, Jr., D-Brownsville; Manuel López Delgado, Consulado de México; Janie Oliváres, chief operations officer for the Center of Industrial Rehab Services; María Elena Sánchez, director of special projects for Starr County Memorial Hospital; and Bonnie González, chief operations officer for Workforce Solutions. See story later in this posting.

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