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Sen. Hinojosa, County Judge Salinas endorse Mikal Watts for U.S. Senate during swing through Edinburg


U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, R-Texas, on Thursday, July 26, successfully passed an amendment to H.R. 2638 / S. 1644, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Appropriations bill, which will prevent Congress from dictating to states where border fencing will be built. Hutchison, shown in this file photo earlier in the year with Larry R. Faulkner, president of the University of Texas at Austin (left) and Kenneth M. Jastrow, II, chief executive officer of Temple-Inland, received key help on the amendment from Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas. See story later in this posting.



Sen. Juan “Chuy”” Hinojosa, D-McAllen, featured right, was honored Saturday, July 28 with the 2007 Patient Advocacy Award from the Texas Academy of Family Physicians for his work during the 80th legislative session in fighting for transparency in managed care contracts and protecting taxpayer money. The award was presented during the TAFP’s 58th annual scientific assembly in Corpus Christi at the American Bank Center. Hinojosa is featured here in Edinburg with Social Life Magazine publisher Pepe Cabeza de Vaca. See story later in this posting.••••••


Gov. Rick Perry, seated, was joined by South Texas College leaders and legislators on Thursday, July 19, at the State Capitol for a ceremonial bill-signing ceremony authorizing the creation of a STC Rural Technology Center in Starr County. The Rural Technology Center will be managed by STC in partnership with local public schools, libraries, learning centers, businesses, and the local community. STC will also fund the annual operating costs. Participants will be able to learn about computers and information technology, explore related career pathways, further their education through the development of skills in the area of technology, and much more. Featured in this photograph are, from left: STC President Dr. Shirley Reed; Rep. Ismael “Kino” Flores, D-Palmview; Sen. Judith Zaffirini, D-Laredo, the author of the law; Irene García of Mission, chair of the STC Board of Trustees; STC board trustee Manuel Benavides of Rio Grande City; Rep. Ryan Guillen, D-Rio Grande City, the author of the law; and Palmview Mayor Jorge García. See story later in this posting.


Edinburg lawmakers say “border wall” doesn’t tackle real border security needs


Dr. Glenn A. Martínez, Ph.D., an associate professor of Spanish linguistics and chair of the Department of Modern Languages and Literature at the University of Texas-Pan American, on Tuesday, July 17, was appointed by the Edinburg City Council to the board of directors of the Edinburg Economic Development Corporation. “Over the next few years, I would like to see the EEDC expand its efforts in attracting diverse business and industry to Edinburg and make our city full participants in the knowledge economy of the 21st century,” Martínez said. “UTPA, my alma mater and my current place of employment, gives Edinburg a competitive edge over other cities in the region to attract industries with large research enterprises. As a member of the board, I will work to ensure that UTPA and its vast knowledge resources become critical incentives to attract high-paying jobs to our city.” See story later in this posting.



While Mother Nature dropped up to six inches of rain in parts of the Upper Valley earlier that morning and tore rooftops from at least three McAllen businesses, Hidalgo County Judge J.D. Salinas III and U.S. International Boundary and Water Commissioner Carlos Marín on Monday, July 16, executed the long-anticipated memorandum of understanding that will allow for the rehabilitation of several miles of federally-owned river levee. Featured, from left, seated, are: Congressman Henry Cuellar, D-Laredo/McAllen; Salinas; and Marin. Standing, from left, are: Rep. Ismael “Kino” Flores, D-Palmview; Mission Mayor Beto Salinas; and Hidalgo County Commissioner Hector “Tito” Palacios, See story later in this posting.



Three South Texas legislators – Sen. Juan “Chuy” Hinojosa, D-McAllen, Rep. Verónica Gonzáles, D-McAllen, and Rep. Aaron Peña, D-Edinburg – say that federal money to build a controversial “border wall” along 153 miles of the international border with Mexico could be better spent on more pressing national security needs, including helping Texas fight illegal drug trafficking that spells heartache, ruin, and death for countless Americans. Their comments came on Thursday, July 19, during a legislative luncheon in Edinburg. Mayor Pro Tem Alma Garza, Gonzáles and Peña are featured, sitting, first, second and third from left, respectively, while Councilmember Noe Garza (no relation to Alma) is shown standing, first from left, while Hinojosa is shown standing, fourth from left. See first story in this posting.


Hundreds show up for ribbon cutting ceremony at sophisticated DHR Cancer Center in Edinburg


Medical, legislative, and community leaders from Edinburg and Hidalgo County participated in a July 11 ribbon-cutting ceremony welcoming the $15 million Cancer Center at Renaissance to southwest Edinburg, the latest phase in a $150 million expansion of Doctors Hospital at Renaissance. The 54,000-square-foot facility will bring 50 new employees and generate a $30 million economic impact to the city and the surrounding communities, said Mayor Joe Ochoa. “This is only a tip of the iceberg, knowing that we will have, when all of this expansion is finished, more than 1,000 employees and more than $1 billion in economic impact to this region and its economy,” Ochoa added. Former Mayor Richard García, who serves as the president of the Edinburg Economic Development Corporation – of which Ochoa is also a member – said the Cancer Center serves as another economic-development prize and recruiting tool for the city. “From an economic development standpoint, a facility such as this helps to retain and attract major employers, because one of the things their employees look for is access, locally, to very high-quality health care,” said García. “Many people were having to go to San Antonio and Houston to receive the technology that this hospital now has available.” See story later in this posting.



U.S. Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, left, meets with Cameron County Judge Carlos Cascos (center) and Hidalgo County Judge J.D. Salinas, III, on Wednesday, July 11, to hear concerns from border leaders over key issues. Among other topics, Cornyn updated Valley leaders on border security and immigration reform. He reiterated his commitment and work to ensure that no border fencing will move forward without local input. He also committed to work with them to find innovative solutions to border security, like enhancing natural barriers and the control of Carrizo cane. See relates story later in this posting.



Mikal Watts, center, is one of two Democrats who have announced preliminary plans to challenge U.S. Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, in the November 2008 general election. Watts, shown here during a recent fundraiser hosted in Edinburg at the home of former Hidalgo County Judge Ramón García, could be facing Houston state Rep. Rick Noriega, D-Houston, for the March 2008 Democratic Party nomination to face Cornyn. Rep. Aaron Peña, D-Edinburg, has signed a letter urging Noriega to run for U.S. Senate, while Rep. Verónica Gonzáles, D-McAllen, who represents southwest Edinburg, says she is not ready to take a sides in the potential Democratic showdown. Featured with Watts at the local fundraiser are, from left: García; Rep. Armando “Mando” Martínez, D-Weslaco; Watts; Edinburg Mayor Joe Ochoa; and Judge Linda Yañez of the Texas 13th Court of Appeals. See story later in this posting.


County Judge Salinas applauds Gov. Richardson’s promise to bring down planned U.S. border wall


Hidalgo County Judge J.D. Salinas,III, standing, and Pat Townsend Jr., president and CEO of the Mission Economic Development Agency, featured here on Thursday, July 5 in Edinburg, discussed progress on efforts by the Texas Border Coalition to continue rallying opposition against the planned U.S. border wall, set to be built in 2008 and to be located along the U.S.-Mexico border, including in the Lower Rio Grande Valley. On June 30, Democratic presidential candidate and current New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson voiced his strong opposition to the planned wall, a view shared by TBC. Salinas and Townsend are members of TBC, an alliance of elected leaders and economic development officials representing more than two million residents who live in the 11 Texas counties that border Mexico. See story later in this posting.



Ramiro Garza, Jr., standing, the executive director of the Edinburg Economic Development Corporation, led a roundtable discussion on Thursday, July 5, during a workforce summit held at the University of Texas-Pan American. The gathering, held in the University Ballroom, served as a preparation for a major conference, to be held August 8 at the McAllen Convention Center. More than 150 area leaders participated in the preliminary summit, entitled “Building Future Talent,” where they developed strategies for helping Hidalgo County residents acquire the education and skills needed to effectively compete in a global economy. See story later in this posting.



South Texas College and The University of Texas-Pan American are expanding their partnership allowing for seamless transfer opportunities for liberal arts students. Some of the students planning to take advantage of the new agreement include, from left: Marisol Hernández, class of 2007; Michelle Escamilla, class of 2009; and Micah Mullins, class of 2007, study social work at STC, who plan to transfer to UT-Pan American upon graduation. See story later in this posting.


As nation celebrates freedom, Freddy González, icon of courage, posthumously honored by Texas


In this file photo provided by the U.S. Navy, a Tomahawk missile is fired from the USS Alfredo “Freddy” González, a $900 million guided missile destroyer named in honor of the late Marine Sergeant from Edinburg, who was killed in action during the Tet Offensive in Vietnam. Forty years after his death, González – whose mother, Dolia, lives in Edinburg – has been honored by his home state. In mid-June, Gov. Rick Perry signed into law a proclamation posthumously bestowing the state’s highest military honor – the Texas Legislative Medal of Honor – upon the Edinburg war hero. See story later in this posting.



Rep. Verónica Gonzáles, D-McAllen, recently provided a legislative update to her constituents in McAllen, which included news that Gov. Rick Perry had signed into law a measure that will make it easier for working families in Texas to enroll their children in the popular Children’s Health Insurance Program. The expansion of CHIP to almost 130,000 more children ranks among the biggest victories for health care to come out of the recently concluded 80th session of the Texas Legislature, says the Texas Border Coalition, which lobbied for the improvements to CHIP. See story later in this posting.



Robert Gandy, III, president of First National Bank of Edinburg, on Tuesday, June 26, provided an update on plans by the local financial institution to eventually create a $100 million corporate bank headquarters/retail development in west Edinburg. Gandy, who addressed the Edinburg Economic Development Corporation during its board session, said up to $2 million has already been spent by the bank to lay the groundwork at the 115-acre site, and the first building should begin going up later this fall. See story later in this posting.


Titans of the Texas Legislature