Featured, from left: Carlos Sánchez, editor, The Monitor, and Guy Bailey, the founding president of The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley, on Thursday, August 27, during the kick-off of the second season of The Monitor’s Newsmaker Breakfast Series, held at the McAllen Chamber of Commerce.
Photograph By DAVID PIKE
Guy Bailey, founding president of The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley, has put more than 37,000 miles on his pickup truck since July 1, 2014, driving from one end of the Valley to the other to ensure a stellar launch for this distributed university on Monday, August 31. For Bailey, the trips across the Valley are worth it, as it all will lead to success for everyone involved in the creation of this new, one-of-a-kind university that will include a School of Medicine – from students to the community in general, he said. “It is also rewarding because we understand that our mission is Valley-wide,” Bailey said. Bailey will be joined at the Edinburg and Brownsville events by numerous state legislators, county and city elected officials, economic development leaders, with William McRaven, the chancellor of the University of Texas System, to be a featured speaker. McRaven, Bailey and other area leaders will be featured leaders during a Flag-Raising Ceremony from 10 a.m. to 10:45 a.m. at the flagpole on the north side of the Student Services Building at the UT-RGV Edinburg campus on August 31. Those same leaders will then travel to the UT-RGV campus in Brownsville for a Proclamation Ceremony at the Main Building in the Plumeria Courtyard from 2 p.m. to 2:45 p.m. “We are ready and we are excited about it, too,” Bailey told an audience of South Texas dignitaries and residents on Thursday, August 27, during the kickoff of the second season of The Monitor’s Newsmaker Breakfast Series. The interview format series is a partnership between the McAllen Chamber of Commerce and The Monitor and is sponsored by IBC Bank. Bailey was interviewed by Monitor Editor Carlos Sánchez. The Edinburg Mayor, the Edinburg City Council, and the Edinburg Economic Development Corporation were key players in lobbying for the state legislation in 2013 that resulted in the creation of The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley. The EEDC, of which Agustín García, Jr. is Executive Director, is the jobs-creation arm of the Edinburg Mayor and Edinburg City Council. The EEDC Board of Directors is comprised of Mark Iglesias as President, Harvey Rodríguez as Vice President, Ellie M. Torres as Secretary/Treasurer, and Mayor Richard García and Richard Ruppert as Members. Sen. Juan “Chuy” Hinojosa, D-McAllen, and Rep. René Oliveira, D-Brownsville, were the author and sponsor, respectively, of Senate Bill 24, approved by the Texas Legislature in May 2013, which combines the resources of UT-Pan American, UT-Brownsville, and the Regional Academic Health Centers in Edinburg, Harlingen, and Brownsville into the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley. Sen. Eddie Lucio, Jr., D-Brownsville, Sen. Judith Zaffirini, D-Laredo, and Sen. Kel Seliger, R-Amarillo, were joint authors of Hinojosa’s SB 24. Rep. Terry Canales, D-Edinburg, Rep. Sergio Muñoz, Jr., D-Mission, Rep. Armando “Mando” Martínez, D-Weslaco, Rep. Sergio Muñoz, Jr., D-Mission, Rep. Eddie Lucio, III, D-San Benito, Rep. Óscar Longoria, Jr., D-La Joya, Rep. R.D. “Bobby” Guerra, D-McAllen, Rep. J.M. Lozano, R-Kingsville, and Rep. Dan Branch, R-Dallas, were joint sponsors of SB 24. Another major aspect of SB 24 is that the new law gives the UT System the authority to draw much-needed revenue from the Permanent University Fund, which uses money from more than $14 billion in assets to help pay for crucial construction programs throughout the UT System.
Featured, from left: Dalia Molina and husband, City Councilmember Richard Molina, and Councilmember David Torres and wife Ellie M. Torres, the newest member of the Board of Directors for the Edinburg Economic Development Corporation, at Edinburg City Hall on Wednesday, May 13, 2o15. The EEDC is the jobs-creation arm of the Mayor and Edinburg City Council.
Photograph By MARK MONTEMAYOR
Edinburg’s retail economy from January through June 2015 continues to prosper, with a 6.21 percent rate of improvement over the first half of 2014, the Edinburg Economic Development Corporation has announced. The EEDC, of which Agustín García, Jr. is Executive Director, is the jobs-creation arm of the Edinburg Mayor and Edinburg City Council. The EEDC Board of Directors is comprised of Mark Iglesias as President, Harvey Rodríguez as Vice President, Ellie M. Torres as Secretary/Treasurer, and Mayor Richard García and Richard Rupert as Members. For the month of June 2015, the city’s retail economy registered a 6.32 percent rate of improvement over the same month last year, the EEDC added, according to data released on Wednesday, August 12, by the Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts. For the first six months of 2015, Edinburg’s retail economy has produced $13,591,448.24 in local sales taxes, compared with $12,795,992.32 for January through June 2014. During June 2015, the city’s retail economy generated $1,843,334.30 in local sales taxes, compared with $1,733,714.45 for June 2014, also according to the Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts. EEDC Board President Iglesias noted that Edinburg’s retail economy continues to perform favorably when compared with statewide figures. “Year-to-date, the city economy’s 6.21 percent rate of improvement is ahead of the average for all cities in Texas, which is 5.1 percent for the period of January through June 2015, according to the Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts,” said Iglesias. The amount of local sales taxes collected helps reflect the strength of an economy, along with construction activities, per capita income, education, historical performances, and related trends, said Mayor García. “The city’s retail economy also will benefit in the coming months from the impact of four planned different housing developments, representing a combined value of $110.4 million, which will bring 448 apartment units and a 150-home subdivision to Edinburg,” the mayor reported. On Wednesday, August 5, the Mayor and City Council approved the $110.4 million in new residential complexes for Edinburg. That action follows previous city approvals for other developers to build 594 apartment units – three of those residential complexes located along the city’s medical corridor, and the fourth residential complex coming up on Sugar Road near the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley. “The housing demand has increased in Edinburg since the announcement in May 2013 that UT-Pan American will be transformed into The University of Texas-Rio Grande Valley, beginning with the Fall 2015 semester,” Mayor García explained. “Very important, for this first time, as a result of the creation of UT-RGV, higher education in the Valley now has access to the multi-billion dollar Permanent University Fund.” On June 30, 2015 the market value and book value of the PUF was $17.8 billion and $14.9 billion, respectively, exclusive of land acreage. “Along with the creation of The University of Texas-Rio Grande Valley, the School of Medicine is set to open by the Fall of 2016, with a major component in Edinburg,” added Mayor García. “People are looking to move closer to the campus, and for the financial and job opportunities within the medical industry expected to materialize once the UT medical school is complete.” The Permanent University Fund (PUF) is a public endowment contributing to the support of institutions of The University of Texas System (UT System) and the Texas A&M University System (A&M System). The Constitution of 1876 established the PUF through the appropriation of land grants previously given to The University of Texas plus one million acres. Additional land grants to the PUF were completed in 1883 with the contribution of another one million acres. Today the PUF contains 2.1 million acres located in 24 counties primarily in West Texas. “We find ourselves in the same situation San Antonio experienced when they got their medical school (UT Health Science Center at San Antonio), and look at their size now. Mark my words, the population in Edinburg will very soon be more than 100,000,” Mayor García predicted. “Our location as the gateway to Hidalgo County, which the U.S. Census Bureau estimates had more than 830,000 people as of 2014, and the fact that there is room to grow in all directions in Edinburg also is attracting entrepreneurs looking for a location proven to be successful.”
Featured: The following proposed seal for the University of Texas-Rio Grande Valley will be up for approval by the UT System Board of Regents when it meets in Austin on Wednesday, August 19, and Thursday, August 20, 2015 for its regular board meeting. The motto, Disciplina Praesidium Civitatis, is an approximate Latin translation of a famous quote by Republic of Texas President Mirabeau B. Lamar, who proclaimed, “A cultivated mind is the guardian genius of democracy.”
Graphics: THE UNIVERSITY OF TEXAS SYSTEM
The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley in Edinburg could expand by 53 acres, and a $37.6 million Interdisciplinary Engineering and Academic Studies Building could grace the existing campus under key items set for action by the UT System Board of Regents when it meets in Austin on Wednesday, August 19, and Thursday, August 20, the Edinburg Economic Development Corporation has announced. The EEDC, of which Agustín García, Jr. is Executive Director, is the jobs-creation arm of the Edinburg Mayor and Edinburg City Council. The EEDC Board of Directors is comprised of Mark Iglesias as President, Harvey Rodríguez as Vice President, Ellie M. Torres as Secretary/Treasurer, and Mayor Richard García and Richard Rupert as Members. Those two items, along with the appropriation of $10 million for the UT-RGV School of Medicine and the new proposed official seal for UT-RGV and, are among local interests being monitored by the EEDC and the Edinburg City Council, which championed those measures last spring through the Texas Legislature. The measures relating to UT-RGV are part of the regular board meeting of the UT System Board of Regents, which will be held on the ninth floor of Ashbel Smith Hall, 201 W. 7th Street in downtown Austin. The agenda book and links to the live webcast for the meeting are posted online by logging onto: https://www.utsystem.edu/board-of-regents/meetings/board-meeting-2015-08-19. At the Austin meeting, the regents will be asked to authorize the recommended purchase of unimproved real property, totaling approximately 53 acres, located at the southeast quadrant of North Sugar Road and West Chapin Street, in Edinburg, from Norquest Family Holdings, Ltd., for “future campus expansion”. According to the regents’ agenda packet, the purchasing price will be determined by fair market value as established by independent appraisals, plus all due diligence expenses, closing costs, and expenses to complete the acquisition as deemed necessary by the Executive Director of Real Estate. The appraisals are confidential pursuant to Texas Education Code Section 51.951. More is known about the $37.6 million Interdisciplinary Engineering and Academic Studies Building. According to the synopsis provided by the UT System: This project will construct an approximately 77,000 GSF (gross square feet) building on the Edinburg campus for interdisciplinary space necessary to support enrollment growth in the rapidly growing region; the facility will include a large, 250-seat lecture auditorium, 150-seat lecture hall, 60-seat classrooms, and offices. Although particular emphasis will be placed on preparation of engineering students, this facility will also address flexible space requirements for other disciplines as needed. Additionally, the project will include an outdoor pavilion to be used as a gathering area and study space to relieve pressure on more expensive indoor space and also to support academic events. Design development plans and authorization of expenditure of funding will be presented to the Board of Regents for approval at a later date. EEDC’s Iglesias, who on Saturday, August 15, was unanimously elected President of the EEDC Board of Directors, welcomed the latest planned advances at the Edinburg UTRGV campus. “During our joint workshop with the Edinburg City Council over this past weekend, we reviewed what the EEDC, the Mayor, and the City Council, along with our state lawmakers, have done over the years to help get us to this point, and how very important UTRGV and its School of Medicine are for the economic growth and quality-of-life for our city and region,” said Iglesias. “We are dedicated to helping create one of the best public university systems in the nation.” Mayor Richard García, during his three terms as the city’s top elected leader, has played vital roles before the UT System Board of Regents and the Texas Legislature in rallying political and financial support for UT-RGV in Edinburg. “The UT System leadership recognizes that the future of Texas is right here in South Texas, which has one of the largest and youngest populations in the nation,” the mayor noted. “Just as important, the expansion plans by the UT System for UT-RGV are further proof that we do, indeed, have the brainpower, willpower, and strength of character to overcome all challenges and succeed. This is the message being sent to the world.”
Featured: Sandra Bland (Undated photograph posted on her Facebook)
The tragic death of Sandra Bland on Monday, July 13, 2o15, while confined in the Waller County Jail, requires decisive and landmark action by the Texas Legislature to guarantee that every jail cell in Texas is being monitored by a video surveillance system. Bland, 28, a graduate of Prairie View A&M who had come back after accepting a new job at her alma mater, was reportedly alone in a Waller County Jail cell, out-of-sight of a nearby county jail video camera, when she allegedly committed suicide by hanging. Darryl Johnson, a legislative consultant with more than 35 years experience in the Texas Legislature, who resides in Prairie View, is proposing legislation, to be known as “The Sandra Bland Justice for All Act”, be filed when the Texas Legislature begins its regular session in January 2017. Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick of Houston and Speaker of the House Joe Straus of San Antonio should immediately appoint a joint Senate-House legislative committee to come up with ways to require all jails in Texas to maintain an effective video monitoring system so that no one who is being held in a cell is hidden from the protective and unbiased view of a video camera, he recommended. “In light of the terrible controversy and negative worldwide image of Texas that is resulting from this sorrow, now is the time to show the world that we in Waller County will help lead the way on what would be a major improvement of our state’s criminal justice system,” said Johnson. “More important, it is right and just that Sandra Bland, whose life calling courageously revolved around battling injustice, should have her honorable name, through ‘The Sandra Bland Justice for All Act’, be forever linked to protecting the innocent.”
Featured: Rep. Terry Canales, D-Edinburg, on Thursday, July 9, 2015, at the DoubleTree Suites by Hilton Hotel in McAllen, addressing the McAllen Chamber of Commerce’s 84th Legislative Session Wrap-Up Luncheon.
Photograph By MARK MONTEMAYOR
The Delta Area School Supplies Drive, which will donate key learning materials, ranging from pens and pencils to paper and erasers to notebooks, is underway and will wrap up on Wednesday, August 19, when the donations will be distributed, while supplies last, to students enrolled in the Edcouch-Elsa Independent School District, Rep. Terry Canales has announced. Canales, who said he has contributed in the past to other school drives, said this is the first time he is helping organize one, serving as host for the event. He also expressed deep appreciation to the Edcouch-Elsa Rotary Club, which is playing a vital role in this event, and to his House 40 constituents in the area. “We have been asking as many people as possible. It is amazing how some companies will pull out their checkbook with a moment’s notice to help with school supplies,” Canales reported. “It is very expensive for all families to prepare their children for the school year. I am just glad to work with the Edcouch-Elsa Rotary Club and other generous leaders to provide help for those who need it.” Any school student is eligible, but each child must be present to receive a backpack. Each child will get a Edcouch-Elsa Independent School District approved backpack, which means it is clear or mesh. In the backpack will be supplies to get a child started out for the year: pencils, folders, notebooks, tissues, glue sticks, erasers, pencil case, rulers, colored pencils and crayons. The backpacks with school supplies will be given away from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. at the John F. Kennedy Elementary Cafeteria, 500 West 9th Street, in Elsa. Students must show up in person to receive the donations. Individuals who wish to contribute or have questions about the Delta Area School Supplies Drive may call 956/383-0860. Canales said students who show up are the ones who are doing society the real favor. “There is nothing shameful about needing help,” Canales encouraged the public school students. “By receiving these school supplies, they will do better in school, and it shows the world that Valley students want a great education. We’re here to give our Edcouch-Elsa ISD students some of the tools to help the achieve their goals and dreams.” Equally important, Canales said, the generosity demonstrated by groups such as the Edcouch-Elsa Rotary Club, local businesses, and caring individuals involved in the school supply drive are worth of fortune in many other ways that count. “Throughout the state and nation, many families simply don’t have enough resources to properly provide the school supplies needed by their children,” the state lawmaker reflected. “But through the love and caring that our residents have for our communities and for our youth, these small acts of kindness are investments in all of our future and well-being.”