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Texas Citrus Fiesta collaborates with Mission for office staff and events

For its final meeting of the year, Texas Citrus Fiesta briefed on a Memorandum of Understanding between the TCF board and the city of Mission to hire office workers and a temporary director after Lisa Rivera’s resignation earlier this month.

Mayor Norie Gonzalez Garza, Chief of Police Cesar Torres, and City Manager Randy Perez were present to provide feedback and aid for this season’s festivities.

“We’re here to help,” said Garza, before Perez spoke up.

“There are quite a few things that I feel that the board needs help [with],” said Perez, the first service offered towards bookkeeping to have employees from the city finance department study reports and pending items. “Obviously, everything would be reported to the board.”

In November, former TCF Director Lisa Rivera sent in her letter of resignation after accepting a position as Sullivan City’s newest City Manager. With time conflicts, the board needs to search for an interim.

“We would assign a person to be in charge of the festivities and events in coordination with the board with the different events that are coming,” Perez said. “It would be a person for that in the interim until the board [hires].”

The city also clarified that TCF would not need to reimburse for the services provided.

“Ultimately, that was the purpose of the MoU. We have to justify a city employee for a separate organization,” said Perez. “I’ll get with our attorneys to draft that up. And put that suggestion for $2,500 because we will be assigning an assignment.”

“It’s an in-kind donation,” said Board member Jessica Ortega.

Ortega said that although these are city employees, they must undergo training.

“They’re going to be under Texas Citrus Fiesta’s umbrella,” she stated, explaining that there would need communication with the board members in charge of aspects such as Coronation, Gala, and other event topics.

With this, Ortega brought up a concern.  “I do know sometimes this individual may have city stuff,” she said. “But would we be able to utilize that individual you’re going to choose to concentrate on Citrus Fiesta for the next two months?”

Perez stated that the city needs to dedicate time to get things up to speed.

“We are alternating employees from the Boys and Girls Club to answer phones, and then of course, that’s why I mentioned the guidance from the board for that,” he said.

Ortega said that keeping tradition and decision-making remains in the board’s court. Even with help from city employees, the city cannot make final decisions without the approval of TCF.

When asked by member Dee Rendon if the city had an employee in mind as an interim, Perez answered yes: the city considered Amy Tijerina, Mission’s Event Manager, for the job.

“To establish the new relationship with Ms. Tijerina, and have a meeting with the entire board, I would like to request the entire board be present for the meeting with her,” said Ortega.

Although deciding on Tijerina, the board stated that this is only temporary.

“I think we need to start that job search,” said Rendon. “Cast a wide net, get some good applicants, and hire them after our season is over.”

Public commenter and former Duchess of Star Ruby Sofia Saldivar, offered her company to help with coordination, highlighting her familiarity with TCF through 20 years of volunteering as a strength.

“I also am the great-granddaughter of a great pioneer here,” she said. “For us, it’s more than just the Citrus Fiesta. There’s a history behind it…an understanding amongst the agriculture industry about what the Citrus Fiesta is.”

For Saldivar, it is also about attaining staff familiar with upkeeping a traditional aspect of Mission.

“If we leave this in the hands of people who don’t understand that part, we’re going to get away from tradition and it’s not going to be what we’ve always expected of the Citrus Fiesta. And part of it is tradition,” said Saldivar, suggesting using modern social media for outreach and helping the girls with their gowns through inspiration and ideas. “I would propose, and I don’t know how the board would feel about this, but I would love it if we could contract it [the company] out to be the people that would be here versus the people the city was suggesting.”

Saldivar said there could be conflict given that TCF employees are there all day and night, with girls coming in the late evening to work on their dresses after school.

“Is the city person, employee, willing to do that?” said Saldivar, explaining she would be willing to help the board contract women who have been involved in Texas Citrus Fiesta as duchesses, princesses, or parents familiar with the event. “It’s not just a job. It’s a commitment.”

Saldivar’s comments were listened to by the board, and they thanked her for the feedback.

“We’ll touch bases with the city and this young lady,” said TCF President Oscar Martinez. “If there’s something we can change that will work, we’ll do that. But it’s very, very temporary.”

For more information, you can call the Texas Citrus Fiesta office at (956) 585-9724.

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