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“Right to Try Act”, coauthored by Rep. Canales, approved by Texas House to help dying patients finally have access to experimental medicines

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Featured, Rep. Terry Canales, D-Edinburg, and Rep. Senfronia Thompson, D-Houston, in the Chamber of the House of Representatives, and both co-authors of the potentially life-saving “The Right To Try Act”.

Photograph By HOUSE PHOTOGRAPHY

Texas is getting closer to becoming one of a handful of states to allow terminally ill patients, through their doctors, access to experimental but potentially life-saving drugs not yet on the market, but which have cleared initial review by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. House Bill 21, whose primary author is Rep. Kyle Kacal, R-College Station, is based on a concept known as “Right to Try”, which advocates at the national level for many years have been championing as a humane and necessary option for gravely-ill patients who have no other legal last resort in Texas. HB 21 was approved by the House of Representatives on Wednesday, April 22. HB 21, coauthored by Rep. Terry Canales, D-Edinburg, would allow a dying person, with the consent of their physician, to receive promising new medication that has passed the first phase of the FDA’s rigorous review process, but which has not received final approval. “During this long process, people may die waiting for the FDA to approve potentially life-saving medicines,” said Canales. “HB 21 would help protect physicians and drug manufacturers from legal liability. But most importantly, it would provide a person another chance at life when there is no hope, which is what all of us would want for ourselves and our loved ones.” This legislation seeks to establish a remedy to this situation, he contended, explaining that the proposal “seeks to cut through the FDA’s red tape as the FDA is determining whether a drug is safe enough to bring to market.” Canales, who had also filed similar legislation, joined forces with Kacal to help successfully move the issue through the House of Representatives. Arizona voters on Tuesday, November 5, 2014, passed Proposition 303, a state ballot measure giving terminally ill patients the right to try investigational medicines that have passed the first phase of FDA approval but still may be years away from reaching pharmacy shelves. “Right to Try” is already law in Colorado, Louisiana, Michigan and Missouri, where it passed with overwhelming bipartisan support in all four states. Arizona is the first state to pass the law by voter initiative. A similar measure, Senate Bill 694 by Sen. Paul Bettencourt, R-Houston was approved by the Senate on Thursday, April 9, and is awaiting action in the House of Representatives. “In these fairly uncommon situations, time is a predator, that it is unconscionable that government is standing in the way of a potential cure,” Bettencourt said. In explaining the intent of the “Right To Try Act”, Canales outlined the key processes required by the FDA before a new drug is approved. “There are four phases in the drug review process by the FDA, which can take as longer than a decade to complete, far too long for critically-ill people who have not been helped by available medications and treatments,” the South Texas lawmaker said. Phase I alone, on average takes almost two years to complete. “Right to Try” has bipartisan political support, including from the Goldwater Institute of Phoenix, Arizona, which was founded in 1988 with the blessings of the late Sen. Barry Goldwater, a national conservative leader and Republican presidential nominee in 1964. He served in the U.S. Senate for 30 years until his retirement in 1987. According to the Goldwater Institute, even a program by the FDA to allow a critically-ill patient, with the consent of his/her physician, to use experimental drugs takes too long. The FDA, whose extensive duties include ensuring that medicine is safe and effective for human use, is a huge federal agency with almost 15,000 employees and a $14 billion operating budget. Such a massive government organization makes it difficult to overcome overwhelming bureaucratic red tape and related delays. As a result, the Goldwater Institute contends that such bureaucratic impediments violate an individual’s fundamental right to try to save his own life. Unfortunately, the federal government has shown little interest in reforming the FDA as bills to reform the process for terminal patients have been introduced, but have never received a vote in Congress. State legislators, however, have the opportunity to protect their citizens’ right to try investigational medications by enacting Right to Try measures. These measures would ensure the right to protect one’s life by returning medical decisions where they belong – to patients and doctors. “Terminally ill people don’t have time to wait for new drugs to make their way through the decade-long approval process. Prop 303 lets patients work directly with their doctors to access promising investigational medicines now,” said Darcy Olsen, president of the Goldwater Institute. The FDA has a process that allows people to seek permission to access investigational medicines. This “Compassionate Use” process takes hundreds of hours of paperwork and time to navigate. While many people ultimately receive FDA permission, there are dozens of documented cases of people dying while waiting on their approval. “Americans shouldn’t have to ask the government for permission to try to save their own lives,” said Olsen. “They should be able to work with their doctors directly to decide what potential treatments they are willing to try.”

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Women trailblazers in "Macho Country" changed image of Hidalgo County politics

David V. Aguilar, an Edinburg native and 1974 graduate of Edinburg High School, was confirmed by the U.S. Senate effective Sunday, April 11, as Deputy Commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP). Aguilar was named Acting Deputy Commissioner on January 3 following the retirement of Acting Commissioner Jayson P. Ahern, and confirmed by the U.S. Senate effective April 11th. As Deputy Commissioner, Aguilar is responsible for securing, managing, and controlling our Nation’s borders. Aguilar serves as the Chief Operating Officer, overseeing the daily operations of CBP’s 57,000-employee workforce and managing an operating budget of more than $11 billion. Aguilar’s primary focus will be to ensure that CBP’s mission of protecting the nation’s borders from terrorists and terrorist weapons is carried out effectively in partnership and unison with our nation’s other federal, state, local and foreign partners. See story later in this posting.

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Area leaders, including Hidalgo County Judge René A. Ramírez, featured second from left during the December 21, 2009 ribbon-cutting of the Edinburg regional headquarters for the U.S. Census Bureau, are implementing numerous local strategies to help increase a successful count in Hidalgo County by the federal government. “We are doing our part to complement the Census to help ensure that the residents of Hidalgo County are counted accurately,” said Ramírez, who has been openly critical of the Census’ decision to not mail questionnaires to residents of local colonias. But the county leader is not discouraged. “As a community, we now need to work to educated and mobilize those living in hard to count areas to fill out the Census form," the county judge added. See stories later in this posting. 

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The McAllen Hispanic Chamber of Commerce has scheduled a congressional summit on Friday, May 7, at the Palm View Community Center in McAllen to allow area residents to bring their concerns to Congressman Ruben Hinojosa, D-Mercedes, and Congressman Henry Cuellar, D-Laredo/McAllen. The event, which is free to the public, will be held from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. The community center is located on South Ware Road and Jordan Street. The morning session will feature three workshops: financial planning for the elderly, security measures, and Medicare/Medicaid. All workshops will be conducted in English and Spanish. Following a luncheon and congressional hearing, there will be a talent show for the public, with awards for 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place. The event also provides area businesses to sponsor booths to feature their goods and services for the estimated 400 area residents anticipated to attend. More information of this event may be obtained by contacting the McAllen Hispanic Chamber of Commerce at 928-0060. Featured promoting the South Texas Senior Summer are, seated, from left: Mary Jane Ramírez with Congressman Cuellar’s office; José González with the Lower Rio Grande Valley Area Agency on Aging; and Rose Ramírez with Silver Ribbon. Standing, from left: Adelita Muñoz, MHCC vice chair of education; Cynthia M. Sakulenzki, MHCC president and chief executive officer; and Lidia Limas and Delia Estrada with the Retired Senior Volunteer Program.

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The unlikely dream for South Texas "Baby Boomers" of political equality for women in one of the most populated regions of Texas has become a welcomed and growing fact of life in Hidalgo County. Those findings – and other fascinating insights into the evolution of women’s rights in the traditionally male-dominated world of Rio Grande Valley politics – are found in a landmark academic study authored by Cassandra Rincones, featured right, a history instructor at South Texas College in McAllen. So important was Rincones’ research that Lucy Canales and Lilia Ledesma, partners in the national law firm of Linebarger Goggan Blair & Sampson LLP – which has offices in Edinburg and Brownsville – commissioned a transcription of Rincones’ March 11 presentation at South Texas College, and are forwarding PDF copies to more than 1,000 community, political, business, and media leaders throughout Texas. "Although South Texas women have always been crucial to the political fortunes of South Texas men, for much too long, we were not allowed the opportunities to prove ourselves as capable elected leaders," Canales said. For her part, Ledesma noted, "Today, we take it for granted that women hold positions as elected officials in Hidalgo County. But, as Cassandra Rincones has chronicled, it took tremendous courage, determination, and skills by women and men to help change the image and gender of the elected leadership in Hidalgo County. " As part of a standing-room only audience at STC to hear Rincones’ presentation are, from left: Lupe Silva-Aboud, 13th Court of Appeals Justice Linda Yañez, and Elvia Ríos. See lead story in this posting.

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Sylvia Handy pleads guilty to harboring conspiracy, false statement in tax return, then resigns as Hidalgo County Commissioner

Sen. Juan “Chuy” Hinojosa, D-McAllen, featured right, has announced dates for the 2010 Texas Hurricane Conference, sponsored by the Texas Division of Emergency Management and the Texas Department of Public Safety. The conference, scheduled for May 17-20 in McAllen, will offer attendees a variety of resources to prepare and coordinate responses to catastrophic storms. Conference invitees will include representatives from the emergency management community, first responders, and law enforcement agencies from coastal communities and inland sheltering communities. Featured with the South Texas senator in this photograph during a separate event is Raúl Óscar Gómez, one of the principal news correspondents for Noticias 40, the Telemundo affiliate in the Rio Grande Valley. See story later in this posting

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Farouk Shami, a classic symbol of the American Success Story, on Tuesday, March 2, praised the people of Texas for making and keeping the Lone Star State “the standard of excellence, the hope for the future for America, and the envy of the world.” Shami, who came to the United States 44 years ago with $71 in his pocket and became a successful Houston businessman and philanthropist, exploded onto the political scene late last year with his vision for Texas and as a major candidate for governor. His pledge to create 100,000 new jobs in Texas or resign as governor, his plans to make Texas a world-class leader in solar power and wind power, his promise to not take campaign contributions from wealthy special interest groups, and his vow to “declare war on poverty” in the state have established great expectations from millions of Texans. He said he fully expects his ideas to become reality because they are based on solid economic strategies, 21st century technology and science, high ethical standards, and compassionate democratic ideals.  Above all, Shami said it is the people of Texas who are going to help see those plans come to fruition. “I knew Texas is great, but after campaigning throughout the state and meeting thousands of people from all walks of life, I am humbled by the ideas and achievements of countless fellow Texans,” said Shami. “That’s why, although I wasn’t born in Texas, I got here at fast as I could. The people of Texas are amazing.”  Shami is featured here in El Paso during the 2010 National Latino Congreso Convention held in January in El Paso with Hidalgo County and Texas Democratic leaders. From left: Nelva Sosa-Slagle; Juan Maldonado; Farouk Shami; Alan Fizman; Giovanna De León; and Lydia Camarillo, vice president for the Southwest Voter Registration Education Project. See story later in this posting.

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Texas Democratic gubernatorial nominee Bill White, the former mayor of Houston – who took 60 percent of the vote in Hidalgo County on Tuesday, March 2 on his way to a statewide nomination victory – is calling on all Democrats to rally around him and the rest of the party ticket in its November election battles against Gov. Rick Perry and Perry’s fellow Republican nominees for other statewide offices. “Today Texans sent a message to the entrenched interests in Austin: Texans are ready for a new governor,” White said at his victory celebration that evening in Houston. “We invite those who supported other candidates to join our team, which consists of citizens from all backgrounds and both parties. We are committed to honest, competent, decentralized and accountable government. We believe that more unites than divides Texans,” White said. The former Houston mayor is featured here, on Tuesday, January 5, campaigning before staff members of the Hidalgo County District Clerk’s Office in the Hidalgo County Courthouse. See story on White’s victory remarks later in this posting.

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Gov. Rick Perry, featured here on Tuesday, January 5 at the University of Texas-Pan American, is reportedly ventured out from the traditional outlets used to appeal to voters in his successful re-election bid, according to WiredPRNews.com. As reported by the Dallas Morning News, Perry  utilized social media outlets such as Facebook and Twitter to garner campaign support and reach voters. Perry was quoted by the Dallas Morning News as stating of his technological based campaign efforts, “It’s one of the most diverse, one of the most focused, and one of the most effective in Texas history.” Perry’s rivals in the recently-concluded Republican Party primary race – Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, R-Texas, and Debra Medina – also noticeably utilized social media in their campaigns. Mari Woodlief, president of Dallas-based Allyn Media is further quoted in the report as stating of the trends in modern political campaigns: “Campaigns are evolving just like people and technology… you have to go where the people are, and more and more that’s become the Internet.” Featured with Perry during the Republican governor’s visit to the local university, where he announced several million dollar grants, were, from left, Sen. Juan “Chuy” Hinojosa, D-McAllen, and UTPA President Robert Nelsen.

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Nearly 200 family members, friends, faculty, staff and students came together Friday, February 19, at the University of Texas-Pan American to celebrate the opening of the “Pillars of Success” exhibition, which features the photos and the success stories of five distinguished alumni that will be on display in the university’s Visitors Center for the next two years. Dr. John Edwards, vice president for Enrollment and Student Services, said the Visitors Center has housed 11 exhibits since it opened in 2002 and has had more than 200,000 visitors, including thousands of Rio Grande Valley students. “We keep this display up for a period of two years because we want our visitors and students to know what this university is producing – outstanding graduates,” he said. “These Pillars of Success stand as role models for paths we want our students to follow.” See story later in this posting.

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In just its third year of operation, South Texas College’s Mid-Valley Campus Child Development Center in Weslaco has earned accreditation from the National Accreditation Commission for Early Care and Education Programs (NAC). STC’s center is the only child care facility in the Rio Grande Valley to have earned this prestigious accreditation. The center works to expand its college-going culture to include even its littlest graduates, featured in this photograph. See story later in this posting.

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Bless Me Ultima is the newest play being presented by the Pharr Literacy Project and Cultural Arts Center at the Historic Texas Theatre in Pharr, premiering March 26 at 7:30 pm. The play is based on Rudolfo Anaya’s best selling novel of the same title. With 22 local actors rehearsing the play since February, it promises to be a spectacular show. Bless Me Ultima is a coming of age story about a young boy’s loss of innocence and approach to maturity. But it also deals with tradition, and education, faith and doubt, and good and evil. The play with adult and children actors is set in post world war 2 in the mountains of beautiful New Mexico. Pedro García is the director and Elva Michal is the producer. Among some of the actors are Armandina Sesin as Ultima/La Grande, Alex Gelman as the author, and young Alejandro Arango as Antonio. Performances will be held at the Historic Texas Theatre, 115 E. Park Street in Pharr, on: March 26 at 7:30 p.m.; March 28 at 2:30 p.m.; April 9 & 10 at 7:30 p.m.; and April 11 at 2:30 p.m. Tickets are only $6 and are currently on sale by calling The Pharr Literacy Project & Cultural Arts Center at 956/783-7746. Featured, from left, during a recent rehearsal in the Pharr Literacy Project Building, are: Víctor Alanis, Allyson Champion, Lizzie Cuellar and Alejandro Arango .

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Sen. Eddie Lucio, Jr., D-Brownsville, and Rep. Eddie Lucio III, D-San Benito, attended a hard hat tour of the Representative Jim Solis and Colonel H William “Bill” Card Jr. Outpatient Clinic on Wednesday, February 24.  That newly-named outpatient clinic, which is operated by the South Texas Health Care System in Harlingen, was named in the two men’s honor in recognition of their many contributions to Harlingen. The name change was authorized by legislation by the Lucios which was approved by the Texas Legislature last spring. Featured, from left: Rep. Lucio, III; Bill Card; Sonia Hernández-Keeble, the director of the Rio Grande State Center, which operates the Harlingen clinic; and Sen. Lucio.

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Democratic U.S. Senate candidate John Sharp endorses Proposition 8 for Valley VA Hospital

René Gutiérrez, the new superintendent of the Edinburg school district, featured center, back row, on Thursday, September 24, was the keynote speaker before the Edinburg Chamber of Commerce Governmental Affairs Committee. Gutiérrez, who was selected superintendent by the Edinburg school board in June, addressed current topics being discussed within the school district including, but not limited to, new schools being built. Gutiérrez, a recent immigrant from Mexico and former migrant, attended McAllen schools and graduated from McAllen High School and then attended Texas Southmost College at Brownsville where he received an Associate Degree in Applied Science. He received a Bachelor in Business Administration (BBA) from Pan American at Brownsville; a Master of Education Degree from the University of Texas – Pan American; and a Doctoral Degree in Educational Leadership. His doctoral dissertation is entitled Factors Contributing to the Academic Achievement of Mexican-Origin Immigrant High School Students. Featured, front row, from left: Robert Peña, Jr., ECISD trustee; María Luisa Guerra, ECISD assistant superintendent for instruction and support services; Elva Jackson Garza, vice-president, Edwards Abstract and Title Company; Carmen González, ECISD trustee; Ciro Treviño, ECISD trustee; Letty González, president, Edinburg Chamber of Commerce; and Cynthia G. Bocanegra, incoming chairwoman, Edinburg Chamber of Commerce. Back row, from left: Johnny Rodríguez, owner, Austin Personnel Services; David Torres, ECISD trustee; Dr. Gutiérrez; Rigoberto Abrego, ECISD assistant superintendent for finance/operations; and Mario Salinas, ECISD assistant superintendent for district administration.

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The McAllen Chamber of Commerce invites everyone to participate in the 26th Annual Heart of the Valley Health Fair, set for Sunday, November 22, from 8 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., at the McAllen Convention Center. Through this yearly event, area residents are educated about the latest treatments, procedures, services and technology available in the Rio Grande Valley. Exhibitors at the health fair will offer free health screenings in cholesterol, diabetes, blood pressure, vision/glaucoma, dental, chiropractic and bone density as well as educational information. More than 6,000 Rio Grande Valley residents and Winter Texans usually participate in the services offered at the health fair. The health fair will also feature a children’s section, which promotes health and wellness in children. Contests will be held with door prizes being awarded to the best coloring contest participant in three different age categories and to the child who makes a Hole-In-One at the Miniature Golf contest. Entertainment will provided for children as well as health and safety education. The health fair is one of the largest health fairs in South Texas, and represents excellent opportunity for the region’s health care providers to promote their business. For complete details about the health fair, sponsorships or for booth reservation information, contact Luis Cantú or Laura Robles at 682-2871. Organizers for the upcoming event are featured, from left, sitting: Lisa Garza; Luis Cantú; Brenda Greagrey; and Lizette Montoya. Standing, from left: Hari Namboodiri; Yvonne Olivarez; Jessica Eckbledt; Brenda Lee; Nancy Alaniz; Laura Galván; and Joel Davila.

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Chris McGill, featured right, who is president of The Combined Law Enforcement Associations of Texas (CLEAT), and Charley Wilkison, featured left, CLEAT’s public affairs director, on Friday, October 2, presented Sen. Eddie Lucio, Jr., D-Brownsville, with the organization’s Visionary Leader Award for his legislative work on behalf of Texas peace officers. The honor was bestowed during that organization’s convention, held in Laredo. The award was part of a ceremonial bill signing by Gov. Rick Perry of Lucio’s Senate Bill 872, which was approved by lawmakers last spring. SB 872 allows survivor families of law enforcement officers who are killed on duty to remain eligible for health insurance and at affordable rates. Rep. José Menéndez, D-San Antonio, was the House sponsor of that legislation. See story later in this posting.

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Roberto Hugo González, featured left, publisher of Texas Border Business and Mega Metropolis Health & Fitness, and Jonah Golberg, Director of Communications for the Rio Grande Valley Vipers NBA Development League, have signed a co-branding agreement beginning this season. In general, co-branding is defined as when two companies form an alliance to work together, creating marketing synergy. Soon, area sports fans will notice caps, T-shirts and more promoting this co-branding partnership. González and Golberg are inviting the Rio Grande Valley and northern Mexico to attend and witness the Vipers’ first home game on Friday, December 4 at 7:30 p.m. against the Tulsa 66ers at Dodge Arena. “It’s huge to be partners with businesses in the community,” said Golberg. “It helps to show our commitment to the Rio Grande Valley and theirs to having quality, family-affordable fun entertainment in the Valley.” See story later in this posting.

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Houston Mayor Bill White, featured in this campaign portrait, is bringing his campaign for U.S. Senate to Edinburg on Friday, October 9, from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. in the Fine Arts Auditorium at the University of Texas-Pan American. The event is free and open to the public. White, a Democrat, is one of a growing number of candidates seeking to replace U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, R-Texas, who is expected to resign her federal post in the coming weeks in order to file for the March 2010 Republican Party primary for governor. Former Texas Comptroller John Sharp, a Democrat, and Texas Railroad Commissioner Michael L. Williams, a Republican, are among the other high-profile candidates also seeking to succeed Hutchison. No date has been set for the election to replace Hutchison if she leaves her Senate seat later this fall, but Hutchison must decide by January 1, 2010 whether she will file for reelection to the U.S. Senate or file for governor.

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South Texas College’s History Department and The University of Texas at Austin’s Center for Mexican American Studies have joined forces to produce a landmark symposium, “The Old Valley/New Valley: Analyzing the Past, Present, and Future of the Lower Rio Grande Valley.” The event brings scholars and experts from across the United States and Mexico to talk about Valley history, economics, culture, education, medicine and more. The symposium kicks off with a reception on the evening of Wednesday, November 4, with full days of panel discussions from Thursday, November 5 through Saturday, November 7. All activities take place at STC’s Pecan Campus Cooper Center, located at 3201 West Pecan Boulevard. in McAllen. Admission to all symposium events is free and open to the public. See story later in this posting.

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Bid to build Valley VA Hospital, proposed by Rep. Flores, set as Proposition 8 in November 3 election

 

Romeo M. Villarreal of Edinburg will be honored in the three-time All-America City on Saturday, August 8, during a public dedication ceremony hosted by the South Texas Independent School District. The event, to begin at 10 a.m. at the South Texas Preparatory Academy, will highlight the naming of the Romeo M. Villarreal Academic Building. Area resident wishing to attend may RSVP at 956/514-4216. Refreshments and a building tour will follow the facility’s dedication. STPA is a tuition-free magnet junior high school for students who live in Hidalgo, Willacy and Cameron counties. Its innovative and challenging curriculum offers students the preparation they need for career fields at one STISD’s four high schools: BETA (South Texas Business, Education & Technology Academy); Med High (South Texas High School for Health Professions); Med Tech (South Texas Academy of Medical Technology); and Sci Tech (The Science Academy of South Texas).  

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Secretary of State Hope Andrade last week drew the ballot order for the Tuesday, November 3 constitutional amendment election, which will include Proposition 8 by Rep. Ismael "Kino" Flores, D-Palmview, which is designed to speed up the construction of a Valley VA Hospital. "Now we have it within our reach – by the democratic power of the ballot box – to triumph over every obstacle that has been used to block deep South Texas from having a long-overdue VA Hospital," said Flores. "We must get our message out: vote yes for Proposition 8."  The last day to register to vote in November’s election is October 5. See lead story in this posting. 

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The Edinburg Chamber of Commerce, created in 1934, recently hosted a special gathering of former presidents and board chairs. Letty González, board chairman, noted that the local chamber was the organization that led the push in 1989 to approve the 1/2 cent sales tax for economic development programs, which now provides million of dollars annually for projects of the Edinburg Economic Development Corporation. The EEDC is a governmental entity which is the jobs-creation arm of the Edinburg City Council. In exchange for that political support, the chamber is now guaranteed one seat on the five-member EEDC governing board. These former leaders gathered to discuss current community business affairs and to elect a new committee chairman. Mitch Roberts (President 1997-1998), outgoing chair, expressed appreciation for the group’s support during his tenure. Elva Jackson Garza, with Edwards Abstract and Title Co. (Chairman of the Board, 1999-2000), was  elected to lead the committee, effective immediately. They will meet on a quarterly basis. Any former president and chairman of the board is welcome and invited to attend. Featured, seated from left: Mike Govind, Best Western Inn & Suites (2003-2004); Bob Almendarez ((Chairman 2001-2002)); Elva Jackson Garza; Arturo Flores, Retired, Flores & González, CPA (1985-1986); Joe Ramón, Ramón Properties (1992-1993). Standing, from left: Mark Magee, First National Bank (2006-2007); Mitch Roberts (1997-1998); Byron Jay Lewis, Edwards Abstract and Title Co. (1993-1994); Ted Miller, Jr., Miller & Associates (1991-1992) and Alton Cook, CPA (1988-1989).  

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South Texas College recently hosted colleagues from Ashland Community and Technical College of Kentucky and El Paso Community College for a three-day seminar to discuss ways to closely align all partners in a region’s education pipeline. Some of the delegates who participated in the meeting were, front row, from left: Luzelma Canales of STC; Charles Fields of EPCC; William Serrata of STC; and Rosemarie Gómez of Valley View ISD. Middle row, from left: Dennis Brown of EPCC; Janie Kitchen of ACTC; Louise Shytle of ACTC; Dina Chaffiu of ACTC; Olivia Hernández of Hidalgo ISD; and Sara Diamond Burroway of ACTC. Third row, from left:  Keith Brammel of ACTC; Bill Munn of JBL; Jim Schmidt of ACTC; Joe Aldrich of ACTC; and Kathleen Devaney of EPCC. See story later in this posting. 

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The newly formed National Hispanic Entrepreneurs for Leadership in Politics (HELP) hosted its first event on Thursday, July 23 from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. at Osuka, located at 7100 N. 10th Street in McAllen. National HELP understands that Hispanic votes count, which is why this non-profit, not-partisan organization seeks to promote political awareness and voter participation among Hispanics. HELP board members featured here, seated, from left: JC Cervantes, president; and Mike Martínez, vice president. Standing, from left: Adan  García; Lynda García; Ricardo Portillo; Jesús Garza; Elizabeth C. Martínez; and Pedro Ayala. See story later in this posting. 

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