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Handful of Edinburg residents address trustees on significant changes in length of terms, election date


Rep. Verónica Gonzáles, D-McAllen, on Tuesday, November 27, addressed several hundred supporters in McAllen during her campaign reelection bid kick-of. Gonzáles, whose House District 41 includes southwest Edinburg, is seeking a third two-year term. She is facing fellow McAllen attorney Javier Villalobos, who is seeking the Republican Party nomination for the legislative post. A complete story, along with a transcript of her speech, will be posted in next week’s edition of



Dan Ríos, featured left, has added to the honors bestowed upon his Edinburg family with his recent appointment by Gov. Rick Perry as the new judge of the 449th Judicial District Court in Edinburg. Ríos, who will be stepping down as city attorney for Edinburg, is shown here earlier this fall, along his his mother, Mary Ann, and brother, Luis, accepting a legislative proclamation, signed by Perry, from Sen. Juan “Chuy” Hinojosa, D-McAllen. House Concurrent Resolution 195, authored by Rep. Aaron Peña, D-Edinburg, and sponsored by Hinojosa, paid tribute to the late patriarch of the local family, Dr. Luis M. Ríos, Sr., a plastic surgeon who passed away last February. Dan Ríos succeeds Judge Maxine Longoria-Nash as judge of a district court that will focus on juvenile cases. Ríos, a Republican, may seek election to the bench in November 2008, otherwise his term will be up on December 31, 2008. If no other Republican files for his spot, he would face either Democrats Longoria-Nash or Jesse Contreras, who are seeking the Democratic Party primary nomination in March. The Rios family is not new to politics; Mary Ann Rios ran a closer-than-expected race in the 1990s as the Republican nominee against incumbent Rep. Eddie de La Garza. Dan Rios is expected to be sworn into office within two weeks. Featured in this portrait, from left, are Dan, Mary Ann, Hinojosa, and Luis Rios, Jr. See story later in this posting.



South Texas College and area business leaders on Friday, November 16, gathered with community leaders from across the Rio Grande Valley to celebrate its new bachelor’s degree program – a rarity for community colleges nationwide. Featured in this portrait, posing with a framed copy of the state law that authorized the Bachelors of Applied Technology in Computer and Information Technologies are, from left: Irene García, chair of the STC Board of Trustees and mother-in-law to Rep. Ismael “Kino” Flores, D-Palmview; Reed; Robert W. Sheppard, chair of the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board; Danny King; and Flores. 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


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.



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.



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


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.



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.



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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Judge Criss says Justice Yañez would make Texas history by challenging GOP instead of fellow Democrat in election for state Supreme Court


The University of Texas-Pan American Wellness and Recreation Sports Complex (WRSC), which was voted on, inspired by, and built for students, was officially dedicated Tuesday, October 30 during a ceremony commemorating the $26 million facility. The goal of the 156,000-square-foot facility, located on the corner of Sugar Road and Schunior Street, is to promote recreation, health, fitness, and interaction among the UTPA community. Featured, from left, during the Student Health Center ribbon cutting, are: Rick Gray, Student Health Services director; Dr. David Prior, UT System executive vice chancellor for Academic Affairs; Sen. Juan “Chuy” Hinojosa, D-McAllen; Dr. UTPA president Blandina Cárdenas; Rep. Aaron Peña, Jr., D-Edinburg; Dr. John Edwards, vice president for Enrollment and Student Services; and Dr. Jerry Price, associate vice president and dean of students. See story later in this posting.



A little-known state law passed by the Texas Legislature last spring could have a big impact on the length of the terms of Edinburg’s seven school board trustees, but only if the local board acts before the end of this year. Currently, each school board trustee in Edinburg serves a term whose length is for three years. The Edinburg school board, featured in this portrait, has three meetings left this year in which to decide whether to increase the length of their elected terms. Featured, first row, from left: Secretary Ciro Treviño; President Carmen González; and Vice President Omar Palacios. Standing, from left: David Torres; Robert Peña, Jr.; Jaime Chavana; and Greg García. See story later in this posting.



The Hispanic National Bar Association recently selected Honorable Gina M. Benavides of Texas’ 13th Court of Appeals as their Latina Judge of the Year. Benavides is featured here receiving the award on Friday, October 5, 2007 at the HNBA’s 2007 Annual Convention in San Juan, Puerto Rico. This isn’t the first time the Corpus Christi native has been recognized for her achievements in the courtroom. Benavides was named by Texas Monthly as a Super Lawyer in 2003 and 2004, a distinction bestowed upon her by her peers as being one of the best lawyers in the State of Texas. Less than 10 percent of all lawyers in Texas earn this distinction. The 13th Court of Appeals sits both in Edinburg and Corpus Christi. Benavides hears cases in both courts assigned at random. See story later in this posting.



Judge Leslie H. Southwick, a native of Edinburg, was recently confirmed by the United States Senate as a judge on the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit. That court hears appeals from federal trial courts in Texas, Louisiana, and Mississippi. Southwick was confirmed by the Senate on October 24, 2007. He was sworn in on October 30. Southwick is the son of the late Dr. Lloyd M. Southwick, an Edinburg physician, and of the late Ruth Tarpley Southwick Flanagan, whose family first came to the Valley in 1922. His stepfather, the late James M. Flanagan, was a native of Johnstown, Pennsylvania who retired to McAllen in the 1960’s. See story later in this posting.



Titans of the Texas Legislature