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$5 million in state funding for public safety hanger development at the South Texas International Airport at Edinburg should become closer to reality on Thursday, August 8, 2019, when the Edinburg City Council takes action to secure that money, Rep. Terry Canales, D-Edinburg, has announced.

Featured: Rep. Terry Canales, D-Edinburg, Chair of the House Committee on Transportation, congratulates Hidalgo County EMS/South Texas Air Med on Tuesday, June 18, 2019, for launching its rotor (helicopter) ambulance service for deep South Texas. Canales, who is flanked to his left by Kenny Ponce, President/CEO of the privately-owned Hidalgo County EMS/South Texas Air Med, made his remarks at the South Texas International Airport at Edinburg.

Photograph By KARLA PONCE

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$5 million on direct course for planned key expansion at South Texas International Airport at Edinburg, announces Rep. Canales

By DAVID A. DÍAZ
Legislativemedia@aol.com

$5 million in state funding for public safety hanger development at the South Texas International Airport at Edinburg should become closer to reality on Thursday, August 8, 2019, when the Edinburg City Council takes action to secure that money, Rep. Terry Canales, D-Edinburg, has announced.

As part of their regular meeting, which begins at 6 p.m. at Edinburg City Hall, the mayor and city council members are scheduled to consider approving providing a local contribution of $555,555.56 in order to secure the $5 million in additional money from the Texas Transportation Commission.

“The airport in Edinburg serves as an important base for regional air medical services and operations by the Texas Department of Public Safety, U.S. Customs and Border Patrol, and the United States National Guard,” said Canales, who serves as Chair, House Committee on Transportation. “When we invest in the South Texas International Airport, we invest in safety and security for the entire South Texas community.”

Debora Pinto, C.M., Airport Manager, in her executive summary to the mayor and city council members, stated that in order to qualify for the $5 million in state money, the city must agree to provide the local match of $555,555.56.

“The 2019 Session of the Texas Legislature, under Senate Bill 500, Section 79, Department of Transportation – Emergency and First Responders Airport Facilities, appropriated $5,000,000 to the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) Aviation Division, to expand an airport hangar development at South Texas International Airport at Edinburg, used by the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) for emergency and first responders aircraft staging and storage purposes,” Pinto explained.

“The much-needed facility will increase the airport’s capacity and effectiveness during emergency events by local, state and federal agencies while enhancing support for current and future DPS operations,” she added. “More notably, it will be an opportunity for continued economic development for the airport and the region.”

TxDOT leaders are ready to move forward with presenting the DPS hangar project to the Texas Transportation Commission for approval during its upcoming public meeting in Austin on Tuesday, August 29, 2019, she noted.

“A city resolution authorizing the execution of a grant agreement with TxDOT, and designating the city’s authorized representative to execute all contracts and agreements as well as authorizing the commitment to fund the city’s cost-share of the project is required at this time,” Pinto added.

The Texas Transportation Commission consists of five commissioners appointed by the governor with the advice and consent of the senate to govern the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT). The commissioners’ six-year terms are staggered, so that an appointment is generally made every two years. The governor designates one commissioner to serve as the chair.

The Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT, pronounced “tex-dot”) is a state agency which is responsible for the construction and maintenance of Texas state highway system, as well as overseeing aviation, rails and public transportation systems in the state.

Canales and Sen. Juan “Chuy” Hinojosa, D-McAllen, “played instrumental roles in obtaining the funding. Hinojosa as chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, and Canales as chairman of the House Committee on Transportation, which is where the money came from,” according to the June 12, 2019 edition of Monitor newspaper in McAllen.

(https://www.themonitor.com/2019/06/12/edinburg-airport-gets-funding-boost-base-air-ambulance/)

“This airport is bigger than you would think. It houses DPS, it houses SWAT, it houses U.S. Coast Guard, Border Patrol, Department of Homeland Security at times,” Canales said. “The fact of the matter is that this place is ideally situated to be the epicenter of law enforcement.”

According to the airport’s web site:

The South Texas International Airport at Edinburg is a 580-acre, user-fee airport, as designated by the U.S. Customs Service, as well as a Foreign Trade Zone. It is a notable asset to the City of Edinburg’s economic development and is poised to become significantly more important to the Rio Grande Valley and the Texas border region in the foreseeable future.

Based on this vast and open land characteristic and its adjacency to the hurricane evacuation route (Interstate 69C/US281 ), the airport has been designated as an evacuation hub for the Lower Gulf Coast and the Rio Grande Valley by the Governor’s Division of Emergency Management and the State of Texas Military Forces. This designation emphasizes the importance of the airport in the event of natural disasters.

Airport Infrastructure

• 15 hangars (100% leased);
• 1 main hangar for large aircraft;
• 1 air cargo building;
• 1 terminal building;
• 24/7 self-serve aviation fuel pumps (lowest prices in deep South Texas);
• 24/7 security; bS
• Courtesy city vehicle for crew transportation to and from Edinburg.

Over the years, the number of general aviation landings and takeoffs continue to increase, while corporate aircraft activity has remained virtually unchanged. Today, the greatest potential for increase remains in air cargo, charter flights, and border protection reconnaissance operations.

Owned and operated by the City of Edinburg, the South Texas International Airport has one northwest-southeast oriented runway with one full-length parallel taxiway, a helipad, a large General Aviation Apron, and twenty-one tie downs. There are sixteen hangar spaces and the terminal building consists of a large lobby, pilot’s lounge, meeting room, and office spaces. A 50,000 square foot air cargo building was completed in 2007 and a new customs facility opened in 2015.

Possible Incentives

• Waiver of Permitting Fees;
• Infrastructure Development;
• Lease-Build Program;
• Job Creation;
• Tax Increment Financing;
• County Tax Reimbursement Grant;
• Freeport Tax Exemption;
• Enterprise Zone Tax Incentive;
• Texas Enterprise Fund;
•Texas Leverage Fund; and
•Training Funds.

UNIVERSITY OF TEXAS RIO GRANDE VALLEY SCHOOL OF MEDICINE WELCOMES CLASS OF 2023 WITH WHITE COAT CEREMONY

The UTRGV School of Medicine welcomed its newest 55 students on Saturday, July 27, 2019 with a White Coat Ceremony at UTRGV Performing Arts Auditorium.

The ceremony marks the beginning of a medical student’s education and career.

After being cloaked in their signature white lab coats by School of Medicine leaders, the fourth cohort of UTRGV medical students recited the Hippocratic Oath – which acknowledges their primary role as caregivers – in the presence of their loved ones, school leaders and peers.

Dr. John H. Krouse, Executive Vice President for Health Affairs and Dean of the UTRGV School of Medicine, congratulated the students for their achievements thus far and emphasized the importance of staying humble and showing compassion.

“The White Coat Ceremony is certainly a celebration of our students, but even more importantly marks a solemn day in which young student physicians pledge to uphold the highest ethical and moral standards as medical practitioners in training, and take their oaths to care for all patients, not only those in positions of privilege or power, but also those without voices or means, and without ready access to medical care,” Krouse said.

“They promise to uphold these lofty standards of professionalism, which have characterized physicians and healers since the earliest days of civilization.”

Dr. David L. Lakey, Vice Chancellor for Health Affairs and Chief Medical Officer for The University of Texas System, delivered the keynote address.

“To be a healer isn’t just another job,” Lakey told the new medical students. “It’s a commitment to a lifetime of service, learning and care. That is the deepest part of why we are here. It’s why your families are so proud of you. It’s why you’re so excited, and nervous. It’s why the title ‘doctor’ means something special in our society.”

About the Class of 2023

With the arrival of the Class of 2023, the UTRGV School of Medicine reaches a full enrollment of 210 students.

Here are some facts about the incoming class:

• The students were selected from more than 4,400 applications. Of those applicants, the School of Medicine interviewed 389 potential students.

• This class has the largest number of students from the Rio Grande Valley than previous classes, with 24 Valley natives joining the School of Medicine. Of the 24 Valley students, 15 are graduates of UTRGV.

• Women comprise more than half of the class, with 31 female students (56 percent).

• The students of the Class of 2023 include 38 percent Hispanic, 23.5 percent Asian/Indian, 23.5 percent white and 15 percent African American.

• The class has an average MCAT score in the 73rd percentile nationwide, a grade point average of 3.61, and a BCPM (Biology, Chemistry, Physics, Math) grade point average of 3.51.

A Commitment to Serve

Valley natives and UTRGV alumni Noel Garza and Sidney Charm Reyes said they feel fortunate to attend medical school close to home and serve the communities that have supported them.

“I love the Valley. It has everything, and it’s growing so fast,” said Garza, who graduated from UTRGV in May 2019 with a bachelor’s degree in biology and chemistry.

Reyes, who grew up in Las Milpas and Edinburg, said she wanted to attend medical school close to home because she wants to give back to her community.
“I want to live with purpose, and knowing that I’m part of something that has purpose is one reason I want to stay here,” Reyes said. “Being from this area, I can relate. This is my community. I feel like I’m living my life with purpose by staying here.”

Jennifer Adams, who graduated from Stanford University with a bachelor’s degree in biomechanical engineering, said she was drawn to UTRGV because of its location on the border with Mexico.

“The one thing about UTRGV is that it emphasizes border and migrant health and I’m very interested in that,” she said. “I grew up in China on the border of Tajikstan, on the very westernmost border of China, so I’ve always been drawn to the health issues that arise in that sort of environment.”

A private reception followed the White Coat Ceremony, for students and their families at the Medical Education Building on the UTRGV Edinburg Campus.

Classes for the School of Medicine Class of 2023 began on Monday, July 29, 2019.

About the White Coat Ceremony

White Coat ceremonies serve as a rite of passage for medical students. The Arnold P. Gold Foundation started the White Coat Ceremony in 1993 to welcome new medical students to the health care profession. Today, almost all medical schools in the United States, as well as schools for other healthcare professions, perform such ceremonies.

About UTRGV

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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Marci Caltabiano contributed to this article. Rep. Terry Canales, D-Edinburg, who is the Chair of the House Committee on Transportation, represents House District 40 in Hidalgo County, which includes portions or all of Edinburg, Elsa, Faysville, La Blanca, Linn, Lópezville, McAllen, Pharr and Weslaco. He may be reached at his House District Office in Edinburg at (956) 383-0860 or at the Capitol at (512) 463-0426. For more on this and other Texas legislative news stories which affect the Rio Grande Valley metropolitan region, please log on to Titans of the Texas Legislature (TitansoftheTexasLegislature.com).

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