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South Texas College Trustee Gary Gurwitz: 25 years later, it’s still about the students

South Texas College Trustee Gary Gurwitz: 25 years later, it’s still about the students

Featured: Gary Gurwitz, Member, Board of Trustees, South Texas College, was first appointed by Gov. Ann Richards in 1993, and has been elected and re-elected ever since, resulting in a career as a board member that spans an impressive five terms. Gurwitz currently serves as Chair, Facilities Committee, and Member, Education and Workforce Development Committee, Board of Trustees, South Texas College. He formerly served as Chair, Vice Chair, and Secretary, Board of Trustees, South Texas College. Gurwitz is featured in this image during the Wednesday, August 17, 2016 groundbreaking ceremony of the $24 million expansion of Dr. Ramiro B. Casso Nursing and Allied Health Campus in McAllen.

Photograph By BENJAMIN BRIONES

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Under state law championed in 2015 by Rep. Canales, South Texas College on Wednesday, December 5, 2018, registered students for upcoming university-level courses designed to eventually lead to STC facility in the Delta Area

Under state law championed in 2015 by Rep. Canales, South Texas College on Wednesday, December 5, 2018, registered students for upcoming university-level courses designed to eventually lead to STC facility in the Delta Area

Featured: Residents of the Delta Area in Hidalgo County, such as these South Texas College students posing in this promotional image at one of its other campuses, soon will be able to take higher-education courses in their home region as a result of state legislation authored in 2015 by Rep. Terry Canales, D-Edinburg.

Photograph Courtesy DIMITRA HERNÁNDEZ

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Rep. Muñoz: STC approves agreement with Pharr leaders that will result in creation of “landmark” South Texas Regional Center for Public Safety Excellence

Photograph By MARK MONTEMAYOR

Featured, from left: Rep. Ryan Guillen, D-Rio Grande City, and Rep. Sergio Muñoz, Jr., D-Mission, on Thursday, July 9, 2015, following their presentations before the McAllen Chamber of Commerce’s 84th Legislative Wrap-up Luncheon, held at the DoubleTree Suites by Hilton Hotel in McAllen.

Photograph By MARK MONTEMAYOR

Plans to build the South Texas College Regional Center for Public Safety Excellence in Pharr received final approval from the STC Board of Trustees on Tuesday, January 26, 2016, a move that will result in a multi-million dollar economic impact for the city while improving law enforcement throughout South Texas, said Rep. Sergio Muñoz, Jr., D-Mission. On a unanimous vote – with District 5 Trustee Dr. Alejo Salinas, Jr. of Edinburg excused on important business – the remaining six board members present for the public meeting approved an interlocal agreement with the City of Pharr and the Pharr San Juan Alamo Independent School District that will result in a major presence by STC on a 113.9 acre site located between U.S. Highway 281 and South Veterans Boulevard. “Obviously, this is a huge step for the people of Pharr and the PSJA school district because it brings one of the most prestigious higher education institutions in Texas into our community,” said Muñoz, whose House District 36 includes a large section of Pharr. “This is a landmark event, the latest success story in the Valley, and I congratulate the many people who worked long and hard to help make this happen.” The STC Regional Center for Public Safety Excellence was made possible in large part by Muñoz, who successfully authored House Bill 1887 last spring before the Texas Legislature. HB 1887 led to statutory authority for the STC to undertake the development of regional law enforcement training. “The Regional Center for Public Safety Excellence will increase necessary access to training opportunities for officers in the Rio Grande Valley region and, in turn, improve public safety and border security,” Muñoz further explained. “The training provided at the regional center also would provide officers with college credit toward either an associate’s or a bachelor’s degree, while the four police academies in the area would not.” The importance of establishing the STC complex in Pharr was emphasized during the State of the City Address on Wednesday, December 23, 2015, by Mayor Ambrosio “Amos” Hernández. “We are proud to announce that we have entered into a partnership to have a South Texas College facility in Pharr,” proclaimed the mayor, who was elected to his first term in May 2o15. “The facility will bring $9 million in economic impact and approximately $3 million in payroll.” Hernández shared Muñoz’ vision of the potential for the complex, with the mayor calling it “an STC Branch for PSJA ISD students.” Muñoz, a three-term state legislator who serves on the powerful House Appropriations Committee, which shaped the current $200+ billion state budget, praised his fellow Valley lawmakers for helping pass the state law authorizing and helping fund the South Texas Regional Center for Public Safety. “Sen. Juan Hinojosa was the Senate author of my House Bill 1887, while Rep. Terry Canales, Rep. Bobby Guerra, Rep. Eddie Lucio, III, and Rep. Ryan Guillen were joint authors in the House, and they all deserve credit for this huge accomplishment,” said Muñoz. “There is no substitute for experience when it comes to getting what we deserve from the Texas Legislature.” According to STC, with the interlocal agreements with the city and school district be approved, it will take between 18 months and 24 months to build the 21,800 square-foot facility, which will be the initial heart of The Regional Center for Public Safety Excellence. The project will include classroom facilities, vehicle driving range, outdoor shooting range, firearms simulator, mobile firearms simulator/live firing range, driving simulator, obstacle course, fitness rooms, and administrative offices. The estimated initial construction cost is $6.782 million, which includes $4.2 million from South Texas College’s Series 2013 Bond Issuance, $1.5 million provided by the Texas Department of Public Safety, and $1 million provided by the PSJA school district. The City of Pharr will contribute 59 acres and the PSJA school district will contribute 10 acres to begin the project. Within two years, the City of Pharr has proposed contributing another 32.24 acres, and within five years, the City of Pharr proposes contributing 12.55 additional acres.

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South Texas College Regional Center for Public Safety in Pharr, created by Rep. Muñoz, set for action this evening by STC Board of Trustees

Photograph By PETER SALINAS

Featured: Rose Benavidez, Member, Board of Trustees, South Texas College, and Rep. Sergio Muñoz, Jr., D-Mission, in the underground annex of the Texas Capitol, during Community College Day on Thursday, February 3, 2015.

Photograph By PETER SALINAS

Pharr could soon see construction begin on the South Texas Regional Center for Public Safety, to be located on a 113.9 site located between U.S. Highway 281 and South Veterans Boulevard, as a result of House Bill 1887 by Rep. Sergio Muñoz, Jr., D-Mission. On Tuesday, January 26, 2016 (today), the STC Board of Regents are scheduled to review and approve an interlocal agreement with the City of Pharr and the Pharr San Juan Alamo Independent School District that will see the landmark complex take shape, and with it, improve the quality of public safety in deep South Texas. The pending action is part of the STC Board of Trustees’ regular monthly meeting, which will begin at 5:30 p.m. in the Ann Richards Administration Building Board Room at the Pecan Campus in McAllen. Muñoz predicted the planned STC facility and site also will pave the way in the future for a branch campus – and possibly more – in Pharr, which is part of his House District 36 legislative district. “South Texas College is one of the best college systems in Texas, it is only one of a handful of community colleges in the state which offer university-level bachelor degrees, it is poised for greater growth, and it has helped transform the South Texas economy through its outstanding graduates who are as skilled and talented as they are numerous and in demand,” Muñoz said. “This is just the beginning for STC in Pharr.” The three-term state legislator, who serves on the powerful House Appropriations Committee which shaped the current $200+ billion state budget, praised his fellow Valley lawmakers for helping pass the state law authorizing and helping fund the South Texas Regional Center for Public Safety. “Sen. Juan Hinojosa was the Senate author of my House Bill 1887, while Rep. Terry Canales, Rep. Bobby Guerra, Rep. Eddie Lucio, III, and Rep. Ryan Guillen were joint authors in the House, and they all deserve credit for this huge accomplishment,” said Muñoz. “There is no substitute for experience when it comes to getting what we deserve from the Texas Legislature.” According to STC, once the interlocal agreements with the city and school district are approved, it will take between 18 months and 24 months to build the 21,800 square-foot facility which will be the initial heart of The Regional Center for Public Safety Excellence. The project will include classroom facilities, vehicle driving range, outdoor shooting range, firearms simulator, mobile firearms simulator/live firing range, driving simulator, obstacle course, fitness rooms, and administrative offices. The estimated initial construction cost is $6.782 million, which includes $4.2 million from South Texas College’s Series 2013 Bond Issuance, $1.5 million provided by the Texas Department of Public Safety, and $1 million provided by the PSJA School District. “The Regional Center for Public Excellence in Pharr shall increase necessary access to training opportunities for officers in the Rio Grande Valley region and, in turn, improve public safety and border security,” said Muñoz. “The training provided at the regional center also would provide officers with college credit toward either an associate’s or a bachelor’s degree, while the four police academies in the area do not.”

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STC Regional Center for Public Safety, to be headquartered in Pharr, set for hearing before Senate Higher Education Committee on Wednesday, May 20

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Featured, from left: Sen. Juan “Chuy” Hinojosa, D-McAllen, and Rep. Sergio Muñoz, Jr., D-Mission, on the floor of the Texas House of Representatives in March 2015.

Photograph By HOUSE PHOTOGRAPHY

House Bill 1887 by Rep. Sergio Muñoz, Jr., D-Mission, and Rep. Terry Canales, D-Edinburg, which would allow South Texas College to create the multi-million dollar Regional Center for Public Safety on a yet-undisclosed 50- to 60-acre site to be donated by the City of Pharr, is set for a Senate committee hearing on Wednesday, May 21. Sen. Juan “Chuy” Hinojosa, D-McAllen, is serving as the Senate sponsor of HB 1887, which was approved by the House of Representatives on Wednesday, April 29. “HB 1887 would increase necessary access to training opportunities for officers in the Rio Grande Valley region and, in turn, improve public safety and border security,” said Muñoz, who is the primary author of the legislation. “The training provided at the regional center also would provide officers with college credit toward either an associate’s or a bachelor’s degree, while the four police academies in the area would not.” According to the bill analysis of the legislation, HB 1887 would amend the Education Code to create the Regional Center for Public Safety Excellence to provide education and training for law enforcement personnel in the Rio Grande Valley. “Having such an educational facility for our current and future law enforcement officials will be a tremendous benefit for the delivery of justice and the protection of all of us in deep South Texas,” said Canales, whose House District 40 includes 19 percent of the City of Pharr. “I appreciate Rep. Muñoz allowing me to sign on as joint author of HB 1887, and I look forward to working with him and the leadership of Pharr and South Texas College on this most important legislative effort.” Muñoz’ House District 36 includes 76 percent of the City of Pharr. South Texas College has agreed to fund $4.2 million for construction of a 16,000 square-foot facility to include a vehicle driving range, outdoor shooting range, firearms simulator, mobile firearms simulator/live firing range, driving simulator, obstacle course, fitness rooms, classrooms and administrative offices. The instruction provided by the regional center would include: education and training toward an associate of applied science degree or certificate or another public safety or law enforcement- related associate degree or certificate; a baccalaureate degree for applied science or applied technology authorized by the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board; a Texas Commission on Law Enforcement (TCOLE) officer certification; and a continuing education certification. During the Tuesday, April 7 public hearing on the bill by the House Committee on Homeland Security & Public Safety, STC President Shirley Reed and Pharr Police Chief Ruben Villescas testified for the bill. Also listed as supporting the measure during the House committee meeting, but not testifying, were Sergio Contreras, representing the City of Pharr, Lon Craft, Director of Legislative Affairs for the Texas Municipal Police Association, and Elizabeth Lippincott, representing the Texas Border Coalition.

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