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Mission area top stories for 2012 in review

February 10, 2012

One week after Sharyland Independent School District board extended Superintendent Scott Owings’ contract, trustees accepted his resignation. The resignation letter stated Owings resigned due to state budget cuts and not receiving a raise in the past two years. Owings resignation was also at the heels of allegations that he harassed two female school officials at a Texas Association of School Administrators conference. His resignation was effective as of June 2012, but Owings’ last month present with the district was February.

April 6, 2012

A hailstorm that covered most of the Rio Grande Valley struck on March 29, 2012 and was created by two storms that had originated from Kenedy County, according to Jim Campbell, a data acquisition program manager with the National Weather Service in Brownsville. There were no reports of injuries but the City of McAllen received 209 calls for reports of flooding, downed power lines and debris. The McAllen Fire Department received 217 emergency calls, where over 70 percent were from stranded motorists and people trapped in their homes. Many homes and autos in central McAllen suffered significant damages due to the intensity and size of the hail.

April 27, 2012

Assistant Police Chief Martin Garza was appointed the new chief of Mission Police Department after over three months as the interim chief. Garza has been with the department for about 20 years, he spent his first eight months as a volunteer before becoming a police officer.

April 27, 2012

On April 26, the Texas Transportation Commission approved a measure awarding $60 million for the construction of the La Joya regional bypass, a project valued at over $80 million. Originally intended as a toll road, the bypass or relief route would allow drivers to bypass congested areas that surround cities and stoplights near La Joya.

April 27, 2012

Staff Sgt. Joseph H. Fankhauser, 30, a former Mission resident who had attended Sharyland High School, died April 22 while conducting combat operations in Helmand province, Afghanistan, military officials said. He was assigned to 7th Engineer Support Battalion, 1st Marine Logistics Group, 1st Marine Expeditionary Force in Camp Pendleton, CA.He is survived by his wife, Heather, who lives in California.

July 6, 2012

On July 1, 2012, Dr. Virginia Richter began her position as Sharyland Independent School District’s (SISD) Superintendent. Richter was named the sole finalist at the May SISD board meeting. Richter had 24 years of experience working with the Pharr-San Juan-Alamo school district (PSJA). SISD had been searching for a new superintendent since February when then Superintendent Scott Owings resigned because of allegations that he sexually harassed two female school officials at a Texas Association of School Administrators conference.

August 31, 2012

The $184 million drainage bond issue project supported by Hidalgo County Judge Ramon Garcia was approved in the Nov. 7, 2012 election. The project will connect the northern area of the county to the Raymondville Drainage Ditch, a $250 million channel located in the northern park of the county. Numerous other smaller drainage projects throughout the county are included in the bond issue.

September 28, 2012

La Joya Independent School District is trying to rectify problems found during state audits of the district’s free school breakfast and lunch program. Two previous audits by the Texas Department of Agriculture—one in December and one in March—found thousands of over claim meals. If the school district fails the next audit slated for December, they could lose reimbursements for the free lunch program for five years. The district has a current enrollment of 29,000 students. Nearly 92 percent of those students use the free lunch program.

In mid-December, La Joya ISD received word that they had passed the most recent audit of their meals programs, thus all funding for those programs is expected to be restored.

October 5, 2012

On Oct. 8, 2012 the Mission Fire Department celebrated its centennial and Fire Safety Month with an open house. Before Mission Fire Department hired its first fire chief in 1914, the fire department consisted of a bucket brigade that would be aroused by five shots from a six-shooter when there was a fire. Anyone available would gather buckets of water to help douse a fire and try to prevent it from spreading to nearby businesses and homes.

November 23, 2012

The Mission School Board last week approved a restructuring plan for the Kenneth White Junior High campus. The action was taken in response to federal No Child Left Behind Act mandates to make improvements at the campus, which has failed to meet AYP (Adequate Yearly Progress) test score requirements for four consecutive years. The Mission school district proposes converting the junior high into a STEM academy, focusing on science, technology, engineering and math, beginning with the sixth grade students.

November 23, 2012

Approximately 1,350 sewer connections are scheduled to be made in Sullivan City by December as part of a city-wide project bringing sewer service to the area for the first time. Residential connections have already begun and a total of 70 business connections are expected to be completed by April 2013. The Sullivan City Sewer Project started in September 2010 and was funded through grants from the Texas Water Development Board, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Urban County program.

December 19, 2012

Sharyland ISD (SISD) held a groundbreaking ceremony for the district’s second high school on Dec. 19. The new addition to SISD is proposed to total $41 million and will be located at 6 1/2 Mile N. Shary Road. The campus will be named Pioneer High School in honor of those who began Sharyland, according to SISD Superintendent Dr. Virginia Richter. The high school will have over 345,000 square feet of space and will include 14 buildings that will house 84 classrooms. The high school should take about 18 months to complete and is expected to be ready for students to walk the halls by August 2014.

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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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