Ryan Evans, a 6’6" star forward for McAllen High School’s powerhouse Class 5-A basketball team – which earlier this year finished ranked 14th best in Texas – has proven when it comes to hitting the boards on the hardwood and hitting the books in the classroom, his results are always the same: he delivers like a champion. During a ceremony in the McHi gymnasium on Tuesday, June 1, Evans, committed to play NCAA Division III basketball for Schreiner University in Kerrville, a renowned liberal arts institution whose sterling reputation includes being named one of the best colleges in the nation by U.S. News and World Report. Evans, who helped McAllen earn championships at the district, bi-district, area, regional quarterfinals, and regional semi-final levels three consecutive years, also earned a place on the Texas Association of Basketball Coaches Academic All-State Team. He pulled great numbers in his chosen sport, averaging 13.4 points and 7.1 rebounds per game, while shooting for the stars in the classroom, making the National Honor Society and maintaining a 3.91 grade point average. "I want to congratulate Ryan and his family for his accomplishments," said Bulldogs Basketball Head Coach Roy Swift. "He has been a great player to have in our program for four years. He has a great attitude to go along with his height and his size. He came to school every day, and every day for us for practice, willing to work hard. There’s a tremendous upside for Ryan, and I am just proud of him." Featured, from left: Evans’ grandmother, Marylin Vandever; his brother, Drew; his mother, Dana; Ryan Evans; his father, Robert; and his coach at McHi, Roy Swift. See lead story in this posting.
With knowledge that June 1 was the official start date of the 2010 Hurricane Season, Hidalgo County leaders, including Hidalgo County Judge René A. Ramírez, whose broadcast image is featured here on Tuesday, May 18, during the Hurricane Preparedness Conference hosted by the City of McAllen, continues to promote preparedness and inform area communities of several upcoming activities and training. Ramírez said he will continue to promote the Valley’s unified approach to disaster response, should Hidalgo County or the Rio Grande Valley at large be impacted by a storm this season. “Our approach to getting ready for a disaster is to be proactive. Each year, we build upon lessons learned. From Hurricane Dolly (in July 2008), we learned about the effect that lack of electricity could have on our residents and our facilities, the magnitude that flooding, even from a Category 1 storm, can have on lives and property — especially in our rural low-lying areas — and we definitely learned tips about setting up shelters and points of distribution for food and ice,” Ramírez said. “We have taken steps to improve our infrastructure, and we will continue to reach out to the public so they can be as prepared as possible. We prepare for the unexpected.” See story later in this posting.
For the second consecutive year, Edinburg FOOTCARE Doctor, owned by Dr. David H. Fridie, II, DPM (Doctor of Podiatric Medicine) and his wife, Dr. Beverly Ashley-Fridie, has been selected for the 2010 Best of Edinburg Award in the podiatrist category by the U.S. Commerce Association (USCA). The USCA "Best of Local Business" Award Program recognizes outstanding local businesses throughout the country. Each year, the USCA identifies companies that they believe have achieved exceptional marketing success in their local community and business category. These are local companies that enhance the positive image of small business through service to their customers and community. Nationwide, only one in 70 (1.4%) 2010 Award recipients qualified as two-time Award Winners. Edinburg FOOTCARE Doctor is located at 2808 Fountain Plaza Blvd in Edinburg. See story later in this posting.
Victor Castillo, featured left, representing the McAllen Chamber of Commerce, and Sgt. Kenneth Kuykendall with the Texas Army National Guard, on Tuesday, June 8, announced that the Texas Army National Guard will hold the 2011 Yellow Ribbon Conference next January at the McAllen Convention Center. The two-day event will draw more than 1,000 persons and result in about 500 room lodgings for hotels who are members of the McAllen Chamber of Commerce. The legislatively-mandated Yellow Ribbon program provides information, services, referrals and proactive outreach programs to service members of the National Guard and Reserves and their families through all phases of the deployment cycle. The intent of the program is to prepare and sustain Texas military personnel and their families prior and during deployment, and then help reintegrate those veterans with their families, communities and employers upon re-deployment or release from active duty. See story later in this posting.
As members of the Boys & Girls Clubs nationally are embarking on their next phase of life following their high school graduation, a number are not considering college. When asked why, the most frequent response is the lack of money. The Boys & Girls Clubs of Edinburg RGV, in partnership with Boys & Girls Clubs of America and ConocoPhillips, has for the last 14 years addressed this obstacle for a number of their club members through the ConocoPhillips Scholarship Program. The local organization has announced there are three local recipients of this year’s ConocoPhillips Scholarship, featured, from left: George Bailey, Noé González and Christopher Vela of Edinburg High School. Each will be receiving a maximum of $3,000 per semester for a potential of up to $96,000. The ConocoPhillips scholarship is a partnership between the Boys & Girls Club of America and the ConocoPhillips Petroleum Company. In order to eligible for this scholarship the member must have been a senior with a “B” average and be a member of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Edinburg RGV for at least two years. See story later in this posting.
The 5th Annual Texas Cook’em: High Steaks in Edinburg, set for Saturday, July 3 at the Edinburg Municipal Park, will feature activities that include more than just mouth-watering, award-winning barbeque competition. The Edinburg World Birding Center will have a large presence in the hands-on Family Fun Zone along with the Dustin Michael Sekula Memorial Library, with plenty of games and exciting things to do for children of all ages – all free of charge. In conjunction with Texas Cook’em, the World Birding Center will be provide free tours of the facility, which is located on the same grounds. Those tours will be held at 4 p.m. and 7 p.m. Later in the evening, live music will be provided by Elida Reyna, Zereno, Texas Heat and LA MAFIA. A major fireworks display will kick off at 9:15 p.m. Texas Cook’em: High Steaks in Edinburg is part of a national competition, sanctioned by the International Barbeque Cookers Associations, that draws teams from throughout the country who compete for cash prizes for preparing the best barbeque in the following categories: T-bone steak; Chicken; Pork Spare Ribs; and Brisket. New to the cooking categories this year will be “Apple Pie”. Anyone who wants to compete in the cooking extravaganza may call the Edinburg Chamber of Commerce at 956/383-4974, or log on to http://www.Edinburg.com, for a complete set of rules and regulations.
Sen. Juan "Chuy" Hinojosa, D-McAllen, praises Rep. Verónica Gonzáles (fifth from right) on Thursday, June 3, during a fashion style political campaign fundraiser, which drew more than a dozen fellow legislators and hundreds of her supporters. The event, which was hosted in Mission by her campaign, raised at least $65,000. "Everybody thinks this is a Republican district, but it isn’t. It is a Democratic district," the state senator proclaimed. "The Republicans keep running and running and get nowhere, because Veronica cannot be beaten. Verónica is one of the most influential legislators here in South Texas, and that’s why I’m voting for her." Gonzáles, an attorney whose House District 41 includes much of McAllen, southwest Edinburg and east Mission, is facing a challenge in November from McAllen businesswoman Rebecca Cervera, who is also from McAllen. Featured, from left: Rep. Lon Burnam, D-Ft. Worth; Rep. Tara Ríos Ybarra, D-South Padre Island; Rep. Joseph E. Moody, D-El Paso; Sen. Juan "Chuy" Hinojosa, D-McAllen; Rep. Marc Veasey, D-Ft. Worth; Rep. Verónica Gonzáles, D-McAllen; Rep. Ryan Guillen, D-Rio Grande City; Rep. Hubert Vo, D-Houston; Rep. Garnett Coleman, D-Houston; and Rep. Barbara Mallory Caraway, D-Dallas. See story later in this posting.
Ryan Evans, McAllen High School basketball star, commits with Schreiner University in Kerrville
By DAVID A. DÍAZ
Ryan Evans, a 6’6" star forward for McAllen High School’s powerhouse Class 5-A basketball team – which earlier this year finished ranked 14th best in Texas – has proven when it comes to hitting the boards on the hardwood and hitting the books in the classroom, his results are always the same.
He delivers like a champion.
Evans, a four-year letterman with the Bulldogs, played a key role in helping McHi win a record 112 games during that span of time. In the process, he successfully demonstrated his prowess in academia as well as in athletics.
With such an impressive résumé, several of Texas’ most selective institutions of higher education – ranging from Southwestern University in Georgetown, which is the state’s oldest university, to the University of St. Thomas, Houston’s first and only Catholic university – were interested in recruiting Evans.
In the end, Evans pledged to play NCAA Division III basketball for a similar elite center of education – Schreiner University in Kerrville, a renowned liberal arts institution whose sterling reputation includes being named one of the best colleges in the nation by U.S. News and World Report.
On Tuesday, June 1, Evans committed to becoming a Mountaineer (the nickname for Schreiner University) during a special ceremony held inside the McHi gymnasium, where he was part of something very special in the history of Bulldogs basketball.
Part of the delegation who joined Evans for his big day were his parents, Robert and Dana Evans, brother Drew, grandmother Marylin Vandever, Rex Ross, David Sikes and McAllen High School Basketball Coach Roy Swift.
Robert Gutiérrez, Jr. a former McAllen school board trustee, served as emcee for the Evans event.
"Ryan Evans, the Bulldogs’ team captain who helped McAllen earn championships at the district, bi-district, area, regional quarterfinals, and regional semi-final levels three consecutive years, also earned a place on the Texas Association of Basketball Coaches Academic All-State Team," Gutiérrez noted. "He pulled great numbers in his chosen sport, averaging 13.4 points and 7.1 rebounds per game, while shooting for the stars in the classroom, making the National Honor Society and maintaining a 3.91 grade point average."
With those statistics, it’s no wonder that Andrew C. Miller, the Mountaineers’ – and soon to be – Evans’ basketball coach has high expectations for his prize from the City of Palms.
"We have recruited Ryan because he is a talented and versatile player who we believe will impact our program for four years, but more importantly, because he is a winner on and off the court," said Miller.
Evans, along with his parents, said they admire the character and campus of Shreiner University as well as its hometown of Kerrville, a Hill Country community which is located 62 miles northwest of San Antonio.
"When I made my visit there, I felt very comfortable with all the people and the surroundings. Everyone made me feel at home. It is a good decision for me," said Evans. "(Coach Miller) explained to me everything he is trying to do, and I will try my best to fit it. I think I will fit in."
His mother, Dana Evans, also gave her all-important thumbs-up to the college.
"I like the area plus the school. We got to meet a couple of the professors in the academic fields that Ryans is looking at. I really was impressed with them," she said. "Everybody is so friendly there."
Back in the Valley, Evans was part of a gifted trio of athletes, which included J.J. Ávila and Nevin Franks, that propelled the Bulldogs basketball program to the statewide level, his coach recalled.
"I want to congratulate Ryan and his family for his accomplishments," said Swift. "He has been a great player to have in our program for four years. Hopefully, we will have some more young men who will look up not only to him, but to the entire senior class. They have been great for McHi and they have been great for the McHi basketball program."
Swift predicted a great future for Evans at the college level and beyond.
"He has a great attitude to go along with his height and his size," said Swift, whose Bulldogs – with Evans’ leadership – wound up this year with an amazing 33-5 record, equalling last year’s gifted team’s lofty achievement.
"He came to school every day, and every day for us for practice, willing to work hard," Swift reflected. "I think out of my big guys, he had the best footwork in our low-post drill. I think that’s what caught Coach Miller’s eye."
Admiring the dedication and hard work put in by Evans, Swift proclaimed him "a continuing work in progress.
"Once he grows into his body, he’s going to become a much better player," Swift predicted. "There’s a tremendous upside for Ryan, and I am just proud of him."
Evans expressed his appreciation for Swift, his teammates, his classmates, and his family for their help and support.
"I want to thank Coach Swift for making me the player that I am now, and I am excited to move on to the next level," said Evans.
He saved special praise for his teammates, who he has known since he was a boy.
"I have been playing with these guys since I have been playing basketball, so it was very easy for us to hold it together and hold our own," Evans said. "When Coach Swift came here, we all kind of grew up together, and it seemed like it all fit together."
Typical of proud parents, his father and mother downplayed their crucial influence in helping mold an outstanding young man.
"Ryan’s been playing basketball since he was nine. It didn’t take a lot of effort on my part. He has always been self-motivated," said his father, Robert Evans. "It has been a pleasure as a dad to watch him grow like this. He’s done a great job."
His mother, Dana Evans, agreed that Ryan has been his own man in setting and reaching the highest goals in all aspects of his school life.
"I’m probably his biggest cheerleader. I’m a cheerleader for the school and I’m a Booster Club Mom. His father has been very supportive of Ryan since he was nine," Dana Evans said. "We just keep going and going. He has done so well, and we are very proud of him."
Asked where Ryan got his athletic abilities, Dana Evans generously gave everyone else in their family the credit.
"He didn’t get it from me!" she quickly responded with a laugh.
GT Services reports on sports personalities and sporting events which involve South Texans. For more information or related photographs and stories, please contact Robert Gutiérrez, Jr. at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 956/533-6074.
"Capitol Fashion Show" for Rep. Gonzáles raises more than $65,000 for her reelection
By DAVID A. DÍAZ
Fine fashions and big money – two familiar symbols of the Texas Legislature – made impressive appearances in Mission on Thursday, June 3, as part of a strong push to help reelect Rep. Verónica Gonzáles, D-McAllen, in her bid to continue serving House District 41.
Gonzáles, an attorney whose House District 41 includes much of McAllen, southwest Edinburg and east Mission, is facing a challenge in November from businesswoman Rebecca Cervera, the Republican Party nominee, who also is from McAllen.
Gonzáles is serving her third two-year term in the Texas House of Representative.
She is the first and only woman elected to the Texas Legislature to represent a House seat in Hidalgo County.
Her unique fundraiser – entitled "Capitol Fashion Show" – drew a full house to Mario’s Banquet and Conference Center, where about a dozen state legislators, an equal number Hidalgo County elected and appointed leaders, and several hundred other supporters helped generate donations that ranged between $150 and $5,000 to her campaign confers.
Gonzáles and her fellow legislators, including Sen. Juan "Chuy" Hinojosa, D-McAllen, Rep. Tara Ríos Ybarra, D-South Padre Island, Rep. Ryan Guillen, D-Rio Grande City, and Rep. Eddie Lucio, III, D-San Benito, showcased the latest in local fashions, descending from a second-floor stairwell before strutting their stuff on a model’s runway, much to the delight of the gathered audience.
Gonzáles beamed with happiness at the large turnout and the style show, which went off without a hinge, a credit to her and the other organizers of the event. Bright spotlights and riveting music highlighted the legislators-turned-fashion gurus, who drew cheers of appreciation for putting on the political Ritz.
"I can’t tell you enough how much this means to me," Gonzáles told her fellow lawmakers and her audience. "I am so proud to have my friends here, my colleagues from the House, who came all the way from East Texas, North Texas, West Texas, South Texas. (Rep.) Joe Moody (D-El Paso) drove all the way down here from El Paso."
She noted how the strong show of support from the legislators pays off for her constituents.
"We make good friends in the Texas Legislature, and that’s what makes good laws – that you have the support of other representatives from all around the state. They help you on your state legislation," Gonzáles explained. "They come to South Texas, they see what we have have here, what we have to offer. Then they go back and they remember, and they vote for us when we need something, and we do the same for them."
One of those key supporters – Sen. Kirk Watson, D-Austin – took to the model’s runway, but not to show off any new style. Instead, he brought old-fashioned cash: $10,000 to be exact.
Earlier this year, Watson sponsored an "election" on the Internet, urging supporters of Democratic legislative candidates to vote online for their favorite state lawmaker. Gonzáles’ legion of supporters took to the worldwide Web and made her the most popular choice in the contest.
"I am so proud of Verónica, your state representative," Watson said. "We held this contest because Texas has been held by a monopoly for far too long, and it is making a negative difference in our state. We need to make sure we are reelecting people like Verónica Gonzáles."
Gonzáles thanked Watson for his generous contribution, and thanked him for championing the cause of the Democratic Party statewide.
"He wanted Texans to know that we have been in a Republican monopoly for many, many years, and he wanted us to see what was happening to our state as a result," she said. "He chose Democratic candidates from throughout the state, myself included, and said, ‘Get the most online votes, and whoever wins gets a $10,000 check.’ The Rio Grande Valley showed that we know how to vote, and we won online."
Hinojosa dismissed Republican hopes that House District 41 will favor the GOP in November.
"Everybody thinks this is a Republican district, but it isn’t. It is a Democratic district," the state senator proclaimed. "The Republicans keep running and running and get nowhere, because Veronica cannot be beaten. Verónica is one of the most influential legislators here in South Texas, and that’s why I’m voting for her."
In addition to the $10,000 contribution by Watson from his campaign account, her major contributors, as of June 2 were:
($5,000 donation apiece)
- Annie’s List PAC
- Border Health PAC
- Jay Steve Mostyn
- Atlas & Hall, LLP
- L&F Distributors and La Mantia Family
- Licensed Beverage Distributors PAC
- Joseph Sakulenzky
- Texas Trial Lawyers Association PAC
- AEP Texas
- AT&T PAC
- Lucy and Ricardo Canales
- Capelo Law Firm
- Jake Fuller
- The García Group
- HillCo PAC
- Arturo Guerra and Che Guerra
- District Attorney René Guerra
- State Sen. Juan "Chuy" Hinojosa
- Leticia Hinojosa and Friends
- Kittleman, Thomas and Gonzáles, LLP
- KTLM TV Telemundo
- The Law Office of Jaime González, Jr.
- The Law Office of Preston Henrichson
- Linebarger, Goggan, Blair and Sampson, LLP
- Lone Star National Bank
- Hidalgo County Judge René Ramírez
- RGV Optometry Society
Other notable legislators and community leaders at her event included:
- Rep. Rafael Anchía, D-Dallas;
- Rep. Lon Burnham, D-Ft. Worth;
- Rep. Garnett Coleman, D-Houston;
- Rep. Mark Homer, D-Paris;
- Rep.-elect J.M. Lozano, D-Kingsville
- Rep. José Menéndez, D-San Antonio;
- Rep. Joseph Moody, D-El Paso;
- Rep. Yvonne González Toureilles, D-Alice;
- Rep. Marc Veasey, D-Ft. Worth;
- Rep. Hubert Vo, D-Houston;
- Former Congressman Kika de la Garza and his wife, Lucille;
- Thirteenth Court of Appeals Justice Linda Reyna Yañez;
- Hidalgo County Judge René A. Ramírez;
- Hidalgo County District Clerk Laura Hinojosa;
- Hidalgo County 206th District Court Judge Rose Guerra Reyna;
- Hidalgo County 93rd District Court Judge Rudy Delgado;
- Hidalgo County 398th District Court Judge Aída Salinas Flores;
- South Texas College Board of Trustees member Gary Gurwitz;
- Hidalgo County Democratic Party Chairwoman Dolly Elizondo;
- Rosalie Weisfeld, Vice Chair of the Hidalgo County Democratic Party; and
- Elias “Eli” Olivarez, Jr., President, Stonewall Democrats of the Rio Grande Valley.
Hidalgo County prepared for 2010 Hurricane Season, which began June 1, says Judge Ramírez
By CARI LAMBRECHT
With knowledge that June 1 was the official start date of the 2010 Hurricane Season, Hidalgo County leaders gathered recently to promote preparedness and inform area communities of several upcoming activities and training.
Hidalgo County Judge René A. Ramírez recognized the leadership of several county department heads, employees, and Volunteer Organizations Assisting in Disasters, saying it was the cooperative spirit of the local government employees, along with the many volunteers and charitable private sector businesses that ensure a successful disaster response like that during Hurricane Dolly.
Ramírez said he will continue to promote the Valley’s unified approach to disaster response, should Hidalgo County or the Rio Grande Valley at large be impacted by a storm this season.
“Our approach to getting ready for a disaster is to be proactive. Each year, we build upon lessons learned. From Hurricane Dolly, we learned about the effect that lack of electricity could have on our residents and our facilities, the magnitude that flooding, even from a Category 1 storm, can have on lives and property — especially in our rural low-lying areas — and we definitely learned tips about setting up shelters and points of distribution for food and ice,” Ramírez said. “We have taken steps to improve our infrastructure, and we will continue to reach out to the public so they can be as prepared as possible. We prepare for the unexpected.”
Personal preparedness also crucial
Hidalgo County Emergency Management Coordinator Tony Peña Jr. stressed the importance of personal preparedness.
“Emergency Management starts at the individual level,” Peña said. “Government, volunteers, and private business all have their place, but the families in Hidalgo County are literally the front line responders. It’s our job to educate the public to get the desired response to keep the most people safe and out of harm’s way. We are simply asking residents to take the necessary precautions to keep their families safe. You’d be surprised what a difference it can make to just sit down with your family and preparing a plan of action in case of a major rain event.
“Hidalgo County residents may or may not be asked to evacuate in severe weather," Peña added. "It just depends on the type of storm that hits. Category 1 or 2 storms normally do not require evacuations, but category 3, 4 or 5 often do require residents to move to a more secure area.
“We realize that this may be a lot of information all at once,” Peña continued. “That’s why we’ve embarked on the biggest public information campaign to date in order to educate the people of Hidalgo County on how best to act in case of a hurricane hitting landfall. This kind of knowledge will empower families to make the best decisions for their family’s safety.”
Much thought goes into disaster planning, even before Hidalgo County opens the Emergency Operations Center.
“The health department plays a key role before and in the aftermath of a disaster. Right now, what the public can do is make sure they are registered for 2-1-1 transportation assistance if they have a special medical condition or other situation that makes it impossible to self-evacuate," said Eddie Olivarez, Hidalgo County Health and Human Services Chief Administrative Officer.
Families can also take inventory of their medical situation.
"I would also encourage parents to make sure they incorporate the health care needs of themselves, their children, the elderly, and even pets, into a sheltering or evacuation plan," Olivarez continued. "These simple steps will make your lives and the jobs of our first responders and shelter workers much easier.”
Ramírez said that one can never be too ready.
“One of the greatest challenges we face as a community is complacency. Last year’s hurricane season was relatively calm and quiet. Because of this, we may be quick to forget that preparation is our best defense against a hurricane or sizeable storm,” the county judge said. “Each of us must take individual responsibility to create and execute our own hurricane emergency plan. We are in this together. I encourage each of you to talk to your neighbors about the importance of being prepared. When we come together as a community, help one another, and truly prepare for the havoc created by a hurricane, then we stand a chance to weather the storm.”
Flight by U.S. drone to improve Texas border security praised by Congressman Cuellar
By ASHLEY PATTERSON
Congressman Henry Cuellar, D-Laredo/McAllen, on Tuesday, June 1, praised the flight earlier that day of the first unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) flight over West Texas, which is part of a federal strategy to improve intelligence-gathering capabilities to protect the southern U.S. border from Mexican drug cartels and terrorism.
The UAV, which also is known as a "drone plane", was directed by the Customs and Border Protection Office of Air and Marine. A drone plane is an unmanned aerial vehicle, remotely controlled, that flies without a human crew on board the aircraft.
"Today, the Department of Homeland Security confirmed the UAV flight occurred over a portion of West Texas," said Cuellar, who also serves as Chairman of the HouseSubcommittee on Border, Maritime and Global Counterterrorism,
“Customs and Border Protection took one more critical step to secure the nation’s southern border. This first UAV flight over West Texas marks the beginning of a critically important new means for providing homeland security in Texas," he added.
Cuellar contended that "by putting eyes in the sky along the Rio Grande, we will gather real-time intelligence on the ground to augment the good work of federal, state and local law enforcement on the border.
"I applaud CBP’s initiative to further develop the UAV program in Texas and I look forward to Federal Aviation Administration’s certification of flight for the remainder of the Texas-Mexico border this summer," Cuellar noted. "In the meantime, I will continue to work with my Texas congressional colleagues to see this program through."
In May, the FAA approved, UAV flights by the CBP from Arizona to Big Bend, Texas.
Another flight approval is still pending before the FAA to enable UAV flights along the remainder of the Texas-Mexico border, in addition to the state’s coastal waters. The FAA is expected to make a decision on that certification by late August.
Currently, there are five CBP Predator B UAVs deployed to the nation’s northern and southern borders. Three are stationed at the CBP Operations Center in Sierra Vista, Arizona, and two are located at the CBP Operations Center in Grand Forks, North Dakota.
Since January, Cuellar has been working to create a UAV mission operations center in Corpus Christi, Texas. If approved by the FAA, the UAV stationed at this facility would have the ability to fly along the Rio Grande between El Paso and Brownsville, in addition to the Texas Gulf Coast.
To learn more about CBP’s UAV program, please visit:
Edinburg receives lion’s share of $10 million for school transportation improvements in District 15, says Congressman Hinojosa
By PATRICIA GUILLERMO
U.S. Rep. Rubén Hinojosa, D-Mercedes, on Tuesday, June 1, announced the cities of Edinburg, McAllen and Sinton, along with Hidalgo County, have been awarded a total of $10,012,165 in federal funds for the construction of sidewalks and crosswalks, and the installation of bike racks and school zone signs under the Texas Department of Transportation Safe Routes to School (SRTS) program.
“I am very pleased to see that many of the elementary schools in Texas District 15 will be receiving funds that will make it safer for our children to travel to and from school,” said Hinojosa. “Each of these cities and Hidalgo County moved quickly to apply for these grants. I congratulate everyone who was involved in securing these funds to keep our children safe.”
Edinburg is the largest recipient in Texas under the SRTS, securing $7,590,665 in funding.
La Feria and Sinton will each receive $500,000. McAllen was awarded $286,870 and Hidalgo County will receive $764,100.
The Texas Transportation Commission approved 200 new federal Safe Routes to School program projects, totaling about $54.1 million, to be used by local communities for education programs and infrastructure improvements that make it safer for Texas children to walk or bike to school.
Edinburg, McAllen, Sinton and La Feria, along with Hidalgo County, will also receive part of $1.7 million in statewide funding to be used for training, public information and education on public safety. These funds will also be used to certify public safety professionals and for the distribution of educational materials.
A breakdown of the recipients and amounts funded follow:
Construct sidewalks, redesign crosswalks, install bike racks:
- Travis Elementary: $373,360
- José De Escandón Elementary: $381,490
- South Middle School: $380,470
- Freddy González Elementary: $382,560
- Eisenhower Elementary and Memorial Middle School: $370,000
- Villarreal Elementary and Monte Cristo Elementary: $380,760
- De Zavala Elementary: $381,900
- Truman Elementary: $382,870
- Guerra Elementary: $382,600
- Cano-González Elementary: $378,960
- B.L. Garza Middle School: $380,900
- Treviño Elementary: $380,760
- Harwell Middle School: $382,560
- L.B. Johnson Elementary: $381,480
- Austin Elementary: $372,650
- De La Viña Elementary: $382,560
- Lincoln Elementary: $369,875
- Robert E. Lee Elementary: $382,960
- Jefferson Elementary: $381,480
- Canterbury Elementary: $380,470
Construct sidewalks, redesign crosswalks, install bike racks:
- Carmen Ávila Elementary: $382,200
- San Carlos Elementary and J.F. Kennedy Elementary: $381,070
- Esparza Elementary and Betts Elementary: $371,360
- Construct sidewalks, install crosswalks, install school zone flashers: $500,000
Construction of sidewalks
- Cavazos Elementary: $286,870
Construct sidewalks, install school zone signs, install speed feedback signs: 500,000
More than 1,000 Texas National Guard troops and their families to hold Yellow Ribbon Conference next January in McAllen
BY VÍCTOR CASTILLO
The McAllen Convention & Visitors Bureau (CVB), a division of the McAllen Chamber of Commerce, on Tuesday, June 8, announced that the Texas Army National Guard will hold the 2011 Yellow Ribbon Conference next January at the McAllen Convention Center.
The two-day event will draw more than 1,000 persons and result in about 500 room lodgings for hotels who are members of the McAllen Chamber of Commerce.
During their advance tour of McAllen on June 4, Sgt. Kenneth Kuykendall along with Noemie Oviedo visited the McAllen Convention Center, several hotels and local venues, and discovered that McAllen will be an ideal meeting destination for hundreds of military personnel and their families who will gather for the conference.
The legislatively-mandated Yellow Ribbon program provides information, services, referrals and proactive outreach programs to service members of the National Guard and Reserves and their families through all phases of the deployment cycle. The intent of the program is to prepare and sustain Texas military personnel and their families prior and during deployment, and then help reintegrate those veterans with their families, communities and employers upon re-deployment or release from active duty.
A signed a Letter of Intent by Kuykendall confirmed the arrangements between the McAllen Convention & Visitors Bureau and the Texas Army National Guard, which includes various CVB services that will guarantee an outstanding conference for those who serve our nation and their loved ones.
The McAllen CVB Convention Sales Team has secured 24 events in Fiscal Year 2010, which would bring more than 16,000 delegates and generate approximately 9,262 room nights in the McAllen area.
District Clerk Hinojosa appointed to special task force created by Texas Supreme Court
By RICARDO CONTRERAS
Hidalgo County District Clerk Laura Hinojosa, was recently appointed to the Texas Court Records Preservation Task Force, which is charged with reporting on the current status of Texas court records and related preservation activities.
Hinojosa’s is one of 25 Texans who serve on this special panel, which was created in November 2009 by the Texas Supreme Court. In addition to Hinojosa, members on the task force include other district clerks, attorneys, judges, state representatives, state senators, and members of the State Library and Archives Commission.
Her appointment became effective on April 30.
“I am honored to have been appointed to this task force,” said Hinojosa. “Its purpose will be of great significance to counties throughout the state as we work to assess preservation needs and develop a plan to better protect our Texas court records.”
According to the Supreme Court of Texas, the task force is charged with:
- Collecting data and other information from counties and other state and local agencies on the current status of Texas court records and related preservation activities;
- Analyzing the data and other information, including the identification of county and other archives with the most important historical records;
- Identifying important needs and areas of concern with regards to preservation and protection of Texas court records, including enforcement and security issues; and
- Developing a plan to address the need to preserve and protect court records in Texas.
The task force will also explore potential funding sources and make a recommendation on whether there is a need to establish a permanent entity to oversee a comprehensive, long term court record preservation effort.
The task force will submit a final report and recommendations to the Court no later than June 1, 2011.
For more information regarding the Texas Court Records Preservation Task Force log on to: http://www.supreme.courts.state.tx.us.
Promoting voluntary summer food lunch program to help children at risk for hunger
By SEN. EDDIE LUCIO, JR.
In Texas, one in four children is at risk for hunger, and this figure can be even higher in certain areas of South Texas.
This summer, I want to encourage our communities to sponsor this voluntary summer food program, while commending those who are reaching out to children in need.
The Summer Food Program (SFP) is 100 percent federally funded, administered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and operated in the state by the Texas Department of Agriculture.
The agencies provide more than $40 million each year to help low-income communities serve nutritious meals to children in safe, enriching environments during the summer.
Eligible sponsors include school districts, nonprofit agencies, certain camps and local government agencies like city parks and recreation divisions.
Located in communities where at least 50 percent of the children qualify for free or reduced-price school meals, these sponsors serve free meals to any child who comes to the site.
During the last legislative session, I introduced Senate Bill 867 to increase this voluntary participation in the SFP. My goal was to enhance existing programs through increased public awareness, update state law to reflect federal law and help children obtain nutritious meals in the summer when school is out.
My bill attempted to increase the number of sites, days of service and students who can benefit from the program.
Unfortunately, the bill was stalled in the House and did not pass. I will continue to work on this issue during the upcoming legislative session and plan to file legislation again.
In 1993, the Legislature passed a bill mandating that school districts sponsor the SFP if 60 percent or more of their students qualified for free or reduced-price lunches. Since the law passed, summer food sponsors increased by 60 percent. In 1999, the Legislature funded a Summer Food Outreach Program and provided a state supplement to federal meal reimbursement rates that was later discontinued.
The Center for Public Policy Priorities stated, "With the support of the Legislature and the changes in federal law, Texas significantly expanded the Summer Food Program."
CPPP reports that the number of children participating in 1998 was fewer than 100,000 and by 2008, participation rates had risen to an average of 456,840 daily (latest figures available).
Statewide, over 17 million meals were served.
Also according to CPPP, in 2008, for Cameron, Hidalgo, Kleberg and Willacy counties, an average of 47,723 kids participated daily. In 2009, a total of 960 SFP sites served meals in that four-county region.
Despite our progress, fewer than one in five children, or 18 percent, who qualify for free or reduced school meals participated in the SFP in 2008. Factors contributing to this gap include a shortage of food sites and a lack of awareness of the program among potential sponsors and low-income families. Also, too many sites close their doors long before the end of summer.
In Texas, participation drops dramatically between July and August. We have too few sponsors in rural areas because of transportation barriers. Inadequate meal reimbursement rates and complicated administrative requirements also deter potential sponsors.
The challenges are great but not insurmountable. We cannot ignore the hunger problem because this will only result in dire consequences for Texas.
When children are poorly nourished, they cannot learn and often perform poorly in school. Many are likely to drop out, leading to more unemployed or underemployed adults. Most importantly, human suffering should not be tolerated in our great state.
This coming legislative session, I plan to do my part to help end hunger and give children hope for the future.
Texas RN/APC PAC, which represents several nurses organizations, endorses Rep. Gonzáles
By RICARDO LÓPEZ GUERRA
Rep. Verónica Gonzáles, D-McAllen, has earned the endorsement of the Texas RN/APC PAC, which includes several nurses’ organizations, lengthening the list of her supporters in Texas’ health care community.
Gonzáles, an attorney whose House District 41 includes much of McAllen, southwest Edinburg and east Mission, is facing a challenge in November from businesswoman Rebecca Cervera, the Republican Party nominee, who also is from McAllen.
“Through my position on the House Public Health Committee during the past two sessions, I have learned so much about the nursing profession and the role nurses play on the front line of medicine," Gonzáles said. "I am proud to have worked with and for nurses in Texas and am honored by this endorsement,”
The Texas RN/APC is political action committee (PAC) of the Texas Nurses Association, the Texas Association of Nurse Anesthetists, Coalition for Nurses in Advanced Practice and the Texas Nurse Practitioners. Other health care PACs that have endorsed Gonzáles include the Texas Medical Association and the Texas Hospital Association.
Edinburg FOOTCARE Doctor, owned by Dr. David Fridie, II, DPM, and Dr. Beverly Ashley-Fridie, receives 2010 Best of Edinburg Award
For the second consecutive year, Edinburg FOOTCARE Doctor, owned by Dr. David H. Fridie, II, DPM (Doctor of Podiatric Medicine) and his wife, Dr. Beverly Ashley-Fridie, has been selected for the 2010 Best of Edinburg Award in the podiatrist category by the U.S. Commerce Association (USCA).
Edinburg FOOTCARE Doctor is located at 2808 Fountain Plaza Blvd. in Edinburg.
The USCA "Best of Local Business" Award Program recognizes outstanding local businesses throughout the country. Each year, the USCA identifies companies that they believe have achieved exceptional marketing success in their local community and business category. These are local companies that enhance the positive image of small business through service to their customers and community.
Nationwide, only one in 70 (1.4%) 2010 Award recipients qualified as two-time Award Winners. Various sources of information were gathered and analyzed to choose the winners in each category.
The 2010 USCA Award Program focuses on quality, not quantity. Winners are determined based on the information gathered both internally by the USCA and data provided by third parties.
According to MedicineNet.com, a podiatrist is a physician that specializes in the evaluation and treatment of diseases of the foot. The modern specialty of Podiatric Medicine and Surgery requires a minimum of three years of college education and completion of the M.C.A.T. (Medical College Admission Test) before an applicant will be considered for acceptance to one of the seven colleges of Podiatric Medicine.
Fridie received his B.S. degree from the Baptist College at Charleston, Charleston, South Carolina, a Masters degree in Education from TSU and a Doctorate in Podiatric Medicine from New York College of Podiatric Medicine.
He completed externship training in Podiatric Medicine at the St. Albans VA and the Hospital of Joint Diseases in New York. Fridie has done research at the University of Houston and the National Institutes of Health – Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute and has taught on the college level.
The U.S. Commerce Association is a New York City-based organization funded by local businesses operating in towns, large and small, across America. The purpose of USCA is to promote local business through public relations, marketing and advertising.
The USCA was established to recognize the best of local businesses in their community. That organization works exclusively with local business owners, trade groups, professional associations, chambers of commerce and other business advertising and marketing groups. It’s mission is to be an advocate for small and medium size businesses and business entrepreneurs across America.
Rebate checks from Medicare on the way to senior Americans, says Congressman Hinojosa
By PATRICIA GUILLERMO
Congressman Rubén Hinojosa, D-Mercedes, has announced that as of Thursday, June 10, Medicare will begin mailing out to tens of thousands of seniors $250 ‘donut hole’ checks. Under the recently enacted health reform law, seniors who fall in the donut hole coverage gap in 2010 will receive this one-time tax-free $250 rebate check. These checks will continue to be mailed monthly over the next several months as seniors enter the coverage gap.
The checks are just the first benefit from health reform for seniors in the Medicare Prescription Drug program. Beginning in January 2011, seniors in the donut hole will receive a 50% discount on brand name drugs. By 2020, the donut hole will be completely closed.
“This is the first example of how the health care reform bill will strengthen Medicare and help seniors,” said Hinojosa. “Prescription drugs cost many people thousands of dollars a year and this check is a down payment on reducing prescription drug costs for seniors and eventually closing the donut hole altogether.”
The ‘donut hole’ coverage gap is the period in the prescription drug benefit (once their prescription drug costs exceed $2,830) in which the beneficiary pays 100 percent of the cost of their drugs until they hit the catastrophic coverage threshold.
Last year, roughly 237,000 Medicare beneficiaries in Texas fell in the donut hole and received no extra help to defray the cost of their prescription drugs. Now, under health reform, help is on the way.
Under health care reform, the $250 checks are just the first step in reducing seniors’ prescription drug costs. Beginning next year, there is a 50 percent discount on prescription drugs in the donut hole, and by 2020, the donut hole is completely closed.
Medicare recipients don’t have to do anything to get the $250 check – once their drug costs for the year hit $2,830 the one-time check will be issued automatically. But Congressman Hinojosa warned seniors to be on the lookout for fraud.
“Our seniors must be very careful that they do not give out private information,” said Hinojosa. “All too often, we hear of our elderly residents being scammed by con-artists who prey on them day and night. No one should be asking you any questions when it comes to receiving your $250 ‘donut hole’ check.”
The checks will be mailed directly to those who qualify. Beneficiaries will not have to do anything to receive the check. It will be delivered directly. Seniors must not give out any personal information to strangers who either call or show up at their door step claiming to be Medicare representatives.
Making prescription drugs more affordable for seniors is only one of the many benefits for seniors included in the recently enacted health reform law.
Other benefits for seniors include:
- Provides free preventive care services under Medicare, beginning in 2011;
- Strengthens Medicare by extending its solvency by an additional 12 years, from 2017 to 2029;
- Improves seniors’ access to doctors;
- Continues to reduce waste, fraud and abuse;
- Improves care by helping doctors communicate and coordinate; and
- Expands home and community-based services to keep seniors in their home, instead of in nursing homes.
George Bailey, Noé González and Christopher Vela of Edinburg High School earn scholarships from Boys and Girls Club and ConocoPhillips
By SABRINA WALKER-HERNÁNDEZ
As members of the Boys & Girls Clubs nationally are embarking on their next phase of life following their high school graduation, a number are not considering college. When asked why, the most frequent response is the lack of money.
The Boys & Girls Clubs of Edinburg RGV, in partnership with Boys & Girls Clubs of America and ConocoPhillips, has for the last 14 years addressed this obstacle for a number of their club members through the ConocoPhillips Scholarship Program.
The local organization has announced there are three local recipients of this year’s ConocoPhillips Scholarship: George Bailey, Noé González and Christopher Vela of Edinburg High School. Each will be receiving a maximum of $3,000 per semester for a potential of up to $96,000.
The ConocoPhillips scholarship is a partnership between the Boys & Girls Club of America and the ConocoPhillips Petroleum Company. In order to eligible for this scholarship the member must have been a senior with a “B” average and be a member of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Edinburg RGV for at least two years.
Recipients must pursue a career in a field of study related to the petroleum industry engineering, geosciences, accounting, computer science and certain business degrees. Application process starts the first week of November of every year.
Through the partnership and others like it the Boys & Girls Clubs of Edinburg RGV has given out more than almost $150,000 in scholarships during the past 12 years.
The Boys & Girls Club has played an integral role in the Edinburg community for 39 years, providing daily programs and services to more than 16,000 young people.
During the school year, the club is open Monday – Friday, from 3:30 p.m. until 8 p.m. During the summer, the hours are from 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.
The club offers programs that emphasize character and leadership development, education and career development, health and life skills, the arts, and sport, fitness and recreation.
More more information about the local club’s scholarship program any other of its other activities, or to make a charitable donation, residents may call the club at 956/383-2582, or communicate via e-mail at email@example.com.
The Boys and Girls Clubs of Edinburg Rio Grande Valley is a City of Edinburg partner and Hidalgo County United Way Agency.
Austin storage facility charged by Attorney General Abbott for violating state laws which protect persons with disabilities
Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott on Tuesday, June 8, filed an enforcement action charging Franklin Service Stations, Inc. with failing to make its commercial facility accessible to persons with disabilities. Franklin Service Stations does business in southeast Austin as J & J Towing.
J & J Towing operates a public vehicle storage facility on Linger Lane. State inspectors with the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation (TDLR) discovered that the facility has large concrete blocks near the entrance that prevent persons who are mobility impaired from accessing its offices. TDLR inspectors also found that the defendant’s payment window is installed too high for mobility impaired persons to access. As a result, persons with disabilities do not have adequate access to the defendant’s business office and therefore do not have access to the facilities necessary to reclaim their towed vehicles.
The attorney general’s enforcement action cites a specific instance where an individual who has a mobility impairment encountered difficulty accessing the defendant’s payment window. The individual’s vehicle was towed to the defendant’s facility in March. When he attempted to reclaim his vehicle, concrete blocks prevented him from accessing the defendant’s office and the height of the payment window hindered his ability to obtain the release of his vehicle.
The June 8 enforcement action charged Franklin Service Stations with violating the Elimination of Architectural Barriers Act and the Vehicle Storage Facility Act. The state is seeking injunctive relief and civil penalties of up to $5,000 per violation.
Laredo City Council approves resolution condemning Arizona’s law allowing police the right to ask for proof of citizenship
By XOCHITL MORA GARCÍA
In early May, immediately after the passage of Arizona’s controversial SB 1070 law – a law that allows local police officers who have reasonable suspicion to check a person’s immigration status – Laredo City Council Member Cindy Liendo Espinoza placed an item on the city council agenda, asking for a resolution opposing the law to be passed by the Laredo City Council.
The measure, co-sponsored by Mayor Raúl G. Salinas, passed unanimously.
The resolution, recently drafted after that May 3 meeting, was recently signed and will now join the countless other resolutions throughout the country opposing the law or boycotting Arizona.
The cities of Austin, Boston, Boulder, Columbus, El Paso, Hartford, Los Angeles, Milwaukee, New York, Oakland, San Francisco, St. Paul, Washington, D.C. and West Hollywood all have resolutions boycotting travel and business to Arizona.
Gov. Rick Perry and the cities of Brownsville, El Paso and Laredo resolutions strongly oppose SB 1070 on grounds that it will cause racial profiling, will cause a rift in minority communities and does not adequately address immigration issues. The City of San Antonio is expected to pass a similar resolution later this week; that resolution also does not include a boycott. .
“The resolution passed by the Laredo City Council strongly opposes Arizona SB 1070; however, we chose not to include a boycott in consideration to the many hard-working families of Arizona who would be affected,” said Espinoza. “This resolution is intended to let the State of Arizona government know that we feel this law is reprehensible, encourages racial profiling and could potentially hurt tourism for all border states. We support and encourage comprehensive immigration reform."
Laredo’s resolution highlights the long standing and historic connection the city has enjoyed with the Republic of Mexico, and notes that the only way to identify an illegal immigrant by sight is to resort to stereotypes and racial profiling, a repulsive measure that will hurt the documented and undocumented alike.
Citing Laredo’s high Hispanic population and that most of the state’s illegal immigrants are also Latino, assigning local police to enforce federal immigration laws, SB 1070 could deter members of immigrant and minority communities from cooperating with police in other law enforcement issues.
“This is a dangerous and frightening law, because it reeks of hate and intolerance,” said Salinas. “This law is very much like those first laws passed by the Nazis before the start of the Holocaust, slowly stripping individuals of their humanity.
This fundamentally dismisses the basic human rights and dignity of not only the immigrant work force that built this country, but also, it disregards the contributions that especially Hispanic immigrants are making today, doing jobs that most of us, Latinos or otherwise, would rather not do,” the mayor added.
“Those of us in border communities in Texas understand and appreciate the work that our neighbors do in our cities, in our homes," Salinas noted. "Without them, additionally, many of our economies would grind to a halt without the money they spend here, because they are able to work here.
“It is important to take all border communities and contributions of immigrants into consideration when drafting future immigration legislation, because we do not have the appetite for racist and hateful laws in this country,” the mayor concluded.
Mexican man illegally living in Mission also sentenced to prison for possession of a firearm
By ANGELA DODGE
José García, 31, of Comales, Tamaulipas, Mexico, has been sentenced to prison for possession of a firearm and for being an alien illegally and unlawfully present in the United States, United States Attorney José Angel Moreno has announced.
Chief United States District Judge Ricardo Hinojosa on Thursday, June 3, handed down a sentence of 18 months in federal prison for each of two the two counts of conviction which the court has ordered to be served concurrently at a hearing earlier that day. García faces deportation upon completion of his sentence.
At the time of his arrest on June 17, 2009, García was wanted for an outstanding felony arrest warrant for aggravated assault with a deadly weapon stemming from the discharge of a firearm in Mission in September 2005. The United States Marshals Service – Fugitive Task Force located García’s suspected address in Mission and, along with agents of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and the assistance and support of state and local officers, located Garcia and arrested him on the outstanding state warrant.
At the time of the arrest, officers found a 12-gauge shotgun in García’s bedroom as well as a loaded .40 caliber semi-automatic pistol. As a Mexican national unlawfully present the United States, García is prohibited from possessing firearms or ammunition.
On March 1, García pleaded guilty to one count of being unlawfully present in the United States and one count of unlawfully possessing firearms and ammunition. García has been in custody since his June 2009 arrest and will remain in federal custody pending transfer to a U.S. Bureau of Prisons facility where he will serve his sentence.
The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Steven Schammel.
Mission man arrested by U.S. marshals for failure to register as a convicted sex offender
By ANGELA DODGE
Kenneth Kline Jr., 50, formerly of Denham Springs, La., and a current resident of Mission, has been arrested by the U.S. Marshals Service (USMS) for failing to register as a sex offender in the state of Texas in violation of the Sexual Offender and Registration Act (SORNA) – part of The Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act of 2006, United States Attorney José Angel Moreno announced on Monday, June 7.
A defendant is presumed innocent unless convicted through due process of law.
Failure to register as a sex offender carries a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison, a fine up to $250,000 and a term of supervised release of no less than five years and up to life.
According to the criminal complaint, Kline failed to register as a sex offender with the Texas Department of Public Safety Sex Offender Registry upon moving from Louisiana to Texas.
A complaint is a merely an accusation of criminal conduct, not evidence.
Deputy marshals of the USMS arrested Kline at his present Mission residence on Friday, June 4. On Monday morning, June 7, Kline made his initial appearance before U.S. Magistrate Peter Ormsby. Judge Ormsby ordered Kline to remain in custody without bond pending a hearing on the government’s motion to detain him in federal custody set for June 10 at 9 a.m.
According to allegations in a criminal complaint filed on June 4, Kline was convicted in the state of Louisiana in October 2007 of indecent behavior with a juvenile and placed on a five-year term of probation which included the condition that he register with law enforcement as a sex offender in the jurisdiction in which he lived then or in any other jurisdiction to which he might subsequently move. The complaint alleges Kline registered as a sex offender as ordered in June 2008 in Louisiana, but on November 7, 2008, the State of Louisiana issued a warrant for his arrest, alleging he failed to comply with the terms probation by leaving the state without permission of his probation officer.
An investigation conducted by the USMS located Kline in Mission where he had allegedly resided since February 2009.
Assistant United States Attorney Juan F. Alanis is prosecuting the case.