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With UT medical school and increased funding for health and education secured for House District 40, Rep. Terry Canales, D-Edinburg, announces bid for reelection

Gov. Rick Perry (seated), a Republican and the longest-serving governor in Texas history, on Tuesday, July 16, was at The University of Texas-Pan American in Edinburg to participate in a bill-signing ceremony that will merge UT-Pan American and The University of Texas at Brownsville into one, Valley-wide higher education complex, complete with a four-year UT medical school, which will be built in the next few years. The legislation, Senate Bill 24 by Sen. Juan “Chuy” Hinojosa, D-McAllen, and Rep. René Oliveira, D-Brownsville, was approved by the Texas Legislature in late May, and signed into law by Perry. Senate Bill 24 was the top priority of the Edinburg City Council and the Edinburg Economic Development Corporation as part of their successful 2013 state legislative agenda. The measure included the entire Rio Grande Valley state legislative delegation as joint authors and joint sponsors. Featured in this photograph are: Seated: Texas Governor Rick Perry. Standing, from left: Rep. Terry Canales, D-Edinburg; President Juliet V. García, The University of Texas at Brownsville; Francisco G. Cigarroa, M.D., Chancellor, The University of Texas System; Rep. Armando “Mando” Martínez, D-Weslaco; Congressman Rubén Hinojosa, D-Mercedes; Ernest “Ernie” Aliseda, Member, The University of Texas System Board of Regents; Sen. Judith Zaffirini, D-Laredo; Sen. Juan “Chuy” Hinojosa, D-McAllen; Rep. Sergio Muñoz, Jr., D-Mission; Rep. René Oliveira, D-Brownsville; Rep. Óscar Longoria, Jr., D-La Joya; Rep. Eddie Lucio, III, D-San Benito; Nash M. Horne, Student Regent, The University of Texas System Board of Regents; Rep. Ryan Guillén, D-Rio Grande City; Rep. R.D. “Bobby” Guerra, D-McAllen; and President Robert S. Nelsen, The University of Texas-Pan American. See story later in this posting.

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Sen. Juan “Chuy” Hinojosa, D-McAllen, featured center at the University of Texas-Pan American, addresses South Texas journalists on Tuesday, July 16, helping lay out the timetable of events that will lead to the creation of a new university in the Valley, the result of a merger of UT-Pan American and The University of Texas at Brownsville. Hinojosa was the author of Senate Bill 24, which will create the new UT higher education institution, which will include the construction of a full-fledged UT medical school in the Valley. Timeline highlights include the following: name for new university to be finalized in November-December 2013; president of the new university to be announced in January-February 2014; recruitment of inaugural first class through January-December 2014; Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS) approves new university in June 2015; and inaugural class enrolls in new university in August 2015. Featured, from left: Rep. René Oliveira, D-Brownsville, the House lead sponsor of SB 24; Gov. Rick Perry; Sen. Juan “Chuy” Hinojosa, D-McAllen; Congressman Rubén Hinojosa, D-Mercedes: Sen. Judith Zaffirini, D-Laredo, a Senate author of SB 24; and Rep. Terry Canales, D-Edinburg, a House sponsor of SB 24. See story in this posting.

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Dr. Havidán Rodríguez, Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs at The University of Texas-Pan American (featured center), on June 18 took on a new role to further advance the university’s commitment to community engagement. Rodríguez was appointed by the Edinburg City Council as the newest member of the Board of Directors for the Edinburg Economic Development Corporation (EEDC). “This opportunity to become a member of the EEDC is one of those where you lead by example and to work quite extensively on making the university an engaged university, which allows us to become a connected part of the community which UTPA interacts with on a regular basis,” Rodríguez said. As a board member, Rodríguez will attend board meetings and vote on key issues regarding job creation and social, cultural and economic development of the community. Rodríguez will also visit with potential business investors and consultants who work in collaboration with the city, as well as facilitate and attend joint meetings with the university and the city’s key officials. As part of its creation in the 1990s by Edinburg voters, one of the five members of the EEDC Board of Directors must represent UT-Pan American. Rodríguez was appointed to the EEDC Board of Directors following the departure of a fellow university leader – Dr. Glenn Martínez – who was selected as Department Chair and Professor of Spanish, in the Department of Spanish and Portuguese at The Ohio State University, located in Columbus, Ohio. Featured, from left, are former longtime McAllen Mayor Richard Cortéz, Dr. Havidán Rodríguez, and Edinburg Mayor Pro Tem Elías Longoria, Jr., who served on the EEDC Board of Directors before he was elected to the Edinburg City Council. See story later in this posting.

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Since the mid-1990s, the Edinburg City Council and the Edinburg Economic Development Corporation – the jobs-creation arm of the Edinburg City Council – have been active participants in the state legislative process, successfully securing the introduction and passage of major proposals that have pumped hundreds of millions of dollars into the local economy. Among the legislative achievements for the city’s elected and appointed leadership include the funding and passage of state laws and policies that have significantly improved infrastructure, highways, and higher education. The city council’s and EEDC’s top priority this year was Senate Bill 24, by Sen. Juan “Chuy” Hinojosa, D-McAllen, and Rep. René Oliveria, D-Brownsville, which will merge the University of Texas-Pan American and UT-Brownsville into one Valley-wide “super university” – still part of the UT System – plus the creation of a full-fledged UT medical school, including a major campus in Edinburg. Featured during the Tuesday, July 15 ceremony at UT-Pan American celebrating the passage of SB 24 are, from left: City Councilmember Homer Jasso, Jr.; René Ramírez, the state lobbyist for the city council and EEDC; and City Councilmember J.R. Bentancourt.

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Edinburg Mayor Richard García, featured here at the University of Texas-Pan American with former Rep. Verónica Gonzáles, D-McAllen, helped lead Hidalgo County support for the passage of Senate Bill 24, by Sen. Juan “Chuy” Hinojosa, D-McAllen, and Rep. René Oliveira, D-Brownsville, which will combine the resources and assets of UT-Pan American and UT- Brownsville and the future South Texas School of Medicine into a single institution that spans the entire Rio Grande Valley. The UT System Board of Regents has approved spending $100 million over the next decade to accelerate the pace of establishing the school of medicine. The ambitious initiative – approved by the Board of Regents in December, supported by Gov. Rick Perry in his State of the State Address in January, and made possible by a bill that garnered overwhelming support from the Texas Legislature last spring – promises to transform South Texas by providing limitless opportunities in education and economic growth and improving healthcare for millions of Texans. The goal is for the university – with a focus on bi-literacy, bilingualism and biculturalism – to build a world-class reputation and pursue global excellence in teaching, research and healthcare. Gonzales serves as Vice President for University Advancement for UTPA. See story later in this posting.

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Rep. Óscar Longoria, D-La Joya, on Monday, July 29, announced he will seek a second two-year term to the Texas House of Representatives for House District 35, which includes portions of Hidalgo and Cameron counties. “It is a tremendous honor to serve the people of District 35 in the House,” Longoria. “I’m honored and humbled that the people of Hidalgo and Cameron counties have elected me once before, and is my hope is that I have earned their trust for another term.” During the 83rd Legislative Session, Longoria was appointed to the House Appropriations Committee, where he serves on the sub-committee for Articles I, IV, and V, and as Vice-Chairman of the Budget Transparency and Reform Sub-committee. He is also an appointed member of the Investments & Financial Services Committee. “I have truly enjoyed being a part of the legislative process during my first term this session,” said Longoria. “My intent is to ensure that our children and my constituents, not only in the Rio Grande Valley, but those across the entire state, receive the best care for generations to come, and have their voices represented by me in the Texas House of Representatives.” Longoria’s House District 35 includes La Joya, Sullivan City, Peñitas, Alton, McAllen, Mission, Edinburg, Monte Alto, Edcouch, La Villa, Mercedes, Weslaco, Santa Rosa, Primera, Palm Valley, Combes, Harlingen, and La Feria.

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The city’s latest luxury homes complex, the Villages at Sugar Road, Phase 1, helped boost the value of construction in May to more than $14 million, almost three times better than the same month in 2012, the Edinburg Economic Development Corporation has announced. The Edinburg Economic Development Corporation is the jobs-creation arm of the Edinburg City Council. “For the month of May 2013, total construction in Edinburg was valued at $14,157,660, compared with $5,048,148 in May 2012 – the latest figures available from the Code Enforcement Department of the City of Edinburg,” said Agustín “Gus” García, Executive Director for the Edinburg Economic Development Corporation (featured with microphone) “Year-to-date, the value of all construction in Edinburg reached $73,795,848 during the first five months of 2013, compared with $42,628,060 from January through May 2012.” The Villages at Sugar Road, Phase 1, classified as a multi-family project, represented the single-most valuable undertaking in May. According to the Code Enforcement Department for the City of Edinburg, the 168-unit Class-A luxury apartments complex is valued at $7 million, based on the building permit issued for its construction. Building permits do not include the value of the land. Featured with García during one of his recent presentations to area business leaders are Martín Rivas, Director of Membership for the Edinburg Chamber of Commerce, and Letty González, President of the Edinburg Chamber of Commerce.

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Edinburg, Hidalgo County, and state leaders on Monday, July 15, celebrated the placement of the first signs marking Interstate 69 East, Interstate 2 and Interstate 69 Central, a ceremony that marked the first time the Rio Grande Valley will be served by the Interstate Highway System. Local, state and federal leaders participated in the unveiling of the new signs at the now renamed I2/I69C interchange in Pharr. The 13.5 miles of U.S. Expressway 281 freeway in Pharr and Edinburg is now signed as Interstate 69 Central, a designation that will eventually extend northward all the way to George West. U.S. Expressway 77 through Cameron and Willacy counties is now signed as Interstate 69 East. This includes 53.3 miles of existing freeway starting at the Rio Grande River in Brownsville and running north past Raymondville. Featured, from left: Edinburg City Manager Ramiro Garza, Jr.; Congressman Rubén Hinojosa, D-Mercedes; Hidalgo County Judge Ramón García; Edinburg Mayor Pro Tem Elías Longoria, Jr.; Edinburg City Councilmember Homer Jasso, Jr.; and Agustín “Gus” García, Executive Director, Edinburg Economic Development Corporation. See story later in this posting.

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Dr. Robert S. Nelsen, featured second from left, the 8th president of The University of Texas-Pan American, on Thursday August 15, will be the keynote speaker for the Public Affairs Luncheon, coordinated by the Public Affairs Committee of the Edinburg Chamber of Commerce. The event will be held from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the ECHO Hotel and Conference Center, located at 1903 South Closner in Edinburg. The Public Affairs Luncheon, an initiative introduced in 2006, features popular topics with speakers that cover important legislative and community issues. Cost to attend the luncheon is $12 per person or $125 for a table of eight, and includes a hot lunch, non-alcoholic beverage and dessert. Featured at the univerity’s Student Union Building during the Tuesday, July 15 celebration of the merger of UT-Pan American and UT-Brownsville are, from left: Dr. Juliet V. García, President, The University of Texas at Brownsville; Dr. Nelsen, President, The University of Texas-Pan American; Gov. Rick Perry; Gene Powell, Chairman, The University of Texas System Board of Regents; and Dr. Francisco Cigarroa, Chancellor, The University of Texas. See story later in this posting.

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With the new “Super University”, a new South Texas University of Texas Medical School, and increased funding for health and public education secured for House District 40, Rep. Terry Canales, D-Edinburg (featured right) on Tuesday, June 23 announced his intention to seek reelection to the Texas Legislature. Canales’ House District 40 contains most of Edinburg, including The University of Texas-Pan American, Elsa, San Carlos, La Blanca, Faysville, northern Pharr, and portions of McAllen and Weslaco. “It is an honor to serve the families and businesses of Edinburg and Hidalgo County,” said Canales, a local attorney and father of three. “I am blessed and humbled by the sheer amount of people who encourage me to seek another term as State Representative. Today, I am pleased to announce my reelection campaign for the Texas House.” Canales played a key role in personally securing the majority of votes in the 150-member House of Representatives to pass Senate Bill 24, by Sen. Juan “Chuy” Hinojosa, D-McAllen, and Rep. René Oliveira, D-Brownsville, which will merge UT-Pan American and UT-Brownsville, and with it, create a full-fledged UT medical school with a major presence in Edinburg. “Tens of thousands of high-paying jobs, directly and indirectly linked to Senate Bill 24, will be created over the next few years as a result of the construction, operation, and maintenance of a UT medical school in the Valley, including here in House District 40, where Edinburg will have a major campus,” said Canales. “Equally important, SB 24 gives UT-Pan American access to the $13 billion Permanent University Fund for the first time. The funds can be used for major construction projects, including a much-needed $100 million Science Building at UTPA and construction of the UT medical school in Edinburg and throughout the Valley.” Featured with Canales at the Texas Capitol in January are, from left: Dr. Juliet V. Garcia, President, The University of Texas at Brownsville; Dr. Robert S. Nelsen, President, The University of Texas-Pan American; Rep. R.D. “Bobby” Guerra, D-McAllen, and Rep. Canales. See lead story in this posting.

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Judge Susan Criss launches Internet fundraising effort for TV spots against Republican high court

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Hidalgo County Treasurer Norma G. García, featured second from left, has been named Texas County Treasurer for 2007 by her colleagues with the County Treasurers Association of Texas – the first time since 1971 that a local county treasurer has earned that prestigious honor. “Once again, Hidalgo County is recognized for outstanding leadership and performance in public service,” said García. “It is especially important for the public to have full confidence that their hard-earned tax funds are being taken care of at the highest standards and principles, which produce the most beneficial consequences to those whom I serve.” Featured with her during the award ceremony held in mid-October were: Kleberg County Treasurer Priscilla A. Cantú; García; Zapata County Treasurer Romeo Salinas; and Taylor County Treasurer Lesa Crosswhite, who also serves as CTAT president. See story later in this posting.

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Rep. Aaron Peña, D-Edinburg, focused on his legislative efforts on behalf of the youth in his district during his Thursday, November 8 campaign kick-off, held at the ECHO in Edinburg.  Peña, who was born in Austin but grew up in Edinburg, reminded voters from the key Delta Area portion of his House District 40 of his deep roots in those communities. “My grandfather would never imagine what has happened to this community,” Peña fondly recalled his paternal grandfather, Baltazar Peña, who migrated from Mexico to the Edcouch-Elsa region. “Who would have imagined that we would move so quickly to have the sort of growth that we have here? That was done because of the dreams that they had, the dreams of a better future, the dreams of educating our kids. So, that has always been my commitment, as it is yours, that we invest in our kids.” Featured with Peña are, from left, back row: his wife, Mónica; daughter-in-law, Clarissa; granddaughter Addison; son Aaron Peña; daughter Adrienne Peña Garza; and in the front row: son Anthony; and granddaughter Chelsea Peña. The Edinburg lawmaker is facing a challenge from Eddie Sáenz, a civil engineer also from Edinburg, in the March 4, 2008 Democratic Party primary. See story later in this posting.

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Rep. Verónica Gonzáles, D-McAllen, whose House District 41 includes southwest Edinburg, on Thursday, November 8, helped welcome dignitaries to the campaign kick-off for her colleague, Rep. Aaron Peña, D-Edinburg. Gonzáles, along with Rep. Armando “Mando” Martínez, D-Weslaco, and Rep. Ryan Guillen, D-Rio Grande City, showed up at Peña’s event, even though Peña is facing a challenge from a fellow Democrat – Eddie Sáenz of Edinburg. Gonzáles will be having her own campaign kick-off on Tuesday, November 27, from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. at the International Museum of Arts and Science, located at 1900 Nolana Avenue in McAllen. Gonzáles’ campaign kick-off, which is being underwritten by her law firm, Kittleman, Thomas & Gonzáles, LLP, is free and open to the public. For more information, residents may call her campaign at 212-8950. Gonzáles is facing at least one opponent so far – fellow McAllen lawyer Javier Villalobos, who is seeking the Republican Party nomination. Both parties will hold their primary elections on March 4, 2008.

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