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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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Judge Susan Criss raises $317,000 in her Democratic campaign for Texas Supreme Court, Place 8

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The University of Texas Board of Regents, the governing body for The University of Texas System, will hold their next regular meeting at the University of Texas-Pan American in Edinburg on Wednesday, February 6 and Thursday, February 7. The regents, who are appointed by the governor and confirmed by the Senate, wield tremendous influence over how and where the UT System’s $10.7 billion, two-year budget is spent. District Judge Susan Criss, D-Galveston, a candidate for Texas Supreme Court, has called on the UT System to bring a law school to the Rio Grande Valley, which is predominantly Hispanic. “Of the more than 77,000 lawyers in Texas, only 14 percent are from minority populations, according to a report produced last spring by the State Bar of Texas,” said Criss. “Yet more than 59 percent of Texas schoolchildren are considered to be from minority populations, and Mexican Americans make up one-third of our state’s population. We need to encourage more minority students to pursue careers in the law.” Featured in this group portrait taken in November are: standing from left: James D. Dannenbaum; Colleen McHugh; Robert A. Estrada; Paul Foster; John W. Barnhill, Jr.; Printice L. Gary; and student regent Randal Matthew Camarillo. Seated from left: Vice Chairman James R. Huffines; Chairman H. Scott Caven, Jr.; and Vice Chairman Robert B. Rowling. The UT Board of Regents is composed of nine members who are appointed by the Governor and confirmed by the Senate. Terms for regents are scheduled for six years each and staggered so that three members’ terms will usually expire on February 1 of odd-numbered years. In addition, the governor appoints a student regent for a one-year term that expires on May 31.

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Eddie Sáenz of Edinburg, featured right with La Joya Mayor Billy Leo, who has endorsed his bid for state representative, House District 40, continues to build momentum – and financial support – in his bid to unseat Rep. Aaron Peña in the March 4 Democratic Party primary. Sáenz has raised more than $140,000 between July and December 2007, according to his campaign finance report released on Tuesday, January 15. Sáenz’ report for the period ending December 31 shows that he has raised $140,835 since launching his campaign last September, with an average donation of $800 from 45 individual contributors and including a $105,000 loan from the candidate. See story featured later in this posting.

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Rep. Aaron Peña, D-Edinburg, who is facing a challenge from Eddie Sáenz, also of Edinburg, in the March 4 Democratic Party primary, displays what he hopes is a good omen – a dice that he drew containing the number 1, which placed his name first on the election ballot for the House District 40 legislative district, which includes most of Edinburg. He was among dozens of elected officials, candidates, family members, and Democratic Party activists who showed up at the auditorium in the Hidalgo County Courthouse on Thursday, January 10, to draw for places on the ballot for contested state and local offices in Hidalgo County. “Local political lore maintains that the first poll position is to be desired and can be advantageous,” Peña said after the drawing. “I am not quite sure if this is true but most of the candidates in the room this night seem to share the belief that it does.” Also celebrating what they hope is a lucky pick by the local legislator were his daughter, Adrienne Peña Garza, and his son Aaron. A list of the contested races in Hidalgo County, with the order in which the names will appear on the ballot, is featured later in this posting.

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To help celebrate Fiesta Edinburg’s 40th Anniversary, the Edinburg Chamber of Commerce and Fiesta Edinburg is going “retro”. On Thursday, February 21, the community is invited to participate in Fiesta Hidalgo’s first Disco Dance Party to help kick off the annual event’s fourth decade. The festivities will be held in the Edinburg Activity Center, located on 123 Palm Drive. The Fiesta Edinburg Committee, featured in this promotional photograph, are hosting the Disco Dance Party, featuring the popular Deejay, “Johnny Joe”. The dance will take place from 7-11 p.m., and everyone is invited to come out and take part in reliving the 70’s. Attendees are encouraged to dress up in their flashy “retro” attire, as there will be a costume contest with $100 prize money, and $100 also will be awarded to the best dancer. The fee is $5 per person. For more information, contact the local chamber at 956-383-4974.

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Judge Criss, Rep. Peña, Rep. Flores draw top billing on Hidalgo County Democratic Party primary ballots

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Mrs. Dolia González, A Gold Star Mother whose late son, U.S. Marine Sgt. Alfredo “Freddy” González, is featured in this bronze bust in Edinburg, will be accepting the Texas Legislative Medal of Honor – the state’s highest recognition for valor – on his behalf at 2 p.m. on Monday, February 4 from Texas Gov. Rick Perry. Rep. Aaron Peña, D-Edinburg, shown with Mrs. González several weeks ago, on Tuesday, January 8, announced the big event during a city council meeting. What is sure to be a major ceremony, probably to take place at Cats Stadium, will speak volumes about Edinburg’s native son and his mother and all of South Texas. “It will again send the message to the entire state and nation that Edinburg is the home to heroes,” said Mayor Pro Tem Alma A. Garza. See story later in this posting.

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Edinburg principals of the elementary campuses that made the list of top campuses in the state by Texas Monthly magazine were honored recently by the Edinburg school board. This is the fourth year in a row that Texas Monthly has published a list of top public schools and the second consecutive year that they have ranked schools according to the number of subjects in which they continually excel, including reading, math, science, writing, and social studies. Elementary campuses making the prestigious list were Austin Elementary headed by Principal Homer Cano; Canterbury Elementary under Principal Dahlia Guzmán; De la Viña Elementary under Principal Erika Playle; Jefferson Elementary under Principal Ana Villalobos-Salinas; Lincoln Elementary under Principal Eva Sandoval; and Treviño Elementary under Principal Cynthia Sáenz. See story later in this posting.

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U.S. Sen. John McCain, R-Arizona, featured in a file photo, pulled off a major victory on Tuesday, January 8, winning the New Hampshire Republican Party primary, received 37 percent of the GOP vote. Former Gov. Mitt Romney of Massachusetts placed second with 31 percent, while former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, who had won several days earlier in the Iowa caucuses, came in third with 11 percent of the vote. “I hate to use the word kid, but I think we showed the people of this country what a real comeback looks like,” he told supporters of his long-shot win in a state he won eight years ago against then candidate George W. Bush.

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Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-New York, in this campaign photo, won the New Hampshire Democratic Party primary against former Sen. Barack Obama, D-Illinois, on Tuesday, January 8, less than a week after she placed a disappointing third in the Iowa caucuses. She received 39 percent of the vote to 36 percent for Obama in New Hampshire. Clinton’s victory speech is featured later in this posting.

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