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Friday, December 20, 2013

inside Primera Baptist hosts Christmas party | 25 Cents

La Joya students bring cheer to local families

Pastor Eli Sanchez aims to create an environment where everyone feels welcome because he said Christmas is more than a story, it’s a promise. See story page 3A

City looks at repairing public safety roof

Building was supposed to last up to 25 years, but 13 years into it, the roof has leaks and it’s estimated to cost $600,000 to fix. See story page 3A

newsbriefs MHS staff recognized for saving student’s life

By Andrielle Figueroa MISSION—Superintendent Ricardo Lopez recognized Mission High School staff members who acted as first responders to save a student’s life at the regular board meeting for Mission CISD on Dec. 11. Student Rene Diaz Jr. collapsed on Oct. 31 during basketball practice, according to Craig Verley, public information officer. “They had a student that morning collapse in the gym and was unresponsive,” Verley said. “He is actually sitting with us in this room this evening, due in part to the actions of these individuals here.” The staff members that were recognized included: Rogers Brown, Hosea Henderson III, Everardo Castellano Jr., Robert Aparicio, Janelle

See HEROES Pg. 12A

City of Palmhurst acquires part of Shary history

By Julie Silva Fifty years ago, 10-year-old Ramiro Rodriguez rode down Shary Road with his dad. “Son, that’s the Shary estate,” Rodriguez’s dad told him, pointing at the 18,000-square-foot mansion on an idyllic property surrounded by a pond and orchards. “Dad, that’s beautiful,” the young Rodriguez responded. “When you were born in 1953, President Eisenhower slept there and the Shivers’ invited him,” Rodriguez remembers his dad telling him. Recently, Rodriguez, recalled the moment, saying, “That stuck in my mind, and I’m 60 years old and I still don’t forget that,” Rodriguez said. Fifty years later, Rodriguez, now the mayor of


Alton parade grows with city By Julie Silva Early on, it looked like rain would threaten the eighth annual Alton Christmas parade, but by 11 a.m. the skies cleared up, giving way to only slightly cool temperatures. Families happily lined 5 Mile Road, sitting on bleachers and curbs, ready for the action, as Alton city officials lined up floats down the road. The sirens of emergency vehicles announced the procession, which city leaders boasted included 50 percent more entries than last year. Seated in a float made to look like a train car (“City of Alton named after the Alton Railroad” a banner states), Miss Alton 2014 in a blue se-

See PARADE Pg. 12A

Newspaper Christmas Schedule The Progress Times, Sharyland Times, and Winter Texan Times offices will be closed Dec. 23-26 to allow our employees to celebrate Christmas with their families. Our office also will be closed on New Year’s Day. The Progress Times and Sharyland Times will not publish the week of Christmas on Friday, Dec. 27. Both publications will resume their regular weekly schedule Jan. 3, 2014. The Winter Texan Times will not publish on Thursday, Dec. 26. It will resume its regular weekly schedule Jan. 2, 2014. We wish all our readers and advertisers a very merry Christmas and a happy and prosperous New Year.


Entertainment | pg. 2A

Camila Portales, 3, twirls in front of presents recently dropped off by the La Joya High School National Honor Society. Progress Times photo by Julie Silva

By Andrielle Figueroa LA JOYA—Claudia Portales, a mother of five daughters, said her only wish for Christmas was for her children to be happy. She carried her 1-year-old on her side and he held tightly onto a peppermint candy cane. Only a few minutes before, Portales was hanging her children’s clothes out to dry on a wire fence that bordered her burgundy home—made from plywood and pieced together on cement blocks. There was no chance of gifts or a real holiday in the Portales home before they received a Christmas surprise Wednesday. La Joya High School National

Honor Society students arrived on a school bus and marched up her driveway, gifts in hand, wearing antlers and Santa Claus hats. Camila, Portales’ 3-year-old, danced around her driveway in excitement while presents began to pile up at the home’s entrance. Annaluisa Frias, historian for NHS and member of Sociedad Honoraria Hispánica, said 44 families would be assisted in this year’s needy drive. She said students and staff from the entire campus assisted in the collection and donation of gifts. “It’s been a long process. We

See CHEER Pg. 7B

Mission residents enjoy church snow day

By Andrielle Figueroa MISSION—Children threw snowballs, made snow angels and sipped on hot chocolate to keep warm early Saturday. With morning temperatures in the 60s, it was very much a South Texas winter wonderland. Members of the Conway Avenue Baptist Church poured out 6,000 pounds of snow for local children to have a taste of a white Christmas. Members of the church and visitors put on their coats and mittens, and then spent their morning playing in snow, which was a first for many of the attendees. Griselda Garza, mother of four daughters, said she is originally from Chicago, Ill. She grew up around snow, and she wanted her daughters to experience the snow at a young age. “This brings to life the holiday scenario; it’s something they’ve only seen in movies,” Garza said. “I’m thrilled that they are going to get the handson feel, especially because they love the character Frosty so much.” Garza said her two eldest daughters were old enough to remember the snow that fell in

Griselda Garza, far right, plays in the snow at Conway Avenue Baptist Church with her daughters. Originally from Chicago, Ill., Garza said she wanted her girls to know what snow is like at a young age. Progress Times photo by Andrielle Figueroa The four young girls, along A few feet down from the the Rio Grande Valley in 2004. But her two youngest daugh- with their mother quickly Garza family was Kaylin Penk, ters, who are 5 and 7 years old, worked to create a 10-inch See SNOW Pg. 10A had never touched snow before. snowman with antler ears.

By Julie Silva LA JOYA—Come January, an iPad Air will be distributed to every freshman within La Joya Independent School District in a new one-to-one initiative. At first, Gisela Saenz, assistant superintendent of curriculum and instruction, explained the district planned to hold the program to ninth-grade students having trouble with reading. However, the project soon was expanded to encompass all ninth-graders. “Research shows that one of the biggest drops in losing kids

is in the ninth grade, and so we wanted to implement it in that program, so that we can keep more of our ninth-graders,” Saenz said. Also, she said, Algebra I is a gatekeeper course, meaning if students do well in the class, they’re more likely to stay in school. The school’s math curriculum includes a technology application that could help students be more successful in the course, she said. About 2,400 iPads were ordered for the freshmen and another 480 were ordered so that each middle school would have

60 for students to share. The nearly 3,000 iPads already are in house and staff members are installing all of the necessary applications. The $1.5 million cost of the project is being paid through local funds. The district already is training teachers on the iPads and holding meetings with parents to explain the new program. “Basically, it’s so that kids get experience with technology to build some of the 21st-skills and to make learning more engaging,” Saenz said. Students will get individual-

ized applications on their iPads based on their needs. For example, a student in the English as a Second Language program may need more help with reading comprehension and therefore would have an app that aided that skill, while a pre-AP student would have different apps. The district will ask students to sign a contract stating they will log in a certain amount of hours on reading and math apps each week. Saenz said the district has not made a decision on wheth-

By Julie Silva Hidalgo County Commissioner Joe Flores is the only defendant listed now in a lawsuit filed by a former Palmview police commander alleging he was forced to resign because of his political aspirations. Since the lawsuit was filed in September 2012, defendants named have included the City of Palmview, city commissioners, former city manager Johnn Alaniz and County Judge Ramon Garcia. But over the past

month, Garcia first was severed from the lawsuit and the City of Palmview was granted a plea to jurisdiction, dismissing the entity from the suit, on Dec. 6 by visiting Judge David Wellington Chew. The suit was filed by former Palmview Police Cmdr. Arnoldo Ochoa in September 2012 against the City of Palmview and former city manager Johnn Alaniz as well as council members Joel Garcia, Gracie Flores and Ricardo Villarreal in the

92nd District Court. It alleges that Ochoa was demoted and retaliated against because of his participation in the La Joya Independent School Board elections. Garcia and Flores later were added to the suit that alleges violations of the Texas Open Meetings Act, retaliation and breach of contract. In an amended petition, Ochoa accuses Flores of using his position to pressure Palmview city officials to push Ochoa to drop out of the race.

For his part, Flores maintains he does not now nor has he ever had authority in Palmview. According to court documents, in July 2012 the Palmview police chief investigated Ochoa for the use of the city’s Crime Stopper’s TABC license to sell alcoholic drinks for personal gain. At that same time, Ochoa was demoted from assistant public safety chief to commander. In November, he

La Joya ISD to begin iPad initiative

See IPADS Pg. 12A

Palmview dismissed from retaliation suit

Lifestyle | pg. 8A

Opinon | pg. 4A

Sports | pg. 1B

Obituaries | pg. 11A

See SUIT Pg. 7B

Classifieds | pg. 8B

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