Featured, from left: Priscilla Guillén, who works in the School of Rehabilitation Services & Counseling office, has been named the Edinburg Campus Student Employee of the Year at the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley. Forty-two students who work on the Edinburg Campus were nominated for the recognition, as part of UTRGV’s annual National Student Employment Appreciation Week, held Monday, April 10 through Friday, April 14, 2017. She is presented a certificate of appreciation by Ana B. Pérez, Assistant Director for Student Employment.
Photograph by SILVER SALAS
Edinburg reported the largest number of jobs in its history in March 2017 – 36,851 – along with posting one of Valley’s lowest unemployment rates for that month, according to preliminary estimates released on Friday, April 21, 2017 by the Texas Workforce Commission. This latest data also showed that Edinburg saw a growth of 511 jobs when comparing the monthly totals of March 2017 (36,851) and March 2016 (36,340), according to the Edinburg Economic Development Corporation. In addition, Edinburg continues to have one of the best rates in the Valley of persons holding jobs in a community, coming in with a 6.1 percent unemployment rate for March 2017 – second among all regional economies. The unemployment rate is a key indicator of the strength of the local economy. Mayor Richard García, during his State of the City Address on Wednesday, April 12, 2017, said the rising growth of jobs in Edinburg draws more private investments into the local economy, which in turn helps create a larger, better-paid workforce. “Edinburg continues to record one of the lowest unemployment rates in the Rio Grande Valley,” the mayor noted. “This latest report indicated our 6.1 percent, second only to McAllen at 6 percent. That rate is not just a sign of new investments but also of business retention and growth of our existing businesses – large and small.” García said the increasing number of jobs in Edinburg has been noticed by private investors and policy makers throughout Texas and beyond. “I am proud to report the state of Edinburg’s economy is thriving. In January, Wallethub named Edinburg number five amongst the top most improved cities since the 2008 recession,” he said. “They looked at our employment and earning opportunities as well as our economic environment to reach that conclusion.” The Edinburg EDC, of which Agustín García, Jr. is Executive Director, is the jobs-creation arm of the Edinburg Mayor and Edinburg City Council. The Edinburg EDC Board of Directors is comprised of Mayor Richard García as President, Harvey Rodríguez, Jr. as Vice President, Elías Longoria, Jr. as Secretary/Treasurer, and Richard Ruppert and Dr. Peter Dabrowski as Members. Richard García and Agustín García, Jr. are not related.
Featured: A recent U.S. Air Force poster, part of an ongoing campaign by the American military in support of Airmen and their families who have been a victim of sexual assault. In Texas, a statewide effort led by Rep. Terry Canales, D-Edinburg, is underway to develop strategies to reduce sexual assault by equipping the public with knowledge and awareness of this serious crime by designating April as Sexual Assault Awareness Month.
Photograph Courtesy of U.S. AIR FORCE
Rep. Terry Canales, D-Edinburg, has proposed that April would be designated as Sexual Assault Awareness Month in Texas in order to increase knowledge that leads to more prevention of sexual assault and punishment of criminals, and to authorize the regular observance of Sexual Assault Awareness Month through appropriate activities in public schools and other places. Sexual assault, according to FindLaw.com, occurs when a defendant – intentionally and knowingly – commits any of a number of prohibited sexual activities listed under Texas’ sexual assault law without the victim’s consent. Canales’ proposal, as illustrated in House Bill 822, was overwhelmingly approved by the Texas House of Representatives on Thursday, April 2o, 2017. The bill will now go to the Texas Senate for their action. “Today, I passed legislation out of the House to officially designate the month of April as Sexual Assault Awareness Month in an effort to raise public awareness about sexual assault and educate communities and individuals on how to prevent sexual assault,” Canales said. “We need everyone’s help to reduce sexual assault, and I believe that officially designating this month is a step in the right direction towards proactively reducing sexual assault.” Sexual assault is a serious criminal violation. Canales’ measure stems from a study conducted by UT Austin’s Institute on Domestic Violence & Sexual Assault, whose findings were released on Friday, March 24, 2017. The report titled Cultivating Learning and Safe Environments showed that sexual assault is an ongoing problem throughout society, including in the halls of higher education. According to the study, almost 200 out of the more than 3,800 students who participated in the anonymous online survey reported to have been sexually assaulted since they have been enrolled at the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley’s campuses. Nine percent of those students who participated in the anonymous online survey – almost 350 individuals – said they had been victims of unwanted sexual touching since they have been enrolled at UTRGV’s campuses. “These figures are shocking, to say the least,” said Canales, an attorney who also serves on the House Committee on Criminal Jurisprudence, which shapes state laws to protect Texans, especially from violent criminals. “But through this legislation, and another major bill I am working on, we are going to help remove the shroud of secrecy over sexual assault, family violence, and stalking policies at our public universities and colleges.” House Bill 1096, coauthored by Canales and Rep. J.M. Lozano, R-Kingsville, would require public universities and colleges in Texas to provide students and organizations with information about these crimes. “If HB 1096 becomes law, but a public university or college fails to provide that information, that university or college would not receive any state funding,” Canales said.
Featured: Following his State of the City Address on Wednesday, April 12, 2017, held inside the newly-opened $5 million IMAX theatre at Carmike Cinemas, Mayor Richard García, speaking to area journalists in a section of the IMAX lobby, praises Edinburg for its many assets, including the diversity of its people.
Photograph By DIEGO REYNA
With more than 80,000 Hidalgo County residents estimated by the state government with various types and degrees of disabilities, Edinburg Mayor Richard García, whose hometown is the county seat, wants them and their loved ones to know they are very important to the general well-being, positive image, reputation for diversity, and successes of the city. As part of his vision for Edinburg is a landmark plan to create a “special needs” park next to City Hall that would provide recreational equipment and positive experiences for children and teens with hearing, vision, independent living, ambulatory or cognitive difficulties. “This park will be a place where children with all types of challenges will be able to enjoy the outdoors, and have fun with other kids,” the mayor said. “It will be a place where they can learn about feelings of belonging and acceptance.” García, during his Wednesday, April 12, 2017 State of the City Address that he delivered as part of the public unveiling of the $5 million IMAX theater at Carmike Cinemas, emphasized his determination for such an outdoors complex. At the State of the City address, in announcing the special needs park, the mayor was joined by several young people and their families who represented the many residents for which the park is being created. Funding for the special needs park, when a final price tag is determined at a later date, will include financial support from the Edinburg Economic Development Corporation, which is the jobs-creation arm of the Edinburg Mayor and Edinburg City Council. The mayor’s proposed special needs park also sends a clear message to Edinburg’s youngest residents that the city government is responsive to all of its constituents. “Everyone, no matter what challenges or difficulties we face, has the potential for greatness,” García reflected. “This park will let people know that all of our young people are part of their hometown’s goals and achievements. Edinburg’s current successes and bright future will depend on the city’s leadership providing our young people with the encouragement, opportunities, resources, and physical and emotional support to help them reach their goals and dreams.” In general, a special needs park has an all-inclusive playground that is a place where children can play together with their peers, family, friends, and neighbors without experiencing physical or social barriers to inclusion. Play components are featured that challenge and accommodate typically developing children, as well as children with autism, hearing impairments, cognitive disabilities, cerebral palsy, spina bifida, and other physical and developmental needs.
Featured: Students and faculty from the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley in February 2017 won numerous awards for creative excellence at the American Advertising Federation (AAF)-Rio Grande Valley ADDY awards competition. Shown, front row, from left, are: Ping Xu, UTRGV Assistant Professor of Graphic Design; and UTRGV students Richard Guzmán; Alexandra González; Jacqueline Maldonado; and Arael Meza. Back row, from left: Samuel Hernández; UTRGV Art Lecturer Erika Balogh; Mónica Lugo; Julio Aranda; Mariana Zapata; and Robert Gilbert, Associate Professor of Graphic Design. The Edinburg Mayor and Edinburg City Council, along with the Board of Directors of the Edinburg Economic Development Corporation, lobby the Texas Legislature and the UT System Board of Regents on behalf of UTRGV in Edinburg and the UTRGV School of Medicine in Edinburg.
Photograph Courtesy of MARCI CALTABIANO
Between November 2016 and February 2017, Edinburg’s retail economy remained ahead of the same period the year before, up 0.63 percent, based on local sales taxes generated, the Edinburg Economic Development Corporation has announced. For the month of February 2017, the city’s retail economy was slightly behind the pace set during the month of February 2016 – registering a slight drop of 1.08 percent – with almost all of the other Valley communities also reporting decreases in local sales taxes generated from the same month the prior year. From November 2016 through February 2017, Edinburg’s retail economy produced $6,888,933.94 in local sales taxes, compared with $6,845,130.80 for November 2015 through February 2016, an increase of 0.63 percent. For February 2017, Edinburg’s retail economy produced $1,543,532.91 in local sales taxes, compared with $1,560,406.24 in February 2016, representing a decrease of 1.08 percent. The Edinburg EDC, of which Agustín García, Jr. is Executive Director, is the jobs-creation arm of the Edinburg Mayor and Edinburg City Council.The Edinburg EDC Board of Directors is comprised of Mayor Richard García as President, Harvey Rodríguez, Jr. as Vice President, Elías Longoria, Jr. as Secretary/Treasurer, and Richard Rupert and Dr. Peter Dabrowski as Members. Mayor Richard García and Edinburg EDC Executive Director Agustín García, Jr. are not related.
In certain situations, active duty members and veterans of the U.S. military who suffer from a brain injury, mental illness, or mental disorder, including post-traumatic stress disorder, or was a victim of military sexual trauma that occurred during or resulted from the defendant’s military services – and who are convicted of their first criminal offense in Texas – would be able to have that conviction wiped off their record automatically and for free, Rep. Terry Canales, D-Edinburg, has proposed. His measure, House Bill 322, which was approved on Wednesday, April 12, 2017 by the Texas House of Representatives on a vote of 146 to 0, now goes to the Texas Senate for its action. HB 322 also would extend these protections to eligible members of the reserves, national guard, or state guard. Having a court order the destruction of records of the conviction is known as an expungement. An expungement is currently available for certain Texans, but the costs nationwide can start around $400 and go up to $4,000, plus court costs, depending on the nature of the charge, according to CostHelper.com. Texas veterans “are being failed by current law because in many cases these wounded warriors do not get their record expunged because it requires hiring a lawyer and paying additional court fees,” added the House District 40 state lawmaker, who is an attorney. “Such costs prevent many veterans eligible for an expungement from doing so.” But under HB 332, U.S. military personnel and veterans who successfully complete a rigorous and effective series of rehabilitative programs offered through veterans courts in Texas would be able to have their record cleared of a first offense, saving them thousands of dollars and precious time. “Criminal records are like scarlet letters that a person carries for the rest of their lives,” Canales said. “Our active military personnel and veterans fight and die for us, and I believe if they mess up, they should be given special consideration under the law.” HB 322 was requested by judges statewide who oversee the state’s veterans treatment courts.
Graphic Courtesy U.S. DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE