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General Interest General Interest

Perry taps Mission attorney for open 92nd District Court seat

20131011 MISSION Jaime-TijerinaNewly transplanted Mission attorney Jaime E. Tijerina has been appointed by Gov. Rick Perry as 92nd District Court judge.

He will replace Ricardo Rodriguez, who recently step down and announced plans to run for district attorney. His term ends Dec. 31, 2014.

“I’m pleased, excited,” said Tijerina. “I’m honored that the governor has entrusted me. I promise to do my very best and give the people, the taxpayers, an honest day’s work each and every day.”


Ruby Red Ventures: Frank Brewster promotes literacy through Spanish literature

20130916 Frankie-Brewster-Ruby-Red-Ventures AF  1657 featureMISSION—Frank Brewster III doesn’t want to reinvent the wheel; he wants it turn much faster. Brewster, grant winner of $10,000 through the Mission Economic Development Corporation Ruby Red Ventures program, lives by that motto.

The owner of Brewster’s Guacamaya Enterprises is pushing to promote literacy through children’s books he has written with inspiration from his everyday life.

Born in McAllen, Brewster graduated from Sharyland High School. He received his bachelor’s in music from the University of Texas-Pan American and has nearly 30 years of experience teaching music across the Valley at districts like Sharyland Independent School District, Mission ISD, Hidalgo ISD and Donna ISD.

“I taught at Kenneth White Junior High for 16 years; I have made amazing and wonderful lifelong friendships,” Brewster said.


UTPA president gives new university update at VAMOS event

20131004 VamoseventmediaRobert S. Nelsen, president of the University of Texas-Pan American, served as the guest speaker at a "Back to School Social" Sept. 10 hosted by the Valley Alliance of Mentors for Opportunities and Scholarships (VAMOS).

Nelsen thanked the organization for its support of Rio Grande Valley students and gave an update on the new university and future Valley medical school. During the event, held at the Lone Star National Bank corporate office in McAllen, VAMOS leaders also shared information with community groups on the scholarships it makes available to assist commendable Hispanic students from Hidalgo, Starr and Cameron counties complete a post-secondary education.

Also described was the organization's mentorship program to support college completion as well as its major fundraising events. The UTPA Foundation's  partnership with VAMOS supports the VAMOS/UTPA Endowed Scholarship Program for students attending UTPA. In 2013, 20 UTPA students received a VAMOS Scholarship.


UTPA wins College of the Year Award from National Hispanic Institute

UTPA-logoGloria De Leon attributes her success in co-founding one of the leading nonprofit organizations that trains Hispanic youth to become leaders to the education she received at the University of Texas-Pan American.

"My alma mater rooted me culturally and prepared me to incorporate the best of who we are as a community and to visualize the future where Latinos will set a new standard. I don't think there is a university that can compare," said De Leon, who co-founded the National Hispanic Institute (NHI) in the late 1970s.

This year, the NHI named UT-Pan American as its College of the Year for its continued support and cooperation with the institute.


20,000 and counting: UTPA enrollment reaches record enrollment

UTPA-logoThe University of Texas-Pan American has reached another milestone this fall with a total student enrollment of more than 20,000—the most in the institution's 86-year history. This number also includes a record 3,500 entering freshmen.

The student influx is welcome news to President Robert S. Nelsen, who mused the university literally "is bursting at the seams."

“Reaching 20,000 plus students at UTPA is an important milestone because it means that the university has truly been recognized by students, parents and high school counselors for the excellent education that we provide," Nelsen said. “No one needs to leave the (Rio Grande) Valley to get an outstanding university education; as the billboards say, ‘It's all right here.’”


Texas unemployment rate falls to 6.4 percent in August - 274,700 jobs added over the year

State Seal of TexasAUSTIN—The seasonally adjusted unemployment rate in Texas fell to 6.4 percent in August, down from 6.5 percent in July, and from 6.8 percent a year ago. Texas’ unemployment rate remained below the national unemployment rate of 7.3 percent. Between August 2012 and August 2013, Texas has added 274,700 jobs.

An upward revision of July’s total nonfarm employment figures showed 36,800 jobs added. Total nonfarm employment in August decreased slightly by a net total of 6,400 jobs. Texas has added 26,600 jobs over the last three months.

“Every major industry in Texas showed positive annual job growth and Texas employers added 274,700 jobs over the year,” said Texas Workforce Commission (TWC) Chairman Andres Alcantar. “We encourage Texans to visit their local Workforce Solutions office to access the many job search tools available to them free of charge.”


Insurance costs rising for Hidalgo County

Hidalgo-County-SealThe cost of insuring personnel for Hidalgo County and the drainage district is rising.

Gary Looney, Hidalgo County’s health benefits consultant, gave a presentation on Alamo Insurance costs at Tuesday meeting of the Commissioners Court, explaining increased costs. Looney projected the total costs to be $24.5 million, which is paid by Hidalgo County and premium charges to employees. The county pays the cost of the base premiums for employees. If the employees want higher-level coverage or insurance for their families, they must pay additional premiums themselves.

To keep costs for the county down to a manageable level, budget officers recommended increasing the deductible in the base plan from $1,000 to $1,250. Also, the office co-pay for base plans would be $25 for a primary physician and $35 for a specialist. The in-hospital co-pay would rise to $350, a $100 increase, and the cost of the basic plan for a family will be $332.40, an increase of $55.40


Rail lines are ‘the missing link’ in Valley transportation

Hidalgo-County-SealThe rising cost of toll roads and parking is making owning cars prohibitive, Andrew Cannon, of the Hidalgo County Rail Commission, told Commissioners Court on Tuesday.

Cannon described rail lines as “the missing link” in the Valley’s transportation system. He denied that the bus routes overlapped the rail district and said they would work together in the future to move people to their destinations. Admitting the Rio Grande Valley was set up very differently than other parts of the county, Cannon also said the Rio Grande Valley Development Council supported the work of the rail commission as a viable source of transportation 20 to 25 years from now.

Judge Ramon Garcia said it is the duty of the Hidalgo County commissioners to plan for the future and if the government was mandating rail lines, it was their duty to support the action.


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