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Local dentists serve Guatemala mission

20111216_Dentists_02Seven local residents recently traveled to the highlands of northern Guatemala on a charity mission to provide health care to hundreds of people who rarely, if ever, receive any medical care to speak of. As part of a medical and dental mission trip sponsored by St. John’s Episcopal Church in McAllen, this group of health professionals and their support staff spent six days providing urgently needed medical and dental care to impoverished men, women and children in the Santa Cruz del Quiche area of Guatemala.

McAllen dentist, Dr. Lorena Rojas and her husband, Jorge Rojas III were among those that embarked on this Guatemalan mission trip in October. Others who made the trip were Valley residents Dr. Argelia Douglas (physician), J.B. Townsend (dental assistant), Dr. Suman Balajelin (dentist), James Chase (surgical nurse), Norma Jessulat (post op nurse) and Houston resident Dr. Sandra Carrier (dentist).

“We’re doing God’s work. I feel as if it’s our responsibility as Christians to not just sit and watch others do,” said Lorena Rojas. “We don’t have to go that far, you can serve your neighbor or the person across the street but for us the call was there and that’s why we’re going there.”

Read more: Local dentists serve Guatemala mission


Mission Boy Scout constructs flagpole for Eagle Scout project

20111216_JUAN-DIEGO-ACADEMY_EPG_0059MISSION — A freshmen at Juan Diego Academy looked at his campus, fresh with new buildings and a tennis court but sensed the grounds were lacking.

The school needed a flagpole to show its civic and school pride, said 14-year-old Alan Guerra.

A member of the Our Lady of Guadalupe Boy Scout Troop No. 80 who is nearing the coveted ranking of Eagle Scout, Alan realized his mission to help him reach the one of the scout’s highest honors.

Last week, Alan presented his project to his 17 classmates and the school’s board members who helped get the school built and open this year.

Read more: Mission Boy Scout constructs flagpole for Eagle Scout project


Juarez-Lincoln folklorico receives national recognition

20111216_HannsLA JOYA — Juarez-Lincoln High School Senior Hanss Mujica was selected as a 2012 Young Arts National Finalist. More than 5,000 seniors from across the country apply annually to the National Foundation for Advancement in the Arts, or Young Arts Foundation.·

Students who participated in fine arts may send a video recording showcasing their talent for the chance to be recognized nationally through a series of conferences. Only three percent of these participants are selected to attend a conference in Miami for one week in January.

Read more: Juarez-Lincoln folklorico receives national recognition


Volunteers build a home for Peñitas family in time for Christmas

20111209_Volunteers_build_home_1PEÑITAS — After living in a travel trailer for years sharing beds and sleeping on the floor, the De La Rosa-Perez family will spend its first Christmas in a home that was built by volunteers in one week.

The effort, which brought together Buckner International and Woman’s Missionary Union of Texas, allowed the family to see its dream of becoming homeowners much sooner than the 10 years Juan Perez estimated it would take him to build his family a home.

Read more: Volunteers build a home for Peñitas family in time for Christmas


St. Paul’s Christmas Elves spread joy to children with special needs

20111209_SISD_special-Ed_Xmas07MISSION — Christmas spirit was high among the children from the Sharyland Independent School District who were guests of St. Paul’s Catholic Church’s Altar Society on Tuesday for a special Christmas celebration. 

A blow-up merry-go-round featuring Santa’s reindeer and Christmas music playing in the background added to the sense of festivities.

Read more: St. Paul’s Christmas Elves spread joy to children with special needs


Valley AIDS Council participates in World AIDS Day

20111209_AIDS-DAY_EPG_0012McALLEN — Over 100 names of AIDS victims lined the doors of the Valley AIDS Council (VAC) off of McColl Avenue on Dec. 1 as the group remembered victims in their first interactive event to remind the community that AIDS is still a threat to the community.

Names on the wall included familiar ones like Freddy Mercury, the lead singer of Queen, and Ryan White, an Indiana teenager who got the disease through a contaminated blood transfusion. There were names of VAC patients and friends like Jim Ryan, Mary and Sergio.

Read more: Valley AIDS Council participates in World AIDS Day


Abbott asks Supreme Court to stop use of new redistricting maps

20111202_Greg-AbbottAUSTIN — On Monday, candidates for state office began submitting applications for their election bid after a three-judge panel created new Texas House and Senate redistricting maps. While the new maps will be used in upcoming elections, Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott filed an emergency stay application with the U.S. Supreme Court to halt the implementation of the maps he called “legally flawed.”

“Today’s appeal emphasizes that no court has, at any time, found anything unlawful about the redistricting maps passed by the Texas Legislature,” Abbott said on Monday. “It is judicial activism at its worst for judges to draw redistricting maps of their own choosing despite no finding of wrongdoing by the State of Texas.”

Abbott said the main concern is whether the interim maps imposed by a San Antonio three-judge redistricting panel violate the U.S. Constitution and federal law and exceeds the proper role of the judiciary.

Read more: Abbott asks Supreme Court to stop use of new redistricting maps


Hinojosa, Muñoz announce re-election campaigns; Peña and Gonzales bow out

20111202_Senator_Hinojosa_StetsonMonday was the first day candidates were able to file to run for state offices and incumbents state Sen. Juan “Chuy” Hinojosa, D-McAllen, and state Rep. Sergio Muñoz Jr., D-Palmview, both announced they’d seek re-election while state Rep. Aaron Peña, R-Edinburg, and Rep. Veronica Gonzales, D-McAllen, said they would not seek re-election in their reconfigured districts.

Weeks leading up to the first day to begin filing, even into this week, have been confusing as maps have been reconfigured and protested, leaving some politicians working to determine if they still want to run for election in a district that might have been restructured a second time.

On Thanksgiving night, Peña published a message on his website titled “Ten Good Years of Service to the Community I Love.” In it, he explained his reasons for not seeking re-election and also reflected on his time as an elected official. Peña explained the new redistricting maps would make it impossible for him to win a seat in his district. Peña, under the original redistricting plans would have run for office in District 41, but with the new plans, he’s been pushed back to District 40, a largely Democratic area.

Read more: Hinojosa, Muñoz announce re-election campaigns; Peña and Gonzales bow out


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