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“The people are the city�

Business, Arts & Society

Rio Grande Valley

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Maxal Construction L.P. is a specialty builder focusing on cost effectiveness, high quality and excellent customer service. Maxal have built some of the most impressive homes in the Rio Grande Valley whether it be Mediterranean or Contemporary designs. We are currently building in Las Viñas, Tuscany Estates, Bentsen Lakes, Antigua and Sanabria. Sanabria is a brand new gated contemporary subdivision with only 18 exclusive home sites in South Sharyland. Subdivision amenities includes common area with swimming pool, BBQ area, playground and other facilities. Architectural control and Home Owner Association.

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uro Pools is South Texas’ leading pool builder and is a Certified Building Professional®, the highest certification by the Association of Pool and Spa Professionals. Euro Pools is the Valley’s only pool builder that has had pools featured in international magazines and books. Euro Pools’ achievements include International Gold, Silver and Bronze and wins in 2008, 2009 and 2010 including Masters of Design by Pool & Spa News, Global Aquatekture Visionary Awards (GAVA) as well as several awards by APSP including International Awards of Excellence. Euro Pools includes the Valley’s best extended warranty on all pools and is member in good standing with Better Business Bureau, APSP and D&B.

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“The people are the city”

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An interview with Don Breeden & Brad McCumber How Often Should We Change Plans?

City Harmony Celebration

Richard Co r te z Community Intelligence

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12 Dr. Donna Cooper-Dockery

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Get the most value for your home

city harmony contents

04 Business Intelligence

“The newest businesses are always short on capital, but you can work through that if there is good management and good product, and that product is in demand.”

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City Harmony official launch celebration

Zushi Bar and Restaurant saw the official launch of City Harmony. The administrative and creative staff teams of the regions most classy magazine were present.

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How often should we change plans?

Here is a question that one of my associates sent me, which I think is worth sharing with the readers of this magazine: “You said in your lecture: ‘Strategy or policies that change frequently are neither strategies nor policies.

12 Selling your house?

If you’re thinking about selling your home or remodeling it to simply improve its value, City Harmony has you covered. We have done all the essential research, interviewed real estate experts and compiled some great home improvement ideas.

18 Community Intelligence Mayor Cortez brings broad experience in business and government having served in several appointed positions at the local and regional level.

26 Donna Cooper-Dockery, MD Dr. Cooper-Dockery is board certified in Internal Medicine who owns and operates Cooper Internal Medicine located in McAllen and Edinburg Texas. She has been practicing in the Rio Grande Valley since 1996

The content of articles contained in City Harmony Magazine solely reflects the personal opinions permission of City Harmony Magazine. City Harmony Magazine is a bi-monthly magazine with over of the authors or contributors and doesn’t necessarily represent the official position of City 15,000 copies distributed throughout the Rio Grande Valley. Developed and published exclusively Harmony Magazine. The publisher assumes no responsibility for errors and omissions appearing by City Harmony Publishing. City Harmony, does not assume any liability for any advertising, in the content or advertising within. The publisher reserves the right to accept or reject any and all articles, photographs, or artwork. For advertising information or comments, please contact us at: content pertaining to advertising and editorial. Contents cannot be reprinted without the written City Harmony Publishing 3604 N. McColl Ed. McAllen, TX 78501. Tel. 1-877-392-7263. Printed in Mexico.

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PUBLISHER Eduardo Fernando Azcoitia content management Anett Ramírez EDITOR IN CHIEF Daniel Garza EDITOR Teresa Heatherman CONTRIBUTORS Aaron Crowe Brett Nelson Gordon Botting, DrPH, CHES Jake Jenkins ART AND CULTURE Rey Duran PHOTOGRAPHY Lorena Cavazos GRAPHIC DESIGN Mario Villela ADVERTISING Brandemberg 877-392-7263 INTERACTIVE TEAM Proses Technologies Expectech Solutions Brandemberg Design

We welcome your comments, suggestions or questions via email to: letters@cityharmony.com editor@cityharmony.com advertising@cityharmony.com

Dear City Harmony readers,

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he Rio Grande Valley is a fascinating study in contrasts between a region of prosperity and a region of need. When comparing the significant number of national magazines that have placed us on many of their lists marking our dynamic growth and our enviable economic positioning with the unabated violence occurring just across the border, the highest poverty rate in the nation ranking, and the disproportionate share of people ailing from a myriad of health-related problems, you can’t help to think we are at a crossroads. Many of us hope for a better tomorrow, but it takes more than the will of a few people to improve the collective lives of an entire region like ours. It takes a community of dedicated and devoted citizens who choose to make a difference, who selflessly to think above themselves and give more than they take, who see injustice or a need and work arduously to make things right. My father used say “Dime a lo que atiendes y te diré quién eres” (Tell me what you give your attention to and I will tell you who you are). This oft repeated axiom makes me wonder how each one of us would answer if our civic contributions were weighed in the balance. In this edition, we are pleased to feature interviews with South Texans who contribute daily to our economic, health, and artistic development. Certainly, they are not the only ones working to positively impact they’re fellow man and future generations, but we are confident they set an example that serves to encourage others to take a stand and give unselfishly of their time, their money, and their attention.

Team Daniel Garza Rey Duran Anett Ramirez

Make a difference; it is telling of who you are.

Eduardo Azcoitia

Best regards, Daniel Garza

Become a Fan of City Harmony Magazine’s Facebook.com/CityHarmony RGV PEOPLE ARE TALKING

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“The people are the city”

Business Intelligence with Eduardo Azcoitia

An Interview with

Don Breeden & Brad McCumber fair profit. We always try to do the best job for the customer and do the best job for them. So giving your customers the best product you can at a fair price keeps you in business for a long time because they trust you and call on you. DB: The difference has been the type of service we provide. In trying to meet the expectations of the client, we probably offer more service than we bill for. We feel that if we don’t do a good job, how are we going to succeed and stay in business? Our names on are on the company title, so it all falls back on us. We put a lot of time, effort and research into coming up with the best ideas that help the client succeed. There is a fine line between what the client wants and what the client needs. We work with clients to make them understand this is our area of expertise and explain why we think our ideas will work for them. Sometimes it means we have to CH: It is safe to say that not many children grow up wanting a compromise on final the result at times. career in advertising, when did you both realize marketing would be CH: How would you best describe the philosophy of the company, the career path for you guys? and how have you been able to instill these beliefs into your staff? DB: That is a hard question to answer because when I was growing DB: We focus on doing the best job we can to help make our client’s up I didn’t even know what college I wanted to go to much less business grow. We become an extension of their business; a partner know what career I would pursue. Things are so different today. with our client. We’re not just a vendor or merely an expense Kids now-a-days seem to have their lives planned out at a very item for them. We work with our clients to identify who they’re young age. It wasn’t like that for us. This is kind of embarrassing, target market is, how we can best position their product, and then but to answer your question more precisely, did you ever watch the come up with what we feel is the best program. Our limitations are show Bewitched? Samantha’s husband (Darrin Stephens) was in mainly based on our client’s budgets, so advertising; at a young age I can remember sometimes we are not able to develop full watching (him) present his work to his blown marketing campaigns. This means boss and I used to think “boy, to be able to "Giving your customers the we have to be particularly ingenious and do that would be really fascinating”. So I best product you can at a fair resourceful about our strategies to best suppose somewhere in the back of my mind, position our clients’ products or services. I knew somewhat what I wanted to do, but price keeps you in business Our staff is mainly concerned with the final I never received any formal training or any for a long time because they results and not the budget restrictions. counseling to steer me in the right direction trust you and call on you." CH: Business partnerships are sometimes until (much) later. - Brad McCumber difficult, and many have failed. How has BM: I didn’t grow up wanting to be in your firm managed to have a successful advertising. I love advertising, the process partnership? behind it, and producing it now, but it was DB: I rely on Brad’s strengths and he relies really a gradual thing for me. I remember on mine, and we recognize we both bring a lot to the table. Can we selling radio back in 80, 81 and I really enjoyed the sales aspect of have done it without each other? I don’t know. I can tell you that I it. I approached Donny who had an advertising agency at the time, and asked him about maybe joining up and he said yes. As I got more rely on him for a lot for many things, and I would hope he would say the same about me. It’s a lot like being in a marriage; its very much into it, I gained more appreciation for the creative outlet that it was. give and take and you have to realize what you both bring to the Now I feel sorry for people who don’t have that outlet – to be able to table. write, draw or design. It’s such a nice way to work, and I love coming BM: I would also say a partnership is very much like a marriage. I to work everyday. It’s been a great experience for me, and I have was 30 years old when we formed the partnership and Donnie was never had a day when I didn’t enjoy coming into work. 32, and although we have had some disagreements since we formed CH: Advertising and marketing agencies have come in gone in the partnership 30 years ago, it hasn’t been many. We have worked South Texas in the last 30 years since Breeden & McCumber opened very hard and we’re still picking up new business, but after 28 years their doors, but you have managed to thrive. What has made your I’m looking at stepping back a bit. I mean you can drive to McAllen firm successful? and back so many times before it begins to wear you out. That’s why BM: We do very good account servicing work. We stay in touch we have brought in Ben Guerrero as a new partner. Ben brings fresh with our clients and give them a good product, and we treat them blood, new energy, and his strength is new client acquisition. He very fairly. Yes, we are in the business to make money, but we make a

Founded in 1982, Breeden/McCumber is a full service marketing agency based in Brownsville, TX. The founding principals of the company are Don Breeden and Brad McCumber, who along with their talented staff have been offering innovative, aggressive and effective advertising campaigns to businesses throughout South Texas for almost thirty years now. We sat down with both of them to talk about their past experiences, their keys to success, and what is in store for the future of the company.

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a marketing agency for their businesses to grow. DB: They should consider marketing their business because they need to promote their services or products as best as possible. When they make time to market themselves, really, they’re taking time away from what they do best. We’re not going to tell them how to run their business, nobody knows better than they do, but we’ll show them how to best promote their business, their product or their services with the years of experience and skills we have developed over 30 years of doing just this. They call us not because they want to save money, but because they want to spend their money wisely. CH: What Advise would you give to young Don Breeden, Brad McCumber and Ben Montoya kids looking at the marketing field as a career? DB: I would tell them what I was told in DB: You have to know your area, your does it very well, and being the Fred Loya spokesperson has helped him tremendously. region. We’re collaborating with a marketing college. That is, they need to learn how to do research because that is what’s going to drive firm from Dallas who came to us because CH: You are both the principals of the a lot of the decision(s) made in a marketing they have a national client based in the Rio company, but to be successful you need a job. Who are we trying to reach? What does Grande Valley, and they need our expertise strong team to remain successful; have you the client need? You have to understand in deciding their media buys. We analyzed found it difficult to find good talent in South human nature. You have to understand what they had been doing thus far and saw Texas? the product. You have to be on target with that their mistake was making 100 %of their DB: It’s always a challenge. But we have everything you do, you have to sell your media buys in Spanish language media. We been fortunate to have people that have service, your ideas and strategies, and then may be well be 87% Hispanic population been with us since we started almost thirty be able to explain why it will work. in South Texas, but it doesn’t mean every years ago. We have our own production CH: We have worked hard to remain one of them speak Spanish; it doesn’t mean departments and our own graphics innovative and provide a quality product every one of them speaks Spanish as their department where we have had guys that in each edition. We would like to pick your have been with us 28 years. Our main media language of preference. Our demographic brain, so what marketing advise would you is varied and much more complicated buyer started off as a receptionist twenty give a magazine like than just serving up eight years ago. So we have been able to ours? Spanish marketing. find good people who have stayed with us BM: Well I was So we presented a for so many years. The challenge is that "We focus on doing the best very impressed with technology changes and your people have to plan that reflected job we can to help make your magazine. I the research we have stay ahead of these advances. thought it was going and they were very our client’s business grow. CH: Many business owners feel that when to cost thousands and happy with the result. tough economic times come around, they We become an extension thousands for an ad Knowing your market will cut advertising and marketing, which of their business; a partner when I saw it, I was is key. some say would be equivalent to turning with our client" that impressed. I love BM: Everything the heater down when it’s cold. What would its size, it’s easy to we do in Spanish be your advice to our readers who own a - Don Breeden read and it has real we do in English as business and are asking themselves if they good editorial in it. well. Ultimately, it should spend less money or spend it more That’s what you want is a question of who wisely? in a magazine, you want to sit down and read is going to be using your product, and you BM: We’ve all been there; every business some nice articles. Other local magazines have to pick and choose the best marketing goes through this dilemma. In the end, are rags that don’t do anything for me. So format for your client. when times are tough, everyone has to look this is a great product, and I really do enjoy CH: What industry category have you most at trimming the fat. But you always have it. That’s why I called you right away after I sought out as clients? to set aside dedicated marketing dollars received it. It’s definitely a high class product BM: We have been fortunate to have to remain successful. One has to be more and the advertisers are great – it caters to worked with many different clients in precise with their marketing buys. You do many of our client base. So my advice is I various sectors of the economy. We have that by narrowing down customers who wouldn’t change a thing. also done well with many clients who have most need your product and service, and CH: Thank you, we hope our readers feel been with us for many years. One of the find the best way to reach them. Sometimes, the same. Lastly, would you say that client first clients we ever signed on was Cardenas television, radio or newspaper may not be satisfaction is vital to sustaining success? Motors - Mercedes Benz, and they have the best way to reach them. If you’re going DB: Achieving success is a two-way street. been with us for 30 years. We have others for a more high-spending clientele, your Our clients have to have confidence in us and who have been with us for 15-16 years. So magazine is an excellent example on how we have to have confidence in them. They we place a lot of value on longevity with our you can reach them. It may be a question of have to allow us to make recommendations, clients. Ultimately, to be successful you need running smaller ads, or reducing television a hospital, a bank and a car dealer. Those are and we have to listen to them. They have to commercials from 30 seconds to 15 seconds. know we have their best interest at heart, and your core customers, the ones you build a CH: The RGV’s demographic is primarily that’s what we have tried to do throughout Hispanic, how have you been able to succeed foundation with. the thirty years we have been in business. CH: Why should small businesses look to marketing to this sector of the population?

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City Harmony Celebrates Official Launch of Magazine

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ushi Bar and Restaurant saw the official launch of City Harmony. The administrative and creative staff teams of the regions most classy magazine were present to receive guests of the event who represented various sectors of the Rio Grande Valley; from the performing arts, non-profits, business, and elected officials to members of the healthcare, banking and education communities. Guests were treated to samplings of Zushi's delectable menu offerings, and were awarded a long list of spectacular door prizes provided by the event sponsors. The evening's program was directed by the magazine's founder, Eduardo Fernando Azcoitia who recognized and thanked the work of many folks in attendance who contributed to the magazine's preparation, printing, publication and launch.

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“The people are the city”

Francisco Rocafuerte Current Position: Internationally Renowned Concert Pianist Artistic Director of the Rio Grande Foundation for the Performing Arts

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By Eduardo Azcoitia:

meet with pianist Maestro Francisco Rocafuerte at Valley Keyboards where he currently spends a few hours a week teaching, instructing and sharing his love of music to young South Texans who have shown a predilection to cultivate their musical faculties. From the outside, it looks like any other strip mall store front, but inside, it’s a pianist’s paradise. The inventory includes baby and petite grand pianos, uprights, horizontals, Yamahas, Steinways, and a score of music lesson schedules for both adults and youth of all ages. Maestro Rocafuerte has arrived 5 minutes after our appointed time, and while no personality blessed with extraordinary artistic talent was ever remembered for their punctuality, his was appreciated. It is a Wednesday

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An internationally renowned concert pianist now living in McAllen, Maestro Rocafuerte’s prolific repertoire and resume records a lengthy catalogue of prestigious positions, grand achievements and performance engagements at the world’s most exclusive art venues. His musical career began at the age of four, and soon after joined the Music Academy “L’Van Beethoven”. At barely seven years of age he was stagechristened at his first formal recital. He further cut his musical teeth upon joining the Faculty of Music at the University of Xalapa, Veracruz and Yoliztli Ollin, before accepting a highly prestigious gig stunning audiences with his mastery of the piano for the National Opera of Mexico. He has performed in countless prestigious and important musical festivals throughout North America and Europe playing alongside the most distinguished operatic and theatrical performers of our time.

morning you see, and we sit at the table in the adjoining showroom, just before the traffic of students, sales associates and customers begin to shatter the quietness of one hundred resting black pianos. He has soft eyes, expressive hands, and the years of playing to a metronome have disciplined the tempo and cadence of his verbal elocution. He is wearing an elegant pink dress shirt, and I’m wearing a dour black sweater. I feel the awkward indignity of being tragically outclassed. He is nice and polite, in a way most people can’t fake. It strikes me as unconventional for a man of his trajectory and profession – alright; I suppose I mean to say of his title. I only mention it because I cannot ever recall knowing a single concert pianist to suffer from an excess of modesty. Maybe I just possess

a mistaken stereotype that all musical savants are raving mad and complex, probably borne from watching way too many of Hollywood’s clichéd iterations of musical geniuses. We speak for some time about the state of cultural enlightenment in South Texas. He is adamant about the role that music, opera, and the arts can play in enhancing the interdependence we have with Reynosa and Monterrey, Mexico. He veers from one arts-related project to another noticeably enthused by the cultural evolution coming to our region in the near future. “It is important we show that ours is a region of exceptional artistic and culture endeavor, and that northern Mexico is not just a country beset by its current social problems” he states with mild disquietedness. I nod in agreement knowing full well what social problems he is referring to. What I begin to catch on to is that he is not only passionate about music; he is passionate about helping others develop their own musical talent. He is motivated by the impact culture and the performing arts can have in the grand social order of things. He lights up when he speaks about current programs and future projects involving our region’s youngest and most talented students. I suspect that, at some level, it’s the reason he chose South Texas as his current home. It was back in 2009 when he accepted the role of Artistic Director for the Rio Grande Foundation for the Performing Arts, a group dedicated to promoting the common goodwill and welfare among the people of the South Texas through artistic cultural programs. The Foundation also works to advance all artistic endeavors, including performing and visual arts, and literature. He leans closer and says “I honestly believe that McAllen can be known for more than just being a shopping destination to Mexicans coming from Reynosa and Monterrey. We can make it a cultural and artistic destination that will attract the world’s best operatic and musical performers. The fact is


“The people are the city”

we are positioned at a highly strategic crossroads between two nations, and we should make the most of it.” He is midsentence when sits back into his chair as we’re interrupted by a staff member from the store who thoughtfully asks us if we would like something to drink while we converse. We politely decline the offer, and continue our discussion. I then ask him if local government officials have been supportive of the performing arts, and he tells me many elected officials have indeed been very expressive and open to growing the role of the arts and the opera in South Texas. “The arts have proven to generate substantial long term social, development and economic effects. By bringing people together to share artistic expressions, we begin to showcase our cultural similarities and develop a stronger sense of community identity. The arts are central to every civilization. They preserve cultural knowledge from generation to generation. In the end, we generate opportunities of artistic training and study, boost tourism, increase the social appeal of an entire region, and generate highly desirable jobs requiring artistic creativity and innovative talent” he tells me. “It keeps those who are artistically inclined from having to move to larger urban areas

such as Houston or Dallas, cities that currently offer a vastly larger scale of performing arts opportunities” he adds. I move into other topics and ask him about such things as his own career, the past concerts and operas, the singers like Placido Domingo who he has played with, and generally the experience of it all. But he seems to have a tertiary interest in all of that at the moment. He keeps coming back to his desire to help make South Texas an important arts destination. By now I’ve bought into the vision. Of course, it’s not a difficult jump for me to make considering that City Harmony Magazine’s mission is to promote the arts. But his enthusiasm is contagious. By this time, I watch as more than a few customers have began to browse the various pianos located throughout the showroom, but it is the select baby grand pianos located inside the room where we sit which they begin to peer over at. The store employees working the early shift are coming out of the break room, coffee in hand, prepped for another day of work. It’s our queue to wrap up. We agree to follow up soon and collaborate on some upcoming projects before bidding adieu. As I leave him, I can’t help thinking how many accomplished and illustrious

individuals we have currently living in our region; with lives so distinguished, with experiences so numerous, and achievements so amazing. Each one contributing to the collective good of our society; steadily, anonymously, without expecting anything in return but the knowledge that they helped leave a legacy partially shaped by their God-given talent, their energy and their passion. I’m reminded of the great opera diva Maria Callas who once famously said “An opera begins long before the curtain goes up and ends long after it has come down. It starts in my imagination, it becomes my life, and it stays part of my life long after I’ve left the opera house”. She prepared for each opera arduously so the masses would enjoy and benefit from the fruits of her labor. Similarly, in the coming months, Maestro Rocafuerte will direct various fundraisers for the organization, participate in various concertos on both sides of the border, lend his teaching talents to university classes, work in partnership with McAllen’s elected officials in promotion of the arts throughout the community, and collaborate in upcoming operas and theatrical productions throughout South Texas. And we will all be better ennobled and enriched because of it.

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“The people are the city”

How Often Should We Change Plans? By: Ichak Kalderon, Ph.D.

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ere is a question that one of my associates sent me, which I think is worth sharing with the readers of this magazine: “You said in your lecture: ‘Strategy or policies that change frequently are neither strategies nor policies. They are tactics at best.’ “Shouldn’t the rate of change in strategies somehow correspond to the rate of change in the environment? Thus, more external change would demand more frequent change in strategy.” His conclusion seems reasonable and logical. Right? If the environment changes, we need to change the plans, too. So frequent changes “out there” require frequent changes “in here.” But notice what I said in my lecture: If you change strategies frequently, they are not strategies; their impact is tactical. A strategy focuses on the longer term than a tactic. Then what should we do when the long term is unpredictable, and any decision we make now about that uncertain future might need to be changed? How do we avoid turning strategies into mere tactics because of the frequent changes? Interesting problem, eh? Let us try to solve it. Eisenhower once said: “Plans are useless. Planning is priceless.” Which means: Change your plans as needed. They are not as critical as the process of making the plans. What should happen during the process of planning? When you plan, you identify policies for your organization –what to do and what not to do – and these should hold for a relatively long time. These policies are what give you the “platform,” the guiding principle for changing your strategic plans without converting them into tactical plans. Think of a constitution: Some laws can change, but the constitution does not change easily. And all new legislation has to comply with the constitution. Policies for a company are like a constitution for a country. They define who we are, who we are not, and what we stand for. During the planning process, you took into account many factors and made various assumptions. As the situation

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changes, you should regularly go back to that process, reevaluate those assumptions in light of the changes you have now seen, and adapt your strategic plan to the new reality while staying within the boundaries of the policies. If your strategic decisions are made within well-defined policies, then they are strategies, even though you might change them frequently. When there are no policies, no boundaries, then changing strategic decisions frequently will convert those strategic decisions into tactics by default. Why? Because there is no guiding principle underlying the ever-changing decisions. The organization is keel-less. Example. I had a large client who had the technology to produce armaments – in this case, tanks and armored vehicles. But the organization made a policy decision, based on its values, that they would not contribute to war; thus, they would not make weapons. As conditions changed, their strategies – how to penetrate new markets or hold onto their current customers –changed, but the policy was not violated. Another software development company made a policy that the company would only use new operating systems that had been in the market for at least a year. They decided to sacrifice the possibility of very early innovation in exchange for reliability and robustness. Within this policy, strategies – which products to develop and how to market them – could change as needed, but the character of the company would never change so drastically that the market would not be able to follow them. Imagine a restaurant that changes its menu frequently, but has no policy about what kind of restaurant it is. Do they serve Mexican food? Thai? Are they a Russian

restaurant? They want maximum flexibility to change the menu, but what effect would this have on customer loyalty? Their customers would never know what to expect. All changes must be within boundaries. Do not attach yourself to strategic plans. You should review their assumptions annually, and if the assumptions do not hold anymore, make the necessary changes – as long as they do not violate your longterm policies. Is that all? No, because changes in strategy often call for changes in structure. And that is where the real challenge is. In order to successfully change its structure, an organization must be flexible. It must be able to change with relative ease. Most managers I know do not pay sufficient attention to the importance of structure. Much attention is given (and millions, if not billions, of dollars are spent) on strategic planning, and not enough is devoted to making the organization flexible. But what is the use of spending millions of dollars on mathematical economic modeling to more accurately predict the future, if the organization’s structure is so inflexible that new strategies cannot be implemented? I very much agree with Michael Kami, who preached, more than forty years ago: Spend more energy on keeping your organization flexible and less energy on planning. The more you plan, the greater is the chance you will get attached to the plan and lose flexibility. In a fast-changing environment, it is more important to have a highly flexible organization than to have accurate plans. Long term policies, with a flexible organization, make strategic plans effective.


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“The people are the city”

Get the Most Value for Your Home By Jonathan Escamilla

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f you’re thinking about selling your home or remodeling it to simply improve its value, City Harmony has you covered. We have done all the essential research, interviewed real estate experts, and compiled some great home improvement ideas to help you deal with contractors, get the most value from your home with less cost, and assure maximum return on your investment. First Things First Since your goal is to make your home appear cleaner, larger, and brighter to attract buyers, you must be sure to focus on making only those improvements that will best enhance the marketability of your home. Be sure to examine the housing market in your area so you don’t end up losing more than what you plan to invest. An important rule of thumb is that the projected value of your home should be no higher than 20% to 25% of other homes in your area; any higher, buyers will decide instead for similarly priced homes in more affluent neighborhoods. Another important consideration to keep in mind before you embark on your renovation project is to remember what your mother told you: first impressions are everything. A house that is tidy, clutter-free and organized will attract far more buyers, sell quicker, and sell for more. Choosing to give your home a face-lift by doing it yourself is also a great way to save money. Most of us are proficient enough at painting, landscaping, or adding fixtures to the exterior of a home. These do-it-yourself improvements do not cost a lot of money, and can result in a huge upgrade in the curb appeal of your home (Curb appeal is the allure or attraction to a home from the exterior). Home Improvements we recommend Get your paintbrush ready: One of

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the most cost-effective and significant enhancements you can make for your home is a fresh coat of paint. When selecting colors, bear in mind that neutrals are the most popular, and always ask to see color samples and paint chips before ordering materials. * Make a new door the opening statement to your home: Whether you opt for a solid wood door or one with cut glass panels, a striking entrance sets the tone for the rest of the house and increases your home’s appeal. Avoid a bare entryway; potted plants, a smart welcome mat, and design-appropriate fixtures are essential components to any entrance make-over. Bathroom and kitchen improvements are always a smart move. Updates like swapping out worn and unsightly plumbing, replacing stained ceramic fixtures, or re-grouting that tile floor will give your bath a renewed, clean, fresh look. Try the same approach with the kitchen; re-varnish the cabinets, restore the stained sink, or replace the old stove and refrigerator for stateof-the-art models to add big value to your home. Even small updates like replacing outdated wallpaper, fixtures, or shower curtains will give the room a face-lift without busting your budget. Real estate experts agree that bathroom and kitchen improvements are a smart choice because they offer the highest rate of return. Conversely, kitchens and bathrooms that appear unsightly, kept in poor condition, or are in disrepair might actually scare buyers away. Make each room in your house feel larger: The size of your home and how large a home feels can dramatically affect its value. If there are a lot of items taking up space in your home, it will also give a visual misimpression there is less space then actually available. The application of large glass design and a well-organized Furniture arrangement

with an orderly use of space can open up any room. Some other tried and true ideas that make your home appear larger than it is are keeping your furniture and personal photos to a minimum; replacing heavy closed draperies with vertical blinds to let light in; adding a large mirror to a room, and removing your stacks of magazines, books and electronics. Additionally; add recessed shelves; paint rooms the same color as their adjacent rooms and the drapes; and replace any partition cabinets with open shelves. A backyard swimming pool is a must in the Rio Grande Valley. Buyers who have moved to the Rio Grande Valley wanting a pool are willing to pay for it. In a home worth at least half a million dollars, not having a pool is considered a major negative. Plant a tree. According to a study done by the U.S. Forest Service on over 3000 homes in Portland, Oregon, planting a tree directly in front of your house could raise its value by $7,593. Effectual landscaping can also cut your cooling costs by as much as 40 percent while adding valuable curb appeal to your home. More and more people are recognizing that trees serve many practical and aesthetic purposes, but be careful not to smother your landscaping. Give it room to grow. Plant in areas at least five to eight feet wide and place everything with centers three or more feet from the walls of the house. Got landscaping: A recent “Smart Money” article stated that landscaping could add up to 15 percent to a home’s value. Be sure to purchase plants that are drought-tolerant and native to your region; these require less water and maintenance, which means more value to you. Creating attractive entryways such as a stairway leading from the driveway or street to your front door adds character to a home. Consider


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raised planting beds to border the front of your home. These beds can enhance drainage and add an architectural element to the landscape. Get rid of that nasty flooring: The bad news is that if your flooring is worn, unsightly and stained it will turns off prospective buyers immediately. The good news is changing the flooring in your home will positively increase its financial and aesthetic value, and today’s low-cost flooring options are endless (ceramic tile, wood, slate, laminate, etc). Replace your entire flooring if possible, but if a limited budget will not allow for that, start by replacing the carpet in the room that shows the most wear and tear and replace the others as your finances allow. Add some flare with smart design techniques: Reinventing the look of your home’s décor does not require a hefty price tag, just an eye for detail and some creativity. Use the walls of your home to change and transform any room instantly. For those of you who prefer a soft and airy interior design, a neutral and white color application offers a modern and contemporary look. If you want a touch of glitz and sophistication, make judicious use of gold and silver accents in your home. While a room that feels too big can instantly feel cozy with darker wallpaper with a striking pattern. You can spark inspiration for new and trendy remodeling and decorating ideas by looking at home décor magazines, books, TV shows and visiting the many websites dedicated to interior design. Home Improvements that may make it difficult to recover costs. Sports facilities: Building a sportsrelated facility on your property such as a tennis court may improve your backswing, but it won’t increase the value by more than what you spent on it. Additions: While a large, expensive addition such as a second story might make the home more appealing, it will not add significantly to the resale value if the house is in the midst of a neighborhood of small, one-story homes. Additions only make sense if you own a small house in a neighborhood full of big houses and this situation is making it difficult for you to sell. Media Rooms: Luxury enhancements such as media rooms with sophisticated audio, visual or gaming features may be appealing to a few prospective buyers, but many other homebuyers would reject having to pay premium prices for these additional elements. Hiring a contractor

If you’re like most Americans, your home is your most valuable financial asset, and hiring someone dependable and skilled contractor to do the work right the first time is of utmost importance. The best policy is to get referrals from friends, neighbors, or co-workers who have had improvement work done. Get written estimates from at least three reputable firms. Make sure you have a written contract that clearly specifies the agreed upon price for the home improvements. A good contract should cover start and finish dates, total cost, a payment schedule, names and contact information of all parties, contractor’s license number, description of project, and provisions for early termination. Establish a relationship. This individual will be in and out of your home each day, so it’s imperative that you feel comfortable permitting this person that sacred privilege. * Establish an organized budget. Avoid surprises by requesting a detailed listing of all materials and the labor that will be required to complete the project. Also, keep a project file that includes a copy of the contract, plans, specifications, invoices, change orders, and all other papers. Don’t bite off more than you can chew. Divide the project into more manageable portions if you find you do not have the money or the time to complete the work. Assure delivery of essential materials. Advice your contractors to delay any anticipated demolition work until all essential equipment, materials and appliances have been delivered. Avoid confusion: Misunderstanding will prove detrimental to the project in the long run if not addressed immediately.

Appoint one family member to deal directly with the contractor or the project foreman to avoid confusion and mix ups. Establish a timeline. If your contractor is hesitant to agree to a timeline; it may mean he or she is trying to handle way too many jobs at once, and consequently, will be challenged to finish yours on time. Keep changes to a minimum. Be mindful that each time you alter the plans it will most likely result in project delay and added costs. If a change must be made, be sure everyone agrees to the modifications in writing. Parting Advice. In the end, selling your property will be made easier if you have properly prepared your home, and made sure it has been suitably staged for buyers and their agents. Besides remembering to establish a desired outcome in your mind, settle on a manageable budget, and identify a skilled contractor, don’t forget to point out what you’ve done. If you have updated your kitchen, remodeled your bathroom, or planted a tree as we have suggested, make sure to bring these improvements to the buyer’s attention so that you rightly reap the rewards of your efforts. Here is a list of other ideas that will enhance your home’s value: -An updated kitchen Security alarm system Motion activated exterior lights -Storm doors Ceiling fans -Whole house water purification system -Modern bathrooms spacious master suite Swimming Pool Shelves for storage -Energy Efficient Windows -Solid doors Dead bolt locks Door bell/ intercom system -Up-to-date heating system (energy efficient).

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“The people are the city�

AutHentic Metal from the Titanic

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“The people are the city”

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uxury Watch Boutique, Exclusive Timepieces, of McAllen is the exclusive Authorized Agent in all of south Texas for the worlds’ finest and most prestigious luxury timepieces in the world, such as Ulysse Nardin,Blancpain,Glashutte Original,Cuervo y Sobrinos and Ebel. The latest edition to their already impressive collection is undoubtedly their most unique watch brand in the world….ROMAIN JEROME TITANIC-DNA! These watches contain authentic rusted metal, and coal from the world’s most famous luxury liner…THE TITANIC. Each Titanic-DNA model is limited to 2012 and is accompanied by a letter of authenticity from the ships builder, Belfast’s Harland & Wolff. This guarentees that the medal and coal used in their watches is authentic. The 2012 represents the approaching 100th year anniversary of the ships ill fated maiden voyage in 1912. “This is the most luxurious and inaccessible treasure” states Manuel Emch,World CEO for Romain Jerome. Now that the site of the Titanic is protected by law, no one can go and take pieces any more. “Our clients come to us for prestige and exclusivity”states Pete Moreno, President of Exclusive Timepieces, and indeed these magnificent luxury watches are very exclusive. We are honored to be associated with the history of the Titanic, and to bring these very unique, and exceptional luxury watches to McAllen.

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Community Intelligence with Daniel Garza

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ichard Cortez began his professional accounting career after graduating from Pan American College in 1970 and became a CPA in 1974. Mr. Cortez was elected Mayor of the City of McAllen on June, 2005. Mayor Cortez brings broad experience in business and government having served in several appointed positions at the local and regional level. City Harmony sat down with him to discuss Mcallen's current efforts to expand the arts, employment opportunities, public infrastructure, and commerce for businesses large and small."

CH: What is your forecast for the economy in 2011 for McAllen businesses? Mayor: It will continue to be tough. Folks should keep overhead low, and make wise cost-saving decisions. But if you look at current regional business trends, we are still the best city to do commerce for businesses large and small. CH: Can you list some of the reasons why this is the case? Mayor: We are bettering our educational attainment levels, our household income continues to increase, we have a high rate of migration from people in Mexico fleeing the violent conditions, we are experiencing high birth rates, and businesses continue to do well in spite of the downturn. In short, as our population continues to grow; the number of businesses are growing. CH: This year, state legislators in Austin are staring down a budget gap estimated to be as high as $27 billion. How do you feel the city will fare out? Mayor: The goal is to protect McAllen’s interests amid deep cuts to state spending. The good news is that traditionally McAllen always had a spread between revenues and expenses. As such, city officials would take those monies to make capital improvements. This time around we have lost that spread, but we will not be

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Richard Co r te z Mayor of the City of McAllen

terribly affected. That does not mean we stop growing. We are working on our business plan to grow revenues, increase our assets, or maybe even borrow money to continue with needed development. CH: What specific kinds of assets is the city looking to increase in order to grow revenues? Mayor: I am referring to income producing assets such as more retailers, museums, theme parks, our Botanical Garden, Quinta Mazatlan, the entertainment district, arts, etc. Anything that brings more people to McAllen. CH: There has been some discussion about the Boeye Reservior, a large tract of land located near the airport currently used for water storage, being eliminated to make way for a massive development. How is this project coming along?

Mayor: We have already hired some consultants to help begin some projects to the Boeye Resrvoir area, but we are not anticipating anything to begin until after November of this year. We are currently working with a firm who will be presenting a proposed design for the development. We expect to have those designs by this April. CH: The construction of the new library is progressing nicely, what are your expectations? Mayor: I think its going to be a “wow” for a lot of people. It will be a great addition to our city. It will be a user friendly place that will attract many people. It will be a modern user-friendly gathering place for our community with a small auditorium, outdoor park, and other amenities. CH: What other infrastructure projects is the city currently developing? Mayor: There are two public parks we


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are currently improving that will make a huge difference for the residents of our city, we have the Bicentennial Road expansion project which will improve traffic and mobility for everyone, and some drainage improvements projects. CH: Any efforts or projects being spearheaded by the city to promote the Arts? Mayor: We are currently stuck in the mud with respect to the Arts District because of some reluctance by neighboring residents to expand the project, but there are others projects we have in the works to continue promoting the arts. We have received a generous gift of thirty statues from a local resident that we are looking to place throughout the city as public art for our resident to enjoy. We are currently collaborating with our sister cities to bring in artists to McAllen, and we have already hired a consultant to design a new performing arts auditorium. We are also working in collaboration with non-profits to bring more performing arts to McAllen, so the future of performing arts in our city is bright. CH: Speaking of tourism, can you speak to the efforts being advanced to increase tourism? Mayor: Well, as I mentioned, we will be re-opening the Botanical Garden, we

Discover the Cornerstone Difference

have the refuge in Pharr, the Butterfly Park in Mission and Quinta Mazatlan will play a key role in enhancing our growing bird watching visitors. We are also expecting the results from our media campaign that promotes the city and its commerce. CH: Have you been pleased with the marketing campaign, and has the tagline, “Sure it is”, caught on? Mayor: I have been encouraged by the initial results, but I understand the tagline has not resonated sufficiently, although some of the campaign imagery has. I’m a big believer in marketing, but it is important we do it right. As a result, we will probably be making some modifications to the current marketing campaign. CH: What are going to be some of the most difficult challenges in the remaining time you have in this mayoral term? Mayor: Obviously security is always an issue, and we need to make sure we do not see the violence from Mexico spilling over into our side of the border. The trend in crime has come down once again this year, and I am very pleased with the work Chief Victor Rodriguez and his department has done in that area. We are also working hard to manage traffic mobility in and around the city. We are pleased of the progress

we have underway in expanding Bicentennial, and that should ease traffic a bit. CH: One of the issues brought to us by a reader was his concern that we currently shut out other vendors from catering events at the Convention Center. Why is this the case, and how can we expand the options users currently have? Mayor: That was a very difficult decision for us to make. Most convention centers enter into exclusive contracts with caterers and contractors; otherwise we would be constantly dealing with non-productive vendor issues. We are currently working with our contractor and trying to modify our procedures in order to provide more options for the Convention Center’s clients. CH: Finally, a more personal question, what are your future political aspirations? Mayor: I’m optimistic 2011 is going to be a very good year for our city, and I am currently focused on making sure it is. I plan to announce my future intentions in the final year of my term. CH: Thank you Mr. Mayor, we appreciate the time you have given to inform our readers. Mayor: Anytime, it was my pleasure.

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Managing the Transformation of Your Practice By Eduardo Azcoitia

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ll businesses have a life cycle. If you own or manage a healthcare related practice, your organization will go through various stages of the business life. These stages will likely include formation, growth, expansion, maturity, and decline. Some practices go through these stages rapidly and others do so at a slower pace depending on how well they are able to adapt to market forces. At some point, eventually, everyone will arrive at that fork in the road where they will have to choose to either continue in the same direction or decide to completely change course. Each practice experiencing its own distinctive set of circumstances creating a need to transform the way they are currently being run or managed. It may be a loss of public confidence, a demoralized workforce, or negative media attention causing a decline in patient numbers and/or revenues. It may also be they are opening a new practice or simply want to take their current successful practice to the next level. Regardless of the reason, an organization’s success or failure will depend on its ability to transform. Your practice may already be at that point. If so, keep in mind that the purpose of transforming an organization should remain clear and

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basic: achieve high-quality outcomes by adopting an effective, customized, and preferably low-cost strategy. These outcomes may include enriching patient experience, Enhancing quality of care, improving staff morale, and improving operational effectiveness in order to generate increased numbers of patients and higher profit. Consider also that most people prefer to keep things the way they are, and your leadership will be required to ignite the support and involvement of others. You must also anticipate that people in the organization are going to find reasons to oppose changes, and therefore, prepare strategies that address the emotional and behavioral issues that will emerge at every step of the process. Here are eight considerations to keep in mind as you begin your transformation process: 1. Change requires leadership: Avoid making a decision that affects the team without having their backing and collective support. A successful manager defines the outcome, but leverages the strengths and skill sets of his team to achieve it. An effective leader also proposes ideas to attain the desired outcomes, but allows them to be rejected as long as team members offer alternate ideas. Failure to respond to

your staff’s objections and viewpoints will result in their indifference to your goals, but their involvement will create commitment and ownership to these same goals. • You don’t know it all - By explaining the challenge of the task at hand and inviting suggestions from your staff you will be pleasantly surprised by the imaginative responses resulting from group synergy. • I recommend you also consider involving patients in the effort- This will ultimately improve your results by getting vital insights to their likes and dislikes. • Follow up by repeatedly asking for feedback to determine if further motivation and encouragement is required. 2. Have a clear vision in mind and achieve it: Transforming a practice is more than just re-designing spaces, re-aligning billing processes, or strengthening its brand clout: it’s about improving systems and the experience for all in a clinical environment so that your practice can attain increased patient numbers and higher revenues. The leadership team must be united and speak with one voice while providing the resources, direction, and vision of the transformation. The staff complements these efforts with Continue in Page 22


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t Falfurrias Medical Group we pride ourselves in providing the highest quality care that is comprehensive, accessible and affordable to individuals of all ages and their families. Equally important to us is that we have retained that small town personal touch in treating a broad spectrum of diseases, promoting healthy lifestyles, and offering preventative medicine to each one of our patients.

We offer services such as: • Diagnosis & treatment of Illnesses • Routine health checkups & school sports physicals • Health-risk assessments & pre-natal care • Immunization shots & care of newborns and babies

Our in-house medical professionals are also specialists in treating kidney related diseases and orthopedic injuries and diseases affecting the bones, joints, ligaments, tendons, muscles, and nerves. If you haven’t visited our offices, find out why our experienced, personal and preventive approach to primary care makes us the preferred healthcare provider in the region.

Andrew Levin, MD.

1400 S. Mary’s Street Falfurrias, TX 78355 Tel: (361) 325-1910 (361) 325-4582 x

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their energy, labor and support. By and large, it’s your responsibility to communicate what you’re changing, why you’re changing, and how you’re changing. Most importantly, know that transforming a business must be a team effort that involves the commitment of every member of the practice, and it must not be a physician-centered endeavor in order to assure success. 3. Change is about handling people: People are instinctively resistant to change. Many fear the uncertainty that change brings, the feeling of not knowing what to expect, the possibility of hidden agendas by management, or loss of status. Others feel taking on an extra load is another reason to resist whatever changes you are proposing. This resistance applies even when the change in question promises vast improvement to the organization, or whether the change is minor or significant. All the same, the process does require astute leadership, a deft hand, and the judgment to address the emotions that surface when change is involved. • One suggestion is that you institute a daily ‘huddle‘, in which staff members come together for at least five to ten minutes to discuss daily tasks and goals for the day. 4. Change is a process requiring simple and manageable steps: Divide the transformation process into manageable tasks and involve your entire staff in the effort. • The 80/20 rule - Avoid trying to change too much at one time (by beginning with significant changes that will take 20% of the effort to achieve 80% of the results). • This is a journey, not a project - A true transformation commitment involves a continual, flexible and systematic undertaking because what you focus on today may change and require different approaches to achieve success tomorrow. 5. There is no such thing as isolated change: You must always anticipate that attempts to make change in one area may possibly create unintentional and undesirable effects in other areas of your practice. More times than not, efforts to transform specific areas such as front office procedures, accounting practices, or patient appointment processes have failed because managers ignored the interdependence between a practice’s multiple divisions and departments. The entire team, from administrators to clerical staff, must continually communicate all changes in order to

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achieve a smoother evolution, and mitigate any unintended consequences to their areas of responsibility. 6. Change requires continual assessment: Effective change management requires continual monitoring of progress, and comparisons between the organization’s past and current situation. In fact, it will prove to be a challenge to effectively measure change without having had pre-established benchmarks. Key metric indicators such as financial considerations, meeting timelines, employee outputs, customer comments, cancellations, new client enlistments, management turnover, and other criteria are essential to determining whether a transformation is tracking well and achieving desired outcomes. • Review your metrics and use them to guide your decisions accordingly - With your metrics in place, you can tell which strategies are working and which aren’t. • Communicate your results both up and down the organization - Your employees want to know what’s going on, and are also motivated by the progress and improvement they see in their areas of responsibility. If they do not know what is going on, they are more likely to resist change or become disinterested in continuing with the effort. 7. When delegating, hold people accountable and/or reward them for results: Delegate wherever possible in order to improve execution of tasks and progress. After doing so, assure that all department and division managers be held accountable for meeting the objectives and the goals of the transformation. • Employee reward and recognition programs are one method of motivating employees to change work habits and key behaviors that reinforce the company’s goals. This requires

you design a program that identifies company or group goals to be reached and the behaviors or performance that will contribute to this. 8. Consider expert advice: By assessing your company’s current stage of growth; methodically defining the external and internal factors impacting its competitive standing; and aligning its efforts with its stated goals and vision, business transformation experts can help your company define the areas that need improvement and present solutions that help make it become the preferred leader in its field. They’ll work shoulder to shoulder with your team to implement strategies that will transform business performance, improve customer responsiveness and boost profitability. For some, it may take minor adjustments to achieve improved measures of performance in areas of cost, quality, service and speed. For others, it may take a fundamental rethinking and radical redesign of business processes and systems to achieve dramatic improvements. Whether you seek help with marketing strategy, technology planning, executive team development, or knowledge management, I strongly recommend you consider contracting expert help if your work schedule will not allow you to commit one hundred percent to the transformation process you have in mind. • Web marketing consultants can optimize your search engine presence – if you’re not on top of all the search engines, your competition is. • Firmly establish your expertise – Patients want to know their doctor is the best available, and they want to be treated by people who are considered experts. Public Relations specialists can position you as the expert in your field. Seek out these key skills for your front office staff: • Superior customer service • Professional telephone protocol • Tactful handling of difficult patients/situations • Efficient billings and appointments • Strong ability to multi-task Expert consultants can provide you the following: • Strategy and Marketing • Employee Development • Performance Improvement • Innovation Strategies • Operations Management • IT Solutions & Multimedia • Business Planning


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Going Gently Into that Goodnight By Dr. William Burkes

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amed American author F. Scott Fitzgerald once said “The worst thing in the world is to try to sleep and not to.” You sure won’t get any argument from insomniacs on that one. Insomnia is a common sleep disorder which affects millions of people around the world. In fact, in the U.S. alone, it’s estimated that one in 10 adults struggle with chronic insomnia, and one in three will occasionally deal with milder symptoms of the condition. When you lump in those who suffer from other sleep disorders you start to see how common sleep deprivation really is.

The benefits of sleep There is no equal for a good night’s sleep. It helps your immune system stay strong, helps to restore the body, reduce stress, and bolsters your memory. A good rest also makes you more alert, improves your cognitive function, and maintains your motor skills and reflexes. When people get less than 6 or 7 hours of sleep each night, their risk for developing diseases begins to increase. Sleep deprivation makes your body more susceptible to fatigue, stress, worsening of blood pressure and cholesterol, heart disease and stroke. Studies have also shown that people working the late shift have a higher risk for breast and colon cancer. How much sleep is actually necessary varies on the individual and on several factors such as age, weight and pregnancy status. Infants require some 14-16 hours of bedtime throughout the day, while teenagers need about 9 hours

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to feel alert and refreshed. Most adults require about 8 hours on average to get the full benefits of a good night’s rest, and if a person has been deprived of sleep in past days, the amount of sleep that person needs increases accordingly. Some have shorter sleep cycles and thus require less sleep to function effectively. You can gauge your own body’s sleep requirement, by monitoring your sleep patterns and determining when you are able to function at your optimum best.

What is Insomnia? It is important to emphasize that insomnia is a sleep disorder and not a disease. Simply put, we are talking about treating the underlying causes of insomnia, not eliminating it forever. This is because the causes of insomnia are many and can never all be fully eliminated: Primary Insomnia: Attributed to stress, environmental changes (such as noise and temperature), shifting sleep patterns (shift work, long-haul travel, international travel, jet lag, etc.), and the side-effects of many medications can cause primary insomnia. Other factors include use of drugs, alcohol abuse, excessive caffeine intake, and napping. Secondary Insomnia: Attributed to a specific underlying physical or psychological condition. These include other sleep disorders such as sleep apnea, narcolepsy, restless legs syndrome and circadian rhythm disorder. Other conditions that bring on the onset of insomnia include

depression, respiratory problems (including asthma), heart problems (such as congestive heart failure), arthritis, Parkinson’s disease, and Alzheimer’s disease. Insomnia can be further categorized based on the duration and severity: 1-Transient: lasting less than a week - Often caused by temporary stress, anxiety, or schedule changes. 2-Acute or short term: lasting 1 to 3 weeks - Often due to prolonged stress or anxiety caused by the death of loved one, financial problems, problems at work, relationship drama, etc. 3-Chronic: lasting more than 3 weeks Often the result of medical conditions, mental disorders, or substance abuse.

Treating Insomnia Fortunately, most cases of insomnia can be treated easily if done right. However, many people experiencing problems sleeping do things that are actually making matters worse. Intuitively, one may think taking naps, going to bed early, or staying in bed when you can’t sleep would be a way to steal back some slumber, but these practices may actually interfere with your overall sleep drive and end up making it harder to fall asleep at night. Here are some more natural remedies collected from various sources that will help you sleep better: • If possible, go to bed at the same time each day (if possible, go to bed by 10 pm). • Avoid eating heavy meals within 2


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hours of bedtime (having heavy meals prior to bedtime puts stress on the digestive system and prevents you from having deep sleep). • Create an environment conducive to sleep by minimizing light and noise (ensure that the room you sleep in has adequate ventilation and use ear plugs, shades or noise reducers to aid you in cutting out sleep inhibiting sounds and sights). • Limit intake of caffeine, nicotine, or alcohol at least 4-6 hours before bedtime. (consuming items with caffeine such as chocolates and colas prior to bedtime stimulate your brain and make it difficult for you to fall asleep). • If possible, avoid napping during the day. • Never exercise within two hours of sleep time (too much stimulation can have the opposite effect) • Massages help to relax irritated, sore muscles (back, shoulder, head and neck massages are recommended for best results) • Leave the work at the office (do not work in the bedroom, it should be stress-free) • Offer a prayer before retiring to reduce stress • Reading a book will help you sleep better • A great rule of thumb is having a king-size breakfast, a medium-sized lunch, and a small dinner (avoid fatty and oily foods, sweets, ice-creams at night that are difficult to digest) • The age old remedy of having a glass of milk prior to bedtime does indeed facilitate better sleep. • Drink water. Drinking plenty of water flushes out toxins and help support the kidneys (however, minimize your intake of water after 6 pm to prevent sleep disturbance due to need for urinating) • Replenish Melatonin.

Since you feel sleepy, try consuming products that contain melatonin. Melatonin can be found in oats, rice, ginger, tomatoes, bananas, barley and sweet corn.

Treating Children with Insomnia Treating children with insomnia is tricky. Many children will go through a period when they will experience difficulty falling asleep; this will be due to sickness, rapid growth, or either physical or emotional factors. While insomnia can most often be treated safely at home applying many of the suggestions listed above, it’s important to recognize serious sleep disorders. If you or your children suffer from severe symptoms, we recommend you consider a check-up from your doctor. In the end, anything that helps your muscles relax and your mind rest is vital to falling asleep.

Some Symptoms of Insomnia •Restlessness while trying to sleep •Difficulty falling asleep •Frequent night awakening •Periods of sleeplessness, alternating with periods of excessive sleep •Waking too early •Inability to resume sleeping.

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“The people are the city”

Dr. Donna Cooper-Dockery Dr. Cooper-Dockery is board certified in Internal Medicine who owns and operates Cooper Internal Medicine located in McAllen and Edinburg Texas. She has been practicing in the Rio Grande Valley since 1996 after having received her specialty training from New York Medical College, Metropolitan Hospital Center, and her medical degree from the University Of Montemorelos in Nuevo Leon Mexico, with an undergraduate degree from Northern Caribbean University in Jamaica West Indies. In addition of being a well respected physician, she is a dynamic leader who co-founded the South Texas Lyric Opera in 2005 –a nonprofit organization that promotes opera throughout South Texas.

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n a region so dependent on the skilled contributions and valuable expertise of healthcare professionals, City Harmony interviewed Dr. Donna Cooper to get an insight of the rewards and challenges she has experienced as one of the most a respected internist in the Valley. Q: I suppose it’s customary to ask the requisite prefatory question, so I will: what prompted you to make medicine your career of choice? A: It’s a very long story that dates all the way back to my childhood while growing up with my grandmother who was the local midwife in the small city we lived in. She delivered hundreds, maybe even thousands of babies in her position and I would at times accompany her. Our home also served as the local

clinic as well, so anyone who got injured would be brought to our home to receive health-related services. Whether it was lacerations, infections, disease, or if someone died, my grandmother would be called on to take care of the body. So for all intents and purposes one could say I grew up in a health-centered environment. As I got older, my grandmother would continually insist that I study formally to be a doctor. In fact, every time she would go somewhere and meet a female physician she would come back home and tell me “Hey Dona, I saw a doctor in this location that reminded me so much of you!”So she was very much “brainwashing” me to be a doctor. As a teenager, I recall a respected church elder had passed away and I had witnessed him dying in the hospital. I remember that he had not been cared for well, and I felt that that church elder should not have died that way. It was that very day that I vowed I would be a doctor, and that I would work hard to save people by giving them the best medical care possible. And that’s it really; I am blessed to have had the opportunity to fulfill the vow I made so long ago. Q: Medicine is a profession that is undoubtedly a very challenging profession. Can you tell us about some of those challenges? A: The most difficult challenge in my profession I would say is when we are not being able to save a patient, or when we are unable to make a diagnosis early enough to prevent a dreadful outcome. When you have your patients dying due to terminal illness and there is nothing you can do is especially difficult to deal with. Then there are family members who do not agree with you, or they just don’t like the doctor, and they try to make one’s life difficult. I worked in the emergency room for three years when I first came to the Valley. I recall an incident where we received a patient in the E.R. whose collapsed lung was threatening his life. I felt the Lord was with us because we managed to get this gentleman’s lungs expanded and working again in the nick of time. So yes, we have many challenges we deal with on a daily basis. Q: On an entirely different subject, I see from your profile that you like to

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“The people are the city”

be very involved in community affairs by contributing your resources and time to many causes and efforts. What is your personal philosophy regarding community involvement and social benevolence? A: I think of physicians as servants. That is my personal opinion. We serve the patients we take care of, and consequently, I believe as doctors we must also extend our services beyond the realm of healthcare – whether that means meeting social, educational, or humanitarian needs. Moreover, I like to reach out to people who are in need and provide them a total holistic healthcare that improves their general well being. Holistic care should bring happiness, good health, and social stability. Q: Can you give a specific example of your contributions in this area? A: I just recently established a foundation called Faithful Path International Ministries; an organization that provides health education and wellness services in Haiti and right here in the Rio Grande Valley. The vision is to provide health education so that people live healthier lives in order to reduce the incidents of illnesses and conditions such as diabetes, hypertension and obesity. The long term dream requires much planning and funding because we are

talking about building a community health center here in the valley. The plan in Haiti entails building a community center, a school and a clinic in where we can reach out to the people of Haiti and provide them basic health, educational, and social assistance that results in healthier lifestyles. In the end, we seek to empower people to take selfinitiative over their health and become independent. Q: We recently printed a story about some of the services Faithful Path was providing citizens of the Rio Grande Valley, and we received a considerable amount of calls and inquiries from readers wishing to know more about the organization’s efforts. Can you explain what Faithful Path is doing in the Valley? A: One of the things we are doing for the people in the Valley through this program is providing affordable health care and supplies to the indigent in the Valley who are not fortunate enough to have health insurance coverage or those who are currently unemployed. Specifically, we provide doctor services and medication, lab services, x-rays and other health services for a nominal fee. If they don’t have any funding at all, we see them free of cost.

Cooper Internal Medicine has been serving the Rio Grande Valley since 1999; we treat adolescent, adult and elderly patients with a wide range of medical conditions.

Q: Is the vision of building a holistic

healthcare center open to others, or is this something you are doing on your own? A: No, no, no. We have a board of directors devotedly involved in seeing this vision become a reality. Additionally, because this is such a big vision, we need the assistance and contributions from many different sources. We currently have people researching and writing grants because we need money. So we have dedicated grant writers, doctors, physicians trained in public health, judges and nurses involved. Q: Can our readers get involved? A: Absolutely, we need people who have ideas, drive and energy. We need volunteers who will help us reach more people in the community. We invite your readers to visit our website at www.faithfulpath.org for more information. Q: lastly, what occupies your time away from work nowadays? A: Well I am a mother of three kids, a wife and I love to sing opera. I am an active member of the opera chorus, and I enjoy and take relaxation by singing and participating in many of the opera events.

For the convenience of our patients, our office is equipped to offer many studies and procedures including: • Full Service Laboratory • X Ray • Pulmonary Function Testing • EKG

• Holter Monitor • Cardiac-Stress Testing • Bone Densitometry • Ultrasound

801 Nolana Suite 12 McAllen, TX 78504 Ph: (956) 686-8802 Fax: (956) 686-3083

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1154 W. Monte Cristo Rd. Edinburg, TX. 78541 Ph: (956) 287-9797 Fax: (956) 287-9799

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Por Amor al Arte! por Rey Duran, Academia Danzar

El ballet y la opera...

Si podría decirte lo que se siente, no valdría la pena bailarlo. -Isadora Duncan Cada día en el que no hayamos danzado al menos una vez es un día perdido. -Nietzsche

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a danza y la expresión corporal han existido desde el principio de la humanidad y hasta podríamos decir que aun los arboles y flores tienen su propio ritmo. El hombre siempre se ha expresado atravez de movimientos, ya sea por arte o simple comunicación. Esta expresión encierra literatura, arte, música, escultura, canto y baile (entre otras cosas). Si pensamos en el baile y nos enfocamos en el ballet, nos remontamos a una época histórica donde las cortes italianas del renacimiento disfrutaban de dicha expresión. El montaje de El Ballet Cómico de la Reina fue estrenado el 15 de Octubre de 1581 y esta obra resalto la música, drama y coreografía. Esto dio pie para que a mediados del siglo XV el renacimiento se extendiera en todo Europa, surgiendo así los primeros aficionados.El ballet alcanzo tanta aceptación que durante el reinado de Luis XIV (1643 – 1715) se fundó la Academic Royale de Danse. Al irse desarrollando y evolucionando el ballet, se implemento la danza sobre puntas, la cual empezó alrededor del año 1800. El creador de dicho estilo fue el coreógrafo Italiano Carlo Blassis, quien diseño Attitude, haciendo alusión al dios Mercurio quien se apoya sobre la punta del pie izquierdo. Es impresionante pensar que los primeros bailarines de ballet fueron hombres y que las mujeres incursionaron hasta 1861.

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Los inicios de ballet me han cautivado tanto y su progreso ha sido tal, que la música de La Traviata ha sido adaptada para el ballet. La Traviata (“La extraviada”) es una ópera de Giuseppe Verdi y una clásica de todos los tiempos. Esta historia de amor es un drama psicológico en el cual se ven envueltos Violetta Valery (una cortesana) y Alfredo Germont (un joven noble). Esta ópera ha sido aclamada atravez de los tiempos y que ahora se aplique para el ballet, es un gran logro. “La dama de las camelias,” como se le conoce a Violetta, vive su historia de amor, cae en malos entendidos y sufre un triste desenlace. Uno de los datos graciosos de esta obra fue que la soprano seleccionada para el papel era obesa y el papel de Violetta quien muere por tuberculosis era muy delgada. Este ‘final chistoso’ no permitió que el sentido real de su muerte fuera apreciado. Con el tiempo fue cambiando y los actores se escogieron con más cuidado.

El ballet y la opera transportan a los espectadores a una dimensión de arte corporal, desempeño artístico y elegancia escénica. Te invito a que me acompañes a recorrer los ritmos de música y baile que han y siguen haciendo historia. Recuerda, todo lo hacemos … por Amor Al Arte!


“The people are the city”

Rio Grande Foundation for the

Performing Arts

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he Annual Gala Fundraiser, put on by the Rio Grande Foundation for the Performing Arts (RGFPA) on Thursday, February 24, 2011 was a night filled with live opera music, performances by two great musical masters, a silent auction and dinner for all who attended. The packed room at McAllen's Art Village venue was treated to the music and voice of Maestro Tenor Rodolfo Cuevas and Maestro Pianist Francisco Rocafuerte. Maestro Cuevas, born in Irapuato, México, is an international award-wining tenor who has displayed his virtuoso singing talent in theatre musicals throughout Mexico and the United States, along with opera performances in Canada, Venezuela, and France. Maestro Rocafuerte is an internationally renowned Concert Pianist in his own right, and also currently serves as the artistic director of the RGFPA. He held a highly prestigious position for the National Opera of Mexico, and has also performed in musical festivals throughout North America and Europe playing alongside the most distinguished operatic and theatrical performers of our time. Attendees were also treated to outstanding auction items donated by individuals and businesses throughout the McAllen area supportive of the organization's mission focused on expanding the role of performing arts in the Rio Grande Valley. The RGFPA, which seeks to foster cultural understanding and appreciation of the performing arts, joined with McAllen Mayor Richard Cortez to host the event in order to raise support and funding for this year’s upcoming opera schedule taking place throughout the year. Organizers expressed the expectations are high that next year’s fundraiser will gain a larger following given the successful outcome of this years event.

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“The people are the city”

RGV Style Report

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’ll start by getting the clichés out of the way; spring season is a time to bid farewell to the old and welcome in the new - a time to leave behind the past and embrace the future. This is a time to be bold and alive. It’s not too hot, not too cold, and sweet pretty flowers dot the South Texan landscapes everywhere. So should you. Your wardrobe should reflect your status as a confident and secure woman who can transition easily from the stodgy, working atmosphere of the office to a night out on the town. Here are 8 eye-catching trends to help you set the standard on spring wear. Buttery Hues: This year’s spring-inspired fashion shows have presented a profusion of this color ‘du jour’ inside the tents at Fashion Week. This elegant palate of buttery, toffee, honeycolored hues redefines office chic and brings a new dimension to power dressing. Fashion houses from Christian Dior to Calvin Klein were the first to introduce this trend sure to be around for a while. Pastels: Alright already, we get it; you look great in black and charcoal colors. But sweetie, really, it’s time to refresh your closet with an assortment of soft pastel shades that shows off a different side of your style sense. I’m talking about delicate, soft on the eyes tones from the likes of Burberry Prorsum, Chanel, and Yves Saint Laurent. Wide Leg Trousers: Trend Alert - skinny jeans are officially on the way out. The fashion community of designers and retailers

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are now celebrating the comeback of the wide leg trouser. Luckily, they complement any body type with the right tailoring, and work well with high heels for an evening out. Prints: Whether they’re stamped, woven, handpainted or silkscreened, look for those dreamy sophisticated designs that make you look oh so fashion-forward. Scissor Slits: Figure enhancing slits add a peek-a-boo effect that is movie star worthy. This trendy detail is sure to give you a head-turning result for that weekend night out on the town. Tron inspired LED wear: This Hollywood movie was not only popular at the box office, but its costume designs have created a sensation with fashionistas. An entire apparel line has been produced for men and women, and other fashion houses are now offering full accessory lines in the distinctive L.E.D color accenting (BTW - given the high contrast level of the black base, I recommend you limit the L.E.D. colors to accent-only lines). Hippie Wear: I’m not taking about your mother’s hippie wear, but a more updated contemporary style that is making a splash on the runways. Hippie wear offers a terrific retro look that you can mix and match for comfort and an easy style. Chunky Accessories: Want to add some flare to your wardrobe? Then slip some oversized jewelry on your fingers and don’t be afraid of accessory overload this spring season. Big earrings, chunky necklaces, and huge hair clips and headbands all worn together are the rage on the runways.


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Stage Extravaganza

Celebrates

McAllen Centennial

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multi-media celebration, one of the major events of McAllen’s Centennial Celebration, 1911-2011, will be presented Friday, April 15, 2011 at 8 p.m. at the McAllen Civic Center Auditorium, S. 10th St. and Exp. 83. Our Land: Timeless Valley by Dr. Carl Seale presents a panorama of the development of the area to the present. Featured dance company in Our Land: Timeless Valley is the University of Texas Dance Ensemble under the direction of choreographers Dana Shackelford, Fred Darsow, Kim Min, and Rebecca Morales de Segovia. The Amby Tanner Singers and musicians from McAllen high

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schools’ Mariachis under the direction of Priscilla Sosa join the dancers and actors on stage. Thomas Ball and Erica Treviño of McAllen take the stage as father and daughter. Mezzo soprano Maria Avalos and tenor Antonio Briseño join pianist Francisco Rocafuerte as soloists. Tickets are available beginning March 1 through www.ticketmaster.com or at the McAllen Convention Center Box Office, 700 Convention Center Blvd., phone 681-3800. Prices are $15 for adults and $10 for senior citizens and students with ID. For information call the McAllen Chamber of Commerce at (956) 682-2871.

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“The people are the city”

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