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In meetings with Valley press corps, President Bailey shares his vision for UT-Rio Grande Valley

Bailey vision for UTRGV

Featured, from left: Carlos Sánchez, editor, The Monitor, and Guy Bailey, the founding president of The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley, on Thursday, August 27, during the kick-off of the second season of The Monitor’s Newsmaker Breakfast Series, held at the McAllen Chamber of Commerce.
Photograph By DAVID PIKE

Guy Bailey, founding president of The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley, has put more than 37,000 miles on his pickup truck since July 1, 2014, driving from one end of the Valley to the other to ensure a stellar launch for this distributed university on Monday, August 31. For Bailey, the trips across the Valley are worth it, as it all will lead to success for everyone involved in the creation of this new, one-of-a-kind university that will include a School of Medicine – from students to the community in general, he said. “It is also rewarding because we understand that our mission is Valley-wide,” Bailey said. Bailey will be joined at the Edinburg and Brownsville events by numerous state legislators, county and city elected officials, economic development leaders, with William McRaven, the chancellor of the University of Texas System, to be a featured speaker. McRaven, Bailey and other area leaders will be featured leaders during a Flag-Raising Ceremony from 10 a.m. to 10:45 a.m. at the flagpole on the north side of the Student Services Building at the UT-RGV Edinburg campus on August 31. Those same leaders will then travel to the UT-RGV campus in Brownsville for a Proclamation Ceremony at the Main Building in the Plumeria Courtyard from 2 p.m. to 2:45 p.m. “We are ready and we are excited about it, too,” Bailey told an audience of South Texas dignitaries and residents on Thursday, August 27, during the kickoff of the second season of The Monitor’s Newsmaker Breakfast Series. The interview format series is a partnership between the McAllen Chamber of Commerce and The Monitor and is sponsored by IBC Bank. Bailey was interviewed by Monitor Editor Carlos Sánchez. The Edinburg Mayor, the Edinburg City Council, and the Edinburg Economic Development Corporation were key players in lobbying for the state legislation in 2013 that resulted in the creation of The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley. The EEDC, of which Agustín García, Jr. is Executive Director, is the jobs-creation arm of the Edinburg Mayor and Edinburg City Council. The EEDC Board of Directors is comprised of Mark Iglesias as President, Harvey Rodríguez as Vice President, Ellie M. Torres as Secretary/Treasurer, and Mayor Richard García and Richard Ruppert as Members. Sen. Juan “Chuy” Hinojosa, D-McAllen, and Rep. René Oliveira, D-Brownsville, were the author and sponsor, respectively, of Senate Bill 24, approved by the Texas Legislature in May 2013, which combines the resources of UT-Pan American, UT-Brownsville, and the Regional Academic Health Centers in Edinburg, Harlingen, and Brownsville into the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley. Sen. Eddie Lucio, Jr., D-Brownsville, Sen. Judith Zaffirini, D-Laredo, and Sen. Kel Seliger, R-Amarillo, were joint authors of Hinojosa’s SB 24. Rep. Terry Canales, D-Edinburg, Rep. Sergio Muñoz, Jr., D-Mission, Rep. Armando “Mando” Martínez, D-Weslaco, Rep. Sergio Muñoz, Jr., D-Mission, Rep. Eddie Lucio, III, D-San Benito, Rep. Óscar Longoria, Jr., D-La Joya, Rep. R.D. “Bobby” Guerra, D-McAllen, Rep. J.M. Lozano, R-Kingsville, and Rep. Dan Branch, R-Dallas, were joint sponsors of SB 24. Another major aspect of SB 24 is that the new law gives the UT System the authority to draw much-needed revenue from the Permanent University Fund, which uses money from more than $14 billion in assets to help pay for crucial construction programs throughout the UT System.

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Edinburg hoping northern section of planned Hidalgo County Loop goes near city-owned South Texas International Airport

Edinburg hoping northern section of planned Hidalgo County Loop goes near city-owned South Texas International Airport - Titans of the Texas Legislature

Memorial Day is a United States federal holiday that is observed on the last Monday of May (observed in 2008 on May 26). It was formerly known as Decoration Day. This holiday commemorates U.S. men and women who have died in military service to their country. It began first to honor Union soldiers who died during the American Civil War. After World War I, it was expanded to include those who died in any war or military action. Stories relating to Memorial Day are featured later in this posting, including President Bush’s proclamation and prayer for peace, and updates on a major reform to the G.I. Bill that has passed the U.S. Senate and U.S. House of Representatives.

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Edinburg hoping northern section of planned Hidalgo County Loop goes near city-owned South Texas International Airport - Titans of the Texas Legislature

Rep. Verónica Gonzáles, D-McAllen, featured second from left, brought key House legislators for a recent tour of the newly-opened Rapid Response Manufacturing Center at the University of Texas-Pan American. “It’s not every day that representatives from other regions of the state have the opportunity to see the burgeoning economic development of the Rio Grande Valley,” said Gonzáles. “The Rapid Response Manufacturing Center is a perfect example of how the Valley is continually striving to create and sustain jobs and opportunities for local residents.” Featured on the first row,, from left, are: Rep. Solomon Ortiz, Jr., D-Corpus Christi; Gonzáles; Rep. Dan Branch, R-Dallas, Chair of the Select Committee on Higher and Public Education Finance; Rep. Aaron Peña, D-Edinburg; Dr. Shirley Reed, president of South Texas College; and Dr. Blandina “Bambi” Cárdenas, president of UTPA. See story later in this posting.

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Edinburg hoping northern section of planned Hidalgo County Loop goes near city-owned South Texas International Airport - Titans of the Texas Legislature

A billboard off the U.S. Expressway 281 northbound frontage road near Canton Road heralds the planned construction of a 14-story, $150 million complex that will feature luxury condominiums, a hotel, restaurant, and other amenities known as the Sky View Las Palmas. Work is already underway at the site, which is located near the 1.2 million square-foot Shoppes at Rio Grande Valley, where construction there also is moving forward. Sky View Las Palmas, which proposes to create about 200,00-square-feet of retail space, would be the latest major boost to construction activities in the city. It is tentatively scheduled to be built in four phases, according to the Edinburg Economic Development Corporation, and be wrapped up in about two years.

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Edinburg hoping northern section of planned Hidalgo County Loop goes near city-owned South Texas International Airport - Titans of the Texas Legislature

Robert Gandy, III, President/CEO of First National Bank, the largest privately held bank in Texas, will be the keynote speaker for the Wednesday, May 28 Leadership Edinburg Banquet at the Echo Hotel honoring the 19th graduating class. Tickets are available at $25 per person. Applications for Leadership Edinburg Class XX are currently available by contacting the Edinburg Chamber of Commerce at 383-4974. See story later in this posting.

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Edinburg hoping northern section of planned Hidalgo County Loop goes near city-owned South Texas International Airport - Titans of the Texas Legislature

El Dorado Tejas Kooks of Houston, shown here last summer participating in the annual Texas Cook ‘Em in Edinburg, are expected to be among dozens of teams competing for awards and $15,000 in cash prizes again this July 4, when the major event gets underway again at Edinburg Municipal Park. A new category has been added to the competition – T-Bone Steak. The event is free and open to the public, but there will be a $5 parking fee per family. For more information on the cook-off, including how to enter a team, please log on to http://www.Edinburg.com. See story later in this posting. (More information on photojournalist Kirsten Luce, who took this shot, is available at http://www.KirstenLuce.com).

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Edinburg hoping northern section of planned Hidalgo County Loop goes near city-owned South Texas International Airport - Titans of the Texas Legislature

Homer Gutiérrez, an engineer with J.E. Sáenz and Associates, points out one of the dozen high-resolution maps to Mayor Joe Ochoa, left, that were part of an open house held Wednesday, May 14, at Edinburg North High School, that depict a possible route for the planned $650 million Hidalgo County Loop that could wind up near the city-owned South Texas International Airport in Edinburg. Ochoa, former Mayor Richard Garcia, and Gerry Pate, the leader of Hidalgo County Road Builders, the private coalition developing the loop system, agree it will have a major economic impact on the three-time All-America City. Also featured in this shot is Robert Fina, also an engineer with J.E. Sáenz and Associates, which is one of numerous area firms which make up the Hidalgo County Road Builders. See story later in this posting.

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