Featured: Mario López, Jr., an American television host and actor, featured back row, center, was the honored guest during the 11th Annual “Steak” In Your Community fundraiser held on Sunday, January 18, 2018 for the Boys & Girls Club of Edinburg Rio Grande Valley. As part of the gala, Brianna Capetillo was selected 2018 Junior Youth of the Year, with Brianna García being named 2nd runner-up, and Alicia Alemán taking the 3rd runner-up honor. Each received a technology gift bag and certificate. According to the Boys & Girls Club of America, Junior Youth of the Year seeks to develop junior leaders ages 10-13 within the Club environment. The program fosters Club members’ emerging leadership abilities while preparing them for later participation in the Youth of the Year program. In addition to recognizing the leadership achievements of Club youth, Junior Youth of the Year also cultivates their leadership potential, providing the foundation they need for advanced leadership development, academic excellence and postsecondary success. Through this program, Club youth become motivated to seek opportunities for leadership and to act as responsible citizens and change agents. From left are: Brianna García, 2nd runner-up; Brianna Capetillo, 2018 Junior Youth of the Year; and Alicia Alemán earned 3rd runner-up honors. Back row, from left, are: Marissa Castañeda, Chief Operating Officer, Doctors Hospital at Renaissance, who served as the Honorary Chair for the event; Mario López, Jr; and Joe Quiroga, President, Texas National Bank South Jackson Branch who also serves as Chairman of the Board for the Boys & Girls Club of Edinburg RGV. Mario López, Jr. has appeared on several television series, in films, and on Broadway. He is known for his portrayal of A.C. Slateron Saved by the Bell, whom he also portrayed as a regular on Saved by the Bell: The College Years. He has appeared in numerous projects since, including the third season of Dancing with the Stars and as host for the syndicated entertainment news magazine show Extra. He has also hosted America’s Best Dance Crew for MTV. In 2012, he co-hosted the second season of American version of The X Factor with Khloé Kardashian-Odom, and was the sole host for the third and final season.
Photograph Courtesy BOYS & GIRLS CLUB OF EDINBURG RGV
The Board of Directors of the Edinburg Economic Development Corporation on Friday, February 16, 2018, is scheduled to conduct interviews for the position of Executive Director, and possibly take action for the hiring of the new administrative leader of the organization. The Board of Directors special meeting, which is open to the public, will be held in the Council Chamber at Edinburg City Hall, located at 415 W University Drive, beginning at noon. However, the interviews may take place in executive session, according to the agenda, which is posted outside of Edinburg City Hall, and is also posted online at: http://edinburgedc.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/02/2-13-18-Agenda.pdf Any action – including no action – taken by the board of directors on all executive session items would have to be announced in public. The agenda states: “In accordance with the Texas Open Meetings Act, Vernon’s Civil Statutes Annotated, Government Code, exception to requirements that meetings be open, Section 551.074 Personnel Matters, and Section 551.071 Consultation with Attorney, the Board of Directors will announce that it will adjourn into Executive Session to deliberate the following items. The EEDC Board may elect to go into Executive Session on any item, whether or not such item is posted as an Executive Session item, at any time during the meeting, when authorized by the provisions of the Texas Open Meeting Act. The EEDC Board will deliberate on the following items: a. Conduct Interviews for the position of Executive Director and possible action for the hiring of the position of Executive Director; and b. Consultation with Attorney.” The Edinburg EDC 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 City Councilmember Gilbert Enríquez as President, Edinburg School Board Trustee Miguel “Mike” Farías as Vice-President, Isael Posadas, P.E., as Secretary/Treasurer, and Julio César Carranza and Noé Sauceda, Ph.D. as Members.
Featured: U.S. Border Patrol’s “Head of the Class” program recently honored four students from the Edinburg Independent Consolidated School District. Border Patrol officials said that the program recognizes the academic excellence of 69 high-achieving seniors from high schools throughout the Valley. Students were nominated by their respective schools and selected by a committee. The students were selected based on being well-rounded students, who are involved in their schools and communities, as well as excelling in academics and promoting a drug-free lifestyle. From left, front row, are: Vela High School senior Eric Anthony Jackson; Edinburg North High School senior Olivia Vela; Economedes High School senior Ángela María López; Edinburg High School senior Bryan López; and U.S. Border Patrol Agent Rubén García Jr.; Back row, from left, are: U.S. Border Patrol Agent Robert R. Galván; Vela High School Principal Sylvia Ledesma; Edinburg North High School Principal Mark Micallef; Edinburg High School Principal Yesenia Molina; and Economedes High School Principal Dr. Raúl D’Lorm. The students will compete with dozens of other Valley honorees for at least three $1,000 scholarships, which the Border Patrol expects to award in the spring. Miguel “Mike” Farías, Vice President of the Edinburg Economic Development Corporation, is a member of the Board of Trustees for the Edinburg school district, and Edinburg City Councilmember Gilbert Enríquez, who serves as President of the Edinburg EDC Board of Directors, is a former longtime member of the Board of Trustees of the Edinburg school district. The Edinburg EDC is the jobs-creation arm of the Edinburg Mayor and Edinburg City Council. In addition to Enríquez and Farías, the Edinburg EDC Board of Directors is comprised of Isael Posadas, P.E., as Secretary/Treasurer, and Julio César Carranza and Noé Sauceda, Ph.D. as Members.
Photograph By MARK MONTEMAYOR
Edinburg posted an unemployment rate of 4.9 percent in December 2017, representing 37,232 jobs for that month, making the city, along with McAllen, the only two major economies in the Rio Grande Valley which came under the five percent level, the Edinburg Economic Development Corporation has announced. The unemployment rate is a key indicator of the strength of the local economy. The Edinburg EDC is the jobs-creation arm of the Edinburg Mayor and Edinburg City Council. These latest figures, prepared by the Texas Workforce Commission and released on Friday, January 19, 2018, showed that there was an increase of 265 people employed in Edinburg in December 2017 (37,232) compared with November 2017 (36,967). Also, Edinburg saw a growth of 756 jobs when comparing the monthly total for December 2017, (37,232) and December 2016 (36,476), according to the Edinburg EDC. In addition, the December 2017 unemployment rate of 4.9 percent represents the sixth time during that month that the city’s unemployment rate has been below five percent since 2005, according to the Texas Workforce Commission. The number of jobs in Edinburg is independently documented by the Texas Workforce Commission, a state agency with many key duties, such as maintaining and reporting on key trends in state and local economies, including unemployment rates and the number of people employed in cities. The unemployment rate is the number of persons unemployed, expressed as a percentage of the civilian labor force, according to the Texas Workforce Commission. The civilian labor force is that portion of the population age 16 and older employed or unemployed. To be considered unemployed, a person has to be not working but willing and able to work and actively seeking work. During 2017, Edinburg has recorded one of the lowest unemployment rates among Valley cities in April and May, and came in with the second-lowest unemployment rates during the other months in 2017 through July. McAllen, which came in with a 5.4 percent unemployment in May 2017, tied Edinburg for the best showing for that month. For the past several years, Edinburg has registered the lowest or second-lowest monthly unemployment rate among all Valley cities. Edinburg’s December 2017 unemployment rate of 4.9 percent is part of a consistent pattern of positive reports, including November 2017 (4.8 percent); October 2017 (4.7 percent), September 2017 (5.5 percent), August 2017 (6.2 percent), July (5.7 percent), June 2017 (5.9), May 2017 (5.4 percent), April 2017 (5.4 percent), March 2017 (6 percent), February 2017 (6.4 percent) and January 2017 (6.2 percent). The Edinburg EDC Board of Directors is comprised of City Councilmember Gilbert Enríquez as President, Edinburg School Board Trustee Miguel “Mike” Farías as Vice-President, Isael Posadas, P.E., as Secretary/Treasurer, and Julio César Carranza and Noé Sauceda, Ph.D. as Members.
Rep. Ismael "Kino" Flores, D-Palmview, featured at the podium during the fall 2005 dedication of the Rio Grande Valley State Veterans Cemetery in Mission – the first such state facility built by Texas – continues to work on behalf of Texas’ military veterans and their families. On Thursday, January 22, Flores filed a bill that would provide Texas veterans, who are physically- or mentally-disabled, as a result of military service, with as much as a 100 percent exemption on their home property taxes. "We are pleased that Rep. Flores has carried this extremely important initiative for veterans of this state. This bill is long overdue and we know that Kino has always taken a proactive approach to help veterans," said Emilio De Los Santos, the Veterans Services Director for Hidalgo County. "This bill not only will help veterans of the past, but also veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars." Flores is a U.S. Army veteran. An identical measure, Senate Bill 469 by Sen. John Corona, R-Dallas, was filed on Tuesday, January 13. See related story later in this posting.
In an effort to recover local funds spent on federal levee rehabilitation, U.S. Congressman Rubén Hinojosa, D-Mercedes, featured left, on Thursday, January 22, introduced legislation that would enable the International Boundary and Water Commission (IBWC) to reimburse Hidalgo County for expenses incurred. Hinojosa and Hidalgo County Judge J.D. Salinas III, featured center, also met on January 22 with Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, featured right, to discuss the reimbursement initiative and voice their commitment to repairing the Valley’s levees. Cornyn has introduced similar legislation in the Senate that would reimburse Hidalgo County for its work on federal levee projects. See related story later in this posting.
Dr. Blandina "Bambi" Cárdenas, featured left, on Tuesday, January 20, announced she was retiring at the end of the month as a result of health concerns. She was praised by two area legislators as an inspiration to the region. "I am saddened by the unfortunate, but understandable, retirement of President Cárdenas. She has been an inspiration to me and to countless other people, not only in the Valley, but throughout the state," said Rep. Ismael "Kino" Flores, D-Palmview. Sen. Juan "Chuy" Hinojosa, D-McAllen, also noted that "Dr. Cárdenas set a standard for academic excellence and continuous pursuit of self-realization and personal enrichment. During her tenure, Dr. Cárdenas led UT-Pan American’s efforts to further establish the university as a model institution of higher education, serving a highly diverse population and increasing the access to advanced degrees in South Texas." She is featured here, with Dr. Marla Guerra, superintendent for the South Texas Independent School District, at the university in one of her final public ceremonies on Thursday, January 22. The two leaders signed a new partnership between UTPA and STISD to promote college readiness and success. See related stories on her retirement and on the partnership with South Texas Independent School District later in this posting.
Dr. Alejo Salinas, Ph.D., of Edinburg, accepts ties, in the college’s school colors of green and purple, on behalf of his colleagues on the South Texas College Board of Trustees from students, staff, and administration for helping steer the two-county higher education system through a successful 2008. “Last year was a wonderful year for the college with big growth in enrollment, launching our second bachelor’s degree, and kicking off our 15th anniversary celebration, but one thing is clear – none of this would have been possible without the support of the hardest working board of trustees anywhere in Texas,” said Dr. Shirley A. Reed, STC president, also featured in this photograph. “Dr. Salinas is one of our biggest advocates and has been true to serving the interests of the constituents he represents. We thank him for the countless hours he spends safeguarding public funds and planning for the future of higher education in the Valley.” Salinas is superintendent emeritus for and a clinical lecturer at The University of Texas–Pan American, and former superintendent of Hidalgo I.S.D. He has served STC since 1996. As the District 5 representative on STC’s Board of Trustees, he represents northwest Hidalgo County, Edinburg, north San Juan, and northeast Pharr. “I sincerely thank the college community for this token of appreciation,” said Salinas. “The biggest and best reward for my work is watching our students cross the stage at graduation each May. I am so proud to be part of this dedicated board and look forward to another outstanding year of academic excellence from our students.”
The Edinburg Chamber of Commerce “Chamber Champions” Committee recently honored BBVA Compass Bank as Feature Business of the Month for January, 2009. BBVA is located on 2314 W. University in Edinburg, and may be reached at 956/926-4400. BBVA has been a member with the Edinburg Chamber of Commerce for many years, and has always supported community endeavors. They contribute to local scholarships and non-profit organizations, as well as support local businesses. The Chamber Champion’s Committee meets every first Wednesday of the month; to serve on the committee please contact the Edinburg Chamber of Commerce at 956-383-4974. http://www.edinburg.com
On Monday, November 10 – the first day of pre-filing for the 81st Legislative Session – Sen. Juan "Chuy" Hinojosa, D-McAllen, filed Senate Bill 105, a tuition moratorium bill. Hinojosa’s proposal would establish a two-year moratorium on tuition rate hikes and limit future increases to key economic indices. Hinojosa believes the current tuition rate-setting scheme fails Texas’ college hopefuls. "There is something fundamentally wrong with the current system. We tell high school students that hard work earns them passage to a public university in Texas," he said. "Once these graduates meet that standard, they are priced out of the very opportunity that motivated them in the first place. The ‘work hard and get ahead’ story has become a false promise for Texas high school seniors." Also on Monday, Rep. Aaron Peña, D-Edinburg, Sen. Eddie Lucio, Jr., D-Brownsville, and Rep. Eddie Lucio, III, D-Brownsville, introduced measures to create a University of Texas medical school, UT law school, in the Valley. See top four stories later in this posting.
With the Texas Legislature set to convene in January for its five-month regular session, the McAllen Hispanic Chamber of Commerce has scheduled a legislative dinner for Tuesday, November 11, from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at the Club at Cimarron in Mission. Area state lawmakers will get to discuss issues that remained unresolved from the 2007 regular session, as well as address new legislation that they will be presenting. Attendees will get to ask questions and/or inform them of their concerns as well. Individual tickets for the event are available for purchase at $25 each. Major sponsors will get a legislator sitting at their table during dinner. Sponsorships levels are $5,000, $2,000, $1,000 and $500. So far sponsoring the event are CP&L, the McAllen Economic Development Corporation, TXU, McAllen–Hidalgo Bridge, and Coca-Cola. For sponsorship information and/or to buy tickets, call the MHCC office at 928-0060. Featured, from left: McAllen Mayor Richard Cortéz; Rep. Verónica Gonzáles, D-McAllen Rep. Ismael "Kino" Flores, D-Palmview; and Carlos J. Gutiérrez, legislative aide representing Sen. Juan "Chuy" Hinojosa, D-McAllen. Not present, but scheduled to attend the legislative affair are: Congressman Henry Cuellar, D-Laredo/McAllen; Sen. Eddie Lucio, Jr., D-Brownsville; Rep. Armando Martínez, D-Weslaco; and Rep. Aaron Peña, D-Edinburg.
Two Edinburg physicians – Dr. Ben Garza, a family practice doctor and Dr. Carlos Manrique, an ophthalmologist – are the winners to 2008 Medical Awards bestowed by the McAllen Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. The two men, along with other area health professionals, will be honored by the McAllen Hispanic Chamber of Commerce during the 2nd Annual Medical Awards Banquet on Saturday, November 15, at The Embassy Suites in McAllen. “We recognize that the medical community plays a very important part in our lives, thus the McAllen Hispanic Chamber wanted to recognize the leaders in the certain categories as per the community.” noted Rose Ramírez, MHC Vice Chair of Health Issues. “The purpose of the award is to identify and honor the professional or organization who exemplifies the dedication and continued growth of the professional and/or organization in a specialized field and the contributions of that person/organization to the continued good health of the people of the Rio Grande Valley. Seated, from left, are Manrique, named best Specialty Physician of 2008, and Garza, recognized as this year’s top General Physician. Back row, from left, are other winners in their respective categories: José Galaviz, Heart Hospital Director of CV Surgery; Gilda Romero, Heart Hospital Marketing Director; Elmer Esguerra, Heart Hospital, Director of PCCU; Orlando Vázquez, Physician Assistant with Dr. Enrique Griego; Hari Namboodiri, Las Palmas Administrator; Letty López Hernández, Las Palmas Marketing Director; and Cynthia Tucker Wilcox, Las Palmas DON. Not shown are: Alejandra Ritchie, Las Palmas Assistant Director of Nursing; Leticia Chávez, Las Palmas Rehabilitation Program Manager; and Jean Calvert, Nurse of the Year.
Sen. Judith Zaffirini, D-Laredo, who represents Senate District 21, which includes the western portion of the Valley, on Wednesday, November 5, celebrated her re-election with many of her supporters. The senator carried her home county, Webb, with 78 percent, and reached totals as high as 90 percent in Starr and Zavala counties. Featured, from left, are: Sergio Mora, Webb County Democratic Party chair; her son, Carlos Zaffirini, Jr.; and Zaffirini. See story later in this posting.
Flo Prater, featured fourth from left, was named Chamber Champion of the Year at the 2008 Edinburg Chamber of Commerce Annual Banquet held on Thursday, October 30, at the the Echo Hotel and Conference Center. Prater is a co-owner of Rio Valley Realty and has been involved with the Chamber of Commerce for several years. Prater served on the Edinburg Centennial Committee, Chamber Champion Committee, Texas Cook’Em Committee, Fiesta Edinburg Committee, Tourism Committee, and also volunteers her time with other various chamber events. Sharing in the big day for her were, from left: Elva Jackson Garza; Letty González; Cris Torres (outgoing chamber chairman); Flo Prater; Keith Prater; Hayden Prater; and Brandon Prater. See story later in this posting.
Where the Ox Does Not Plow, an autobiographical ethnography, consists of twenty-six life episodes that chronicle Manuel Peña’s transformative journey from an impoverished migrant worker to a career in academia. An ethnograpy is the branch of anthropology that deals with the scientific description of specific human cultures. Inspired by his experiences and those of the people around him in Texas and California, Peña, a Weslaco native, reflects on a wide range of issues arising from the historically marginalized condition of Mexicans and other Latinos in the United States. The narrative will engage readers with a broad range of human experiences, from race relations and economic exploitation to the intimacy of familial and romantic love. See story later in this posting.
The Edinburg school district on Wednesday, October 8, celebrated the Edinburg Centennial by hosting a special program and an essay contest detailing the city and school district’s history. The fifth grade finalists are shown from left: Brianna C. McCormick, Freddy González Elementary (honorable mention); Jean Almonte, Guerra Elementary (honorable mention); Brooke Baus, Canterbury Elementary (1st place); Julissa Alexandra Mendoza (2nd place), Esparza Elementary (2nd place); and Kiana Ramírez, Travis Elementary (3rd place). Also featured, from left: Rep. Aaron Peña, D-Edinburg; Paul Rodríguez; Patricia Galindo; Shirley Clancey; ECISD School Board President Omar Palacios; and Edinburg Mayor Joe Ochoa.
The McAllen Chamber of Commerce has announced that it will hold its 54th Annual Banquet on Friday, November 14, from 7 p.m. to midnight at the McAllen Convention Center. The event also will include the prestigious Man & Woman of the Year awards program. The Man &Woman of the Year awards are presented to individuals who have gone above and beyond routine civic service activities to promote the McAllen community and its residents. Organizing the event are, from left: Edna De Saro; Tammie Risica; Dora Brown; Ricardo Portillo; Blanca Cárdenas; and Andreina Milpaca. See story later in this posting.
With area leaders gathered in Mission on October 7 to celebrate the 15th anniversary of South Texas College, the STC Board of Trustees has commissioned a major study which could lead to the creation of one or several new campuses in the coming years. STC President Shirley Reed, featured first row, third from left, says the study could come up with preliminary projections at the beginning of 2009, with the final report due by mid-2009. Featured with Reed during STC’s 15th anniversary celebration were, from left: Sylvia Bernal from STC’s Office of Academic Excellence; former Rep. Roberto Gutiérrez, D-McAllen, the House sponsor of the legislation that created STC in 1993; Reed; George McCaleb; and Jenny Cummings. Standing, from left, were: Valley Scholar students Adrian Rivera and Melanie Silva; Program Coordinator Marie Olivarez; Anahid Petrosian, assistant to the vice president of instructional services; and Valley Scholars Raymond Manguera, Delilah Castillo and Isaac Pérez. See lead story on STC expansion plans later in this posting.