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General Interest

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.

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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.’”

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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.”

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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

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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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Mission museum inducts Wall of Fame honorees

20130912-Mission-Historical-Museum-Banquet dy-047 featureEducators like Romulo D. Martinez, Maria Lydia Rodriguez, Rosa M. and Gustavo Zapata affected the lives of thousands of students over multiple decades. Nancy Vaughan Shary Cheever organized a movement to keep watchful eyes on local government and courts, and Joseph Michael Roseland bridged the gap between the private and public sectors, as a business owner serving on a variety of boards.

All were recognized for their work in the community by the Mission Historical Museum as the 2013 Wall of Fame honorees at a banquet Sept. 12.

Ben Olivarez, chairman of the museum award committee, said he came up with the idea when he chaired the museum board. To qualify, the honoree must have lived in or worked in the community for 30 years or more.

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Juan Diego Academy holds ribbon cutting for new gymnasium

20130905 JDAcademy-gets-new-gym AF  1164 featureMISSION – K-lee Flores, a junior and volleyball player at Juan Diego Academy in Mission, was brought to tears when she saw the school’s new gym for the first time.

“I’m an athlete, so just the fact that we will be playing volleyball in here is an excitement,” Flores said. “We were all singing the songs and tears came to my eyes because when this started, there wasn’t even grass here. Now we have grass and this beautiful gym. It’s just amazing how far we’ve come in the last three years.”

More than 100 people were at the academy Sept. 5 to celebrate the opening of the 17,000-square-foot gymnasium, which includes classrooms and changing spaces. Students, staff and visitors celebrated the ribbon cutting through song, and a blessing from Bishop Daniel E. Flores of the Catholic Diocese of Brownsville.

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Hidalgo County agrees to pay portion of indigent health care debt

Hidalgo-County-SealThe Hidalgo County Commissioners Court agreed to consider paying hospitals $1 million of past due debt for indigent health care, a fraction of what is owed from 2011 and 2012, after a lengthy debate Wednesday afternoon.

Another $8 million from the county is required by the federally mandated 1115 Waiver for indigent health care.

Judge Ramon Garcia had suggested in a previous meeting that the $2.7 million owed by the county for 2012 and the $2.1 million owed from 2011 would be forgiven if the County funded the entire $8 million.

Wednesday, Carlos Zaffirini Jr., on behalf of the Hidalgo County Clinical Services, suggested the county pay the $2.7 million and the hospitals would forgive the $2.1 million.

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CoverageAreaThe Progress Times is the hometown newspaper for the local communities of Mission, Sharyland, Alton, Palmview, La Joya and surrounding areas in Western Hidalgo County. We have a staff of veteran reporters who work diligently every week to bring our readers the latest news as it affects their hometown area and people.

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