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Sylvia Handy pleads guilty to harboring conspiracy, false statement in tax return, then resigns as Hidalgo County Commissioner

Sen. Juan “Chuy” Hinojosa, D-McAllen, featured right, has announced dates for the 2010 Texas Hurricane Conference, sponsored by the Texas Division of Emergency Management and the Texas Department of Public Safety. The conference, scheduled for May 17-20 in McAllen, will offer attendees a variety of resources to prepare and coordinate responses to catastrophic storms. Conference invitees will include representatives from the emergency management community, first responders, and law enforcement agencies from coastal communities and inland sheltering communities. Featured with the South Texas senator in this photograph during a separate event is Raúl Óscar Gómez, one of the principal news correspondents for Noticias 40, the Telemundo affiliate in the Rio Grande Valley. See story later in this posting

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Farouk Shami, a classic symbol of the American Success Story, on Tuesday, March 2, praised the people of Texas for making and keeping the Lone Star State “the standard of excellence, the hope for the future for America, and the envy of the world.” Shami, who came to the United States 44 years ago with $71 in his pocket and became a successful Houston businessman and philanthropist, exploded onto the political scene late last year with his vision for Texas and as a major candidate for governor. His pledge to create 100,000 new jobs in Texas or resign as governor, his plans to make Texas a world-class leader in solar power and wind power, his promise to not take campaign contributions from wealthy special interest groups, and his vow to “declare war on poverty” in the state have established great expectations from millions of Texans. He said he fully expects his ideas to become reality because they are based on solid economic strategies, 21st century technology and science, high ethical standards, and compassionate democratic ideals.  Above all, Shami said it is the people of Texas who are going to help see those plans come to fruition. “I knew Texas is great, but after campaigning throughout the state and meeting thousands of people from all walks of life, I am humbled by the ideas and achievements of countless fellow Texans,” said Shami. “That’s why, although I wasn’t born in Texas, I got here at fast as I could. The people of Texas are amazing.”  Shami is featured here in El Paso during the 2010 National Latino Congreso Convention held in January in El Paso with Hidalgo County and Texas Democratic leaders. From left: Nelva Sosa-Slagle; Juan Maldonado; Farouk Shami; Alan Fizman; Giovanna De León; and Lydia Camarillo, vice president for the Southwest Voter Registration Education Project. See story later in this posting.

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Texas Democratic gubernatorial nominee Bill White, the former mayor of Houston – who took 60 percent of the vote in Hidalgo County on Tuesday, March 2 on his way to a statewide nomination victory – is calling on all Democrats to rally around him and the rest of the party ticket in its November election battles against Gov. Rick Perry and Perry’s fellow Republican nominees for other statewide offices. “Today Texans sent a message to the entrenched interests in Austin: Texans are ready for a new governor,” White said at his victory celebration that evening in Houston. “We invite those who supported other candidates to join our team, which consists of citizens from all backgrounds and both parties. We are committed to honest, competent, decentralized and accountable government. We believe that more unites than divides Texans,” White said. The former Houston mayor is featured here, on Tuesday, January 5, campaigning before staff members of the Hidalgo County District Clerk’s Office in the Hidalgo County Courthouse. See story on White’s victory remarks later in this posting.

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Gov. Rick Perry, featured here on Tuesday, January 5 at the University of Texas-Pan American, is reportedly ventured out from the traditional outlets used to appeal to voters in his successful re-election bid, according to WiredPRNews.com. As reported by the Dallas Morning News, Perry  utilized social media outlets such as Facebook and Twitter to garner campaign support and reach voters. Perry was quoted by the Dallas Morning News as stating of his technological based campaign efforts, “It’s one of the most diverse, one of the most focused, and one of the most effective in Texas history.” Perry’s rivals in the recently-concluded Republican Party primary race – Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, R-Texas, and Debra Medina – also noticeably utilized social media in their campaigns. Mari Woodlief, president of Dallas-based Allyn Media is further quoted in the report as stating of the trends in modern political campaigns: “Campaigns are evolving just like people and technology… you have to go where the people are, and more and more that’s become the Internet.” Featured with Perry during the Republican governor’s visit to the local university, where he announced several million dollar grants, were, from left, Sen. Juan “Chuy” Hinojosa, D-McAllen, and UTPA President Robert Nelsen.

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Nearly 200 family members, friends, faculty, staff and students came together Friday, February 19, at the University of Texas-Pan American to celebrate the opening of the “Pillars of Success” exhibition, which features the photos and the success stories of five distinguished alumni that will be on display in the university’s Visitors Center for the next two years. Dr. John Edwards, vice president for Enrollment and Student Services, said the Visitors Center has housed 11 exhibits since it opened in 2002 and has had more than 200,000 visitors, including thousands of Rio Grande Valley students. “We keep this display up for a period of two years because we want our visitors and students to know what this university is producing – outstanding graduates,” he said. “These Pillars of Success stand as role models for paths we want our students to follow.” See story later in this posting.

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In just its third year of operation, South Texas College’s Mid-Valley Campus Child Development Center in Weslaco has earned accreditation from the National Accreditation Commission for Early Care and Education Programs (NAC). STC’s center is the only child care facility in the Rio Grande Valley to have earned this prestigious accreditation. The center works to expand its college-going culture to include even its littlest graduates, featured in this photograph. See story later in this posting.

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Bless Me Ultima is the newest play being presented by the Pharr Literacy Project and Cultural Arts Center at the Historic Texas Theatre in Pharr, premiering March 26 at 7:30 pm. The play is based on Rudolfo Anaya’s best selling novel of the same title. With 22 local actors rehearsing the play since February, it promises to be a spectacular show. Bless Me Ultima is a coming of age story about a young boy’s loss of innocence and approach to maturity. But it also deals with tradition, and education, faith and doubt, and good and evil. The play with adult and children actors is set in post world war 2 in the mountains of beautiful New Mexico. Pedro García is the director and Elva Michal is the producer. Among some of the actors are Armandina Sesin as Ultima/La Grande, Alex Gelman as the author, and young Alejandro Arango as Antonio. Performances will be held at the Historic Texas Theatre, 115 E. Park Street in Pharr, on: March 26 at 7:30 p.m.; March 28 at 2:30 p.m.; April 9 & 10 at 7:30 p.m.; and April 11 at 2:30 p.m. Tickets are only $6 and are currently on sale by calling The Pharr Literacy Project & Cultural Arts Center at 956/783-7746. Featured, from left, during a recent rehearsal in the Pharr Literacy Project Building, are: Víctor Alanis, Allyson Champion, Lizzie Cuellar and Alejandro Arango .

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Sen. Eddie Lucio, Jr., D-Brownsville, and Rep. Eddie Lucio III, D-San Benito, attended a hard hat tour of the Representative Jim Solis and Colonel H William “Bill” Card Jr. Outpatient Clinic on Wednesday, February 24.  That newly-named outpatient clinic, which is operated by the South Texas Health Care System in Harlingen, was named in the two men’s honor in recognition of their many contributions to Harlingen. The name change was authorized by legislation by the Lucios which was approved by the Texas Legislature last spring. Featured, from left: Rep. Lucio, III; Bill Card; Sonia Hernández-Keeble, the director of the Rio Grande State Center, which operates the Harlingen clinic; and Sen. Lucio.

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Attorney General Abbott, 32 other AGs, say right to bear arms reflects “Anglo-American tradition”

Gerry Pate, featured left, the managing general partner with Hidalgo County Road Builders (HCRB), will address the Hidalgo County Regional Mobility Authority in Edinburg on Thursday, July 9, with an update regarding financing options for construction of the planned $645 million Hidalgo County Loop. HCRB, a private coalition which includes several major firms from the area, on February 28, 2008, negotiated a $46.3 million contract to provide pre-construction services in preparation for the building of major portions of the loop, which is needed to shuttle heavy commercial truck traffic coming to and from the region. Pate’s presentation will be presented before the RMA Board of Directors beginning at 5:30 p.m. inside the International Room at the University of Texas-Pan American. Pate, Mario Jorge, P.E., the district engineer in Pharr for the Texas Department of Transportation, and Tracy Hill,  project principal for PBS&J, the engineering firm hired to lead the environmental assessment of the loop, are shown here during the RMA’s Tuesday, June 16 meeting at the McAllen Chamber of Commerce. 

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Sen. Juan "Chuy" Hinojosa, D-McAllen, proudly displays a trophy bestowed upon him by the Boys and Girls Club of McAllen for his work during the legislative session in securing $3 million for Texas AIM, the Texas Academic Innovation and Mentoring Program, which allows the Boys and Girls Club statewide to help improve the graduation rates of minority students.  The McAllen chapter, which received $160,000 of that amount, is one of 30 sites statewide which will share in the $3 million state fund. Hinojosa was surrounded by some of the McAllen student members of the McAllen Boys and Girls Club during the ceremony, held at the McAllen Chamber of Commerce on Wednesday, June 17. 

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Breaking ground for a new citrus center in South Texas signals the next chapter in the book of 60 years of research excellence, said Dr. Michael D. McKinney, chancellor of The Texas A&M University System. McKinney and others, including Rep. Armando Martinez, D-Weslaco, and Sen. Eddie Lucio, Jr., D-Brownsville, and Texas Agriculture Commissioner Todd Staple, are featured here ceremoniously turned spades of soil on June 23 to kick off the construction of new research facilities for the Texas A&M University-Kingsville Citrus Center at Weslaco. “We break ground today for new facilities at the birthplace of the Star Ruby and Ruby Red, dark red grapefruit varieties that are grown and enjoyed all over the world,” McKinney said. Staples said the center would attract experts and researchers from afar. “This center, with its continued research, will be an anchor for the citrus industry,” he said. “It will attract people from all over the world to learn here, to train here. It will continue to place Weslaco as a big, bright spot on the map.” See story later in this posting. 

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Rep. Aaron Peña, D-Edinburg, featured second from right, along with other Edinburg elected and community leaders, met on Thursday, June 25 during a ceremony to rename the main administration building of the Edinburg Housing Authority in memory of former Mayor Alfonso "Al" René Ramírez, who passed away on April 22. The groundbreaking mayor, who served from 1963 to 1967, was the first Mexican American mayor of Edinburg. He was credited with helping desegregate public swimming pool in the community, among other achievements. Ramírez also served on the Edinburg Housing Authority board of directors. "The community came together to dedicate this building to Mayor Ramírez, who was remembered by family and friends as a transformational and inspirational leader," Peña said. "Whether it was in his military service or civic service as Edinburg’s first Hispanic mayor or the inspiration he transferred to multitudes, Mayor Ramírez will long be remembered." Other family members and leaders who participated in the event included: Carmen González, Edinburg school board trustee; Dan Ramírez, a son of former Mayor Ramírez; Estella Treviño, executive director, Edinburg Housing Authority; Robert Ramírez, a son of former Mayor Ramírez; Ciro Treviño, Edinburg school board trustee and a member of the Edinburg Housing Authority board of directors; Rudy Ramírez, a member of the Edinburg Housing Authority Board of Directors; and Beverly Ashley-Fridie. See story later in this posting. 

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Mayor Ochoa says 2007 “another phenomenal year for Edinburg” during State of the City presentation

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Mayor Joe Ochoa, shown here on Thursday, February 7, delivering the State-of-the-City address, says Edinburg in 2007 continued with positive economic growth and a high quality-of-life, and the future remains bright. “When unfortunately other parts of the country are struggling, Edinburg is blessed,” Ochoa told the audience at the Public Affairs Luncheon, which was hosted by the Edinburg Chamber of Commerce. “Construction activity, economic development, sales tax revenues, population, and labor force are all on the rise.” See story later in this posting.

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Leonel Guerrero, featured in this portrait with his wife, Leslie, kicked off his campaign for City Council, Place 3 on Wednesday, February 6, by promising to do away with alleged favoritism and intimidation by the powers-that-be in municipal government. “I want to be your next city commissioner for Place 3 so I can be your voice to stop any group or personal agendas that benefit the few,” Guerrero told the gathering of supporters at the University of Texas-Pan American. “The practice of ‘old time politics’ services few, and doesn’t answer the problems of our modern and global society. I am here to tell you I will bring about the end of ‘old time politics’.” Guerrero, a pharmacist, is challenging incumbent Gene Espinoza, a sales manager with Rio Grande Steel, L.T.D. See related story.

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Texas Comptroller Susan Combs, featured left with Wanda Garza, executive officer for Workforce Development and External Affairs for South Texas College, earlier this month visited with members of South Texas College’s administration, as well as representatives from The University of Texas-Pan American, to learn more about the status of work on the region’s Workforce Innovation in Regional Economic Development (WIRED) Project. “I am very excited with the work that has been started for this initiative,” said Combs. “A well trained and educated workforce is of utmost importance to our state’s prosperity in a diverse and competitive economic climate. The team at South Texas College is developing innovative strategies to address this vital issue.” See story later in this posting.

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