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“Blessed beyond measure” – Jesús “Jesse” M. Ozuna of Edinburg advancing his career upstate in legislative leadership, while following his heart for Rep. Ana Hernández, D-Houston

Photograph By LORENA BALLI

Featured: Jesús “Jesse” M. Ozuna of Edinburg, and his girlfriend, Rep. Ana Hernández, D-Houston, appearing before the Hidalgo County Commissioners Court in Edinburg on Tuesday, June 7, 2016. Ozuna, the Chief Administrator for Hidalgo County Commissioner Precinct 4 Joseph Palacios, was honored for his distinguished service to the region and received well-wishes for his new position, effective in July, as Assistant Director of Governmental Affairs for Mayor Sylvester Turner in the City of Houston.

Photograph By LORENA BALLI

Another local man has made good, helping further promote the image and reality that South Texans always have what it takes to excel in any profession, including in the highly-skilled world of legislative affairs for Houston, which is the nation’s fourth largest city. “We want to make sure you understand we really want to wish you well, we really enjoyed the work you have done for us,” Hidalgo County Judge Ramón García told Ozuna, who since 2012 worked himself up the proverbial ladder of success from being a right-of-way agent to helping lead the 115-member staff for Hidalgo County Commissioner Precinct 4 Joseph Palacios of Edinburg.

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Weslaco strengthens bid for airport designation despite Edinburg’s opposition and rival proposal

Dr. Bin Fu, assistant professor in Department of Computer Science at The University of Texas-Pan American, has become the second faculty member on the Edinburg campus to receive the National Science Foundation’s most prestigious honor, the Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) Award. The NSF accolade is presented to junior faculty members at CAREER-eligible organizations who exemplify the role of teacher-scholars through outstanding research, excellent education and the integration of education and research within the context of the mission of their organizations. Dr. Karen Lozano, mechanical engineering associate professor who holds the Julia Beecherl Professorship in Engineering at UTPA, won the honor in 2001. “The CAREER Award is a dream for many tenure track faculty members. Before receiving the confirmation from NSF, I did not even believe it would be true for me,” Fu said. “I hope this will encourage more junior faculty members at UTPA to join this national competition.” See story later in this posting. 

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The South Texas Transplant Center at McAllen Medical Center on Tuesday, April 7, held a public flag raising ceremony as part of “Flags Across America", a Donate Life America initiative which honors and celebrates the hundreds of thousands of donors and recipients whose lives have been affected by organ, eye and tissue donation. The Donate Life flag was officially raised by Micaela Ledezma, who after six years on dialysis, received a kidney from a cadaver and underwent a transplant procedure at the South Texas Transplant Center at McAllen Medical Center. With a healthy kidney, Ledezma has been able to live her life without dialysis. Featured with Ledezma is  Joel Peña, System Director of Volunteer Services. Partially obscured by the flagpole to her right is Fidel Ozuna from the hospital’s Engineering Department. See story later in this posting. 

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Community leaders and residents of the Mid Valley communities, including  Alamo, Donna, Mercedes, Progreso, Progreso Lakes, San Juan, and Weslaco, are featured in this portrait with Rep. Armando "Mando" Martínez, D-Weslaco (first row, third from left) and Sen. Eddie Lucio, Jr., D-Brownsville (first row, third from right), during a visit last month to the Texas Capitol by a delegation from those cities. Late last week, House Bill 848 by Martínez, which would allow the governor to designate the Mid Valley Airport in Weslaco as the disaster relief headquarters for the Valley, was heard by a major House committee. Lucio also represents Weslaco in his senatorial district, and will be pressed into action by his constituents to rally support for the Weslaco airport measure, and get it passed out of the Senate as well. Weslaco Mayor Buddy de la Rosa, featured to Lucio’s left, has publicly endorsed the Weslaco airport legislation. See lead story on the Mid Valley Airport and a related story on Mid Valley Day later 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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Sen. Hinojosa, County Judge Salinas seek emergency help for storm victims in western Hidalgo County

On Saturday, May 10, 40 more students celebrated their graduation from South Texas College’s Bachelor Program. This marks the second class of graduates to earn a Bachelor of Applied Technology in Technology Management from the college since the program began in 2005. Through the program, graduates are prepared for a variety of career opportunities, including office management, paralegal management, plant supervisor, loan officer and supply chain management. Some of the members of this exclusive group are featured here. Sitting, from left: Dr. Shirley A. Reed, STC president; Juan E. Mejia, STC vice president of Academic Affairs; Yvette González; Mary J. Sustaita; María E. Cantú; Rosalba Ramírez; and Damaris Aguirre. Standing, from left: Yvonne Gutiérrez, Dustin Tichnell; Edna Marines; Adolfo Miranda; Mónica Garza; Gil Cisneros; María Ozuna; Richard García; Juan Segura; Johnny Valladarez; Sonia Elizondo and Mónica Jiménez. See story later in this posting.

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South Texas College is one of only three colleges in the state accredited to offer bachelor’s degrees and is the only college in the state to offer two bachelor’s degree options. In addition to its Bachelor of Applied Technology in Technology Management, the college was accredited to begin offering a Bachelor of Applied Technology in Computer and Information Technologies in spring 2008. Some of the 40 graduates from the groundbreaking academic program are featured here. Sitting, from left: Ricardo Garza; San Juanita Cuevas; Noriselda García; Diana Vittitoe; Elvira Alonzo; and Dr. Ali Esmaeili, STC associate dean of Bachelor Programs. Standing, from left: Alta Alaniz; Erica Villarreal; Isaac Sánchez; Sergio Cardoza; Arturo Flores; Daniel Cortéz; Lillian Silva Flores of Edinburg; Benjamin Arjona of Edinburg; Angélica Cantú; and Carlos Leal of Edinburg. See story later in this posting.

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The University of Texas at Brownsville and Texas Southmost College on Friday, May 9, honored Dr. Rubén Gallegos (featured right), a former superintendent with the Edinburg Consolidated Independent School District, as one of this year’s two Distinguished Alumnus. Gallegos is executive director of International Educational Services, an agency that provides children of illegal immigrants who have been arrested a basic education as they await deportation or reunification. See story later in this posting.

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HEB and Inter National Bank are new sponsors for the third annual Texas Cook ‘Em: High Steaks in Edinburg, a nationally-recognized competition coordinated by the Edinburg Chamber of Commerce, the Edinburg Economic Development Corporation, and the City of Edinburg, and held on July 4 at Edinburg Municipal Park. Featured, from left, are: Evana Vleck, Edinburg Chamber of Commerce Marketing Director; Rey Garza, HEB Unit Director; Cris Torres, Edinburg Chamber of Commerce Chairman; Letty Reyes, Edinburg Economic Development Corporation Project Manager; and Bobby Rodríguez, HEB Store Director. See story later in this posting.

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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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