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Edinburg prepares for legislative session, EEDC, city government to split lobbyist’s $60,000 annual fee

Valley Land Title and Lone Star National Bank recently contributed monetary donations that will be awarded as scholarship funds to 1st, 2nd and 3rd place winners of an essay contest that will be part of the city’s centennial celebrations scheduled to begin in October. All ECISD 5th graders are encouraged to participate in the contest. The topic is Edinburg. Featured in this photograph are, from left: Paul Rodríguez and Susan Valdéz with Valley Land Title; and Elias Longoria, Jr. with Lone Star National Bank. Longoria is also on the board of directors for the Edinburg Economic Development Corporation, which is the jobs-creation arm of the Edinburg City Council.  See related story later in this posting.

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The Museum of South Texas History,  with its Upper Old Jail Gallery included in this postage stamp, will celebrate its hometown of Edinburg’s 100th anniversary in October with a week of activities coordinated by the Chamber of Commerce and the Centennial Committee. A special exhibit entitled, Edinburg: A Centennial Salute, 1908-2008, has been created to commemorate the historic event.  Installed in the Upper Old Jail Gallery, this exhibit presents a sampling of photographs and artifacts from the museum’s collections and is organized into four themes.  Those themes are education, government, civic life, and commerce. See related story later in this posting.

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The McAllen Chamber of Commerce Governmental Affairs Council hosts monthly meetings featuring local elected officials, providing them the opportunity to reach out to McAllen Chamber of Commerce members among their constituents. On Wednesday, September 24, the McAllen Chamber of Commerce will welcome Rep. Ryan Guillen, D-Rio Grande City, as guest of the Governmental Affairs Council. Guillen will speak about his perspective of the major issues, challenges, and opportunities of the upcoming legislative session.  Featured making preparations for the event are Matt Z. Ruszczak, vice-president of governmental affairs, and Eva-Jean Radle,  vice-chair of the chamber’s Governmental Affairs Council.  See related story later in this posting.

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In Texas alone, more than 7,000 people are on the waiting list for life saving transplants. Knowing that the public has the power to donate life, the McAllen Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and the Donate Life Texas Organization are hosting an informative workshop to educate the public and dismiss the myths on being an Organ Donor on Thursday, September 25, from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. at the MHCC Board Room, located at 24 N. 12th Street in McAllen. Texas Health Spring will co-sponsor the workshop and offer light dinner refreshments.  There is limited seating so reservations are required by calling the MHCC office at 928-0060. Featured making preparations for the free workshop are, from left: Cynthia M. Sakulenzki, president/CEO of the McAllen Hispanic Chamber of Commerce; Trisha Barrera, Donate Life Texas; and Rose Ramírez, MHCC Vice Chair of Health Issues and Texas Health Spring representative.

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Dozens of area leaders receive education on how to apply for $45 million in grants

State and local leaders met in Edinburg on Wednesday, August 27, as part of a two-hour session sponsored by the Texas Valley Communities Foundation to help area nonprofit groups apply for $45 million in AmeriCorps grants that will be awarded in Texas during the next three years. Featured, from left: Dr. Roland S. Arriola, Ph.D., president of Texas Valley Communities Foundation; Rosa Moreno-Mahoney, Associate Director of Service and Volunteerism for the One Star Foundation; Dr. Beverly Ashley-Fridie, Ph.D., a gubernatorial appointee from Edinburg who serves on the board of directors for the One Star Foundation; and Courtney Suhrs, Senior Strategic Communications Specialist for the One Star Foundation. “One Star Foundation is looking for partners to invest an anticipated $45 million in grant funding to support programs for the educational success of Texas’ youth over a three year period through AmeriCorps funding,” said Arriola. “One Star will partner with organizations that focus on quality early childhood education, school-readiness programs, improving literacy rates, increasing the obtainment of high school equivalencies, increasing grade level achievement, and increasing post-secondary attendance and completion.”  See story later in this posting.

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Congressman Rubén Hinojosa was the special speaker on Thursday, August 21 for the legislative luncheon hosted by the Edinburg Chamber of Commerce’s Public Affairs Committee, led by Ramiro Garza, executive director for the Edinburg Economic Development Corporation. Hinojosa talked about recent legislative issues, including education priorities, that will emphasize financial literacy, encourage financial partners in student loan programs, increasing need-based grant aid through Pell grants, and other measures. Sponsors for the event were Rio Valley Realty, and Edwards Abstract and Title Co.  Featured, back row, from left: Johnny Rodríguez; Hayden Prater; Flo Prater; Jared Prater; Elva Jackson Garza; Marty Martin, and Imelda.  Front row, from left: Rep. Aaron Peña, D-Edinburg; Mayor Joe Ochoa;Hinojosa; Byron J. Lewis; and Maggie Kent.

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The Edinburg Volunteer Fire Department will collaborate with the Edinburg Chamber of Commerce, and the Dustin Michael Sekula Memorial Library in celebrating Edinburg’s Centennial on Monday, October 6, at the Edinburg Municipal Park. As part of its participating, the fire department will host National Fire Department Week, and provide – for free – live entertainment, music, dancers, a karate show and demo, fire safety, cokes and hot dogs, as well  ice cream, courtesy of the Edinburg Chamber of Commerce,  and Edinburg’s biggest birthday cake, courtesy of the Dustin Michael Sekula Memorial Library.  The event will be from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m., with a Fire Prevention/Caravan/Parade to kick off the celebration at 5:30 p.m.  The fire department will also work in partnership with the Museum of South Texas History, on Sunday, October 5, and kick off the week with “Museum Day”.  Residents will be welcomed to visit the Museum of South Texas History on McIntyre and Closner, and then walk one block west to the Edinburg Volunteer Fire Department Museum located on McIntyre and 10th street.  Both museums will be open to the public from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., with free admission. Featured, from left, are: Fire Marshal Richard Drewery; Centennial Chair Evana Vleck; Library Director Letty Leija; Lucy Robinson; Fire Chief Shawn M. Snyder; Fire Inspector John R. Ovalle; and Assistant Fire Marshal Omar Garza.

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Dust off those boots and sharpen your casino skills as the McAllen Hispanic Chamber of Commerce has scheduled their 2nd annual “Back to School Casino and Dance Scholarship Fundraiser” for Saturday, September 6, at The Tower Club, located in the Chase Tower, 200 South 10th Street in McAllen. The event is from 7 p.m. to midnight, with Country Western band Crossfire performing, food and refreshments, and a Casino with Black Jack tables, Craps, Roulette and Poker.  Local merchants are also providing gifts and certificates for the silent auction. MHCC’s Education Committee schedules several fundraisers during the year to help raise funds for scholarships.  Sponsorships for the Back to School Casino and Dance are: Title $5,000, High Roller $3,000, Dealer $2,000, Bookie $1,000 and Casino Table $300.  Reserved Tables are $750 for a table of 10 with individual tickets $50. For more information, to inquire on sponsorships and tickets call the McAllen Hispanic Chamber at 928-0060. Featured, sitting: Diana Gonzáles, Vice Chair of Education. Standing, from left: Cynthia M. Sakulenzki, MHCC President/CEO; Hari Namboodiri, Chair-elect, and Verónica Vela, Vice Chair of Women’s Issues.

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Edinburg school board, by a 4-3 margin, increases power, changes election date from May to November

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Congressman Patrick J. Kennedy, D-Rhode Island, a nephew of President Kennedy and the youngest member of the Kennedy family to be elected to office, on Monday, December 10, held himself out as an example of how mental health illnesses afflict everyone, including himself, as the keynote speaker for the ribbon-cutting of $53 million Renaissance Behavioral Center in Edinburg. Most Americans don’t have insurance to get the type of treatment Kennedy received, he noted, “and that, my friends, is a real tragedy, and that is why I am so committed to making sure we get insurance coverage for mental health.” See story later in this posting.

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Dolia González of Edinburg, mother of American war hero Freddy González, who was killed in action during the Vietnam War, is featured here during the October 2003 grand opening of the Alfredo Gonzalez Veterans Home in McAllen, named in honor of her son. Last spring, the Texas Legislature voted to posthumously bestow the Texas Legislative Medal of Honor, but, according to a recent news report in the Ft. Worth Star-Telegram, Gov. Rick Perry hasn’t found the time yet to hold the major ceremony that has come to the previous recipient’s of the state’s highest award for valor in war time. The story is available at:

http://www.star-telegram.com/state_news/v-print/story/297224.html

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A simple majority of the Edinburg school board on Tuesday, December 11, agreed with concerns raised by Board Secretary Ciro Treviño, featured right, who was up for reelection next May, and approved a measure that changes the election date to November 2008, and extends the length of the terms of all board members to four years, from the current three-year length. Fellow trustee Robert Peña, Jr., featured left, disagreed, saying area voters, not the Legislature, should have the final say on whether the local school board trustees can make such dramatic changes in their power and election date. A new state law is behind the growing controvery. See story later in this posting.

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Democratic Texas House challenger Eddie Sáenz, featured centure, is calling on his opponent, Rep. Aaron Peña, D-Edinburg, to forcefully reject a proposal put forward by Peña’s political allies in Austin to impose the state’s sales tax on basic food items, visits to doctors, hospital stays, medicines for senior citizens, professional realtors, and a long list of other services. “This plan by my opponent’s allies would raise taxes on every family and small business in our community and push our public schools to the brink of bankruptcy,” Sáenz said. “For once, I hope my opponent will stand up for his constituents against these typical politicians in Austin who bankroll his political career.” Sáenz said a plan unveiled on December 5 by Rep. Phil King, R-Weatherford, a key lieutenant of Texas House Speaker Tom Craddick, R-Midland, and other Austin leaders supported by Peña, would impose at least $5.2 billion a year in new taxes, according to an initial analysis. See story later in this posting.

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Criss dice que Yañez haría historia en Tejas retando el partido republicano en vez de su compañera demócrata

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The newest members of Edinburg’s Tejano Walk of Fame, which honors the titans of the music genre, were joined by the Edinburg City Council on Thursday, November 15, for a portrait during a ceremony, hosted by The Social Club, commemorating the legendary musicians’ contributions to the Hispanic culture. Featured, from left, are: City Councilmember Noe Garza; inductees Emilio and Genaro Aguilar of Los Aguilares of San Antonio; inductee Gilberto Pérez of Mercedes; Mayor Joe Ochoa; inductee Gilberto López of Edinburg; inductee Paulino Bernal of McAllen; and inductee Freddy Martínez of Corpus Christi. “Edinburg, the Tejano Capital of the Valley, continues to promote the Tejano Walk of Fame, which brings international attention, not only to our diverse cultural riches, but also our shared history and sound music to the city,” said Ochoa. “These great artists surely characterize our culture and heritage through their outstanding musical contributions.”

See lead story later in this posting.

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Freddy Martínez of Corpus Christi, featured left, proudly displays the marble plaque bearing a star with his name that will become part of the Tejano Walk of Fame in Edinburg. Martínez, featured here with Mayor Joe Ochoa during the Tejano Walk of Fame induction ceremony on Thursday, November 15, is an internationally-renowned musician and producer whose many achievements earned him the honor from the three-time All-America City. Profiles on him, and the other four inductees, are featured following the lead story in this posting.

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Dr. Noel Oliveira, M.D. an internal medicine specialist who also plays with the group, Renaissance Rockers, plays guitar with vocalist Little Joe booming out a song during the scholarship fund raising concert that was held in conjunction with the Tejano Walk of Fame on Thursday, November 15. The event, which honors legendary talents of the Tejano music genre, is also designed to raise scholarship funds for music majors at the University of Texas-Pan American. See lead story later in this posting.

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AG Abbott files lawsuit in Edinburg to stop “Indian tribe” from promising U.S. citizenship to immigrants

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Ricardo Pérez of La Joya, featured first on left, on August 9 became the newest member of the Regional Mobility Authority board of directors, which a public entity that will have tremendous influence over the creation of major roadway systems in Hidalgo County, including a planned $643 million southern loop. Pérez’ first major action on the board involved voting to select Hidalgo County Road Builders, led by Gary E. Pate, P.E. of Houston, to serve as the agent for the Southern Loop Project. Pérez’ status as the newest RMA board member may be temporary if fellow RMA board member Rubén Plata, featured first on right, is elected to the Mission City Commission later this fall. If Plata wins his bid, the bylaws of the RMA prohibit any elected official from serving on the governing board, and Plata would have to be replaced. The current RMA board featured here, from left, are: Pérez, the branch president of Rio Bank Palmview, and who was appointed by Hidalgo County Judge J.D. Salinas, III; Joe Olivárez of Weslaco, the operations manager for L.C. Olivárez and Company, Inc. of Weslaco; Rick Pérez of McAllen and RMA vice-chairman, who is an attorney in the Pérez Law Firm of McAllen; Dennis Burleson of Mission, the RMA chairman who was appointed by Gov. Rick Perry, and who Vice-President of A.G. Edwards Financial Services in Mission; Ramiro E. Salazar of McAllen, a retired civil engineer; Ruben Serna of Pharr, who is retired from the U.S. Customs Agency; and Plata of Mission, who is branch president for First National Bank in Mission.

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The 2nd Jewels of the Valley Conference and Business Expo, for aspiring ‘Women Entrepreneurs of the 21st Century,’ will feature Mónica A. García Pleiman from Denver, Colo. as the keynote luncheon speaker. The conference is scheduled for August 28 from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the McAllen Convention Center located at 700 Convention Center Blvd. in McAllen. In June 2006, Pleiman launched Latino SUAVE Magazine, a bi-monthly publication written in both English and Spanish, which focuses on the lives of Latinos. The Edinburg Economic Development Corporation is a sponsor of the event. See story later this posting.

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