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Ciro Treviño, ECISD Place 7 school board trustee, hopes to continue successful school board agenda

Members of the city’s Centennial Committee, who helped organize a series of celebrations commemorating Edinburg’s 100th anniversary, were publicly recognized on Friday, October 10, by city and state officials.  The group participated in a reenactment ribbon cutting with Rio Grande Switching at the Edinburg Depot, where passenger railroad services once played a vital role in the fledgling community’s transportation system. Elected leaders in the photograph include Mayor Joe Ochoa, Mayor Pro Tem Gene Espinoza; Councilmember Alma Garza, and Rep. Aaron Peña, Jr., D-Edinburg.  Also in this photograph were Cynthia Bocanegra; Gus Casas; Elva Jackson Garza; Letty Gonzalez; Maggie Kent; Flo Prater; City Manager J.J. Rodríguez; Johnny Rodríguez; and Cris Torres.

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South Texas College’s Valley Scholars Program, a scholarship program supporting academically gifted students, celebrated STC’s 15th anniversary in stellar style with its annual A Night with the Stars fundraiser on Tuesday, October 7, at the Cimarron Country Club in Mission.  The special event honored Sen. Eddie Lucio Jr., D-Brownsville (featured left), and former Rep. Roberto Gutiérrez, D-McAllen, for their support of STC from its creation by the Texas Legislature in 1993. Lucio was the author of the legislation that converted the former Texas State Technical College branch campus in McAllen into South Texas Community College.  Gutiérrez was the sponsor of the measure. See story later in this posting.

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Brian Godínez (featured right), Senior Consultant with Godínez Communications, will be the featured speaker before the McAllen Chamber of Commerce on Tuesday, October 28, with his presentation, Bang For The Buck Marketing Strategies!  The session, hosted by the McAllen Chamber of Commerce, will focus on low-cost, high-value marketing techniques and their importance in a successful promotional strategy. The seminar, which will be held in the chamber’s headquarters, located at 1200 Ash Ave in McAllen, will run from 11:30 a.m.  to 1:15 p.m., and lunch will be provided for registered attendees. The session carries a $10 fee per attendee. Featured with Godínez  is Steve Ahlenius, President and CEO of the McAllen Chamber of Commerce. See story later in this posting.

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John Taméz, featured left, on Tuesday, October 7, updated the leadership of the UT-Pan American Alumni Association of plans by his group, the UT-Pan American Student Alumni Association, to organize a Rock Out Cancer Marathon at the Edinburg campus on Saturday, October 25. “The intention of hosting this event is to start new traditions that will continue to spread cancer awareness across UTPA and the community for many years to follow,” he said. “The SAA will take an initiative to increase awareness for one of society’s most common and life affecting diseases – cancer. This event is very dear to my heart because I am currently battling cancer and I know that there are many others in this struggle. This marathon will definitely help everyone.” His presentation came before more than two dozen UT-Pan American alumni leaders meeting at the Wells Fargo Bank in Edinburg. Included in that session with Taméz were, from left: David Garza, president of the Houston chapter of the UT-Pan American Alumni Association; Dan Martínez, also with the Houston chapter; and Dr. Anthony Acosta, Ph.D., Multi-Media Program Director for Entravision Communications. The UT-Pan American Alumni Association has a website located at http://www.utpaalumni.com See related story later in this posting.

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Former Councilmember Eddie Cisneros-Johnson arrested on DWI, firearm, drug charges in McAllen

Edinburg school board president Carmen González on Tuesday, April 8, drew pieces of paper containing the names of fellow trustees Greg García, Jr. and Robert Peña, Jr. to determine the new length of their terms of office. The drawing of the names was authorized by a controversial new state law, according to school board attorney Jacques Treviño, that will eventually result in all seven school board trustees having their terms of office increase to four years from its current three-year length, and switch the month for school board elections to November from May. García, Peña and trustee Jaime Chavana have objected, contending the state law was voluntary, not mandatory, and that voters in the school districts should be the only one with the power to make those changes. González and the other three school board trustees say the new state law required the changes, whether they agree with the results or not, and that view has been supported by the Texas Attorney General and the Texas Secretary of State. The school board attorney, seen here, coordinated the drawing, which will be broadcast beginning of Friday, April 11, on the school district’s television channel on cable 17. García and Peña did not attend the special board meeting that was scheduled specifically for the drawing. See story later in this posting.

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Fern McClaugherty of Edinburg, a community activist who looks out for waste in government, on Tuesday, April 8, urged the Edinburg school board and area voters to reject two school construction bond issues that will be on the May 10 ballot. She express her sentiments with a card bearing the following theme against the two proposals, which involve almost $150 million in new debt: “Use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without.” Supporters of the bond issue contend that the bond election will provide facilities needed to improve educational attainment. Proposition 1 includes building four (4) elementary schools, two (2) middle schools; converting Harwell Middle School into a fourth high school; three (3) multi-purpose fine arts centers at each of the existing high schools; Brewster School addition/renovations, and land acquisition for a total of $111,920,000. Proposition II includes $37,675,000 of 1998 Lease Purchase Bonds to be converted into Series 2008 voter authorized IFA supported bonds.

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South Texas College is a winner of the 2008 MetLife Foundation Community College Excellence Award. The announcement was made Tuesday, April 8 at the American Association of Community Colleges annual convention held in Philadelphia. The other national winner is The Community College of Baltimore County in Maryland. As part of the award, each college receives a $30,000 grant to continue creating and implementing effective strategies for aiding underrepresented students, as well as using data to target and assess strategies to improve student outcomes. The two colleges were chosen based on their ability to demonstrate determined leadership, innovative programming and attention to outcomes. The result: clear improvements in meeting the varied learning needs of low-income, first-generation, immigrant and working students. Representatives from South Texas College accept the MetLife Foundation Community College Excellence Award. From left are Roy de Leon of the STC Board of Trustees, President Shirley A. Reed, and Irene García, chair of the STC board. See story later in this posting.

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Border Wall to be discussed at April 15 forum sponsored by UT-Pan American, Texas Border Coalition

High school students Melissa Castaño of Edinburg, featured center, and Atanacio Gómez of Eagle Pass were named Students of the Year on Monday, March 31 by the Migrant Student Graduation Enhancement Program at The University of Texas at Austin. Castaño, a senior at Johnny G. Economedes High School, is the oldest child of Ricardo and María del Jesús Castaño. She ranks 13th in a class of 537 students and is the highest-ranked migrant student in her school. “She is a student who has a quiet demeanor and who excels in all her classes because she happens to be a very intelligent young lady,” said Castaño’s migrant counselor, Diana Alejos. “My ideal is to change a life and assist the people in my community,” Castaño said. See story later in this posting.

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Eagle Pass Mayor Chad Foster, chairman of the Texas Border Coalition, is among the key Texas border leaders scheduled to be in Edinburg on Tuesday, April 15, from 10:30 to noon, for a forum on the controversial planned Border Wall. The session, which is free and open to the public, will be held at the University of Texas-Pan American in the Student Theatre, located in the Student Union Building on campus. “We hope that this event contributes to UTPA’s standing as a national resource for the study of Latin America and its borders with the United States,” said Dr. Glenn A. Martínez, associate professor of modern languages and literature, who also serves on the board of directors for the Edinburg Economic Development Corporation, which is the jobs-creation arm of the Edinburg City Council. For more information on the forum, contact the Office of International Programs at 956/381-3572. See lead story later in this posting.

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The Edinburg CISD School Health Advisory Council (SHAC) will host its seventh annual ECISD Wellness Fair at the Harwell Middle School Gym on Thursday, April 10 from 6 – 8 p.m., announced Albert López, RN, Coordinator of Health Services. Harwell MS is located at 801 E. Canton Road. The wellness fair will feature various health-related entities from throughout the community as well as a food show sponsored by the ECISD Child Nutrition Department and a Physical Education Showcase by eight elementary schools. The SHAC is a state-mandated council made up of community members, parents and school district staff. The purpose of the SHAC is to address issues that deal with health, nutrition and a safe school environment with the intent to reflect the values of the community. Membership on the health advisory council is approved by the local school board every school year. For more information on the wellness fair, contact the ECISD Health Services office at 289-2300. Edinburg CISD School Health Advisory Council members (left to right) Mike Castillo, parent member; Esther López, Physical Education teacher; Albert López, RN, Coordinator of Health Services; and Dalia Fellows, parent member, plan for the health fair at the Harwell Middle School Gym. Not pictured are Mary DeLuna, director of Child Nutrition; Leo Reyes, PE teacher; and Iris Pérez, ECISD Dietitian.

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The Edinburg Chamber of Commerce has revamped its web page presence on the Internet, thanks to a “virtual face lift” and brand new web page designed by Web Magik. The domain and web address will remain the same at http://www.edinburg.com and will continue to update the community on the local chamber’s news, including ground breakings, ribbon cuttings, seminars, event/meeting dates and more. The user friendly website includes an updated calendar, membership listing, photos, and news involving chamber and city events in which the chamber partners with other entities on such events as Texas Cook’em: High Steaks in Edinburg, set for July 4. The website was unveiled on March 31 at the Edinburg Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors meeting held at the depot. If you would like more information on chamber events and news please call 956-383-4974, or log onto http://www.edinburg.com. Featured in this portrait are some of the active members of the Edinburg Chamber of Commerce, including, standing, from left: Abel J. Leal, Tiffany Gómez, Naomi Perales, Dalia Arce, Dr. Walt Green, Flo Prater, Ian Ochoa, Dina Araguz, Alicia Campos, Aaron Ramírez, Holly Martin, Frank Lara, and Marie García; and seated, from left: Gisela Hughes, Paulina Solis, Elva J. Garza, Jeannie Sandoval, and Eva Rodríguez.

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South Texas is making its mark in the realm of online media. PodCamp San Antonio Numero Dos is scheduled for May 3, 2008 at El Tropicano Riverwalk Hotel. PodCamp San Antonio is an event that attracts online media stars and producers from throughout the state, and has a global audience. Technology events like PodCamp San Antonio Numero Dos have typically been held in cities like Austin, Houston, or Dallas; but they never specialized in podcasting. According to http://www.podcasting-tools.com, podcasting is quickly becoming a buzz word among the techie crowd. So what is podcasting, anyway? Podcasting is online audio content that is delivered via an RSS feed. Many people liken podcasting to radio on demand. However, in reality, podcasting gives far more options in terms of content and programming than radio does. In addition, with podcasting, listeners can determine the time and the place, meaning they decide what programming they want to receive and when they want to listen to it. Listeners can retain audio archives to listen to at their leisure. While blogs have turned many bloggers into journalists, podcasting has the potential to turn podcasters into radio personalities. Key organizers for PodCamp San Antonio Numero Dos are featured here, from left: Richard Galvan, Shaine Mata, Jennifer Navarrete, Michael De Leon, and Lans Hobart. See story later in this posting.

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Kenneth I. Shine, M.D., executive vice chancellor for health affairs at The University of Texas System, was appointed interim chancellor of the UT System on Tuesday, April 1, by Regents’ Chairman H. Scott Caven, Jr. The appointment is effective May 1. Shine, a world-renowned cardiologist and physiologist with outstanding academic and medical credentials, will succeed UT System Chancellor Mark G. Yudof, who last week was named the president of the University of California system. See story later in this posting.

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DOJ says ECISD paperwork seeking changes to terms of office, election date, is incomplete, delays action

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Leadership Edinburg, sponsored by the Edinburg Chamber of Commerce, continues to develop its understanding of complicated issues that affect the economy, politics, and goals of the city and school district in the three-time All-America City. Public school finance was one of the major issues that has been reviewed by the group, whose members are featured here during a previous meeting with top Edinburg school district leaders. Leadership Edinburg involves a nine-month program whose members meet on a monthly basis, on different topics, such as government, media, education, and quality-of-life issues. Featured in this portrait are, standing, from left: Estella Macias, Naomi Perales, Jay Flores, Loida Leal, Destiny Campos, Jerry Salazar, Victor Arteaga, Julio Rodríguez, Lupita Cano, and Nora Garza. Seated, from left, are: Mónica Rodríguez, Frank Lara, ECISD Superintendent Gilbert Garza Jr., Aurelio Flores, ECISD assistant superintendent for Finance and Operations, and Dacia Salinas. In a related matter, Aurelio Flores announced on Thursday, March 27, that the school district has received an $86,404 cash dividend from Property Casualty Alliance of Texas (PCAT), the insurance program which provides property and casualty insurance to the school district. See story on the ECISD cash dividend later in this posting.

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Retired U.S. Admiral Bobby R. Inman, a national security and international affairs expert, will be the featured speaker in Edinburg on Tuesday, April 1, at the University of Texas-Pan American. Inman’s appearance is part of the fall Global Security Studies and Leadership Speaker Series sponsored by the Integrated Global Knowledge and Understanding Collaboration (IGkNU) at The University of Texas-Pan American. His presentation is free and open to the public. See story later in this posting.

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For over 160 years, the Rio Grande Valley has served as an international border between the United States and Mexico. Customary conflicts between the two have led to many historic events in the area, including battles between Hispanic Texans and the Texas Rangers in the early 1900s, where thousands of area residents were killed or wounded by rogue members of the famed Texas Rangers. Kirby Warnock, the producer of the award-winning PBS documentary “Return to Giant”, will be at South Texas College in McAllen on Saturday, April 5, to talk about his new documentary, “Border Bandits,” which takes a new look at a very old incident. In 1915 a group of Mexican banditos raided the McAllen Ranch, one of the largest in the area. The next day a group of Texas Rangers supposedly arrived and eliminated the perpetrators. However, the real story is not as tidy as it has been portrayed. Roland Warnock, a 19-year-old cowboy working on the Guadalupe Ranch near present-day Edinburg, witnessed two of these killings when he saw Texas Rangers from Company D shoot two unarmed men in the back and leave their bodies by the side of the road. See story later in this posting.

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Mark G. Yudoff, chancellor of The University of Texas System, which includes UT-Pan American, has been appointed president of The University of California. The appointment will be effective this summer, with the exact date to be determined. H. Scott Caven, Jr., chairman of the UT Board of Regents, on Thursday, March 27, said the board would make finding a successor to Yudof a top priority, but added that he was confident the system would continue to operate efficiently and deliver academic excellence with its outstanding leadership team in place. The board will conduct a national search for a replacement, with details on the process to be announced at a later date. See story later in this posting.

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