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Rep. Gonzáles picks up at least $46,000, key endorsements, during fund raiser


 Rep. Verónica Gonzáles, D-McAllen, thanks several hundred supporters on Friday, August 24, as she participates as a model for her unique fund raiser, which featured her and other lawmakers in a fashion style show at the Embassy Suites in McAllen.  She picked up almost $50,000 for her campaign war chest, along with endorsements from key political figures. She is facing at least one opponent in 2008: Republican Javier Villalobos.  Both of them are McAllen-based attorneys.  See story later in this posting. 



Estella Treviño, longtime executive director for the Edinburg Housing Authority, beamed with pride on Monday, August 20, as she posed with the Edinburg City Council, which presented her a proclamation chronicling many of her achievements on behalf of the community. Among her accomplishments are helping provide affordable housing to thousands of residents, creating opportunities for property owners to rent homes to qualified families, and fighting the negative image of public housing.  “Ms. Treviño and the agency have received a host of awards for her diligent efforts including the Outstanding Services Award in 1975; the Specific Activity Award for outstanding programs offered through the Drug Elimination Program in 1994; the Award for Excellence in Youth Sports in 1995; the Family Self-Sufficiency Program Award in 1996; the Texas NAHRO Member of the Year Award in 1998; and the 2005 Texas NAHRO Hall of Fame Award,” said Mayor Pro Tem Alma Garza. “Widely known as an advocate of public housing and the elderly Ms. Treviño has changed the agency from merely providing assisted housing to helping residents achieve self-sufficiency and marketable skills enabling many of them to move beyond subsidized housing to homeownership.”   



South Texas College’s Valley Scholars Program is celebrating its 10th anniversary at its annual Night with the Stars this October. The special event is designed to celebrate 10 years of academic excellence and pay tribute to ten outstanding Valley Scholar students, who have continued on to successful careers and have made positive changes in their communities. The celebration will take place on Thursday, October 4, 2007 at the Cimarron Country Club and will be an evening of celebration, recognition and entertainment. All proceeds from the event will benefit future South Texas College Valley Scholars Program students. As a result of the 2006 event, more than $40,000 was raised for the program. The coordinating team for the event includes, from left, seated: Sora Yañez, graphic designer; Marie Olivárez, STC Valley Scholars coordinator, Anahid Petrosian STC Assistant to the Vice President for Instructional Services , and  Sylvia Bernal, administrative assistant. From left, standing, are:  Roberto Gutiérrez, STC Fundraising Development Associate; George McCaleb, STC Director of Operations; and Ginna Gutiérrez, secretary. 


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


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.



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.


Hidalgo County RMA stresses it wants local firms, workers to benefit from new $643 million road contract


Healthcare, workforce and education, transportation, immigration and border security issues crucial to all Texans – and representing hundreds of millions of dollars in state funds for more than two million residents – were successfully championed during the 2007 state legislative session by the Texas Border Coalition. Featured following TBC’s August 2 meeting in Brownsville are, from left, are the following TBC leaders: Blas Castañeda, chief development officer of Laredo Community College; Wanda Garza, executive officer for workforce development and external affairs for South Texas College; TBC chairman and Eagle Pass Mayor Chad Foster; and Eddie Aldrete, senior vice president for International Bancshares Corp. (IBC). See story later in this posting.



Gerry E. Pate, P.E., managing partner for Hidalgo County Road Builders, outlines his vision for improving Hidalgo County’s major roadway system during the August 9 meeting of the Hidalgo County Regional Mobility Authority. The RMA selected Hidalgo County Road Builders as the agent in charge of developing and designing an estimated $643 million highway loop for southern Hidalgo County. See story later in this posting.



Sen. Eddie Lucio, Jr., D-Brownsville, (featured left), on August 1 received the 2007 Texas Affiliation of Affordable Housing Providers Award from Executive Director Jim Brown for his work in providing affordable housing to Texans during the organization’s Texas Housing Conference in Austin. See story later in this posting.



The Edinburg Chamber of Commerce was recognized as the 1st place winner in their division at the TCCE State conference held in July in Temple, Texas. Evana Vleck has been employed with the Edinburg Chamber of Commerce for a year and a half, and since then has produced 8 Newsletters. Each bi-monthly publication focuses on Edinburg Chamber events or accomplishments, and is filled with community news covering the chamber, the city of Edinburg, the Edinburg Economic Development Corporation, local organizations, local business, and more. Vleck says “I feel that we have a down to earth approach with our Newsletter; we concentrate on stories that will reach the attention of businesses, but more overly reach the vast community; we cover expos, chamber nominees, special events, meetings and more. It’s a pleasure writing for Edinburg, and I feel honored to receive recognition for the chamber’s newsletter.” The Depot Express offers unique advertising opportunities that reach all Edinburg Chamber of Commerce members. For more information on the Edinburg Chamber of Commerce, or to advertise in the Depot Express please contact Evana Vleck at 956-383-4974.



Relocation of key Hidalgo County office to the “Old K-Mart building,” located at 2802 S. Business Hwy 281 (corner of Canton and Business 281), has already begun. On Thursday, August 9, Tax Assessor-Collector Armando Barrera saw his first customer, Julie Kracht, who said she once shopped at the old K-Mart building. It was interesting to see it renovated into the new Hidalgo County Administration Offices, she told Barrera. See story later in this posting.


The Shoppes at Rio Grande Valley to herald economic, cultural renaissance for Edinburg


Area leaders on Thursday, August 2, participated in a groundbreaking ceremony for The Shoppes at Rio Grande Valley, arguably the most important private investment in the three-time All-America City in history. When it is opens in the fall of 2008, the 80-store complex will provide one of the most unique shopping experiences in Texas, and generate a $90 million economic impact for the city and surrounding region. Local leaders participating in the event included: Mayor Joe Ochoa; former Mayor Richard García, who serves as president of the board of directors of the Edinburg Economic Development Corporation; Rep. Aaron Peña, D-Edinburg; Hidalgo County Judge J.D. Salinas; Mayor Pro Tem Alma Garza; Councilmember Noe Garza; Councilmember Gene Espinosa; and Hidalgo County Commissioner Hector “Tito” Palacios. See story later in this posting.



Rep. Verónica Gonzáles, D-McAllen, featured here second from right with some of her legislative staff in Edinburg, has almost $50,000 in her campaign treasury for her reelection bid in 2008 for a third two-year term, according to her latest campaign finance report. Gonzáles will be facing at least one challenger – Javier Villalobos, also of McAllen, who will be running for the Republican nomination. Both parties will hold their primaries in March 2008, with the general election in November 2008. Gonzáles represents House District 41, which includes southwest Edinburg. Shown here with Gonzáles are, from left: Ricardo López-Guerra, chief of staff and campaign manager; Stephanie Ozuna, legislative intern; Gonzáles; and Edna Dougherty, constituent services liaison. See story later in this posting.



The Edinburg Economic Development Corporation is helping sponsor the 2nd Annual Jewels of the Valley seminar in McAllen on August 28. Topics will include issues of importance to women who are in business or considering starting a business. Attendees will come face-to-face with over 25 exhibitors and will have the opportunity to participate in a 10-minute networking session. Featured are members of the planning committee for the 2nd Annual Jewels of the Valley are front, from left: Dora Ramírez, Maggie Jiménez, Time Warner Cable; Fatima García, McAllen Convention Center; Rosie Delgado, Southwest Community Investment Corporation; Desiree Méndez-Caltzontzint, Office of Congressman Rubén Hinojosa; Rosalinda Kiger, SCORE; back, from left: Osvaldo Cardoza, Southwest Community Investment Corp.; Elizabeth C. Martínez, The Business Times of the Rio Grande Valley; Gracie Guillen, Small Business Administration; and Juan Gómez, Time Warner Cable. See story later in this posting.



On Wednesday, August 8, an organization led by former Hidalgo County Judge Ramón García and the McAllen Hispanic Chamber of Commerce will meet in McAllen to lay out possible strategies to block the planned creation of a high-security border fence – the so-called “Border Wall” – favored by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. Shown making plans for the discussion session are seated left to right: Brenda Lee Huerta, MHCC Chair, and Cynthia M. Sakulenzki, MHCC president/CEO. Back row are Diana González, Vice Chair of Education; former Hidalgo County Judge and attorney Ramón García; Hari Namboodiri, Chair Elect; and Verónica Vela, Vice Chair of Women’s Issues. See story later in this posting.

Titans of the Texas Legislature