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Women’s Business Summit in Edinburg provides area residents with skills, knowledge to start up their own businesses

Congressman Rubén Hinojosa, D-Mercedes, and Rep. Verónica Gonzáles, D-McAllen, featured third and second from the right, were among several dignitaries who were honored or featured on Friday, June 22, during the third annual Women’s Business Summit, which was held at the Edinburg Conference Center at Renaissance. Hinojosa received the “Small Business Community Champion Award” while Gonzáles received the “Community Advocacy Award” during the event, which included the Edinburg Economic Development Corporation as a sponsor. “Edinburg is blessed with private and public institutions, such as the Women’s Business Center, which provide our residents with the needed guidance, invaluable knowledge, and proven experience to help our residents provide for a better and more prosperous future for themselves and their families,” said Mayor Richard García, who also serves as the president of the EEDC Board of Directors, which is the jobs-creation of the Edinburg City Council. The mayor added, “Although the Women’s Business Summit is held only once a year, the Women’s Business Center in Edinburg and its outstanding professional staff are available year-round to help any Valley resident learn what it takes to start up and succeed with their own business. The tremendous services provided by the Women’s Business Center have benefited about 6,000 individuals, mostly women, since 2004.” Featured, from left: Sylvia Zamponi, District Director, Lower Rio Grande Valley District, U.S. Small Business Administration; Yvonne Bonnie González, Chief Executive Officer, Workforce Solutions; Dale Winter with Office Furniture USA; Yvonne García Olivarez, Regional Administrator, Region VI, U.S. Small Business Administration; Congressman Hinojosa; Rep. Gonzáles; and María,”Charo” Mann, Executive Director, Women’s Business Center. See lead story later in this posting.

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The Edinburg Chamber of Commerce on Thursday, May 31, welcomed many of the business leaders who have served as former presidents and chairmen of the organization’s board of directors. The gathering, held at the Edinburg Depot, is an annual event hosted by the Edinburg Chamber of Commerce. They discussed ongoing programs and an update of the Depot Restoration Project. This special group of volunteer leaders have remained active and connected with the Edinburg Chamber of Commerce by continued involvement and support of the chamber’s programs long after they have served their terms as president and/or chairman of the Edinburg Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors. Featured, from left, front row: Mike Govind, Best Western Plus; Letty González, President of the Edinburg Chamber of Commerce; Elva Jackson Garza, Edwards Abstract and Title Co.; Cynthia Bocanegra, Gold Financial Services; Edna Peña, the chamber’s current Chairman of the Board of Directors; Gotta Lovette; Lee Castro, Legacy Chapels Life Events Center; and Bob Gaston, Bob Gaston Realty. Featured, from left, back row: Ted Miller, Jr., Miller & Associates; Robert Gandy III, First National Bank; Byron Jay Lewis, Edwards Abstract and Title Co.; Jack McClelland, McClelland Electric; Mitch Roberts, LJ Roberts Family LP; and Jaime A. Rodríguez, JAR Group, who also represents the Edinburg Chamber of Commerce on the five-member EEDC Board of Directors. See story later in this posting.

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On Thursday, August 16, starting at 5 p.m., Peace & Coffee “Hookah-Bar Lounge” will host the Live Art Auction benefiting Edinburg’s Rainbow Room. The admission price is $25 and includes wine and cheese hors d’oeuvres. The public is invited to support this important organization while bidding on an array of unique art from local Valley artists. The Rainbow Room is an emergency resource center available to CPS caseworkers to help them meet the critical needs of abused and neglected children. Rainbow Rooms provide everyday necessities such as clothing, shoes, baby formula, and school supplies. Featured, front row, from left: Eduardo Juvera; Lorena Paras; Alicia de León, the coordinator for Rainbow Room; Isaura Cisneros; Gilda González; and Camille Rich. Back row, from left: José Alfredo Alaniz; Johnny Rodríguez; and José Borrego. See story later in this posting.

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With the Texas Legislature scheduled to return to work in January 2013, the Rio Grande Valley Hispanic Chamber of Commerce is hosting their “Legislative Report Card Dinner” at the Cimarron Country Club in Mission on Thursday, July 19. Individual and group tickets/sponsorships are available for purchase from the RGV Hispanic Chamber of Commerce by contacting them at 928-0060. Scheduled to participate are Sen. Juan “Chuy” Hinojosa, D-McAllen; Sen. Eddie Lucio, Jr., D-Brownsville; Rep. Sergio Muñoz, Jr., D-Mission; Rep Armando “Mando” Martínez, D-Weslaco; Rep. René Oliveira, D-Brownsville; Rep. Eddie Lucio, III, D-Harlingen; Rep. Ryan Guillen, D-Rio Grande City; and Rep.-elect Óscar Longoria, D-La Joya. Officials will report on the legislation they filed and passed in 2011 and how those measures are affecting the Rio Grande Valley.  In addition, the state lawmakers will preview the respective legislative agenda for action by the state legislature during the five-month regular session that begins next January. Following the legislators’ presentations, audience members will be able to share their concerns during an open floor discussion. Sponsors will get to sit with an elected official during the dinner. Featured helping plan the event are, seated, from left: Marti Miller and Yoli González; and standing, from left: Dr. Robert S. Nelsen, president of the University of Texas-Pan American; and Cynthia M. Sakulenzki, president and CEO for the Rio Grande Valley Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.

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Congressman Henry Cuellar, D-Laredo/McAllen – featured here in this file photograph –  on Tuesday, June 12, congratulated Workforce Solutions and the Border Workforce Alliance (BWA) after the U.S. Department of Labor announced that it has awarded a Workforce Innovation Fund Grant in the amount of $5,999,998 to Workforce Solutions of McAllen, as the lead entity for the BWA. The BWA is a consortium of the five workforce boards located along the Texas-Mexico border.  Earlier this year, Cuellar wrote a letter to U.S. Department of Labor Assistant Secretary Jane Oates in support of the BWA’s application for this grant. The BWA will use the Workforce Innovation Fund Grant to fund a workforce project called Growing Regional Opportunity for the Workforce (GROW), an ambitious regional workforce and economic development initiative that aims to increase literacy and skills training for lower-skilled workers in the Texas-Mexico border region. See story later in this posting.

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The South Texas Lyric Opera, the City of Edinburg, the Edinburg Edinburg Economic Development Corporation, and Edinburg Arts on Saturday, July 14, will be presenting A Night at the Opera, featuring extraordinary talent Hannah Urías (featured in this image) and Friends, who is the 2012 Nordan Young Artist Award Winner, under the leadership of General Director and Conductor Maestro Mazias de Oliveira. The performance will be conducted in the historic Edinburg Auditorium, located at 415 West University Drive. Complimentary hours d’ oeuvres and refreshments will be served at 8 p.m. and the show will begin at 8:30 p.m. Tickets to attend the show are $25 apiece. All interested attendees should call 956/872-6478 to purchase tickets. This first show will mark the beginning of several shows, operas and performances with the South Texas Lyric Opera. See story later in this posting.

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With 12 winning entries, Sen. Judith Zaffirini, D-Laredo, featured in this file photograph, is the sweepstakes winner in the Press Women of Texas (PWT) 2012 Communications Contest for work published in 2011. Because her multiple winning entries earned her more points than any other entrant, she won the contest’s Sweepstakes Award for the second consecutive year. The senator’s award winners include her news releases regarding higher education issues; Senate floor speeches in opposition to voter ID and sanctuary cities legislation; her annual newsletter to constituents; and the website of the Joint Oversight Committee on Higher Education Governance, Excellence and Transparency. See story later in this posting.

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Since 1987, Leadership Edinburg has been introducing its classes to the community to encourage a better Edinburg and help make a long-term impact. On Wednesday, May 23, the twenty-third anniversary of Leadership Edinburg was highlighted with the graduation of 10 participants during a ceremony held at the Echo Hotel and Conference Center. Class XXIII completed several events, including a two-day leadership retreat, and sessions that focused on education, healthcare, history, media, economics and government. This year The Edinburg Leadership Class XXIII presented a check of $20,000 to the Edinburg Police Department for a “shoot house” training facility that was initiated by the class to start Phase 1 of the project. Featured, from left: Aaron I. Vela ( Law Office of Aaron I. Vela), Jason De León (Memorial Funeral Home), Sandra Quintanilla Guzmán (The University of Texas-Pan American), Brenda Almaguer (First National Bank), Martín Rivas (Edinburg Chamber of Commerce), Criselda Ordóñez (Merrill Lynch), Marissa Castañeda (Doctor’s Hospital at Renaissance), Samuel Trejo (International Bank of Commerce), and keynote speaker Carlos X. Guerra (La Muñeca Cattle Co.) Not pictured are graduates Felicia Ramirez (IDEA Public Schools) and SJ Sethi (The University of Texas-Pan American). See story later in this posting.

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The successful Friday, June 22 Women’s Business Summit was made possible by the expert planning of the event’s coordinating committee, featured here recently as the finalized details for the gathering. María “Charo” Mann, Executive Director for the Women’s Business Center, noted that “women are playing a central role in rebuilding the middle class and keeping our economy growing. Women represent one of the fastest?growing segments of the economy.  Women continue to start businesses in this country, making it imperative for them to have the right tools to be successful.” Shown from left: Bianca Cantú; Veronica Padilla with the U.S. Small Business Administration; Dale Winter with Office Furniture USA; Sonya Anciso with Ergo Medics; Yolanda Salinas with Wells Fargo Bank; Celine Schulz with New York Life; and María “Charo” Mann with the Women’s Business Center in Edinburg. See lead story later in this posting.

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Farouk Shami, American success story, guarantees 100,000 new jobs, declares war on poverty in Texas

 

Farouk Shami, a Democratic candidate for Texas governor who came to America 44 years ago with $71 in his pocket and became an American success story, on Tuesday, February 8, said as governor he would use his extensive skills as a proven business leader to help create 100,000 new jobs in Texas  – or he will pay the state $10 million."I am putting my money where my mouth is, and I am sure of my success in serving every person," he said during a televised debate from Fort Worth that featured him and former Houston Mayor Bill White. In an equally powerful fashion, Shami promised that he would never forget the millions of middle-income and poor Texans who, through no fault of their own, are struggling to survive in a Texas economy weakened by the national recession. "We are tired of losing jobs, we are tired of losing mortgages and having hungry people," Shami said. "I will declare war on poverty, and everyone will live the American dream when I am governor of Texas." Shami, featured left, was greeted in McAllen by a full house at the Celestial Room, including Nashla Showery and Aziz Showery, III.  See lead story later in this posting.  

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Sen. Juan ""Chuy" Hinojosa, D-McAllen, featured left, meets with Lucy Canales, partner with Linebarger, Goggan Blair & Sampson, and Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst on Monday, February 1 in McAllen following the announcement that Hinojosa has been appointed to the powerful Legislative Budget Board. Created in 1949, the LBB is primarily responsible for developing a draft appropriations budget at the beginning of each legislative sessions, said Canales, citing the organization’s official records. The board – which features 10 of the most influential state lawmakers – also establishes a constitutional spending limit each session. In many other states, this is done only in the executive branch. The authority of the LBB is broad, and its influence on spending is significant. Hinojosa expressed his appreciation for the appointment and stressed the need to improve fiscal discipline in Texas. "Gov. Dewhurst continues to place his trust in my judgment and capacity to be a part of the Senate’s finance team. This appointment, along with my vice chairmanship of Senate Finance, brings a Coastal Bend and South Texas perspective to Texas’ fiscal management," Hinojosa said. "The current economic picture requires us to be even more prudent in how the state’s wealth is invested. I plan to continue Texas’ dedication to a disciplined approach to maximize the return on the taxpayer’s investment." See story later in this posting. 

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Another major endorsement has been secured by Sergio Muñoz, Jr., who on Thursday, February 4 received the unanimous support in his bid for State Representative, House District 36, from the mayor and city commission of Pharr. House District 36 includes Granjeno, Hidalgo, southern McAllen,  most of Mission, Palmview, Peñitas, and Pharr. The powerful show of confidence by the elected city leadership of Pharr comes soon after another big victory for Muñoz, a Democrat, when the mayor and city council of Mission also endorsed his candidacy for the Texas Legislature. Muñoz, a successful attorney and Palmview Municipal Court Judge,  has made job creation, more health care, better access to education, and improved public safety – including cracking down of sexual predators – the foundation of his campaign. "Pharr has established itself at the statewide level as the hub of transportation for our region and as a major gateway for NAFTA-oriented businesses, and Pharr knows that Sergio Muñoz, Jr. has the professional and personal skills to be successful in the Texas Legislature, where he will pass laws and shape state agency policies that will help our city continue to grow and prosper," said Mayor Leopoldo "Polo" Palacios, Jr. Featured, from left: Commissioner Francis Quintanilla; Commissioner Óscar Elizondo, Jr.; Commissioner Eduardo "Eddie" Cantú; Sergio Muñoz, Jr.; Mayor Leopoldo "Polo" Palacios; Commissioner Roberto "Bobby" Carrillo; and Mayor Pro Tem Adán Farias. Not shown, but also endorsing Muñoz, is Commissioner Arturo J. Cortéz. 

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Sen. Eddie Lucio, Jr., D-Brownsville, featured third from right, on Monday, February 1, brought Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst, to Lucio’s right, and Rep. Tara Ríos Ybarra, D-South Padre Island, to Lucio’s left, to the University of Texas Regional Academic Health Center in Harlingen for an update on the facility, which includes campuses in Edinburg and Brownsille. Dr. Robert Hernández, a faculty professor at the Harlingen campus, conducted a demonstration on how Valley medical students study the human body with the use of one of two similar dolls named SIM Man #1 and SIM Man #2. Also present were  Dr. Leonel Vela, Regional Dean of the RAHC and Dr. Adela Valdéz, Assistant Regional Academic Dean for Medical Education. In conjunction with the tour, Lucio, who serves as chair of the Senate International Relations and Trade Committee, said that his legislative panel is looking into ways to help boost job creation and improve trade in communities located along the Texas-Mexico border.  See story on IRT committee later in this posting. 

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The McAllen Hispanic Chamber of Commerce has announced their Business Award winners for 2010. They will be honored at the Annual Business Awards & Installation Dinner on Tuesday, February 16 at The Club at Cimarron in Mission from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Being honored this year are, from left: Francisco Ochoa, Jr. Taco Palenque/Palenque Grill (Small Corporation category); Pepe Cabeza de Vaca of Social Life (Business Man); Yoli Cantú, owner of McAllen Stained Glass (Business Woman); and Cruz Rangel of Coca Cola – Rio Grande Valley (Large Corporation). Entertainment for the night will be comedian Mark “The Mexi Can’t” Olabarrieta, who will poke fun at the business world. Additionally, the new 2010 Board members will be installed by Hidalgo District Judge Juan Partida. Current sponsors for the event are TXU as Title Sponsor and Lone Star National Bank, Silver Sponsor. For more information on sponsorship and/or tickets, individuals may call the MHCC office at 928-0060. 

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More than 100 employees from several maquiladora manufacturing companies are attending English and Spanish-language classes at South Texas College’s Technology Campus. As part of the North American Advanced Manufacturing and Research Initiative, private partner companies have taken advantage of intense workplace literacy training at STC’s Institute for Advanced Manufacturing (IAM). The program consists of three levels of English and Spanish language classes that help participants refine their oral, written and listening skills, and gain an understanding of commonly-used vocabulary terms to enhance their job productivity. Sonia Salinas, an English instructor at STC, is featured here placing students in a real-world situation to help them improve their communication effectiveness in the workplace. See story later in this posting.  

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The Food Bank RGV and Feeding America, the nation’s largest domestic hunger-relief organization, on Wednesday, February 3, released a landmark study  and reported that nearly 22,000 different people receive emergency food assistance in any given week through agencies served by the Food Bank of the Rio Grande Valley.  Fifty percent of those served are children under 18 years old and 52 percent of households include at least one employed adult. Óscar L. Garza Jr., Hidalgo County Commissioner of Precinct 4, was present for the study’s unveiling and signaled his personal as well as the county’s unwavering support of the Food Bank, which serves the three-county area of Hidalgo, Cameron and Willacy. “The Food Bank of the Rio Grande Valley performs an invaluable service to our community helping to keep our families healthy and fed. For this reason, I am challenging our county employees to make either a donation of non-perishable food to the Food Bank or a monetary contribution. We will be organizing the first county-sponsored food drive slated for March 1 and getting our employees motivated and engaged to end hunger in our community," said Garza. "If our county family can put up at least $2,500 worth of donations, I’ll also see to it that local Hidalgo County businesses match that amount. No child, no elderly individual and no veteran should be going hungry in Hidalgo County.” Featured, from left: Richard Aguirre, Ignacio Almaguer, Naomi Perales, and Terri Drefke, who are board members with the RGV Food Bank; Hidalgo County Precinct 4 Commissioners Óscar L. Garza; Nelda Garza, Minnie Longoria, and Tracy Hughes, who also serve as board members of the RGV Food Bank; Arden Peterson, an advocate; and Luis Leal, a member of the board for the RGV Food Bank. See story later in this posting. 

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The Edinburg Chamber of Commerce is grateful for all of the community support given to Fiesta Edinburg 2010. Sponsors of the upcoming event for February 27 are The City of Edinburg, IBC Bank, the Edinburg Economic Development Corporation, HEB #2, Doctors Hospital at Renaissance, Martin Farm and Ranch Supply, Memorial Funeral Home, Security First Credit Union, Elsa State Bank, Texas Gas Service, The Valley Town Crier/Edinburg Review, L&F Distributors, South Texas Health System and special thanks to Cuartitos, Que Pasa 99.5, G&S Glass, A&J Petroleum and Austin Personnel Services. Fun, Food, IBC Bank “Sports Bowl” parade, the Heart of America Carnival (rates apply), Kids Zone plus live music are all free with only $10 parking per vehicle. Fiesta Edinburg is Edinburg’s largest celebration and was created to commemorate holding the county seat. The Fiesta Edinburg Committee is excited to announce Los Palaminos and Jaime y Los Chamacos on the Saturday, February 27 music lineup. Featured promoting Fiesta Edinburg 2010 are, from left: Rick Salinas with L&F Distributors; Naomi Perales with Texas Gas Service; Emigdio Cahue with HEB #2; Robert McGurk with Elsa State Bank; Letty González, president of the Edinburg Chamber of Commerce; Dina Araguz withIBC Bank; Tiffany Tamez with IBC Bank; Blanca Hinojosa with Security First Credit Union; and Rey Garza with HEB #2. More information on Fiesta Edinburg is available at 956/383-4974 or online at http://www.edinburg.com 

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The McAllen Hispanic Chamber of Commerce recently celebrated their annual Noche de Gala.  The highlight of the evening was the presentation of the Golden Eagle Award. Being honored this year was Congressman Henry Cuellar, D-Laredo/McAllen. The award is given to an individual who has gone above and beyond the norm in the community in regards to economic development, education, leadership, and so on. Featured, from left: Adelita Muñoz, vice chair of education for the McAllen Hispanic Chamber of Commerce; Roxanna Godínez, MHCC vice chair of membership;  Alma Torres, MHCC secretary; Congressman Cuellar; Rep. Verónica Gonzáles, D-McAllen; and Cynthia M. Sakulenzki, MHCC president and chief executive officer.   

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Dr. Larry Balli, health care and economic leader, honored for life’s work by Gov. Perry, Legislature

 

Every year, Texas Monthly publishes much-anticipated reviews of some of the state’s best medical, legal, and community leaders, based on a strict and independent research process that identifies Texans who have attained a high degree of peer recognition and professional achievement. Dr. Larry Balli, one of the area’s most influential dentists, has long enjoyed a stellar reputation in Edinburg. Late last year, he was bestowed the coveted honor of "Super Dentist" by Texas Monthly, a major statewide magazine with a national following. Now comes news that his professional and civic contributions to the region have earned him praise from Gov. Rick Perry and the Texas Legislature, which have approved a legislative resolution publicly recognizing him for his efforts in the Lone Star State. See lead story later in this posting. 

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As the veto period came to a close on Sunday, June 21, Sen. Juan "Chuy" Hinojosa, D-McAllen, featured here during a McAllen Chamber of Commerce legislative update on Wednesday, June 17, announced final approval of 59 measures that he authored or sponsored. Hinojosa’s legislative package includes bills on transportation, natural resources, criminal justice, infrastructure, and health care issues, benefitting South Texas and the entire state.  See story later in this posting. 

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SOCIALIFE News Magazine, the five-year-old creation of South Texas entrepreneur Pepe Cabeza de Vaca, featured here with Rep. Verónica Gonzáles, D-McAllen, has been honored by the Texas House of Representatives for its vital role of promoting a positive image of the Rio Grande Valley and by helping charitable organizations in the state and nation.  The honor, contained in House Resolution 2283 filed by Rep. Verónica Gonzáles, D-McAllen, was unanimously approved by House of Representatives on May 25. See story later in this posting. 

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The laboratories at McAllen Heart Hospital and McAllen Medical Center were accredited by the College of American Pathologists (CAP) after site inspections on April 1 and May 1. Both laboratories received complimentary remarks by CAP inspectors on the quality of patient testing, documentation and organization. The laboratories also received  exemplary marks on their standard of laboratory practices. Featured here are some of the employees of McAllen Medical Center and McAllen Heart Hospital who are instrumental to the quality of care and services the laboratories provide. From left, first row: Dr. Feliberto Cavazos, pathologist; Sobie Treviño, system assistant director; Grace Garza, system lab director; and Robert Tamez, hospital administrator. Second row, from left: Dr. José Luis Valencia, pathologist; Norma Rodríguez; and Lester Alvarado. Third row, from left:  Denisha Niño; Aida Galván; Diana Villarreal; Janice Milford; and Jennifer Ríos. Four row, from left: Elisa Díaz; Mylene Trasmonte; Becky Flores; and Sylvia Aguinaga. Fifth row, from left: Virgil Zuñiga; Robert Hockaday; Alejo Romero; Andy Romero; and Aydee García. See story later in this posting. 

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Hundreds of future South Texas College graduates, such as these featuring during this spring’s commencement exercise, will benefit from a major grant, to be dispersed over the next three years, for expanded development education programs. On Monday, June 22, STC leaders announced that the college has been named as one of 15 national recipients – and only four in Texas – of a new grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and MDC, Inc. Together the groups are giving $16.5 million to community colleges across the nation, $743,000 of which will come directly to South Texas College. “At STC we are so happy to receive the funds because it will help us institute a change to the respective course contents in our developmental programs to create learning connections for students among the three developmental education disciplines through contextualization of the curriculum,” said Dr. Ali Esmaeili, dean of developmental studies for STC. “We plan to implement a robust case management student support framework to ensure a consistent and reliable contact experience for all of our developmental students.” See story later in this posting. 

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Texas veterans denounce Texas Monthly’s attack on Rep. Flores for fighting for disabled war heroes 

Rep. Ismael "Kino" Flores, D-Palmview, flanked by leaders of local veterans’ groups, on Thursday, June 11, explained why he took on powerful legislative enemies in order to get his bill passed that will provide up to a 100 percent home property tax break for thousands of disabled veterans. "We veterans, we don’t leave anyone behind, and I wasn’t about to leave these veterans behind," Flores said during a press conference organized by the Veterans Alliance of the Rio Grande Valley. The group chose the Rio  Grande Valley State Veterans Cemetery in Mission as the site for the news event, noting that Flores had also been the principal architect in bringing the state veterans cemetery to the Valley. Despite behind-the-scenes legislative opposition to his measure, Flores, a U.S. Army veteran, outmaneuvered his  political rivals and passed the veterans’ home tax break. Flores praised Texas veterans groups for playing a key role in the measure’s hard-fought success.  See lead story later in this posting. 

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Sen. Juan "Chuy" Hinojosa, D-McAllen, featured first on right, was rated as one of the best state lawmakers in Texas by Capitol Inside, a non-partisan web site news service has been a big hit with Republicans, Democrats and diehard independents as well since making its debut online in January 2003. At the conclusion of each legislative session, several political publications and websites name best and worst performers based on their service to their districts and the state. This year, Capitol Inside and political strategists Ted Delisi and Harold Cook compiled top ten lists, each naming Sen. Juan "Chuy" Hinojosa, D-McAllen, as one of Texas’ top ten legislators. Capitol Inside referred to Hinojosa as a veteran legislator that "just keeps getting better."  The Delisi/Cook list noted Hinojosa’s ability to secure funding for District 20 projects, including highway infrastructure, and millions of dollars for health care delivery services. From left, during a recent visit to the Capitol, are Hidalgo County Treasurer Norma G. García, Hidalgo County District Clerk Laura Hinojosa (no relation to the senator), Hidalgo County County Clerk Arturo Guajardo, Jr., and Hinojosa. See story on the Capitol Inside ranking later in this posting. 

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South Texas firefighters were among the dozens of area groups which visited state lawmakers at the Capitol during the recently-concluded five month regular session. On Wednesday, April 1, a Valley delegation brought their issues to Sen. Eddie Lucio Jr., D-Brownsville. Featured with Lucio, in his office, are, from left: Manuel Vargas, McAllen; Raul R. Zúñiga, Jr., San Benito; Javier Gutiérrez, McAllen; Lucio; Ramón Martínez, San Benito; Jesús Tijerina, San Benito; and Ernest Abrego, Harlingen. Later in this posting, Lucio writes about several key measures approved by the Legislature that will benefit another key constituency – military veterans.  

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The Convention Committee of the McAllen Hispanic Chamber of Commerce is finalizing plans for the 34th annual Texas Association of Mexican American Chambers of Commerce (TAMACC) Convention, which this year will be held at the McAllen Convention Center from July 29 through August 1.  The theme to the convention is “Growing Hispanic Business, for a Stronger Texas Economy”. Featured, front row, from left:  Sam Guzmán, TAMACC president;  Froy Garza with Congressman Henry Cuellar’s office; and Salomon Torres with Congressman Ruben Hinojosa’s office. Back row, from left: Rick Carrera, University of Texas-Pan American Small Business Development Center; Dr. John Thomas, MHCC board of directors; Mark Winchester, UTPA’s Director of the Rio South Texas Regional Procurement Technical Assistance Center; Cynthia M. Sakulenzki, MHCC Pres/CEO; Letty Flores with Gov. Rick Perry’s office; Margie Treviño, Southern Minority Supplier Development Council; and María Juárez, UTPA Director of the Small Business Development Center. See story later in this posting. 

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The Edinburg Chamber of Commerce will host a Power Punch @ Lunch on Wednesday, June 24 at the Depot, located at 602 W. University Drive, sponsored by Doctors Hospital at Renaissance (DHR). The business community of Edinburg and the Rio Grande Valley are invited to attend the free networking luncheon from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.  Persons who attend are being asked to bring their business cards to distribute during the chamber’s most notable social-networking luncheon, which includes food, door prizes and fun. Area residents interested in attending should RSVP by calling 956/383-4974. Featured, from left: Joanna Álvarez, DHR Assistant Director for Marketing; McAllen City Commissioner Jim Darling, who serves as DHR’s legal counsel; Mario Lizcano, DHR Director for Marketing; Marissa Castañeda, DHR’s Chief Operations Officer; and Frank Lara, Membership Director, Edinburg Chamber of Commerce.  

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Texas Monthly ignores Valley lawmakers’ successes, again puts Hispanics in negative light, says Rep. Flores

The nomination of Judge Sonia Sotomayor of the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit appears to have caused some confusion among members of the media and news consumers, according to the National Association of Hispanic Journalists. That organization is encouraging news organizations to avoid any confusion over Sotomayor’s ethnic background. Her Puerto Rican parents are not immigrants, as some journalists have reported, since island-born residents are U.S. citizens, conferred by an act of Congress in 1917. "People who move to the U.S. mainland from Puerto Rico are no more immigrants than those who move from Nebraska to New York," said Iván Román, NAHJ’s executive director. "Her nomination to replace Justice David H. Souter represents the possibility of the first Latino sitting on the nation’s highest court. As the debate over her qualifications develops, NAHJ would encourage the highest form of discourse." Sotomayor, 54, is featured here on May 26 with President Obama and Vice President Biden following her nomination by the president to the U.S. Supreme Court.

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Congressman Lamar Smith, R-San Antonio, featured here, third from right, during an unrelated photograph with constituents and then-President Bush, on officially launched the Congressional Media Fairness Caucus (MFC) to counter what he says is media bias. The purpose of the MFC is not to censor or condemn, but to encourage the media to adhere to the highest standards of reporting and to provide the American people with the facts, balanced stories and fair coverage of the news, Smith contended. A study by the nonpartisan Center for Media and Public Affairs found that network news programs gave President Obama more than three times the coverage that they gave former President George W. Bush early in his presidency, Smith noted. See related story later in this posting.

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Rep. Aaron Peña, D-Edinburg, featured here, front row, second from left, with fellow members who first came into the Texas Legislature with him about six-and-a-half years ago, on Friday, June 5, declared that legislation authorizing the establishment of a medical school in the Rio Grande Valley was his and the region’s number one legislative priority. "The Rio Grande Valley has been long underserved in access to healthcare and health care providers," said Peña. "The establishment of a medical school and health science center will not only serve to bridge that gap but it has the power to transform our economy. I applaud Sen. Eddie Lucio for his leadership, our legislative delegation and community and business leaders for all their efforts. While we can relish this achievement we have a lot of important work ahead to ensure that the facility is fully funded and world-class." See story later in this posting.

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The employees of South Texas College have been recognized by the United Way of South Texas for being the most charitable among all staffs at state agencies across the Rio Grande Valley, including outperforming other major universities and state offices. STC employees pledged more than $40,000 through the 2008 State Employees Charitable Campaign (SECC), administered by the United Way of South Texas. The college merited the SECC Lone Star Award for its effort. Featured, representing STC and UWST, are, from left, front: Gloria Ann Hernández, community relations public sector campaign for UWST; Thelma Garza, UWST president; and Diana Peña, vice president of Finance and Administrative Services for STC. Back row, from left: Dr. Shirley A. Reed, president of STC; Jeff Heavin, instructor, STC Human Resources Specialist Program; and Shirley Ingram, Director of Human Resources for STC. See story later in this posting.

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