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Catholic students help colonia residents

20140627 Catholic-youth-service 2066Bobby Acosta helped nail down a porch roof while 15-year-old Samantha Guerra balanced on a ladder around the corner, putting up trim.

They were two of more than 50 students who dedicated a week of their summer to working on the houses of low-income residents in Pueblo de Palmas, a small community north of Peñitas.

Last week was Acosta’s second year participating in the Catholic Youth Renovation Project in its fifth year. A Mission resident, Acosta, 14, said last year he helped install a toilet.

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Mission PD to get more officers

City-of-Mission-logoThe Mission Police Department will be able to bring in eight more officers through a federal grant that will pay 75 percent of their salaries for three years.

The Community-Oriented Policing Services grant was one of two grants for the police department approved at the Monday city council meeting.

Police Chief Roberto Dominquez said the COPS grant annually helps growing cities get an adequate number of policemen to serve their needs. The second grant, for $119,577, is a supplemental Stonegarden grant to pay overtime and purchase equipment to aid with border security.

Also Monday, the city council approved an ordinance authorizing the sale of refunding bonds for the waterworks and sewer system bonds approved in 2004. The move will result in a savings of $1,858,000 for the city of Mission. The bonds currently have a principal balance of $10,849,000.

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Educator finds love for teaching early on

20140627 SISD-Teacher Stephan-SlawsonMISSION—As a teenager, Stephan Slawson volunteered his time to help his favorite teacher with students in his campus special needs program.

Now, as the Sharyland District Teacher of the Year for secondary education, he believes the seed was planted early that sprouted his love for education.

Originally from Michigan, Slawson said that same favorite teacher was his inspiration to become an educator.

“Mrs. Hyslop is the teacher that I owe my spark and passion for working with special needs students to,” Slawson said. “Thank you Mrs. Hyslop, you had no idea how much you influenced my education, careerchoices and my life in general. Thank you for everything that you did and I wish I couldhave told you how much you meant to me.”

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Saldaña finds true calling as educator

20140627 SISD-Teacher Johanna-SaldanaMISSION—Johanna Saldaña envisioned herself in many careers growing up, from Barbie clothes designer to an ophthalmologist who cures macular generation.

The last thing on her mind was making a living in education.

“My mother's side of the family is full of teachers, so I actually didn't want to be a teacher when I was growing up,” Saldaña said. “I worked as a tutor during high school and college and that is what sparked my interest in education and working with children.”

Now in her seventh year as an educator, Saldaña has been named Sharyland ISD District Teacher of the Year for the elementary level. She said the reaction from her grandparents, mother and son made a huge impact on her.

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Board names new MRA director

20140627 Daniel-SilvaMISSION—Daniel Silva, chief operating officer of the MEDC, was named the executive director of the Mission Redevelopment Authority on Tuesday.

Richard Perez, former MRA executive director, will stay on to assist Silva during the transition process for an undetermined amount of time.

Richard Hernandez, chairman of the MRA board, said that Silva had been behind the scenes learning about the board and its projects within the city’s Tax Increment Reinvestment Zone.

Hernandez said that Silva’s contract agreement is set for a year, during this time he added Perez would assist in his training and transfer of responsibilities. He added Perez also received the same assistance from the executive director before him.

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Mayor Salinas wins another 4 years as leader of Mission

20140621 MISSION Mayor election 1907Mayor Norberto “Beto” Salinas had tough words for his opponent after winning the runoff election Saturday with 57 percent of the vote.

Salinas, who has been in office since 1998, received 2,668 of 4,661 votes, according to unofficial totals released by Hidalgo County on Saturday. Challenger, local businessman Jaime Gutierrez, received 1,993.

“Today they lost by a lot of votes,” Salinas said. “Everybody knows that the only votes they got was because they were spending a lot of money; they were giving a lot of money away. That’s one problem they have tonight … we have the job.”

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Mission runoff election is Saturday

20140620 MISSION Early-voting 1833Mission Mayor Norberto “Beto” Salinas was confident heading into Election Day that he’d keep his title once votes are counted Saturday evening.

He faces local businessman Jaime Gutierrez in a runoff; the only race on the ballot.

After Salinas narrowly missed clinching his seat without a runoff in May, he said he hadn’t changed his campaign strategy. He’s depending on voters who have kept him in office more than 16 years to hit the polls.

“I think they started going out again to vote,” Salinas said. “I’m very happy to see that they responded to the campaign.”

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La Joya ISD board asks for $43M in expenses

LA-JOYA-LOGOLA JOYA–School board members asked administrators to work more than $43 million of additional expenditures into next year’s budget at a workshop Monday evening.

La Joya Independent School District Board of Trustees later approved 4 percent raises for its staff, $2,400 for its teachers and $1.25/hour for its clerical and technical employees. That, along with new positions, accounted for more than $12 million of the additional budget expenses.

The board has yet to discuss publicly the overall financial outlook for the district in terms of revenues versus expenditures, but according to Alfredo Vela, assistant superintendent of administration and finance, the district has $116 million in its fund balance–that’s up from $45 million in 2004.

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