Featured: The new year brought with it two new members of the Hidalgo County Commissioners Court: County Judge Richard Cortéz of McAllen and Precinct 4 County Commissioner Ellie Torres of Edinburg. Among their most notable first actions are that Drainage District No. 1, which is composed of the judge and four county commissioners, now meet at 9:30 a.m. every Tuesday, followed by the Commissioners Court meeting, which will begin at 10 a.m., except on the fourth Tuesday of each month, when the Commissioners Court will meet at 2 p.m. The meeting schedule is available by logging on to https://www.hidalgocounty.us. From left: Precinct 1 County Commissioner David Fuentes of Weslaco; Precinct 2 County Commissioner Eduardo “Eddie” Cantú of Pharr; Cortéz; Precinct 3 County Commissioner Joe M. Flores of Mission; and Torres.
Featured, right, Edinburg Mayor Richard H. García speaking with reporters on Thursday, January 22, 2015, prior to welcoming Gov. Greg Abbott to the Edinburg Conference Center at Renaissance.
Photograph By MARK MONTEMAYOR
Edinburg’s unemployment rate for February 2015 was 4.8 percent, which was lower than the previous month’s level of 5.1 percent, better than the February 2014 level of 6.2 percent, and the best showing for that month since 2008, the Edinburg Economic Development Corporation has announced. The EEDC is the jobs-creation arm of the Edinburg Mayor and the Edinburg City Council. The unemployment rate is a key indicator of the strength of the local economy. Those most recent figures, released on Friday, March 27 by the Texas Workforce Commission (TWC), came about a week after Teleperformance U.S.A., a global company which specializes in customer service, technical support, call center, debt collection and social media, announced that it will begin hiring 200 more staff members at its Edinburg site, located at 1701 South Closner Blvd. Only McAllen had a better monthly performance among the Valley’s major economies, coming in with a 4.7 percent unemployment rate for February 2015, the TWC reported. The previous month, the unemployment rate in McAllen was five percent. Edinburg’s February 2015 unemployment rate of 4.8 percent remained close to the Texas statewide average, which was 4.3 percent for February 2015, compared with statewide average of 4.6 percent for January 2015, according to TWC figures. With more than 700 employees at the local Teleperformance facility, the company currently utilizes about 50,000 square feet with about 800 work stations. “Our clients see Edinburg as a great place for customer service and support,” said Miranda Collard President of Operational Delivery for Teleperformance U.S.A. “They recognize the area’s diversity, talent, and education in the community. Edinburg offers a unique advantage to employers like Teleperformance because of the strength of the community and the incredible work ethic of the people. We are excited to continue our growth in this area.”Mayor Richard H. García congratulated Teleperformance with its continued success and agreed with the company’s assessment of the work ethics in this region. “For us working hard is just something we do. That’s what our parents taught us and I’m glad we’re being recognized for our hard working habits,” the mayor said. ‘“This is their second expansion since they first opened in 2003. Clearly, we’re a good fit.” Their first expansion was in 2013, when Teleperformance added 400 positions and increased square footage by 24,000 feet, making room for 350 more workstations. Agustín “Gus” García, Jr. (no relation to the mayor), Executive Director of the EEDC, said the additional 200 jobs at Teleperformance U.S.A. will contribute to the city’s declining unemployment rate. “This also means that people looking for a job will have high-paying positions to choose from, great jobs that could turn into careers,” the EEDC Executive Director reflected.
Congressman Rubén Hinojosa, D-Mercedes, outlines his vision for continued economic growth and job creation for his 15th Congressional District, which includes Hidalgo County, at the Pharr Convention Center (now Boggus Ford Events Center) on Tuesday, November 4, as his wife, Martha López Hinojosa, looks on. “When I first took office in January 1997, the unemployment rate for Hidalgo County was at 22 percent. I made it my goal to help bring this number down to single digits and we succeeded,” Hinojosa said. The latest jobs figures bear him out, according to the Texas Workforce Commission, a state agency which provides information and analysis on shifts in occupations and industries within the state, including unemployment rates and employment figures, broken down by cities, counties, and regions in Texas, on a monthly basis. All cities combined in Hidalgo County averaged an 8.3 percent unemployment rate in January 2015. Also for January 2015, there were 307,706 individuals were employed in Hidalgo County. Hinojosa’s perspectives are shared by the leadership of the Texas Workforce Commission, who were appointed by then-Gov. Rick Perry, a Republican. “The diversity of skills found in the Texas workforce has contributed greatly to the strength of the Texas economy,” said TWC Commissioner Representing Labor Ronny Congleton. “As jobs are added, Texas has skilled workers to fill them and resources available for workers to obtain new skills when needed. I encourage all job seekers to look for available positions through TWC’s online job-matching resource, WorkInTexas.com and to take advantage of the many services and training resources available through their local Workforce Solutions office.”
Photograph by MARK MONTEMAYOR
Edinburg’s unemployment rate for January 2015 was 5.1 percent, a significant improvement from the monthly rate in January 2014, when it came in at 6.3 percent, and better than the January 2015 U.S. unemployment rate of 5.7 percent, the Edinburg Economic Development Corporation has announced. The EEDC is the jobs-creation arm of the Edinburg City Council. The unemployment rate is a key indicator of the strength of the local economy. Only McAllen had a better performance among the Valley’s major economies, coming in with a 5.0 percent unemployment rate for January 2015, according to the Texas Workforce Commission. Edinburg’s latest monthly showing also remained within striking distance of the Texas statewide average, which was 4.6 percent for January 2015, while better than the U.S. unemployment rate of 5.7 percent for the same month, the TWC reported. According to the Texas Workforce Commission, the four-county Valley’s other major communities shared in Edinburg and McAllen’s good news, continuing to boast unemployment rates in the single-digits, in the following order: Harlingen (6.3 percent); Mission (6.3 percent); Weslaco (7.2 percent); Pharr (7.5 percent); and Brownsville (7.8 percent). The January 2015 data, released by the Texas Workforce Commission on Friday, March 5, also showed an increase of 636 jobs in Edinburg when comparing the employment figures for January 2015 and January 2014. In January 2015, there were 35,536 persons employed in Edinburg, compared with 34,900 in January 2014. The January 2015 unemployment rate of 5.1 percent for Edinburg is also better than the annual unemployment rate in Edinburg for 2014, which was 5.8 percent, the best 12-month average from January through December in seven years, according to the Texas Workforce Commission.
Much like the powerful words sung in the hit video Lose my Soul by Grammy Award winning performer TobyMac, the Valley’s own José R. “Pepe” Cabeza de Vaca knows full-well that the most valuable treasures in life are not measured by material wealth. Cabeza de Vaca, one of South Texas’ emerging community leaders, is also publisher of the popular SOCIALIFE NewsMagazine, a monthly journal – now also available on the Internet – which shows the world that South Texans place the highest value on helping others overcome obstacles to succeed and prosper. While the printed and spoken word are the primary tools used by titans of industry, political pundits, and heads of state to serve their self-interests, Cabeza de Vaca and his talented team are believers in a powerful, time-proven proverb: “One picture is worth a thousand words.” His professional and community contributions earned him praise from the Texas Legislature, including this portrait taken at the Capitol in May with the top leadership of the Texas Senate. Featured, from left: Sen. Eddie Lucio, Jr., D-Brownsville; Sen. Juan “Chuy” Hinojosa, D-McAllen; Ma. Silvia Castillo, Vice President, SOCIALIFE News Magazine; José R. “Pepe” Cabeza de Vaca, President, SOCIALIFE News Magazine; and Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst. See lead story later in this posting.
The Texas Association of Community Health Centers (TACHC) recently presented one of its coveted Legislative Champion Award to Rep. Armando “Mando” Martínez, D-Weslaco, for his successful efforts to provide needed funding for Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHC) across Texas, including in the Valley. Federally Qualified Health Centers are designed to provide crucial medical care for thousands of working families in Texas. Equally important, FQHCs allow patients to be diagnosed and treated before their illnesses or injuries become worse, which often result in trips to local hospital emergency rooms, he noted. “The high number of uninsured threatens the financial viability of local health-care systems,” Martínez explained. “These clinics treat people who do not have insurance and help relieve the burden on emergency rooms in terms of both service levels and uncompensated care costs.” Martínez is featured here on Wednesday, August 12, providing a legislative update on health care and other issues during an event at the McAllen Country Club sponsored by the McAllen Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. See story later in this posting.
June Brann, a renowned South Texas journalist featured here in a file photo provided by the Progress Times in Mission, passed away on Friday, August 18. Through her columns in the Progress Times to her regular meetings with city or hospital officials, she was – as the city attorney named her – “the conscience of Mission. She always did what was right,” said friend and Mission Attorney Darrell Davis. Brann, a distinguished journalist with a career spanning over 50 years, is remembered in a story by Edwina Garza, assistant editor at the Progress Times in Mission, along with her obituary, both featured later in this posting,
It may not be pouring down rain but it’s definitely going to be Raining Men on Saturday, August 29 at the McAllen Hispanic Chamber of Commerce “It’s Raining Men” Style Show scholarship fundraiser at The Embassy Suites in McAllen. Professional business men will be modeling the most up-to-date men’s clothing to raise funds for scholarships for the MHCC’s Education Committee. Local and national chain stores are participating in the fun event, which will take place from 6:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. in the Embassy Ballroom. Sponsorship opportunities are as follows: Monsoon – $1,500 with 2 tables of 10 in prime location; Podium time, company banner set up at event and a full page color ad in the program book; Hurricane $750 – one table of 8, company banner and a half-page color ad; and Thunderstorm – $500 with 4 tickets in prime location, company banner and a ¼ page color ad in the program book. Reserved tables of 10 are $500, Stage Side Priority Seating tickets are $50 and General admission $35. Food and refreshments will be included in the ticket. The male models will be showcasing fashions in the following categories: western, casual, athletic, business and formal wear. A father and son division will also be presented. The grand finale will be a live auction for a dinner date with the single men in the fashion show. For sponsorship and ticket information call the McAllen Hispanic Chamber office at 928-0060. Limited seating is available. Featured, from left, are a few of the models: Hari Namboodiri; Alberto Herrera; Amir Elsayed; John Kittleman; and Víctor de León.
Area congressional leaders and officials with the U.S. State Department on Tuesday, July 21, met in Washington, D.C., to review a proposed legal settlement involving passport applications of U.S. citizens whose births were delivered by midwives and birth attendants, rather than by doctors or at U.S. hospitals. Under the proposed settlement in the federal case, Castelano v. Clinton, the plaintiffs claimed the State Department was improperly processing the passport applications of persons whose births were assisted by midwifes or birth attendants in Texas and along the U.S. – Mexico border. Over the years, a large number of midwives and birth attendants filed birth certificates in Texas for people who were not born in the United States. However, the lawsuit asserted that this fact did not justify the State Department’s practices for processing these applications. The State Department denied the allegations in June 2009. The settlement is not an admission of wrongdoing or an indication that any law was violated. Featured from left, facing State Department officials, are: Congressman Rubén Hinojosa, D-Mercedes; Congressman Silvestre Reyes, D-El Paso; Congressman Solomon Ortiz, D-Corpus Christ; and Congressman Henry Cuellar, D-Laredo/McAllen. See story later in this posting.
Rep. Verónica Gonzáles, D-McAllen, featured center, first row, recently participated in a Hispanic leaders roundtable at the Texas Capitol with U.S. Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, seen here, first on left, at the podium. The meeting, hosted by the Mexican American Legislative Caucus (MALC), included discussions on health care, education, the economy, immigration, and the current Supreme Court nomination, as well as other important issues. In addition to the McAllen Democrat, other participants included: Rep. Trey Martínez Fischer, D-San Antonio and MALC chairman; Rep. Diana Maldonado, D-Round Rock; Rep. Solomon Ortiz, Jr., D-Corpus Christi; Rep. Abel Herrero, D-Corpus Christi; Mayor Mike González of Kyle; Blanca García, Chair of the Austin Hispanic Chamber of Commerce; and Andy Martínez, President and CEO of the Austin Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, among others.
The University of Texas-Pan American recently was host to the Migrant University Summer Experience for the second consecutive summer. MUSE served up to 100 rising Rio Grande Valley junior and senior migrant students. “This is a great opportunity to experience university life and to learn about valuable resources offered at the university,” said Jeanette Broshears, associate dean of students. MUSE was created in 2008 to offer migrant students the opportunity to gain university level experience, while attaining two high school credits. Some are given the opportunity to earn college credit. In addition, students received on-campus college residential experience, paid professional workplace internships and college readiness and leadership seminars. Pictured are MUSE students Nelley Cruz-Garza, PSJA High School student, and Valerie García, Palmview High School student, during their internship at the UTPA Student Union. See story later in this posting.
President Barack Obama chats with Apollo 11 astronauts, from left, Buzz Aldrin, Michael Collins and Neil Armstrong, on Monday, July 20, in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington on the 40th anniversary of the Apollo 11 lunar landing. He called the Apollo 11 astronauts "American heroes" and praised the entire NASA family for making that iconic flight possible. He also noted how the men’s accomplishment served as inspiration for a generation, and reaffirmed the administration’s commitment to math and science.
Walter Cronkite, longtime reporter and news anchor, died July 17, 2009, at the age of 92. Cronkite attended The University of Texas at Austin in the 1930s and worked as a student reporter at The Daily Texan. His papers reside with the Dolph Briscoe Center for American History at the university. In this file photo provided by NASA, the legendary newsman speaks in February 2004 at a ceremony at the National Air and Space Museum in Washington honoring the fallen astronauts of the STS-107 Columbia mission. See story later in this posting.