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La Joya ISD first-grader dies Thursday in house fire

Edited 20140214 ALTON House fire 1340A 7-year-old girl died Thursday night in a house fire, and several of her family members were taken to area and a San Antonio hospital after trying to save her.

Hidalgo County Sheriff Lupe Treviño said a preliminary investigation indicates a fuse in the breaker box sparked the fire, which spread throughout the home on Bentsen Palm Drive north or Mile 3 Road. This far into the investigation, the sheriff said he sees no criminal culpability.

At the time of the fire, he said eight or nine family members were in the home. All but the girl made it out alive.

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Mission CISD Board extends superintendent contract

MCISDlogoMISSION—The Mission CISD Board agreed to extend the contract of Superintendent Ricardo Lopez for one year at the regular meeting held Wednesday evening.  

Lopez was approved for hire with MCISD in July 2013. Hailing from El Paso, the superintendent has almost 20 years of experience working in education.

Board Secretary Patty Bazaldua recommended in a motion of the approval for legal counsel to create the new contract for the extension in accordance with the superintendent’s evaluation. The final amendments to Lopez’s compensation also needed to be applied by legal counsel to create the contract that would be signed by Board President Oscar Longoria.

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LJISD Board approves two-year contract extension for superintendent

2014 LJIS LOGOThe La Joya Independent School District Board of Trustees unanimously approved a two-year contract extension for Superintendent Alda Benavides at its Wednesday meeting.

Board President Esmer Ochoa said Benavides has put together a comprehensive plan for the district to meet the needs of students. The district has a few instructional needs and the superintendent is working with her team to meet them, she said.

“We’re not where we need to be, but we’re going to get there,” Ochoa said after the meeting.

Board members said they would discuss raises when budget talks come up over the summer.

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Mission pool, center officially open

20140210 MISSION Ribbon-cuttings 1309Mission city leaders waited seven months for the right time to formally announce the community center and natatorium at Bannworth Park open for business.

City Manager Martin Garza said the buildings were preliminarily accepted by the city in June in time for summer use. Also, he said, the city wanted them open in time for the start of the school year. It allowed Sharyland Independent School District to use the pool during the winter.

But, though the buildings have been in use since June, the official ribbon cutting wasn't held until Monday afternoon in conjunction with an exhibition by the International Blind Tennis Congress.

"We reserved the ribbon cutting for this date, knowing that we were working together with the Blind Tennis Congress," Garza said. "We felt that this was a big event being that it's an international exhibition that was taking place."

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MCISD high school construction updates

20140214 MCISD-Construction-Update-SiteplanMISSION—Timelines for high school construction projects were discussed at the Mission CISD Facilities Committee meeting held last week. Superintendent Ricardo Lopez showed concern over the design development time for the Mission High School Phase III Renovation, which was predicted to last for 11 months.

“Just a clarification—you say this is about standard,” Lopez said. “In my experience, this process only takes about 8 months. It’s not a full 11 or a year. This seems four months too long just from my experience.”

Manuel Hinojosa, with ERO Architects, explained the project planning portion is lengthy due to the complicated nature of the design and regulations that needed to be followed.

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Blind tennis moving through Valley

20140211 Blind-Congress JS IMG 6592 featureFirst, about a half dozen children gathered in a circle to review rectangular boards representing the tennis court with braille numbering.

Then, they were led around the gymnasium, bending down to feel a roped taped down to mark the boundaries of the makeshift court. Next, they felt the net after crossing to the other side.

The visually impaired children are part of a movement in the United States to play blind tennis, which was started in Japan in 1984. It’s played just like tennis for those with sight, but servers must first ask if his or her opponent is ready before serving and a special ball that jingles is used.

Eunice Santos, whose 14-year-old son has been blind since birth, said the vision of Miradas de Esperanza, an organization based in Reynosa that is spreading the sport through Tennis for the Blind in Texas, is to participate in the Paralympics in 2020.

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Efforts underway to stop texting while driving

20140207 MISSION Texting-and-driving-pledge-on-Shary IMG 4080Days after Christmas 2012, a 22-year-old mother and her 11-month old son were killed in a car accident in Alton that also ended the life of the driver of another vehicle.

Two years prior, a 44-year-old woman was killed when she hit a tractor-trailer while driving through Peñitas.

In both cases, the drivers were texting while driving.

“Oprah calls it an epidemic,” said Monica Ramos with Cazares Driving School in a presentation to students at Mission High School. “Pretty much it’s more than an epidemic.”

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City has big dreams for Conway

20140207 Conway Streetscape IMG 6171The idea of the beautifying downtown Mission through the Conway Avenue Streetscape seems trite compared to the transformation city leaders hope to see through the more than $2.5 million project.

Yes, 14 blocks along Conway will see benches, palm trees and pavers, making it more pleasing to the eye and welcoming, but at the groundbreaking Friday, organizers of the project shared big dreams on what the project could do for business in Mission.

“When we first started this project, we thought, ‘Landscaping, trees, lighting—What’s the big deal about this?’” City Manager Martin Garza said. “Let me tell you, it’s a big deal for us. … This is something that is going to hit the heart of the community. We’re talking about dozens of businesses that are going to be affected by this change.”

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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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