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What’s new in the Progress Times?

Another week is ending which means it’s time for a new issue of the Progress Times.

Below is a sneak peak at our front-page stories which include the retirement of a Mission Police dog, a new chief executive officer for Mission Regional Medical Center and a glimpse into Mission’s Bentsen-Rio Grande Valley State Park.

cezar selfie

Mission Police Officer Alexandria Leal and her now retired partner, Cezar, in a recent selfie photo in her patrol unit. Courtesy photo

Be sure to pick up an issue tomorrow wherever newsstands are sold for the full versions of these stories.


Mission Police retire canine, Cezar, from life of action
By Joe Hinton

Have you ever watched a recording of a large dog attacking a trainer dressed in a padded suit bring the trainer to the ground? Well that’s what an 11-year-old German Shepherd named Cezar was trained to do. And according to his fourth and last handler, Mission Police canine officer, Alexandria Leal, Cezar was good at it. She calls him “a bite dog.” She said he was trained to grab onto a persons right arm at the elbow.


“Every time there was a barricaded subject or a person with a knife, a person with a gun, they’d be like: Cezar,” Leal said Tuesday, speaking of a typical scene commander’s opinion of her canine partner. “Cezar is notorious. He’s known for his bite.”


“He’s a bite dog. He’s a narcotics dog. He’s a tracking dog,” Leal said Tuesday morning in Mission’s public safety building where she brought Cezar for a photograph. “But he was notoriously known for his bite. Most dogs, canines, when they bite they re-bite and then they’ll stay. But he would,” Leal slaps her hands together and holds them together, “and that was it. He’s notorious for that.”


Despite her professional relationship with Cezar, the 11-year Marine veteran, a staff sergeant who served three tours of duty in Iraq, said she couldn’t help but feel concern each time she released Cezar into harm’s way.


“Oh my God, if anything were to have happened to him that would have been a bad day,” said Leal, 35, who has been with the department for eight years, the past three as Cezar’s handler. That relationship changed Monday when at the request of Mission Police Chief Robert Dominguez, Cezar was retired from service after eight years with the department by a unanimous vote of Mission’s city council. The council also approved Leal’s adoption of Cezar who is now responsible for the cost of his care.


City replaces two more dilapidated homes, more on the way
By Joe Hinton

For 70-year-old Cresencia Guerrero it was the happiest day of her life. Two years after applying to the City of Mission to have the dilapidated home her parents once owned refurbished Mayor Norberto “Beto” Salinas presented her with the keys to a brand new, three-bedroom, two bath, 1,100-square foot home. The $59,800 home was paid for with federal Community Development Block Grant funds.


Guerrero said she will be living in her new home with her daughter, Vanessa Perez and her three grandchildren. Nathan Perez, 13, Heaven Lee Perez, 14 and Brianna Guerra, 18.


“I think this is the happiest day of my life,” Guerrero said just before entering the home in the 100 block of North Street for the first time Monday morning accompanied by about a dozen family members.

Mission Regional Medical Center names new CEO

Ten days after finalizing the acquisition of Mission Regional Medical Center the California-based foundation that took over the 297-bed facility has announced the appointment of a new chief executive officer.


On Monday Prime Healthcare Foundation announced the appointment of Kane Dawson to head the non-profit hospital. His appointment took effect July 1, the same day acquisition of the hospital was finalized. Dawson succeeds Javier Iruegas, who retired from MRMC at the end of June after serving 12 years.


According to the press release Dawson joins MRMC with more than twenty years of healthcare experience and a variety of leadership responsibilities. He most recently worked for Quorum Healthcare Corporation and Quorum Health Resources, operators of acute care hospitals and outpatient centers in 16 states, including management-consulting services. Previously, Dawson served as the Chief Executive Officer for a physician-owned health system with facilities in Dallas, El Paso and San Antonio, Texas. Additionally, he held executive roles with Cancer Treatment Centers of America across the Chicago, Philadelphia, and Atlanta locations, and Tenet Healthcare.


“We have some tremendous opportunities here at Mission Regional Medical Center,” said Dawson. “We have an award winning hospital, a dedicated and loyal medical staff and employees, and a community that supports their local hospital. Our goal is to invest and renew Mission Regional and continue to provide safe quality health care, close to home,” Dawson said.


Dawson was named by the Philadelphia Business Journal as one of the “40 under 40” honorees and recognized for his leadership in the community. He is also certified as a Lean Healthcare Executive by the University of Michigan, School of Engineering. Dawson earned a Bachelor of Arts at Wabash College and a Master of Business Administration from Indiana Wesleyan.


“Mr. Dawson’s collaborative leadership style coupled with his passion for quality and excellence will be an asset to the entire Mission Regional family,” said Harsha Upadhyay, Regional CEO of Prime Healthcare. “We are pleased to welcome him to Mission Regional and Prime Healthcare. We also thank Mr. Iruegas for his many contributions and wish him the best in his future.“


Prime Healthcare Foundation, a 501(c)3 public charity based in Ontario, Calif. with a mission of providing quality, compassionate healthcare for all, is affiliated with Prime Healthcare. The Foundation includes 14 of the 44 hospitals within the award-winning Prime Healthcare network. Two of the 14 Foundation hospitals, all of which are not-for-profit, are Knapp Medical Center located in Weslaco and the Harlingen Medical Center.


Summer activities: visiting Bentsen Rio Grande Valley State Park
By Jose De Leon III

For Josh Hovick, camping is a way to remind him of his childhood in South Dakota.


The 25-year-old Pharr resident spent most of his childhood camping every other weekend with his parents and siblings, he said. Those memories are ones he hopes to recreate with his own family while camping at Mission’s Bentsen-Rio Grande Valley State Park.


“Nature is basically where everyone started, it gives me an idea of what my ancestors were doing decades ago without electricity and it makes you appreciate what you have; so much more,” Hovick said. “You feel an appreciation for nature after just a night here. You’re lost without it and everything about it is unique. For sure I want my kids to feel the same way about nature.”


Hovick and his family, which includes wife, Marcella, and her children, Santiago and Victoria, were spending a weekend at the state park to experience camping for the first time together. The 760-acre park, located on Mission’s south side at 2800 S. Bentsen Palm Drive, offers a variety of activities attendees can enjoy after paying the $5 entry fee.


Besides camping, the park offers seven miles of hiking trails, a 15-acre lake, “La Parida Banco,” where visitors can fish and kayak. There’s also shuttles for touring the park which also includes Hawk Tower, a two-story observation platform from which visitors can view the entire park from.


Because of all the amenities in the park, Hovick said every visitor will find something to enjoy.

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