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New chief no stranger to challenges

city-of-la-joyaAt 39, Geovani Hernandez has worked for the Hidalgo County Sheriff’s Office, served on international missions in Kosovo, Afghanistan and Haiti and worked with mental health patients at Tropical Texas Behavioral Center.

His next challenge began this week when he started work as the new city of La Joya police chief Monday.

Out of eight applicants for the job, La Joya Mayor Jose “Fito” Salinas said Hernandez’s experience is just what the city needs. The fact that the new chief has a master’s degree and is working on a Ph.D in psychology helped as well, the mayor said.

“He has worked with young kids in the tropical center, and maybe my heart is toward him because I was a high school principal, and I think our youth in La Joya need a lot of good direction, and I think that he’s the man to do it,” Salinas said.


City of La Joya holds ribbon ceremony for new municipal library

20140306 La-Joya-Ribbon-cutting AF IMG 6962LA JOYA—Community members along with the La Joya Board of Alderman celebrated the near completion of the La Joya Municipal Library on March 6.

Construction began Feb. 1, 2013, the $500,000 project is now being completed through the efforts of the city and the County of Hidalgo Urban County Program.

Mayor Jose A. “Fito” Salinas said many parents and children would take advantage of the new facility. It’s expected to open the first week of April.

“I think this is something beautiful for the community,” Salinas said in Spanish. “And this is just the start of what is to come in La Joya, we have various projects underway.”

The mayor added the projects would benefit the community and were in large part due to the help of Diana Serna, director of Hidalgo County Urban County Program. The library sits on two acres out of an estimated 13 acres owned by the city, which will be used for new business.


Luis Contreras named to TAM board

20140314 L-Contreras-Bio-PicMISSION—Mission Historical Museum Director Luis Contreras has been named to the Texas Association of Museums Board effective March 1. The organization is a nonprofit that supports professionals working in Texas museums, historic sites, arts organizations and other cultural and community organizations.

“I have known Luis Contreras since he entered the field and have watched with interest the development of his career,” Ruth Ann Rugg, executive director of Texas Association of Museums, said. “From the beginning he exhibited a practical understanding of community engagement and has worked tirelessly to weave museums in the fabric of his own community.”

Contreras began his museum field experience with the City of Mission in 2006 when he worked as the archivist/curator for the Mission Historical Museum. In 2008, he became the executive director of the Weslaco Museum of Local History and Cultural Art.

Since 2006, Contreras has also been involved with the University of Texas-Pan American and South Texas College as an arts instructor. In August 2012, he returned to the City of Mission as director of the Mission Historical Museum where he manages two facilities and supervises the daily operations, while implementing the strategic plans set forth by the museum’s board of directors.


Council supports RGV youth drug rehabilitation center

City-of-Mission-logoMission City Council joined a Valley-wide effort to bring a full-service residential drug rehabilitation treatment center for juveniles to South Texas by passing a resolution in support of the center in a Tuesday meeting.

Eddie Olivarez, a member of the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Advisory Board and director of Hidalgo County Health and Human Services, said the facility would treat juveniles aged 16 and under who have chemical dependency issues with drugs or alcohol in a residential treatment center for six months or longer.

Mayor Norberto “Beto” Salinas made it clear he’d like to see the center built in Mission.

Currently, the closest treatment facilities are in Laredo or Corpus Christi. There are none in the Rio Grande Valley. Working as a spokesman for the committee, he was “simply trying to help the kids in the community by finding a way to get them the help they need.”


MRA Board discusses Conway Streetscape Project, water tower addition

City-of-Mission-logoMISSION—The Mission Redevelopment Board received an update on the status of the Conway Streetscape Project last week from Ricardo Gallaga with L&G Engineering.  

Gallaga explained work on Conway Avenue started on Feb. 19, and crews had already demolished portions of the sidewalk at Leo Pena Placita Park. 

“The grapefruit, under the direction of the city, will be cleaned … repainted and reinstalled at the same location,” Gallaga said.  

MRA Chairman Richard Hernandez asked Gallaga who designed the park’s grapefruit statue, and City Manager Martin Garza said the city has searched for the designer but has come up empty handed. 


Alleged driver in auto-ped fatality faces criminal negligent homicide charge

20140307 Carmen-Gonzalez-VelezInvestigators with the Department of Public Safety arrested the woman they believe was driving the car that struck and killed 16-year-old Brenda Cuellar, who was exiting a school bus Feb. 24.

Carmen Gonzalez-Velez, 36, of Mission, faces a charge of suspicion of criminal negligent homicide, a state jail felony. She is being held at the Hidalgo County Jail under a $100,000 bond.

Cuellar, who played for the Palmview High School’s junior varsity soccer team, was coming home from practice when she exited the school bus on La Homa Road south of 4 Mile Line at about 7:30 p.m. The bus’s flashing lights were activated and the vehicle was facing south when Cuellar attempted to cross the road.


Mayor Salinas seeks re-election

20140307 Beto-SalinasFor the last 16 years, Norberto “Beto” Salinas has been committed to the citizens of Mission serving as the mayor.

“I’m not ready to quit just yet. There are still many projects that I’d like to get done for our community,” he said. “During the last three terms, I have focused on reducing property taxes, improving the city’s infrastructure, creating jobs and bringing in new businesses into our community. To date, the city’s property taxes have dropped almost 15 percent since 1998, and I’ll be working to reduce them even further.”

Salinas has been the biggest advocate for the underprivileged and the elderly. Year after year, he has recommended that approximately 75 percent of the funds allocated to the City from U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) be strictly for the use of reconstructing or rehabilitating homes for low-income families.


Ag students prepare for RGV Livestock Show

20140307 STAR-livestock 0274 featureSHARYLAND—Sharyland High School Senior Kayla Marek admits her time with the Future Farmers of America program will be hard to let go of once she graduates this year. The many hours spent feeding, walking and grooming her livestock passed quickly, and she is saddened about leaving the animals she loves.

Multiple students in Hidalgo County competed in the South Texas Agricultural Roundup Livestock Show, which ran from Feb. 26-March 1, and are gearing up for the Rio Grande Valley Livestock Show in Mercedes, which kicks off Friday, March 7.

Sharyland High School students have prepped animals year round for both shows.

Marek took grand champion for her market steer at the STAR show. Market stock is set for sale after the shows, while breeding stock can be used for reproducing.


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