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What is good for the Texas border region is good for Texas, says Farouk Shami

 

What is good for the Texas border region is good for Texas, says Farouk Shami, featured here shaking hands with a young supporter during his early February campaign swing through McAllen. Shami, who is seeking the March 2 Democratic Party primary for governor, has laid out his policies for helping the Texas border region. His plans include promoting industry cluster development along the border, increasing educational opportunities on the border, building new infrastructure along the border, and ensuring all Texans living along the border have access to healthcare and educational resources, according to top campaign leaders. "Industry cluster development is my plan to work with local officials on each side of the border to build high-skill, capital-intensive factories on the U.S. side of the border and have them partner with low-skill, labor-intensive facilities on the Mexican side of the border," said Shami. "This lowers the cost of manufacturing and allows companies to build products at a low price while ensuring the highest quality possible," he added. "Promoting these will eliminate any incentives to outsource to China and India."  See lead story in this posting. 

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Rep. Armando "Mando" Martínez, D-Weslaco, on Monday, February 22, provided veterans groups leaders meeting at Weslaco City Hall on his specific plan to secure state funds to help pay for the construction of a Veterans Administration Hospital for the Rio Grande Valley.  He said he will file legislation in 2011 to tap into the Texas Enterprise Fund and the Texas Emerging Technology Fund – which together have several hundred million dollars in reserves – to get the long sought-after hospital for the region. Featured, from left: Rep. Rene Oliveira, D-Brownsville; Rep. Martínez;  Ana García, representing Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas; and Julian Álvarez, representing Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, R-Texas. See story by Treto Garza, veterans affairs columnist for the Rio Grande Guardian, later in this posting. 

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Key Valley legislators, including Rep. Aaron Peña, D-Edinburg, Rep. Rene Oliveira, D-Brownsville, and Rep. Veronica Gonzales, D-McAllen, met in Weslaco on Monday, February 22, with the Veterans Alliance of the Rio Grande Valley, which is lobbying for the construction of a Veterans Administration Hospital for the Rio Grande Valley. A few days after that session, Homer Gallegos, the chair of organization, said the group is reactivating a Veterans Alliance strike force to assure that Valley veterans are kept updated on similar events being held in South Texas. "The strike force is a group of veterans from the Veterans Alliance who volunter to be on call in case an important meeting or event is scheduled," said Gallegos. "Many a times there are events, community activities, local governmental meetings and other gatherings that discuss veterans issues and health issues. The Veterans Alliance sometimes get last-minute notice of these events. The strike force will assure that the veterans are represented." In the coming days, the Strike Force will see its first action, including meeting with Harlingen Mayor Chris Boswell in the Harlingen Town Hall room and a meeting with the new Catholic bishop for the Valley – the Most Reverend Bishop Manuel Flores, Catholic Diocese of Brownsville. That meeting is sheduled to be held Brownsville. More information is available by contacting Gallegos at 956/878-6144.  

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South Texas College recently hosted a special breakfast at its Mid-Valley Campus to recruit mentors for its Valley Scholars Program. "The most important message I have for all of our students in South Texas is that no one is smarter than they are – period," said Rep. Armando "Mando" Martínez, D-Weslaco, who is one of the mentors. "That’s why I work so hard to bring the best higher educational opportunities, such as the medical school, and in the near future, a law school, to the Valley. Our students have what it takes to reach for the stars." Featured, front row, from left: Rep. Armando “Mando” Martínez; and STC Valley Scholars Ángel Chavero, Elizabeth Becerra, Nora Macareno, Paula Noel, Elizabeth Pat and Diana Ruiz. Back row, from left: Anahid Petrosian, assistant to the STC vice president for academic affairs; Juan Mejia, STC vice president of academic affairs; STC Valley Scholar Joshua Domínguez; Monte Churchill, STC Mid-Valley Campus site coordinator; and STC Valley Scholars Dakotah Fernández and Janet Martínez; and Weslaco Mayor Buddy de la Rosa. Mentors for STC’s Valley Scholars Program make a significant difference in the lives of the students they mentor. Mentors serve as role models by sharing personal and work experiences with students. They should expect to attend monthly meetings during each academic semester; attend special events and activities; correspond with mentees via e-mail and phone; and possibly take students to luncheons or other motivational activities and field trips. See related story.   

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South Texas College’s fifth annual summit on college readiness was the stage for more than 250 educators from across the Rio Grande Valley of Texas to decide that they would be the ones to set the national standard for college readiness. How are they going to accomplish it? By creating a unified, college-going culture. “We gather to show the data and how we are doing in preparing students for the challenges of college; it’s not about pointing fingers, rather collaborating on how we can do things better,” said STC President Shirley A. Reed. “A strong college-going culture throughout a child’s school experience is the strongest predictor of going to college. We, as a region, have hit a plateau with only 60 percent of our students going to college. We need to build a culture where college-going is an expectation for all, not just an opportunity for a few.” Featured, from left: President Reed; President Nelson; Katherine Boswell, director of the Center for Community College Policy for the Academy for Education Development; Anna H. Rowan, K to 12 policy analyst for The Education Trust; and Mary Treviño, Region One Education Service Center PEIMS coordinator. See story later in this posting. 

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The David Rodríguez family of Edinburg won the Which Wich FRIENDShip Basket Raffle at the Museum of South Texas History’s Pioneer and Ranching Crafts Day. Which Wich franchise owners Debbie Wilson and Chad Wilson generously donated the basket, filled with delicious Which Wich treats, to MOSTHistory for the FRIENDShip Raffle. All individuals who purchased a FRIEND membership at the event were entered in the drawing. FRIEND Memberships support the mission and operation of the Museum of South Texas History. To purchase or renew your FRIENDShip, call Lynne Beeching at/or visit http://www.mosthistory.org. The Museum of South Texas History is located on the Hidalgo County Courthouse Square in downtown Edinburg. Featured, from left: Family friend Sylvia J. Reash; Patricia Rodríguez; David Rodríguez; Alejandro A.Rodríguez; and Andrea A. Rodríguez.  

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Manic Monday Blues are suffered by many. The McAllen Hispanic Chamber has discovered a sure way to get rid of those blues. They celebrate at a Manic Monday Mixer and guarantee to rid the blues from it’s members and future members. On Monday, March 1,  the Manic Monday Mixer will be hosted at The Patio at Guerra’s, located at 116 S. 17th in the Entertainment District of McAllen.  The Manic Monday Mixer will be held from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. The McAllen Hispanic Chamber invites the community to come and meet MHCC members and network. Making business contacts will surely make Monday a productive and enjoyable day. Food and refreshments will be offered at special prices. Featured, from left: Art Guerra, Jr., co-owner; Cynthia M. Sakulenzki, MHCC president and chief executive officer, and Che Guerra, co-owner. 

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Sen. Cornyn hosts roundtable on Valley levees; Homeland Security’s Chertoff soon to tour region

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Robert and Janet Vackar, featured third and fifth from left, are cheered by employees and well-wishers, including Hidalgo County Judge J.D. Salinas, III (next to Mrs. Vackar) on Tuesday, October 9, during the ribbon-cutting ceremony of their car dealership group’s latest addition, Fiesta Chevrolet, located at the intersection of the U.S. North Expressway 281 frontage road and Trenton Road. The new dealership is the latest economic boom in east Edinburg that is being influenced by the Edinburg City Council and its jobs-creation arm, the Edinburg Economic Development Corporation. See story later in this posting.

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Edinburg Mayor Joe Ochoa and Mayor Pro Tem Alma Garza on Saturday, October 13, helped welcome Lacks furniture store back into the three-time All-America City during a ribbon-cutting ceremony held in front of the 46,000-square-foot showroom, located in the Fairhaven Subdivision, near the intersection of Canton Road and the U.S. Expressway 281 frontage road. “We have been out of Edinburg since November 2004, and we hated to leave Edinburg – it is a very special city,” said Lee Aaronson, president and chief executive officer of Lacks. “Our business has been in the Valley since 1935, and we had been in Edinburg for most of those years. But at one point, we realized that the store in Edinburg wasn’t as nice as the City of Edinburg, and we had to get another location that would be the kind of store that would befit this beautiful city. We hope that we have brought that to you at this point.” Featured in this photograph are, front row, from left: Garza; Ochoa; Aaronson; Ramón Martínez, store manager; Jackie Moffitt, who designs the layout of the furniture displays; Kris Karr, advertising director; and Cassandra Leal, Miss Edinburg 2008. Second row, from left, are Laura Flores, sales consultant; Michelle Richards, sales consultant; Charles Justis, financial officer; and Al Moffitt, general manager for the 11 Lacks stores and clearance center. See story later in this posting.

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Rep. Aaron Peña, D-Edinburg, has announced his campaign kick-off, which is free and open to the public, for Thursday, November 8, at the ECHO Hotel, 1903 S. Closner Boulevard in Edinburg. The event will be held from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Peña, chairman of the House Criminal Jurisprudence Committee, is seeking his fourth two-year term as the representative for House District 40, which includes all but southwest Edinburg, La Joya and Sullivan City in western Hidalgo County, Edcouch, Elsa, La Villa, and San Carlos in eastern Hidalgo County, and northern Hidalgo County. Peña, an Edinburg attorney, is featuring in his campaign his slogan, “The experience to lead, the power to succeed.” He is facing Eddie Sáenz, an Edinburg civil engineer, for the March 4 Democratic Party primary nomination. There are no other announced candidates in that race so far.

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On Thursday, October 25, Winning Mortgage Solutions will host “The ABC’s of Mortgage”, a free home buyers seminar to the general public. Mortgage lending will be explained and experienced loan officers will be on-hand to answer any questions immediately following the presentations. The free seminar will take place at the Edinburg Chamber of Commerce, 602 West University from 5:30-7:00 p.m. Please contact Cynthia Bocanegra, featured here, at 956/341-8538 for additional information.

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South Texas College’s A Night with the Stars event recently celebrated 10 years of academic excellence and honored former Valley Scholars scholarship recipients. From left, front, are Valley Scholar graduates Mario Segura; Christopher O. Park; Shalimar Madrigal; Judith Hernández; Cynthia E. López; Constance A. Salinas; Kyndra Nicole Gatton; and José Tomás Calzadias Jr. Back row, from left, are: Dr. Mike Metke, event presenter; Dr. Ramiro Casso, M.D., event presenter; STC president Dr. Shirley A. Reed; Anahid Petrosian, STC Assistant to the Vice President for Instructional Services; Juan E. Mejia, STC Vice President for Instructional Services; Juan E. Mejia; Marie E. Olivárez, STC Valley Scholars Coordinator; and Dr. Dana Cantú, event presenter. Not featured in this portrait shot are Mary De León, event presenter, and Valley Scholars scholarship recipients Amir Esmaeili and José Luis Caraveo. See story later in this posting.

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