Featured: Rep. Terry Canales, D-Edinburg, addressing participants at the Friday, October 6, 2017 groundbreaking ceremony that took place near Edinburg Lake, a 63-mile drainage improvement system that will benefit Hidalgo, Cameron and Willacy counties. “For more than 30 years, Rio Grande Valley leaders have worked to lay the foundations for this massive 150 foot-wide drainage system which will run from Hargill to the Laguna Madre,” said the House District 40 lawmaker. “This project will help redirect a significant amount of the stormwater safely away from many of our communities that suffer from flooding while helping protect our homes and businesses, as well as the continued economic development of flood-prone areas in both Hidalgo and Willacy counties.”
Photograph By ALEX RÍOS
Almost 100 years after Rep. José Tomás Canales, a Brownsville Democrat, politically battled the Texas Rangers for murdering scores of innocent South Texans because they were Mexican American, the State of Texas on Saturday, October 14, 2017 will officially acknowledge, with a permanent public display, that dark period in the state’s history and recognize the descendants of those victims affected by that brutality, Rep. Terry Canales, D-Edinburg, has announced. The unveiling of the state historical marker will take place at 10 a.m. at the Saturday, October 14, 2017 gathering, which will be held at the Southbound Exit 16, Parking/Rest Area between San Benito and Los Fresnos exits. The gathering is open to the public. Canales is a grand nephew of José Tomás Canales, who, as the only Mexican American in the Texas Legislature in 1919, filed legislation to stop that illegal state police violence. “In Texas, there has been a long and continued effort to minimize the struggle of ethnic minorities’ quest for civil rights,” Canales said. “The stories told by these historians in this historical marker and their many published works are an important part of a larger story about the continued struggle of Texas Latinos, who have been fighting for equal rights since the founding of this state.” The Refusing to Forget Project has organized four days of presentations and panel discussions as part of “Resilience en el Valle: Remember the Matanza (Massacre) of 1915” that will lead to the Saturday, October 14, 2017 dedication of the state marker. “The approval and erection of this marker is as close as the government of the State of Texas has gotten to acknowledging its role in the horrific anti-Mexican violence of the 1910s,” said historian Benjamin Johnson, author of the bookRevolution in Texas. “We at Refusing to Forget are pleased that these events are finally getting some of the public recognition that they deserve.”
Thousands of Edinburg residents, including political, business, and community leaders featured in the background, showed up at the University of Texas-Pan American on Friday, February 22, to rally support for the presidential bid by Sen. Barack Obama, D-Illinois, featured center, shown greeting inspired UTPA students. Only a handful of Rio Grande Valley elected leaders showed up to support Obama, who was dueling with Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-New York, a South Texas favorite, for the Democratic Party presidential nomination. Mayor Joe Ochoa and Councilmember Gus García, Jr., along with Edinburg school board trustee Robert Peña, Jr., bucked conventional political wisdom and threw their public support behind Obama, who will be sworn into office on the front steps of the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C. on Tuesday, January 20.
Dr. Beverly Fridie, Ph.D., and her husband, Dr. David Fridie, II, DPM, from Edinburg shared their joy and pride with a Chicago Tribune newspaper distributor in the Windy City on Wednesday, November 5, following the historic election of Sen. Barack Obama, D-Illinois, and the first black president in the nation’s history. The Fridie family traveled to Illinois to be part of what they hoped would be a monumental transformation in U.S. politics. Mrs. Fridie, who along with her husband are longtime community and business leaders in Edinburg, recently reflected on their visit to Chicago to help rally support for Obama. "Weeks after David and I visited Grant Park in Chicago to see and hear Barack Obama’s victory speech, I still feel a since of elation, pride and joy to be present at the historical presidential announcement of the first African American president. Standing amongst millions of enthusiastic people of all ethnic backgrounds who were holding hangs, crying and chanting, "Yes we can” and “Change has come” was an experience, I will cherish for a lifetime. Not a day has passed since that night, November 4, that I have not reflected on that event. As grand as Barack Obama’s victory rally was portrayed in the media, it was certainly an ‘out of body’ experience in person. As we share our history with our future generations, I can say, “I was there” when the first African American was elected as our president of the United States."
Texas Speaker of the House Tom Craddick, R-Midland, featured center in this file photo last year with Hollis Rutledge (left), the chairman of the Hidalgo County Republican Party, and Pharr Mayor Polo Palacios, announced on Sunday, January 4, that he will not seek a fourth two-year term as leader of the 150-member legislative chamber. Instead, a relative newcomer, Rep. Joe Straus, R-San Antonio, on Monday, January 5, said he has more than enough votes to be elected Speaker when the Texas Legislature returns to Austin on January 13 for its five-month regular session. The Speaker of the House, who has the power of life and death over all legislation, is elected every two years if he or she can secure 76 votes from fellow lawmakers. If Straus is able to hold on to his support until the official vote is taken, he will owe his election to House Democrats, including all the Valley state representatives, who represented the majority of the votes needed to become Speaker. See story later in this posting.
Mayor Joe Ochoa, center, flanked by Gov. Rick Perry, right, and former Mayor Richard García left, addressed a July 2 gathering at the University of Texas-Pan American to announce that a South American textile company will build a $180 million denim-manufacturing plant in Edinburg, which, when completed, will create 800 new jobs and pump millions of dollars into the local economy. In December, the city continued to receive some more good news, according to the Edinburg Economic Development Corporation, when Standard and Poor’s, one of the nation’s top three credit rating firms, gave a positive report about the health of the city’s economy, predicting it will continue to grow. See lead story in this posting.
The first historical marker on The University of Texas-Pan American grounds was unveiled April 26 honoring Emilia Schunior Ramírez (1902 – 1960) a South Texas educator with deep roots in Edinburg. More than 40 community members, family and friends attended the celebration commemorating her life. The marker site was erected near Emilia Schunior Ramírez hall, located off of Sugar Road in Edinburg, which is named after Ramírez and once served as a women’s dormitory. Pictured at the unveiling of the Hidalgo County historical marker honoring Emilia Schunior Ramírez are her children, along with their families, who came to the event at the UTPA campus. “This is a joyous occasion for the University as we not only celebrate our first historical marker on campus, but also honor the extraordinary life of Emilia Schunior Ramírez, a world-class educator, who made an impact on many lives in South Texas,” UTPA President Dr. Blandina “Bambi” Cárdenas said. Emilia’s eldest son, Alfonso Ramírez, who was Edinburg’s first Hispanic mayor in the 1950s said his mother was a learner and spent most of her time continuing her education, See story later in this posting.
McAllen Mayor Richard Cortéz, featured left, on April 30 welcomed Speaker of the House Tom Craddick, R-Midland, at a major fundraiser in Pharr for the Hidalgo County Republican Party. Cortéz, who presented Craddick with a token of appreciation from McAllen for Craddick’s work on behalf of South Texas College, continues to build his relationships with the top legislative leadership in Austin, which will be considering the legislative priorities from the McAllen City Commission beginning in January 2009. One of those efforts may include a plan to bring a University of Texas-Pan American facility into McAllen. Cortéz hopes that his city, local legislators, and the UT System can work out a deal with the Texas Legislature to build a state-of-the-art planetarium, known as a digital dome theatre, in the City of Palms. The idea has been in the development stage for about a year, said Cortéz, who wants the UTPA high-technology component to be one of the focal points of an even more ambitious goal – the creation of a high-end retail, entertainment, and housing district – known as “Central Park” – to be built near La Plaza Mall. The value of such a facility would extend beyond tourism dollars, Cortéz contends – it would inspire thousands of Valley students to seek education and careers in science, engineering, and technology. See related story.
President George W. Bush signs H.R. 5715 into law on Wednesday, May 7, 2008, during a ceremony in the Oval Office. The bill, “Ensuring Continued Access to Student Loans Act of 2008,” is designed to provide continued availability of access to the Federal student loan program for students and families. Looking on are, from left: Sen. Ted Kennedy, D-Massachusetts; Congressman Rubén Hinojosa, D-Mercedes; Congressman George Miller, D-San Francisco; Congressman Buck McKeon, R-Santa Clarita, California; Sen. Mike Enzi, R-Wyoming; Secretary of Treasury Hank Paulson; Congressman Ric Keller, R-Orlando, Florida; and Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings. See story later in this posting.