Featured, from left: Newly-elected McAllen District 1 City Commissioner Javier Villalobos, McAllen Mayor Jim Darling, and Edinburg Mayor Richard Molina, following the Monday, March 12, 2018 swearing-in ceremony for Villalobos, which took place in the City Commission Chamber at McAllen City Hall. Villalobos represents District 1, which includes northeast McAllen and borders Edinburg’s southwest region, which features Doctors Hospital at Renaissance Health System and South Texas Hospital System.
Photograph By ROBERTO GONZÁLEZ
Mayor Molina promoting regional partnerships as part of strategies to increase business and jobs growth in the city, announces Edinburg EDC
By DAVID A. DÍAZ
As southwest Edinburg continues to flourish as a key center of medical and health care in the Valley, Mayor Richard Molina is building stronger bonds with the leaders of neighboring cities as part of strategies to bring more prosperity to his hometown, the Edinburg Economic Development Corporation has announced.
The Edinburg EDC, of which Joey Treviño is the Executive Director, is the jobs-creation arm of Mayor Richard Molina, Mayor Pro-Tem David Torres, Councilmember Homer Jasso, Jr., Councilmember Gilbert Enríquez, and Councilmember Jorge Salinas.
The Edinburg EDC Board of Directors is comprised of Councilmember Enríquez as President, Edinburg School Board Trustee Miguel “Mike” Farías as Vice-President, Councilmember Salinas as Secretary/Treasurer, and Mayor Molina and Mayor Pro Tem Torres as Members.
In one of the more recent examples of the Edinburg mayor’s outreach to other key communities, Molina was part of the standing-room only swearing-in ceremony for Javier Villalobos, who took his oath of office at McAllen City Hall on Monday, March 12, 2018.
About a week earlier, Villalobos won a run-off election to become City Commissioner for McAllen’s District 1, which features north and northeast McAllen.
“We must take a regional approach for Edinburg, McAllen and the Valley to continue to succeed,” Molina told reporters in the City Commission Chambers, located on the third floor of McAllen City Hall. “I am here to show our support for Commissioner Villalobos, Mayor (Jim) Darling, and the rest of the members of the McAllen City Commission.”
Molina, who was at the State Capitol in Austin along with Edinburg EDC Executive Director Trevino on Monday, March 19, 2018, plans to take active roles in promoting economic development for Edinburg in the Valley and with the state’s top elected and appointed leaders.
White in Austin, Molina and Treviño met with Luis Sáenz, Chief of Staff for Gov. Greg Abbott, Patricia Shipton, Chief of Staff for Speaker of the House Joe Straus, Amanda Lavin, Assistant Executive Administrator of the Texas Water Development Board, Leon Spence, the then-Chief of Staff for Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, and James Bass, Executive Director of the Texas Department of Transportation.
“Making connections is vital,” he said. “We had (Texas Land Commissioner) George P. Bush come to Edinburg City Hall (on Friday, March 2, 2018).”
In addition to Molina, Enríquez and Salinas met with Bush.
“We want to be partners for the future of this great region,” Bush said.
As Texas Land Commissioner, Bush – who is grandson of President George H.W. Bush, the son of former Florida Governor Jeb Bush and the nephew of President George W. Bush – heads the Texas General Land Office.
The Texas General Land Office primarily serves Texas school children, veterans, and the environment. The agency does so by preserving history, maximizing state revenue through innovative administration, and through the prudent stewardship of state lands and natural resources.
“I recently had dinner with Sen. (Juan “Chuy”) Hinojosa (D-McAllen) and spoke with Rep. Terry Canales (D-Edinburg), and we are looking at aggressively getting state funding and assistance,” Molina said. “These are our goals, these are the price tags. Now, who do we have to get in front of in order to help get these projects done?”
Enríquez, who also serves on the Board of Directors for the Lower Rio Grande Valley Development Council, in addition to his duties as President of the Board of Directors for the Edinburg EDC, emphasized the importance of the mayor’s involvement on behalf of the city with Texas’ top elected and appointed leaders.
“It will only be in certain instances that I will be traveling to Austin, but the mayor will be the advocate for the city,” he said. “He does a good job of going out there, speaking with the Texas Legislature, and it benefits that at least one of the city council members are there. I feel comfortable that the mayor will be the advocate for us.”
Regarding his visit to the McAllen City Commission, Molina explained that McAllen in general, and Villalobos’ District 1 in particular, are part of Edinburg’s economic growth plan of action.
“McAllen’s District 1 is right at the boundary with southwest Edinburg,” the Edinburg mayor noted. “With Javier Villalobos, we will build on the great working relationship with the McAllen Mayor and McAllen City Commission.”’
South McColl Road, West Trenton Road, South Jackson Road, West Canton Road, and West Owassa Road are among the major thoroughfares that connect southwest Edinburg, which is home of the city’s major hospitals, to McAllen’s District 1 and beyond.
Those and other Edinburg main roadways transport thousands of people between McAllen and Edinburg on a daily basis to the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley in Edinburg and its School of Medicine.
“Doctors Hospital at Renaissance is right at the border of Edinburg with McAllen’s District 1,” Molina said. “Most of DHR is in Edinburg, and it is growing into McAllen. We have to have a regional approach when it comes to DHR, to the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley and its School of Medicine in Edinburg.”
In addition to Doctors Hospital at Renaissance Health System (http://www.dhr-rgv.com/About-Us), southwest Edinburg is home to South Texas Hospital System (https:/http://www.southtexashealthsystem.com).
Villalobos agreed that both cities benefit, and both have to work together, to best help northeast McAllen and southwest Edinburg continue to grow and prosper.
“As far as economic development, municipalities compete,” Villalobos said. “But the issue will be more on transportation that would spur economic development, to work together to speed up transportation. That is one of the main issues we have in north McAllen near Edinburg, along Trenton and McColl roads, which are very congested.”
The newly-elected McAllen city commissioner said Edinburg’s hospitals are important to the region’s quality-of-life.
“All health care is important, and that area (southwest Edinburg/northeast McAllen) has taken a lead in medical facilities, and in (state) legislation dealing with the (UTRGV) medical school (in Edinburg),” Villalobos said.
He also favored a joint meeting in the future between the McAllen City Commission and the Edinburg City Council to lay out their shared priorities before the Texas Legislature, which returns to work in January 2019.
“When you talk even to the governor’s office, the concept of regionalization is very important,” Villalobos said. “The Valley is starting to become one, we are all together. I would enjoy meeting with the rest of the communities adjacent to Mcallen and see what we can do. It benefits the region as a whole.”
UNIVERSITY OF TEXAS RIO GRANDE VALLEY OFFICE OF EMERGENCY PREPAREDNESS PROVIDES DRIVE-THRU FLU VACCINATION CLINIC
Hidalgo County Health and Human Services and The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley’s Office of Emergency Preparedness on Friday, March 9, 2018 partnered to offer 500 free flu vaccines to all first responders, UTRGV faculty, staff, their families and the public.
The Edinburg Mayor and Edinburg City Council, along with the Edinburg Economic Development Corporation and its Board of Directors, lobby the Texas Legislature and the UT System Board of Regents on matters that benefit and protect UTRGV and its School of Medicine, which have major campuses in the city.
The three-station setup was located at the UTRGV CESS Building parking lot in Edinburg, and offered a glimpse into what an emergency immunization procedure would look like.
Patients drove through the first station, where they filled out brief paperwork, and moved on to a second station, where nurses waited to administer the vaccine.
At the third and final station, nurses briefly observed the patients for any immediate reactions to the shot, and gave out light refreshments.
And at no point did patients have to leave their vehicle.
“The purpose of this clinic is to take advantage of an opportunity to partner with the university, provide free flu vaccinations to the community, and to demonstrate to the public that we can handle a mass vaccination clinic,” said Eddie Olivarez, chief administrative officer of Hidalgo County Health and Human Services.
On March 9, 2018, 62 people received vaccines, with the average time to process the patient and administer the vaccine at about five minutes per individual.
Nelda Minder, program coordinator at Hidalgo County Health and Human Services, said getting flu shots annually is important, especially for people who are at risk.
“We start with people with respiratory problems, the elderly, the very young, maternities — we want them to be the first to come out and get vaccinated. But of course, we want to encourage everyone to get their flu shot annually,” Méndez said.
Amanda Taylor, a member of the UTRGV News and Internal Communications staff, had never received a flu vaccination before and was hesitant to do so, at first. After speaking with Méndez about the risks of contracting the flu, she decided to go through with it.
“I’ve never been vaccinated for the flu before, but I thought it would be a good idea to take advantage of the opportunity,” she said. “There have been so many cases of people contracting the flu, lately, that I figured this was the best way to protect myself from getting the virus.”
The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley (UTRGV) was created by the Texas Legislature in 2013 as the first major public university of the 21st century in Texas. This transformative initiative provided the opportunity to expand educational opportunities in the Rio Grande Valley, including a new School of Medicine, and made it possible for residents of the region to benefit from the Permanent University Fund – a public endowment contributing support to the University of Texas System and other institutions.
UTRGV has campuses and off-campus research and teaching sites throughout the Rio Grande Valley including in Boca Chica Beach, Brownsville (formerly The University of Texas at Brownsville campus), Edinburg (formerly The University of Texas-Pan American campus), Harlingen, McAllen, Port Isabel, Rio Grande City, and South Padre Island. UTRGV, a comprehensive academic institution, enrolled its first class in the fall of 2015, and the School of Medicine welcomed its first class in the summer of 2016.
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J. Edward Moreno contributed to this article. For more information on the Edinburg Economic Development Corporation and the City of Edinburg, please log on to http://edinburgedc.com or to http://www.facebook.com/edinburgedc.