JANUARY / FEBRUARY 2017 | VOLUME 9 ISSUE 1
The Growing Economic and Cultural Impact of the U.S. – Mexico Border MARIACHI MECCA RGV schools are nationally recognized for their celebration of cultural music.
A PRESCRIPTION FOR CURRICULUM Dr. Fisch, chair of curriculum committee for UTRGV’s school of medicine, shares his vision.
REDEVELOPING “ANTIQUE STREET” Downtown Harlingen is seeing new businesses, renovation, and increased activity.
YOU’RE INVITED! Single and hating it? Start with these three ways to own Valentine’s Day in the RGV.
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WHEN WE SERVE TOGETHER IN OUR COMMUNITIES, EVERYONE SOARS. Southwest Airlines® proudly partners with those who are helping to shape our communities all across America. One good deed—when coupled with another and another and another—can truly make a positive difference in our daily lives.
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Call (877) 635-1987 to schedule your mammogram today. 2101 Pease St. Harlingen, TX 78550 ValleyBaptist.net If you have not had a mammogram before, a 3-D mammogram is recommended for a baseline screening. Additionally, if you have dense breast tissue, tomography may be a better choice for accurate imaging. *When compared to a standard 2-D mammogram.
Eric. POLICE DETECTIVE in the making. As our community continues to grow and flourish, law enforcement plays a crucial role in keeping us safe. Thatâ€™s why many South Texas College students, like Eric, are inspired to learn and train here in The Valley so they can one day protect it.
MAKING LIVES Founded in 2008 by a group of emergency room physicians, Neighbors Emergency Center operates as a freestanding emergency room, providing patients with the same level of service as a hospital-based emergency room. We operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year. Neighbors Emergency Center takes pride in only hiring local board certified physicians to care for patients. By doing this, our physicians provide nothing less than the highest of quality patient care. Neighbors Emergency Center is rooted in and driven by a purpose that sets us apart from the healthcare industry as a whole. Our purpose drives our vision which is inspired by our patients, culture and community. Neighbors Emergency Center believes in providing extraordinary care that is dedicated to making lives better every day. Neighbors Emergency Center operates around an unfaltering vision to be “The Best Neighbors Ever” – this means providing unparalleled medical care driven by compassion, respect and dedication.
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As we enter a new year, let us not dwell on the upset or the victories of the past, but focus onward and upward. We begin a new year with a positive mindset, using stories such as the ones in this issue to continue to change the perception of the RGV. Holding on to our cultural heritage while making strides through education and collaboration can be a balancing act. Editorially, we found this dichotomy through the Roma High School Mariachi band’s national win and 21st century learning spaces designed by ERO Architects which make education appealing to our students. Our borders remain secure and vital to our economy, while historical value is retained through renovation projects, like the one in Harlingen. The Valley also continues to grow as a medical hub, with local doctors like
Dr. Stan Fisch contributing to UTRGV’s medical school curriculum. Since the inception of RGVision Magazine in 2008, we have grown over 300 percent, a growth we are proud to share with our region. We strive for excellence but know none of this would have been possible without you, our loyal readers. We look forward to telling interesting and captivating stories in 2017; we guarantee you RGVision will continue to provide the most integrated, original content about business, education, health and quality of life available in the Rio Grande Valley. Check out our small selection of some of what’s coming up in the new year on page 74 and make 2017 the year you celebrate the RGV.
Copyright by RGVision Publications Inc. All rights reserved. Reproduction without expressed written permission of the publisher is prohibited. The opinions and views expressed in the magazine don’t necessarily reflect those of our advertisers or collaborators. RGVision magazine is published bi-monthly and circulates 12,000 copies across the Rio Grande Valley in 420 locations with a direct mail distribution to major hospitals and Superintendents within Region 1. The RGVision office is located at 801 N Bryan Rd, Mission, TX 78572. To receive an annual subscription of RGVision publications for $29.99, email info@RGVisionMagazine.com.
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TABLE OF CONTENTS EDUCATION
Building Bridges with Language
New Year, New Location, New Career!
Bachelor’s on a Budget!
The Mariachi Mecca
Creating Desirable Change
21st Century Learning Spaces
HCISD leaders explore new opportunities for innovation during educational tour to Singapore. PSJA ISD students take advantage of Dual Language Enrichment Program.
Explore a life-altering course of study at the newly renovated RGV Careers location!
ON THE COVER A Border on the Rise
The U.S.-Mexico border is a huge economic and cultural benefit to the Rio Grande Valley and country as a whole. The newly signed Cross-Border Trade Enhancement Act of 2016 will ease the crossing time for produce and shoppers, generating further economic activity and helping the reputation of the Rio Grande Valley transition from dangerous to prosperous.
By Karen Villarreal | Cover Illustration by Mariela Peña
A four-year degree doesn’t have to break the bank. Explore options at South Texas College. RGV schools have long been nationally recognized for their celebration of cultural music. Region One Education Service Center celebrates 50 Years of service to South Texas schools.
McAllen-based ERO Architects create environments conducive to advanced learning.
Setting Smart Advertising Goals
A Prescription for Curriculum
20 Tips for Joining Finances
Safety First, then Resolutions!
Every Heartbeat Matters
Meet Our Docs
Heartburn or GERD?
Making an Impact with Dental Implants
In part 2 of our advertising for small business series, we break down advertising’s goals.
Do you and your partner discuss money issues like budgeting and saving toward your goals?
The Next Level of Business
Mission EDC’s Ruby Red Ventures awards four businesses with funds for growth.
Three Tax Strategies
A few simple tips can help you minimize the taxes you owe or maximize your return.
Redeveloping “Antique Street”
Thanks to renovations, downtown Harlingen is seeing new businesses and increased activity.
Not Your Typical Yoga Pants
Miami Fitwear is a local activewear line built on the feedback and creativity of its customers.
Old Friends are Gold
Cyber Security 101
Gold Financial Services offers personal touch to lending in South Texas.
Larkin Addison Specialty Insurance Services helps lessen the “byte” of a cyber security breach.
Dr. Stan Fisch, Harlingen pediatrician, shares his vision for UTRGV’s new school of medicine.
Maximize your success in the New Year with tips from Fortino Gonzalez, physical therapist.
Cardiologists at Rio Grande Regional Hospital follow their hearts to treat patients with care.
Dr. Joseph Horton, provides orthopedic surgery services at Valley Baptist Medical Center. Gastroesophageal reflux disease is treatable at Texas Gastroenterology Institute. Depression in the workplace can undermine efforts to be a productive worker, or worse.
Dr. Omel Cardenas uses latest technology to provide life-changing oral surgery services.
VOLUME 9 ISSUE 1 January / February
QUALITY OF LIFE
Looking Good, 2017!
Going Against the Current
Exploring the Texan Guest Ranch
STXideas Change the Mindset
CarFest Gives Back
A Letter to Dad
Next year will bring developments for business, regional planning, nature, and entertainment.
La Playa Fajita Grill blends quality cuisine from every region of Mexico with Texan palate. Family-run hotel among the orange groves offers alternative lodging for Texas travelers.
Student-organized festival aims to celebrate the success and potential of South Texas. McAllen International CarFest raises funds for charities while sharing love of classic cars.
Don’t feel forever alone; try these three ways to own Valentine’s Day if you’re single in the RGV. AVANCE Fathers in Action program helps strengthen bond between parents and their children.
HCISD LEADERS EXPLORE NEW OPPORTUNITIES FOR INNOVATION DURING EDUCATIONAL TOUR TO SINGAPORE BY: ADRIANA DOMINGUEZ
arlingen Consolidated Independent School District’s Superintendent Art Cavazos and Board of Trustees member Nolan Perez recently had a chance to discover the inner workings of a world-class educational system over 9,000 miles away as part of an Educate Texas learning tour to Singapore on Oct. 14-21. Thirty-seven leaders representing K-12, higher education, business and philanthropic communities were chosen from across Texas to gain firsthand knowledge and experience into the design, structure, and resources that have led to Singapore’s transformation into an educational powerhouse. “The educational trip to Singapore was extremely informational and amazing,” Cavazos said. “Their educational system is very tightly aligned with industry demands. The system is so strategically designed as to ensure that students are not being trained for professions that are not needed by the industry. Over the last few years, Singapore has begun focusing more on educating the whole child. Authentic learning experiences, coupled with 21st-century learning skills, have become a priority.” “I am very proud to have been a part of this enriching experience that offered an in-depth look at one of the most highly regarded educational systems in the world,” Perez said. “It’s remarkable to see how the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Manpower work closely to determine the course of action for the educational system in Singapore. I am excited to be able to apply that knowledge to drive the purposeful design of our educational pipelines here at HCISD.” Representing the RGV were also Stella Garcia, provost of the Texas State Technical College, Harlingen campus; Dr. Luzelma Canales, executive director, Rio Grande Valley Focus; and Patty McHatton, dean of the College of Education at the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley. The goal of the weeklong excursion was for these Texans to examine and bring back the best innovative practices and ideas to continue to lead, develop, and improve Texas’ public education system. One topic of particular interest to
Canales was how selective Singaporean educators are of those applying to the college of education and those chosen to lead their schools. “In Singapore, they have 1,000 students apply to the college of education for 300 slots. They expect their best and brightest to become teachers,” she said. “There’s a lot that we can learn. Harlingen CISD, in particular, has done a lot of investing in rethinking the talent pipeline. Veronica Kortan and her department are very intentionally assessing the role of development as we onboard new teachers.” The team’s agenda included meeting with Singapore’s Ministry of Education, who is responsible for the public and higher education systems, and the National Institute for Education, the nation’s teacher-preparation and professional-development organization. Thanks to generous funding provided by Charles Butt to cover the tour expenses, the group also conducted numerous site visits to schools, colleges, and programs across the country. Within the next several months, Educate Texas will seek input from the learning-tour participants to compile a report with additional observations, highlights, and strategies to implement. This document will be shared with Texas educators, elected officials, and members of the Legislature, business leaders, and the philanthropic community. “There were many lessons learned as well as some great opportunities to set strategic action plans in motion collectively with others who attended from the Valley,” Cavazos said. “I thank HCISD’s Board of Trustees for their collective support of my participation in this incredible experience." “It’s remarkable to see how the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Manpower work closely to determine the course of action for the educational system in Singapore. I am excited to be able to apply that knowledge to drive the purposeful design of our educational pipelines here at HCISD.” - Dr. Nolan Perez Board of Trustees member
By Claudia V. Lemus
PSJA ISD alumnus motivates students to take advantage of the Dual Language Enrichment Program “I am now the bridge between communities and people …” These were the words that hung in the air as Sergio G. Barrera, a PSJA alumnus and current doctoral student at the University of Michigan, described his academic journey to dozens of students and parents at Pharr-San Juan-Alamo ISD’s Liberty Middle School in Pharr recently. Inspired by the PSJA Dual Language Enrichment Program and the opportunities provided by the district, after graduating from PSJA High School in 2010, he went on to obtain his post-secondary education at the University of Texas-Pan American. Barrera graduated with a bachelor’s degree in both Mexican-American studies and Spanish and received 14
his master’s degree in interdisciplinary studies from the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley. Wanting to follow in the footsteps of educators who impacted his life, Barrera is now pursuing a doctorate degree specializing in Latina/o studies at the University of Michigan. "My goal is to be a tenured professor in Latino studies,” Barrera said. “I am interested in the representation of the U.S.-Mexico borderlands.” The students, who are also currently participating in the Dual Language Enrichment Program, listened in awe as he recounted his educational journey. “Many of us who are Mexican or Mexican American don't feel like higher education is an option,” he said. “But the reality is that the opportunities are there and it’s up to us to go and get them.” According to the 24-year-old, the Dual Language Program at PSJA ISD was what first ignited his passion for Mexican-American culture. “I always talk about the PSJA Dual Language
Program wherever I go and share how important it was to determine my career and my identity,” Barrera said. “It was definitely a launching factor for myself and has helped me be more confident and aware of who I am." First started in 1995, the PSJA Dual Language Enrichment Program’s mission is to help students develop biliteracy skills and maintain high levels of cognitive abilities. Since its creation, more than 1,000 students have graduated with Dual Language Bi-Literacy Seals on their high school diploma, and many more are expected to receive this credential as the number of students per cohort increases through the years. This seal is given only to those students who complete the rigorous program helping them master both academic English and Spanish languages. "PSJA is leading the way in the nation in graduating bilingual and biliterate students," said Rosalva Silva, PSJA ISD Dual Language coordinator. "We are the only district in the Rio Grande Valley to have a pre-kinder to 12th grade dual language enrichment program." Besides helping define his career goals, Barrera said the program instilled in him a pride for his heritage and a profound love of the culture. “Living outside of the Valley and Texas, I've had to translate for people on many occasions,” Barrera said. “I’ve realized that by knowing more than one language, I am now the bridge between communities and people." Impacted by his speech and story, many students said they were motivated to take advantage of the academic opportunities provided by the school district. “His presentation inspired me to work hard and be proud of who I am and my culture,” said Emma Guillen, an eighth-grade student at Liberty Middle
“I always talk about the PSJA Dual Language Program wherever I go and share how important it was to determine my career and my identity." -Sergio G. Barrera, PSJA Alumnus School. “Knowing he went out of the Valley, which is something a lot of us are afraid of doing, and he is now getting a doctorate degree, made me realize that is who I want to be." Having returned to visit his alma mater, Barrera said he was grateful for the educational opportunities he received while at PSJA and for the chance to inspire students with his story. "I am so appreciative of my PSJA family for helping me become who I am today,” he said. “I wouldn't be where I am without the preparation I received at PSJA ISD."
Providing a Lifetime of Quality Service 5801 N. 10th St. Ste 400 McAllen, TX Give us a call at (956) 971 - 0326 Follow us on
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NEW YEAR, NEW LOCATION,
NEW CAREER! EXPLORE A NEW, LIFE-CHANGING CAREER AT RGV CAREERS! By: Lori Houston
is dedicated to inspiring a lifelong passion for learning, and has grown over the years to fit the needs of a wide variety of people. When the original two suites that held the school were outgrown, they kept acquiring more space at their location until they had over 9,000 square feet. “We started with 10 students, and now we’re filled to capacity,” said School Director of RGV Careers Dr. Annabelle Palomo. Now that they have outgrown even the expanded building, RGV Careers is making the move towards a new facility that is approximately
42,000 square feet, nearly five times the amount of their current space. “Our goal was to provide an environment more conducive to learning,” Palomo said.
The Valley has a growing need for healthcare and expertly trained professionals. RGV Careers has been instrumental in providing educational opportunities in the medical field. In 2008, the school launched a nurse aide program with 10 students. The following year, it added vocational nursing, pharmacy technician,
RGV Careers is making the move towards a new facility that is approximately 42,000 square feet, nearly five times the amount of their current space.
phlebotomy technician, patient care technician and medical office specialist programs. The school added the medical billing and coding specialist and medical assistant programs in 2015. The first class of the vocational nursing program graduated in 2010 with 21 private-paid students. Since then, RGV Careers has graduated 20 cohorts in the vocational nursing program. In that program alone, the NCLEX passing rate climbed to 96.3 percent (unofficial for 2016) and has been the highest passing rate in the Valley for the past two years (2014-15). In 2012, RGV Careers was granted, by the Department of Education, the ability to offer financial aid (Title IV funding) for students.
A modern classroom is a requirement for today’s medical science. The new location will offer a fully equipped hospital-based simulation lab, giving the students the opportunity to experience real-life hands-on training. By including other educational amenities such as a pharmacy technician simulation lab, full examination rooms for the medical assistant program, and new technology such as smart TVs in every classroom, RGV Careers is creating an interactive learning environment for its students. The building will also include a library resource center with three study rooms equipped with smart TVs. Along with a computer lab, there are three auditorium-style classrooms with a capacity of 90 seats. These auditorium classrooms convert into one large auditorium with a capacity of 270 seats. “Our students will have pretty much the same amenities as any other college students,” Palomo said.
The school intends to use these state-of-the-art facilities to educate the Valley with well-trained personnel. “We’re more readily accessible to our community as far as someone wanting to pursue a new career,” Palomo said. With the opening of the new facility in late spring, RGV Careers is poised to become a premier healthcare educational institution in the Rio Grande Valley, ready to help students take on a medical career. To learn more about RGV Careers, visit its website, www.rgvcareers.edu.
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The Bachelor’s degree in Organizational Leadership costs a flat rate of $750 per semester for all classes in which the student enrolls; the flat rate of this degree makes it very affordable.
There is no question that in recent decades the cost of education has risen significantly. Every year, students go into thousands of dollars of debt to further their education and hopefully find a job after earning their four-year college degree. For even more people, the idea of pursuing a four-year degree is simply unreasonable; many people do not qualify for financial aid and are forced to pay college tuition out of pocket. With price tags that can easily reach over $20,000 a year, paying for college is a very costly endeavor. Luckily, this does not have to be a reality experienced by students in the Rio Grande Valley. South Texas College is currently one of three community colleges in Texas that are now offering bachelor’s degree programs for their students. The programs are accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, which certifies traditional four-year universities in the southern states. South Texas College is currently offering four different bachelor’s degrees, all of which “are in disciplines with exceptionally high levels of projected job growth,” according to Kevin Peek, chair of the bachelor of applied science in organizational leadership program at South Texas College. The Rio Grande Valley is rapidly becoming a regional medical center, with hospitals and healthcare facilities proliferating at an unprecedented rate. The medical and health service management program prepares graduates for lower and mid-level management positions in this industry. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects favorable job market growth during the next 10 years as our economy becomes increasingly more service- and technology-driven. South Texas College offers degree programs in computer and information technology and technology management, which will help ensure
our residents have an opportunity to join the field. The fourth bachelor degree program offered by STC is organizational leadership. Many students attending South Texas College are non-traditional in the sense that they are returning to school later in life and often have to work around busy work and family schedules. It is this reason that all of the courses are offered online, but most of them may be taken in a traditional classroom, as well. “The online option is particularly convenient for working adults who might not otherwise have access,” Peek said. All four programs have the option of participating in a seven-week semester, which finishes in half the time of a traditional semester. The CAAP evaluative exam taken by all the graduates verifies the quality of the programs at STC. “Our graduates perform just as well in the job market and, in many ways, better than their counterparts from traditional universities,” Peek said. South Texas College students have gone on to successfully complete master’s and doctoral degrees in universities ranging all the way from institutions in the UT and Texas A&M systems to George Washington University. According to Online U, South Texas College offers “the most affordable online degrees in the country.” For example, the bachelor’s degree in organizational leadership costs a flat rate of $750 per semester for all classes in which the student enrolls; the flat rate of this degree makes it very affordable, especially given the fact of it “normally [costing] less than $10,000” for the four-year degree, according to Peek. “In other words, the cost of completing this degree from beginning to end is equivalent to the cost of one year in a traditional four-year university,” he said.
Mecca RGV SCHOOLS PROVIDE MUSIC, CULTURE, AND AFTERSCHOOL SUCCESS By: Abbey Kunkle Photos by Erick Zuñiga
Today, high schools across the nation have a range of extracurricular activities for every student to enjoy. The RGV is no exception, and students here have excelled across the state and even the nation in a variety of events. In recent years, Valley students have destroyed the competition in music programs that highlight the RGV’s vibrant culture. Thanks to the quality directors and committed students, the mariachi programs here in South Texas are second to none, and they’ve got the trophies to prove it. Most people who grew up in the Valley have regularly enjoyed the familiar sound of mariachi at favorite restaurants and weekend festivals. These sounds have become an essential part of the heart of RGV cities, reminding many of where they came from and giving others an appreciation for the melodies that intertwine musicianship, language, culture, and deep emotion in every note.
Over the past few decades, Valley schools have embraced the traditional music, leading the way for schools across the country and raising the level of excellence in this unique genre. For many of the students, mariachi represents a strong part of their heritage and is a great opportunity to recognize and honor their culture. For others who have grown up in the Valley but have little knowledge of their family history, the music has helped to bridge the gap between generations, with parents and grandparents bonding over the classic songs, and families coming closer together in the process. Still others have the opportunity to learn about a culture that is different than their own and enjoy the music for its classic sounds and meaningful lyrics. Without forgetting about the amazing skill that each song requires, the deep-rooted tradition and culture stand out as the most important aspects of mariachi. “For us here, it is a tradition,” said Eloy Garza, Roma High School mariachi director. “Part of the goal is to keep mariachi music alive. It’s part of our culture. It’s part of our roots. We tell our students that every time they wear the traje, the costume, they’re wearing the whole country behind them. It represents a great tradition.”
These dedicated directors across the Valley have encouraged students in so many ways and are key to the growth and success of the programs. Many local mariachi directors are graduates of UT-Pan American and perform professionally on a regular basis. Some have even been part of Grammy-nominated mariachi groups. Their role as professional educators as well as professional musicians allows them to bring a very high level of instruction into the classroom. According to McAllen High School Mariachi Director Alex Trevino, South Texas boasts the strongest mariachi groups in the nation, and with nearly 30 years under their belt, his program is doing better than ever. But they are not the only ones; Trevino calls the RGV the mecca of mariachi music and noted that there are many fantastic high school groups that have been neck and neck in competition, trading off the number one spot in recent years and almost always taking first, second, and third places in nearly every category. As programs throughout the Valley have progressed, not only have they brought more recognition to the area, they have also provided amazing opportunities for students in terms of scholarships as well as traveling to cities across Texas, and even to places like Los Angeles, where McAllen High School students shined, performing to a crowd of over 20,000 people. Most recently, high schools across the Valley participated in the 22nd annual Mariachi Vargas national competition in San Antonio, and just as in recent years, they swept titles across the board.
After going head-to-head with a record number of competitors, the results are in for the National Mariachi Vargas Competition, which was held in San Antonio in December. Roma High School came out on top as this year’s national champions with Rio Grande City High School following for a close second. McAllen and La Grulla High Schools beat out over 40 other groups to tie for third place. Rio Grande City was also recognized for the beautiful vocal stylings of senior Kassandra Juarez, who took home the title of “Best in the US Mariachi Vocalist of the Year.” Over the past few years, many of the Valley schools have experienced success, like this year’s champions, Roma High School, who also earned first place at last year’s competition, tying with four-time 5A State Champions Rio Grande City High School. McAllen High School boasts three 6A state championships, and La Grulla High School’s group is five-time 4A State Champions. Edcouch-Elsa High School has also done well, making it to the 5A state finals. Though not all RGV school districts have middle school mariachi programs, Veterans Middle School of Rio Grande City has already made a name for themselves as National Champions in the middle school division. With many well-established programs here in the region, like La Joya’s at nearly 40 years old and going strong, these are just a few highlights of the RGV’s spectacular competitive success in the mariachi world. Congratulations to all mariachi school groups across the RGV!.
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Region One ESC Celebrating 50 Years of Service to South Texas Schools
hat started off as an operational grant 50 years ago by educators in the Rio Grande Valley to fund a program to serve the Spanish-speaking student population of South Texas became the framework for what was to later become the statewide system of regional education service centers. The administration and staff of the Region One Education Service Center recognize this history as they celebrate 50 years of service to public schools and charter schools of the South Texas area. “We’ve always prided ourselves in being innovative and pioneering in our approach to serving the students of our region,” said Dr. Cornelio Gonzalez, Region One ESC Executive Director. “That spirit of innovation started right here in this area by educators who wanted to make a difference in the landscape of education; and we are dedicated to continue that commitment with cutting-edge programs to serve students and educators over the next 50 years!” Dr. Gonzalez explains that the predecessor to regional education service centers was an organization called the Valley Association for Superior Education (VASE). VASE which was created with a $200,000 operational grant authorized by the U.S. Office of Education, under the provision of Title III of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act in 1965. The grant provided for the development and demonstration of an oral language instructional program for Spanish-speaking children
“We’ve always prided ourselves in being innovative and pioneering in our approach to serving the students of our region.” - Dr. Cornelio Gonzalez, Region One ESC Executive Director
and other administrative services to serve the school districts of the Rio Grande Valley. Initially, the major objectives of VASE were to “develop for widespread application English lessons with accompanying materials and teacher training plans to enable Spanish speaking children to succeed in school, to provide assistance to all teachers in the use of the latest aids to instruction, and to provide administrative services to support desirable change in education,” according to early news articles. Individuals instrumental in developing the grant application were Mr. James F. Cherry, Mr. A.R. Ramirez, Mr. Lee W. Hones, and Mr. Augusto Guerrero. Witnessing the success of VASE, in 1965, the 59th Texas Legislature authorized the State Board of Education (SBOE) to establish media centers throughout the state following the design of VASE. Later in 1967, the 60th Texas Legislature expanded the Regional Education Service Centers’ (RESCs) services and designated the roles of each service center in coordinating educational planning for respective regions. The SBOE divided the state into 20 regions, assigning each media center to begin operations and serve in each region. Originally, regional education service centers were used as media lending libraries housing and distributing 16 mm reel-to-reel equipment to school districts throughout their respective regions. The roles and responsibilities of the centers have since expanded to include services that have a
direct impact on the success of students, says Dr. Gonzalez. The three main objectives of today’s regional education service centers are to assist school districts in improving student performance, to enable schools to operate more efficiently and economically, and to implement initiatives assigned by the Texas Legislature or the Commissioner of Education. “Today, school districts and public charter schools rely on Region One to provide technical assistance not only in the area of media and technology, but in the areas of curriculum and instruction, student services, administrative training, purchasing cooperatives, and business procedures and applications,” said Dr. Gonzalez. “We strive to seek out ways to support our schools by engaging with community partners and our local colleges and universities to provide every academic advantage to our students.” Region One ESC serves over 427-thousand students in the seven county area of South Texas including Cameron County, Hidalgo County, Jim Hogg, Starr County, Webb County, Willacy County, and Zapata County. Through Region One ESC’s main office in Edinburg, and extension offices located in Brownsville and Laredo, Region One staff provided almost 3,000 individual professional development opportunities to the over 28-thousand educators in Region One in 2015-2016. To learn more about Region One ESC and the programs and services offered to its school districts, visit the Region One website at www.esc1.net.
MAIN OBJECTIVES of today’s regional education service centers
1. ASSIST school districts in improving student performance
2. ENABLE schools to operate more efficiently and economically
3. IMPLEMENT initiatives assigned by the texas legislature or the commissioner of education.
CREATING 21ST CENTURY LEARNING SPACES
Houston ISD’s newest high school design reflects McAllen-based ERO Architects’ approach to create an environment conducive to advanced learning.
ERO Architects, the award-winning architectural firm for Texas K-12 design services, celebrated with Houston’s Furr High School community for its receipt of $10 million from XQ Institute at a special event in October. The design of the new school building, created by ERO Architects, was featured during the celebration hosted by XQ Institute as part of the "XQ: The Super School Bus Tour" which made a stop at Furr, the only Texas school to receive an award. More than 800 students, teachers, parents and alumni attended, along with U.S. Representative Gene Green, Houston Independent School District Board President Manuel Rodriguez and the City of Houston's Director of Education Juliet Stipeche, among others. The XQ Super School award rewards those who are rethinking school designs for their service to students and the worlds they enter after high sch ool. Furr High School was one of 700 proposals reviewed by many leading experts in education, youth development, innovation and design. Furr was one of ten schools in the nation to receive the award. “ERO is proud to work with schools and their school districts in pushing the envelope in innovation for how to better serve students for today's world,” said Eli R. Ochoa, CEO and president of ERO Architects. He described the alignment of his firm's design philosophy with XQ values: "Our embrace of our south Texas community roots has taught us how to respect other community's land, people, and history. This is the prominent component of our design approach and it reflects our sensitivity to taking a holistic view of each project so that our clients and members of the community become partners in planning and development.
The values of XQ confirm that our effort to incorporate learnable, teachable, and communal components into our designs is the right pathway forward for schools." Furr High School Principal Bertie Simmons commented on ERO Architects and the effects of the XQ award on programs at the new school: "The architects work well with us. They have included a clinic, community center and a New Comers Center. They have worked diligently with us to implement an ID Scanner so that we are able to enter our building with our flexible schedule. We would not have been able to do this without ERO Architects." ERO Architects has several other high school projects around Texas, with each integrating specific design elements unique to school district and community needs. For example, the Dr. Abraham P. Cano Freshman Academy at Harlingen supports project-based learning in the five Achieve Texas Career clusters: education and training; health science; science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM); business management and administration; and liberal arts. The high school was designed to look and feel like a college campus in an effort to enhance college readiness. It features an intimate central courtyard as the ideal place for social and communal interaction, group learning and quiet reflection. In remarks about Furr's design, Ochoa noted: "Our sensitivity to local cultures comes from our own experience as proud Hispanics in south Texas. Being a part of hundreds of years of Texas history closely associates us with the vast diversity of indigenous cultures. We want to bring the awareness and respect we have for the land, people and history of communities into the design of public sector facilities across the state and nation."
"Our embrace of our south Texas community roots has taught us how to respect other community's land, people, and history." - Eli R. Ochoa, CEO and president of ERO Architects
ABOUT ERO ARCHITECTS Since 2001, ERO Architects has completed more than 200 public-sector projects, winning many awards along the way. Founder and managing partner Eli R. Ochoa, PE, AIA, a native of the Rio Grande Valley, established this multidisciplinary firm to specialize in the public sector because of his strong belief that architectural design can impact public environments and user experiences. The Hispanic-owned firm built its reputation on its vision to transform architecture by respecting the land, people and history of a community into its designs. ERO Architects' clients become partners in the planning and development of each design, thus meeting the goals and needs of each community's unique identity. For more information about ERO go to www.goero.com and call 956.655.4655.
The Growing Economic and Cultural Impact of the U.S. – Mexico Border BY KAREN VILLARREAL
espite being painted as a dangerous, poverty-stricken Wild West, the numbers show that the U.S.-Mexico border is a huge economic and cultural benefit to the Rio Grande Valley and country as a whole, an image not often portrayed by the national media. Locals who commute between both countries for work, shopping, services, family, or school do not worry about safety, but the frustrating long lines of cars, commercial trucks, and pedestrians going north through the checkpoint — evidence of the money flowing into the U.S. from Mexico. “A lot of people around the country don’t realize how important this region is and how our area affects their economy — even in states far away from us,”
said U.S. Rep. Vicente Gonzalez (D-TX15) at a Dec.15, 2016 news conference held at the Hidalgo/ Pharr Anzalduas International Bridge. This event gave leaders like Gonzalez, U.S. Rep. Henry Cuellar (DTX28), U.S. Rep. Filemon Vela (D-TX34), and U.S. Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) the chance to speak about the value of international commerce generated by our ports of entry. “We’re working in a bipartisan, regional way to bring attention to our region and push it forward,” Gonzalez said. “Mexico is the most important trading partner for our state and a lot of the prosperity we enjoy here is because of that, and not in spite of it. We need to make trade easier, make products and services flow both ways across the border.”
Legislation, like the newly signed Cross-Border Trade Enhancement Act of 2016, will provide renovations to infrastructure and will ease the crossing time, generating further economic activity and helping the reputation of the Rio Grande Valley transition from dangerous to prosperous.
Balancing Safety and Convenience “A safe border is not a closed border,” said McAllen Mayor Jim Darling. “These bridges are very important, not only to the economic betterment of the state of Texas, but the whole United States.” However, checkpoints required for national safety means bridge travelers are faced with having to wait to be inspected. The difficult and vital task of balancing national security with legitimate trade and commerce falls to U.S. Customs and Border Protection. CBP is responsible for keeping terrorists and their weapons out of the U.S. while facilitating lawful international travel and trade. They are busy every day, with 29 official land, sea, air and rail ports of entry that employ 1.6 million people. According to the Department of Homeland Security, the U.S. spends over $10 billion annually to secure the 5,000+ miles of border with Canada, 1,900 miles of border with Mexico, and approximately 95,000 miles of shoreline. “As long as the federal government is going to be spending money along the border, we need to make sure the money is spent productively,” Cornyn said. “We have bipartisan solutions to achieve operational control of the border that will go a long way to reassuring people that the federal government is doing its job.” The U.S.-Mexico border is 9,000 square miles composed of 250 coastal miles, over 320 river miles, and 19 counties that the Rio Grande Valley Sector of CBP protects through a combination of personnel, technology, and infrastructure. The Border Patrol had its start in the Rio Grande Valley area in 1921 with only eight officers. Today, it has over 3,000 agents, nine stations, two checkpoints, air and marine operations, and an intelligence office. Marlene Castro, who has been with Border Patrol for 19 years, says CBP is using more technology and tactical infrastructure than they did before. “The fence is an obvious addition,” said the supervisory Border Patrol agent. “I believe it’s been effective in combination with agents and boat patrols, sensors and cameras.” Aerostats, the “eyes in the sky,” are large helium-filled balloons that allow CBP to see for a radius of up to 200 miles and identify crimes in
The U.S. spends $10 billion annually to secure the 5,000+ miles of border with Canada 1,900 miles of border with Mexico 95,000 miles of shoreline
progress, so they can be stopped. However, all the technology would be ineffective if not utilized correctly. “It all comes down to the Border Patrol and the men and women in green who do such a terrific job under very difficult circumstances,” Cornyn said. Castro said that they are committed not only to the country in general, but to every community’s safety. In recent years, safety has come to mean not just the neutralization of threats, but also the rendering of humanitarian aid. Castro has seen undocumented individuals who make the dangerous and illegal journey across the “frontera” now approach CBP, instead of running from them. “We see family units and unaccompanied minors,” she said. Darling remarked in an editorial for local newspaper, The Monitor, that the recent surge in immigrants are asylum seekers, and not individuals seeking work or evading the law. “They are here in our community and our responsibility is to welcome them, treat them humanely,” he wrote. Darling petitioned the federal government for assistance and compensation for services provided to asylum seekers by the city and volunteer groups. “U.S. Sen. John Cornyn and U.S. Rep. Henry Cuellar helped pass legislation in Congress almost two years ago that would have provided reimbursement for these services through FEMA. But the money has, so far, never made its way to the Valley,” he wrote in the editorial. While Cornyn recognized Darling’s
humanitarian impulses, he said that the mayor is dealing with the consequences of the federal government's failure to deal with these issues. “Some of them are just very huge and to some extent not immediately solvable problems,” Cornyn said. “The Central American immigration issue is very complex because these countries from which unaccompanied children and other adults are coming from are in pretty tough shape. The U.S. government has spent a lot of money trying to help those governments restore civil order so people don’t feel like they need to leave in order to come to someplace safe.” This seems to be a worldwide phenomenon, but when the problems manifest on our border, Cornyn stresses the importance of reassuring the American people that their security is a priority. “I take some confidence in that fact that President-elect Trump has appointed Gen. John Kelly as the next director of Homeland Security,” he said. “He’s a retired fourstar Marine general and an outstanding choice — he’s the type of person we can work with to really tackle these tough issues.”
Texas Tourism and Trade David P. Higgerson, director of Field Operations for the U.S. Customs and Border Protection Laredo Field Office, says the future looks bright with continued growth at ports of entry within the Rio Grande Valley, through a combination of increased membership in trusted traveler/ trusted trader programs, and increased overtime staffing coverage. “With infrastructure improvements through publicprivate partnerships Under Section 559 and the Cross Border Trade Enhancement Act of 2016, the future looks even brighter,” Higgerson said. These initiatives all aim to reduce the travel time across the bridge for pedestrians and car passengers. The tourism industry is an influential economic driver in
Texas, and an increase in travelers over the years has resulted in delays at the checkpoints. For example, In Hidalgo County, cross-border vehicular traffic increased from 10.92 million in the beginning of the 1990s to 14.9 million automobiles in 2006. According to an article by M. Ray Perryman, CEO of The Perryman Group, a Texas-based economic research and analysis firm, this industry contributes $1.2 billion in local property tax revenue stemming from travel and tourism real estate assets in Texas, such as additional hotels, motels, restaurants, and entertainment venues. Travelers pay for goods and services that bring prosperity to our region by generating further economic activity in communities. “As a result of the increased property tax base from travel-related real estate assets, independent school districts (ISDs) receive an estimated $675.8 million in tax revenue each year (based on 2016 levels of activity),” reports Perryman. “Of this amount, about $538.7 million supports maintenance and operations, with the remaining $137.1 million being applied to debt service and retirement. These latter funds are important in providing the resources needed to support school construction and growth.” Julie Ramirez, bridge director of the Progreso International Bridge, says she has never really seen a slow time for pedestrian traffic, despite a dip last year. A corresponding increase in vehicles suggests more people are driving, and not walking, across the Progreso Bridge. In November 2015, 38,000 automobiles crossed the bridge, while 45,000 were recorded for the same month in 2016. Sales taxes reflect that the retail sector benefits from our proximity to the border and international shoppers. According to mcallenmeansbusiness. com, international shoppers account for 37 percent of retail sales in McAllen. The travelers make an average of 10 shopping trips per year to the city and spend an average of $219 each trip. Researchers at
In Hidalgo County, cross-border vehicular traffic increased from
automobiles in the 1990s
automobiles in 2006
of retail sales
in McAllen are made by international shoppers
are made on average by travelors every year
on average on each trip
the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley examined eight Rio Grande Valley cities and found that their total retail sales increased $4.47 billion between 2002 and 2014. The study predicts that valley sales in these cities will increase by $13.68 billion between 2015 and 2030. Because foreign retail shoppers account for such a large part of the local economy, Darling believes keeping travelers waiting too long to cross the border is a big deal and applauded the improvements the Cross-Border Trade Enhancement Act will provide. “It allows us to pay CBP employees overtime during Semana Santa, to make sure someone coming from Monterrey ready to spend money in our communities doesn’t have to spend four hours sitting on the bridge,” he said. “It means produce reaches our families’ tables crisp and fresh.” The Cross-Border Trade Enhancement Act allows cities and private companies to pay CBP for overtime and then receive reimbursement from the federal government. Cornyn and Cuellar had previously introduced legislation similar to the Cross-Border Trade Enhancement Act of 2016. It took the form of a pilot program in 2013, in which South Texas Consortium Assets, which represents RGV international bridges, was selected as one of five public/private partnerships to be put into practice in ports of entry across the country. As a result of the additional staffing and lanes, wait times decreased by an average of almost 30 percent, while traveler volume increased about 7 percent over the year. A CBP factsheet reveals that adding CBP officers to land ports of entry results in tangible economic benefits. A single additional CBP officer equates to annual benefits that include a $2 million increase in gross domestic product, $640,000 saved in opportunity costs, and 33 jobs added to the economy. The Cross-Border Trade Enhancement Act moved quickly through the Senate and House since its introduction in February 2015, and was auspiciously signed into law by President Barack Obama the day after local and national leaders
spoke about it on our border. Now that the CrossBorder Trade Enhancement Act has been signed, creative partnerships between private industry and government agencies will boost the success of our ports of entry. Wait times have already improved at some bridges with new technology and programs like SENTRI, which reduces traffic congestion by quickly moving pre-vetted travelers through designated dedicated vehicle traffic lanes. Another collaborative project that includes the participation of the Texas Department of Transportation, the Federal Highway Administration, and the Texas A&M Transportation Institute involves the installation of radio-frequency identification (RFID) readers at the five border crossings responsible for 90 percent of all truck traffic from Mexico into Texas. Two of the five were Brownsville’s Veteran’s Memorial Bridge and the Pharr-Reynosa International Bridge. RFID readers collect data about travel time through Mexican, U.S., and state customs inspections, making congestion data available online. Shippers are now able to schedule their drivers more efficiently, so produce spends less time waiting at the border. “This isn’t going to just benefit our border between Mexico and the U.S.,” said Cornyn at the Anzalduas Bridge. “It’s going to benefit our ports like the seaports and airports and the northern border as well.” He explained that these ports similarly face limited funding from the federal government to maintain, develop, and expand the infrastructure and staff to keep the flow of legitimate trade, travel and commerce going.
Opening the Ports to Expansion Ralph Cowen, port commissioner for the Port of Brownsville, says it has literally taken an act of Congress to get authorization to deepen the port’s channel from its current 42 feet to 52 feet deep. This will make it among the deepest ports in the United States; it’s currently as deep as the ports of Houston,
Corpus Christi and New Orleans. “Now, it’s been authorized by the government,” Cowen said, “but they haven’t appropriated the money yet.” Deepening the channel means the port will be able to handle ships it couldn’t before, allowing for new types of cargo and additional employees to manage it. Cowen says ships have more capacity than they’re currently bringing in, limited only by the depth of the ports. The additional 10 feet allow for more freight to be put on the ship that’s coming in, which brings the latent cost of goods down. “It costs the same amount of money for the ship to come, but you’re now able to put a bigger load on it,” Cowen said, “because the more they load it down, the more it sinks down in the water. If it can sink down another 10 feet — my goodness, that’s a lot of cargo!” Over the past decade, U.S. land ports have also experienced significant growth. Changes in Mexico’s infrastructure have directed more traffic to RGV bridges, such as the opening of the MazatlanDurango superhighway, a faster route for produce via the Pharr-Reynosa International Bridge. TxDOT released a map in December that illustrates the movement of produce from the U.S.-Mexico border to all corners of the U.S. within a week. According to a press release from a fresh fruit and vegetable industry publication, The Packer, which is based on a study by economists at Texas A&M University’s Center for North American Studies, fresh fruit and vegetable exports from Mexico to the U.S. could increase by 32 percent in the next seven years to as many as 569,650 truckloads of Mexican fresh produce. By 2023, Texas is expected to see an increase of 41 percent of imported produce, or 298,542 truckloads, accounting for 52.4 percent of
all U.S. produce imports from Mexico. The resulting increase in exports could produce 7,700 jobs in Texas (12,897 jobs nationwide) and contribute $815 million to the state’s economy and $1.54 billion to the country’s economy. To keep up with demand and contribute to a prosperous RGV, ports must accommodate growth. The Progreso Bridge plans to develop its surrounding commercial land and build cold storage. A refrigerated truck full of produce needs to be held at a certain temperature, and cold inspection rooms that trucks drive into maintain the cold chain. “Time is money, so keeping the cold chain is a big deal,” Ramirez said. Recently, a cold storage project has gained traction at the Free Trade Bridge at Los Indios, and the Pharr bridge will see 6,000 square feet of cold storage space added to its current 8,500 square feet of storage for fresh produce. Through the collaboration of local, state, and national leaders and the application of initiatives, our border continues to gradually grow our region’s presence and economy, while maintaining a sense of security. “Anytime you have a good team, you have good results at the end,” Ramirez said, and the Rio Grande Valley has long cultivated a spirit of regional unity. The passing of the Cross-Border Trade Enhancement Act of 2016 will further benefit both countries. “It's one of those times in history — a moment,” said Gonzalez. “The occurrence of today is a benefit to both sides. I consider both sides our family. I think the more we work together, stay together, we’re safer, more prosperous, and a better community on both sides of the border.” Assistant Editor Allan Fisher contributed to this article.
https://www.cbp.gov/sites/default/files/documents/USBP%20Stats%20FY2015%20 https://www.cbp.gov/sites/default/files/documents/Fact%20Sheet%20ROS%20 CBP%20Strengthening%20Economy.pdf
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PART 2 |
BY ALLAN FISHER-GARCIA
Life is a cycle of goals. Whether they are big or small, defined or unknown, goals are the common thread of the human condition. Everyday we accomplish, advance, regress or fail towards a goal. Renowned Clinical Psychologist Fitzhugh Dodson once said, “Without goals, and plans to reach them, you are like a ship that has set sail with no destination.”
odson’s maritime metaphor for goals rings true to life. The same wisdom applies to business. Unfortunately, simply “growing your business” does not constitute as a clearly defined goal. In Part 1 of this series we established the importance of advertising for memorability. Therefore, identifying and addressing advertising objectives could mean life or death for a business or public aspiration. No offense to Dodson, but as an individual with thalassaphobia (fear of the ocean), I prefer the metaphor of a carousel in relation to advertising objectives. Similar to life goals, ad goals can reoccur. Regardless of whether an entity is new or established, advertising objectives merrily go around in a circle, so it is important to reevaluate them periodically. So I ask you, “What do you want for your business?” If you don’t know, don’t sweat it. The team of advertising and media professionals at RGVision Media are here to help. Advertising objectives aim to inform, promote, persuade or remind the public about “you” (the business/figure/cause etc.).
Inform & Remind
eminder advertising pretty straight forwardly lets existing and potential clients know you’re still around. You might be wondering, “Why would I need to do that?” Well, as our area continues to grow, so does the competition across all industries. Occasionally, you may need to advertise your pioneer status and affirm consumers about
the experience, record, or quality you have to offer. Don’t rest on your laurels, et tu can be forgotten. For the newbies to business marketing, this type of advertising provides you with the opportunity to let the public know who you are. Communication in this stage is the most important. A first impression is a lasting one. According to Bloomberg, 80 percent of startups fail within the first 18 months. Well thought advertising in this stage could be the difference between long term success, or becoming a statistic.
Promote & Persuade
he goal of promoting and persuading clients to purchase from you is a given, yes. You’re probably wondering, “Why should I hire an advertising professional to help with that?” Because, simply saying “We’re the best!” will not convince a consumer to purchase your product of service. Advertising professionals can help you identify and promote the most appealing features of your company and persuade consumers to choose you. “How will we do this?” You will have to wait until Part 3 of “Why Companies Should Advertise,” where we will discuss creativity and “the big idea” to find out - or you could call the team at RGVision Media at (210)618-8930 to have advertising start efficiently work for you.
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FINANCIAL THINGS COUPLES SHOULD KNOW Having a solid understanding of your financial status is crucial to planning, budgeting and saving toward your goals. More than 40% of couples recently unveiled that they don't know how much their partner earns. And 1 in 10 couldn't guess within a $25,000 margin of error. These couples, who share their lives together, have no idea what their total household income is. Yet, the majority of those same couples claim they regularly have open conversations about their finances. There's a disconnect somewhere. The Couples Retirement Study by Fidelity Investments revealed that many couples could stand to dive a little deeper when it
comes to their joint financial lives. Having a solid understanding of your financial status is crucial to planning, budgeting and saving toward your goals. However, many couples opt to divide and conquer how they manage money, bills, assets and debts, which could leave one or both in the dark about important financial matters. Cross-training, so to speak, makes it easier for the other partner to keep things running smoothly if your personal chief financial officer is no longer willing or able to do the job. And because women tend to live longer, at some point, they'll likely be the ones to run the show on their own. So, it makes sense that both partners, whether you've been married for a month or decades, collaborate when it comes to financial planning, money management and decision-making – sharing the responsibilities of building and protecting your financial future.
Start by scheduling regular “money dates,” where you check in with each other and openly discuss a range of issues, including earnings, borrowing, spending, saving and investing. To get – and stay – in sync, make sure you know detailed answers to these questions and communicate about money matters as well as everything else.
PAST Do we have any financial secrets ? Marriage is about love and trust,
so when you're discussing money issues, talk about your debt, obligations, past mistakes (e.g., credit cards, student loans, alimony, an ill-timed business venture, bankruptcies, liens or foreclosures) and what you learned from them.
As featured in WORTHWHILE, a quarterly periodical dedicated to serving the clients of Raymond James advisors and affiliated advisory firms. 40
How do you view money? Talk
about your values (e.g., whether you're a spender or a saver), how you use debt and the role money has played in your life. How you deal with financial stress and largesse can significantly affect your marriage, so be sure to talk about successes and what concerns you.
Are we financially savvy? Ask
yourselves how comfortable you are with your knowledge of investing and experience managing money.
PRESENT How much do we earn? This basic number informs all your near and long-range planning. Include bonuses in your tally and consider your future career goals and earning potential as well.
What's our budget? Do you know your cost of living? Is it below your means? Can you save for future goals? What bills do we have? How much are they? When are they due? And which account are they paid from?
What do we own and owe? Take
inventory of your collective assets and liabilities: property, insurance policies, bank, retirement and brokerage accounts â€“ pretty much anything that involves money. Be sure to include business assets and liabilities, too. You need a full picture of your total net worth as a family.
How are our assets protected? Large assets like homes, cars and
businesses should have corresponding insurance policies.
Where's our emergency fund?
How much is in it? Is it titled in both our names so we'll have ready access should the unexpected happen?
What is our current tax bracket? Federal, state and local taxes can af-
fect your take-home pay, so it's important to know what percentage is being taken and look for ways to minimize your tax burden.
What are we saving for? Fund-
ing an education for your grandkids, buying a lake house, a vacation, retirement? You need to know what your short- and long-term priorities are and diligently save toward them as a team.
How realistic are our goals?
What tradeoffs are we willing to make to achieve what we want as individuals, a couple and a family?
What are we willing to invest for the future? More than a third of
couples disagree on how much they have in investable assets. Once you've completed your budget, you'll both be better aware of what you can set aside for your short, mid- and long-range goals.
How much are we willing to lose? Has our risk tolerance changed? FUTURE What will we need to live comfortably in retirement? Know
how each of you envisions the future; then plan, save and invest accordingly.
How much are we saving for retirement and where are the accounts? Keep track of your 401(k)
s, including ones from previous jobs; IRAs and CDs that are dedicated to retirement; how much you're contributing; and whose name is on each.
How much will we receive from Social Security? Even cou-
ples just shy of retirement don't know how much to expect from this important source of income.
Are our estate documents in order? Regularly review wills, health-
care directives, letters of instruction, insurance policies, powers of attorney and beneficiaries to make sure your wishes are well documented and stored in an accessible, secure place.
proxies updated and stored in a secure spot? What about our tax records?
What will happen when one of us passes away? Estate plan-
ning, including writing a comprehensive will, sets up contingencies to help ensure your family is taken care of after the loss of one or both of you. You'll want to determine how your spouse, children and/ or grandchildren will be provided for and how you will divide assets. Things can get particularly complicated if you own a business together. So it's essential to have documentation in place to protect all parties involved.
Communicate, collaberate and get comforable
The questions suggested here are mere guidelines to building and maintaining a strong financial foundation throughout your marriage. To keep the conversation going, strive to keep your money dates and attend any upcoming appointments with your professional team, including your lawyer, accountant and financial advisor. Doing so should help you better monitor progress, gain objective advice and make important decisions together. The point is for each partner to be as comfortable and as knowledgeable as possible when it comes to your financial past, present and future.
CONVERSATION STARTERS What's the most expensive thing you bought on impulse? How often do you impulse shop? How important are name brands to you? Do you borrow money from others? How do you feel about debt? Sources: realsimple.com; fidelity.com; aarp.com; cnbc.com
THIS ARTICLE IS PROVIDED BY
Where are important documents kept? Are our wills, living
trusts, powers of attorney and healthcare JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2017
Bill Martin, CFPÂŽ
1845 Capital of Raymond James 7001 N 10th St, Ste 205 McAllen, TX 78504 956-331-2777 | www.1845capitalrj.com
Four local businesses were highlighted by the Mission Economic Development Corporation and awarded a total of $40,000 through the EDC’s Ruby Red Ventures Program. By Jose De Leon III
he program, which started in 2012, promotes entrepreneurship in the city by giving small businesses the opportunity to win up to $25,000 in a competition held twice a year, according to Daniel Silva, who spearheads the program. The four businesses that won were: Banner Transit Services, a non-emergency medical transportation company, The Dream Big Facility, an executive coaching and leadership development company, Virtual Media Planners, a local online advertising and consulting company and The Bryan House, a historic, two-bedroom home in Mission that was renovated into a bed and breakfast. 42
According to Silva, the companies competed against 23 other local startups to each win $10,000. To win the award, the competing businesses had to attend small business classes that concluded with them presenting their business plans to a panel of judges. “All of the winners have a niche they’re serving, a good understanding of the scope of their work, and demonstrated awareness of their product services,” Silva explained. “In this competition, we were looking for people who displayed business competence, had a unique business and other skills that made them worth investing.”
Aside from highlighting business startups, Silva said the Ruby Red Ventures Program can also be used to motivate other local businesses into expanding. “We want to give businesses a form of assistance to get them to the next level of business, which is growth,” he said. “As an entrepreneur, you have to start somewhere and having other businesses see the community support other programs receive could encourage them into growing their awareness.” Ariel King was one of the award recipients. Her business, Bryan House, was already open when she entered in the competition. King purchased the historic Bryan House, located on the northwest corner of Bryan Road and Mile Road in Mission, two years ago with plans of preserving it. The two-story Mission style farmhouse belonged to William Jennings Bryan. Bryan was a leader in the Democratic Party in the early 1900s and was a three-time presidential candidate candidate before he was named Secretary of State under President Woodrow Wilson. According to King, Bryan was a Winter Texan who built the Bryan House in 1909 at the suggestion of John Conway, the founder for the city of Mission. Now, that house has been converted into a bed and breakfast (B&B) and social events center for the city.
All of the winners have a niche they’re serving, a good understanding of the scope of their work, and demonstrated awareness of their product services. - Daniel Silva “It’s been a beautiful project and I think it’s something the community will really treasure and take pride in,” King said. “I spent nearly one year doing renovations on the inside of the house and only got my license from the city last May to use it as a B&B. We have plans for this house.” King used the grant money to remodel the landscape of the house to create a ceremonial
RED RUBY VENTURES PROGRAM W I N N E R S
Banner Transit Services A non-emergency medical transportation company.
Virtual Media Planners
The Dream Big Facility
A local online advertising and consulting company.
An executive coaching and leadership development company.
The Bryan House A historic, two-bedroom home in Mission that was renovated into a bed and breakfast.
garden space, add a second exit in the parking lot and regravel the parking lot, changes that King says makes a tremendous change. “The outside used to look like an eyesore but all these changes enhances the beauty of the house,” King said. According to King, the Bryan House specializes in doing small, intimate parties and community oriented events like murder mystery parties, farmer’s markets and other events that will “enrich” the community. “People in Mission now won’t have to travel outside the city to see something historic or entertaining,” King said. “The house already provides tours of the house and the nature trail on the property from $3-$7 dollars and now people will have a chance to spend a few days here. People from all over are coming just to see it.” King said she plans to add in additional bathroom space and a commercial kitchen in the future. For King, the grant represents a reward for all her hard work in restoring the house. “Besides the grant, I’ve received so much support from from the community that has been invaluable, she said. “I could not do this alone so it’s grateful to be rewarded for taking a leap of faith after opening a new business. It feels good knowing I have the community backing me in this endeavor.”
SIMPLE & SMART TAX STRATEGIES FOR 2017
One thing most Americans can agree on during tax season is that we all want to minimize the taxes we owe and/or maximize our return. While automated and online programs make annual filing fairly simple, they’re quicker to miss money-saving intricacies that a professional might be more attuned to. We’ve got three simple tips to help you maximize your income tax savings, but suggest enlisting the aid of a financial professional, like Walter J. Reyna, Inc. 1. Reducing Your Income Tax
2. Tax-Wise Investments
3. IRA Contributions
Sell a business? Receive an expected inheritance? Face an unusually large end-of-year tax burden?
Looking to invest some nonretirement assets you have set aside in a savings account, but do not want to pay taxes each year on the interest and dividends generated? The professionals at Walter J. Reyna, Inc. can help you position your investments in a taxwise manner, where some or even all of your interest and dividends may be shielded from tax.
Traditional IRA contributions reduce your taxable income. A traditional IRA can be opened as late as April 15 for the previous year, giving you the flexibility to claim the credit on your annual return. If you’ve chosen a Roth IRA, you may be able to claim your savings contribution credit to lower taxable income. Call upon the financial professionals at Walter J. Reyna, Inc. to help you better understand how IRA contributions can work in your favor this tax season.
The professionals at Walter J. Reyna, Inc. can help you utilize strategies that target reducing your end-of-year income tax bill.
To learn more visit walterreyna.com or call 956.682.4196. 44 LFS-1652470-112916
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REDEVELOPING "ANTIQUE STREET" Downtown Harlingen seeing new businesses, renovation, and increased activity By George Cox
A two-story brick building on the corner of Jackson and Commerce streets sits on land that has been at the center of business activity in downtown Harlingen since the early 1900s. The site of a barber shop owned by Harlingen pioneer Mack Crenshaw, the property changed hands in 1917 and gave rise to the building that housed the Planters State Bank, followed by Valley State Bank, and, later, from 1927 to 1965, housed the Cameron County Irrigation District. One of many buildings that date back to Harlingen’s heyday as a boom town in the 1920s, the structure is now home to Downtown Harlingen, a public improvement 48
district dedicated to the redevelopment of the central business district. Last summer, following the decade-long tenure of Cheryl LaBerge as the district’s director, Edward Meza took the reins to lead the coalition of businesses and property owners in the continuing transformation of the historical heart of the city. Meza served 11 years as director of historical preservation for Port Isabel before an eight-year stint as city manager there. He then spent several years consulting with museums until he was hired as the Downtown Harlingen director. “Over the years I would visit downtown Harlingen on the weekends,” he said. “I was a customer here first.” Now he looks forward to helping build on the city’s heritage and continuing the work of revitalization that progressed under the stewardship of LaBerge and others involved with Downtown Harlingen. “It’s an attraction,” Meza said about the city’s center. “Not
only the buildings that make it unique but it’s the people. With the formation of Downtown Harlingen, the old The business owners are dedicated to making it a destination began to come together with the new to begin a journey of attraction. revitalization. “There has been an emergence of new businesses realizing Established in 1989, the downtown redevelopment how unique and wonderful downtown Harlingen is.” program is a public-private partnership. In addition to some The arrival of Southern Pacific Railroad in Harlingen city funding, downtown property owners have agreed to in 1904 kick-started an economic boom that by the 1920s tax themselves through an annual assessment to generate had transformed the city into an economic powerhouse of revenue for improvements including landscaping, signage, the Rio Grande Valley. Land was cheap and agriculture promotions, and storefront enhancements, Meza said. was king, drawing large numbers of farmers, ranchers, and The first signs of a rebound came about in the 1990s with entrepreneurs. the attraction of antique stores to Jackson Street. “They brought them down by the trainload,” said “Jackson Street became known for antiques,” Meza said. downtown property owner Bill DeBrooke, a board member “It all started with the antique stores. Harlingen is the only with Downtown Harlingen. “Everybody was smelling blood city in the Valley with a street dedicated to antiques.” in the water — or money in the pocket. This was the center In more recent years the business district has diversified of commerce in the Valley.” with new restaurants, art galleries, Economic prosperity brought music venues, and retail outlets development in the form of firstjoining some of the long-standing “It’s an attraction. Not only the class hotels to service the railroad businesses. buildings that make it unique passengers in a thriving retail- and “Downtown is the best it’s been but it’s the people. The business service-oriented downtown. since the ’60s,” DeBrooke said. owners are dedicated to making Meza said Harlingen attracted Meza said that buildings in the it a destination attraction." wealthy developers who introduced downtown district have reached 90 Edward Meza influences from around the country. percent occupancy, even though it “People brought architectural may not appear that way. Some of styles from all over the country and the storefronts that look vacant are built some elaborate buildings,” leased or owned by entrepreneurs he said. “At the time, elaborate doing renovations needed to open buildings were symbols of success.” their doors for business. Some of those buildings are long gone. Others, like the From the monthly Jackson Street Market Days to special Baxter Building, are in various states of disrepair. Some have events like the annual Christmas Parade, Downtown been renovated, like the old Reese Hotel, and others are in Harlingen promotes a robust calendar of events to attract the process of being redone. visitors and make the district a “place where the community “It’s amazing to look at old photographs and the changes, celebrates,” Meza said. what’s survived over the years and what hasn’t,” Meza said. “The Halloween celebration attracted 5,000 people and DeBrooke, who came to the Valley with experience in merchants reported increased sales the following two weeks,” renovating old buildings in Ann Arbor, Michigan, bought he said. “It was wonderful for people who had not been his first downtown building in 1990 and has become a downtown before.” major property owner and a leading proponent of the While more and more people are shopping downtown, redevelopment effort. DeBrooke said a next step is to attract residents to make the Like so many downtowns across America, central district their home. Harlingen suffered from economic changes that came with “That’s our next hurdle, getting residential downtown,” the development of Sun Valley Mall in the early 1960s and he said. A handful of people have successfully renovated Valle Vista Mall in the early 1980s. The closing of Harlingen second-story lofts into living spaces, but strict building code Air Force Base in 1962 struck a blow that impacted the requirements make it an expensive project to complete. entire city. But Meza is optimistic about downtown’s future, saying “Harlingen somehow just lost its way,” DeBrooke said, the improvement district has attracted entrepreneurs noting that following the air base closing, “Harlingen dedicated to making it work. worked really hard to make it happen again.” “It just needs a group of people to work together,” Meza Economic diversification throughout the city helped bring said. “It takes a team to be successful, that they share the some stabilization but downtown continued to struggle. same vision. I’m fortunate to have that type of group to work DeBrooke said there are fewer buildings in downtown with.” Harlingen today than there were in the 1920s. JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2017
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M I AM I FITW EA R IS AN ACT IVE WE AR LINE BUILT O N T HE FEED BAC K AND C RE ATIVIT Y O F IT S CUSTO ME RS BY ALL AN FISHER-GARCIA
hen most people purchase activewear, they plan to move in ways that require more flexibility and support than regular clothing, but Raquel Ponce’s experience with a pair of “designer” leggings didn’t drive her to work out - they were so bad, she decided to begin her own activewear company that now resides in the Rio Grande Valley. The idea came to her when she was living in Miami and decided to do Hot Power Yoga to lose weight. She quickly discovered the dichotomy between fitness and style among dedicated yogis. “All the yoga people had designer leggings, and I thought, ‘I want to wear these, too,’” Ponce said. “They tore the first day I wore them.” She started doing research into what factors into quality leggings. Unsatisfied with the available options, Ponce launched Miami Fitwear in March of 2015. As a former salesperson of artificial intelligence software, Ponce was an unlikely candidate to embark 50
into the business of apparel design and manufacturing. However, her degree in business, combined with her husband’s experience working in textiles, facilitated her formulating her business plan. Like many small businesses, Miami Fitwear’s development was gradual. She recalls the beginning stages as her company as trial and error. Ponce’s advice to new entrepreneurs is to learn from their mistakes. “You’re going to fail a lot, but you learn from your failure,” says Ponce. “Successful people have failed, so don’t expect to get it right all the time. Don’t give up!” Although she received valuable industry knowledge from her husband, Ponce took an active role in learning what it was her consumer wanted. A series of formal and informal focus groups with women of various sizes and proclivities eventually helped Ponce develop a line that appealed to a diverse group of women. Ponce began by purchasing wholesale from other manufacturers and asking customers what they liked
about them and what features they would like to see. “I would ask, ‘How is the stitching?’ and so forth, and that is how I began to create my own,” Ponce said. Starting around $88, Miami Fitwear’s expressive leggings are an investment piece, but consumers can rest assured they will get a return. After endless feedback and countless prototypes, Ponce has designed a garment that is available up to size 18, with a tearproof six-needle stitch, thoughtful cotton gusset, and fade-proof fabric. Diversity is what led Ponce to expand the products and services offered by Miami Fitwear. For $120, a customer can submit an image online, which will be sized and fit to create a custom pair of leggings. Ponce believes customization gives the leggings a good touch. “People feel proud when they can say, ‘This is my design. I designed this,’” Ponce said. “It gets them excited, and I wanted to give people the ability to express themselves.” After realizing how expensive it would be to manufacture her line in Florida, Ponce relocated her family and company to her hometown in the Rio Grande Valley in October 2015. Miami Fitwear products stimulate the local economy, as every aspect of the company is planned and executed in Pharr. Unlike other apparel companies that outsource their work, Miami Fitwear oversees their product at every stage of production. As a new mother of twins, Ponce has plans to slowly grow her business in the future. She is currently
“PEOPLE FEEL PROUD WHEN THEY CAN SAY, ‘ THIS IS MY DESIGN. I DESIGNED THIS. IT GETS THEM EXCITED, AND I WANTED TO GIVE PEOPLE THE ABILIT Y TO EXPRESS THEMSELVES.” -RAQU EL PON CE
developing her website, as well as a second line of activewear called Valley Fit Wear, which will focus solely on 100 percent custom orders. Plus size leggings are currently in the testing phase. If they perform well, these will expand Miami Fitwear’s available size option to 3XL. Ponce is also testing men’s leggings, but is awaiting feedback before she develops a non-custom line of menswear. Although her company has grown in size and reputation, Ponce says it continues to still be experimental with new products. She attributes her success to the continued emphasis on the feedback of her customers, as well as the determination to continue to develop the highest quality product in the activewear category. To find out more about Miami Fitwear or to create you own custom leggings, visit miamifitwear.com.
OLD FRIENDS ARE Gold Financial Services Offers Personal Touch to Lending in South Texas
By Jose De Leon III Photos by Kevin Martinez When you think about applying for a mortgage or getting a loan approved, you probably imagine months of waiting to get an answer from distant employees of some large bank. Gold Financial Services offers a different experience. When working to close a house, William Esquivel, regional manager for Gold Financial Services, becomes his borrower’s best friend. Taking on roles of financier, counselor, and advisor, he and fellow loan officers take care of everything in order to get that house for their customer in a timely manner. “We’re truly a servicebased company,” he said. “We’ve seen builders, realtors, and borrowers be frustrated at the wait time with other banks,” said Esquivel. (In addition to managing mortgages, Gold Financial Services has provided construction loans to builders since the beginning of 2016.) There’s no time wasted when conducting business locally with a mortgage company that works in-house as Gold Financial Services does. “We can have it done within 25 days,” said Esquivel. I
B E R
RGV MANAGEMENT TEAM John E “J.J.” Esquivel, NMLS #239084- Harlingen Office, Robert Saenz, NMLS#239075-Edinburg Office William Esquivel, NMLS #239087-Regional Manager, Gloria Ortegon, NMLS #454294- Construction Manager, Kenneth Hammonds, NMLS #239595 –McAllen office
With most banks, people apply and upload documents online, and only communicate with the bank via email or a phone call. “We interact with our people on a oneon-one basis so they know what is going on with the transaction at all times,” he said. “At Gold Financial Services, we make sure the borrowers know we still care about customer service. We don’t miss out on the trust that is built from something as simple as a handshake.” These customer interactions help build lasting relationships. According to Esquivel, he and his coworkers are still in touch with their first customers in the Valley, a relationship of over eight years. “We strive to keep that communication with customers open and always fulfil their demands. The average borrower closes one loan for the rest of their life, so we need to ensure that they are satisfied with their transaction,” he said. “We make ourselves available.” Gold Financial Services has five locations in the Rio Grande Valley and a total of 35 different branches in five states, and Esquivel is driven by a need make sure all interactions are run smoothly and customers are happy. This attitude is held by all levels of management at Gold Financial Services. Coupled with their deep
“At Gold Financial Services, we make sure the borrowers know we still care about customer service. We don’t miss out on the trust that is built from something as simple as a handshake.” -William Esquivel GOLD FINANCIAL SERVICES REGIONAL MANAGER
understanding of the Rio Grande Valley, it’s no surprise that Gold Financial Services has been named the biggest non-producing bank in the Rio Grande Valley for the last three years. “The majority of our loan officers are from the Rio Grande Valley and we all know the Valley is totally different from the rest of Texas. We understand that. Every decision-maker in our company is from Texas and tuned into the attitude here,” said Esquivel. In 2016, Gold Financial Services saw an increase of 20 percent in mortgages closing compared to the year prior. With a record of success like that, it makes sense to make new friends with Gold Financial Services. More information on Gold Services Financial can be found on their website at goldfinancial.com. Corp NMLS#129022
CYBER SECURITY 101 Larkin Addison Specialty Insurance Services helps lessen the “byte” of a cyber security breach By Allan Fisher-Garcia
uring my yearly physical, I couldn’t help but notice that every bit of information I gave the doctor and the staff was entered into a tablet. Tap, tap, swipe, swipe. From symptoms to prescriptions, every detail of my visit was digitally signed, sealed, and delivered. It should not come as much of a surprise. I conveniently perform the majority of transactions, such as banking, shopping, even “socializing” on the internet via my computer, smartphone, or tablet. The ease of paying bills and posting a generic
birthday meme on a relative-you-don’t-evenlike’s Facebook from the palm of your hand, unfortunately, comes with some risk. Records equal your identity. A person’s date of birth, phone number, address, Social Security number, credit card information, and other identifying data are being hacked at this very moment, according to Ed McLin of Larkin Addison LLC. “Anyone with an online presence is vulnerable to a breach,” McLin said.
“Anyone with an online presence is vulnerable to a breach.” Ed McLin
Larkin Addison Specialty Insurance Services
The Identity Theft Resource Center reports there has been a total of 932 cyber security breaches this year, exposing 34.3 million records. Suzanne Barber from the Center for Identity at the University of Texas at Austin believes there is a strong link between identity theft and terrorism. “Terrorists depend on stolen or fake passports, and other forms of identification obtained through fraudulent means,” Barber said. Terrorism and national security aside, the damage and inconvenience of a breach varies for individuals and businesses. While individuals could spend months contesting the fraudulent charges made from their stolen credit card, the breach of an organization or business like a clinic, however, is a HIPAA violation, and could result in thousands of dollars in fines. In 2015, Target gave customers a year of free credit monitoring and a 10 percent discount during the holidays after enduring a data breach of an estimated 100 million records from 2013. In the end, this breach cost Target around $100 million. Could your business afford to do the same? Although it is difficult to prevent a breach, there is protocol a business can take to ease the damage. Since 2014, Larkin Addison has provided commercial and specialty insurance products for small- to medium-sized businesses. Purchasing a cyber liability policy from Larkin Addison can help manage the financial hurt of such a breach. A cyber insurance policy is like any other insurance policy. A premium is paid every
month and coverage is provided to protect the policyholder and those affected by an incident. In a nutshell, a cyber liability policy protects your company from the liability from being sued by your clients if you experience a breach or if their information is negligently handled. The cost of a cyber liability insurance policy from Larkin Addison varies. A comprehensive analysis of your risk can be done for your business. “A lot of breaches aren't hacks, but can arise from losing laptops or a disgruntled employee after termination,” McLin said. A Cyber Protection Policy from Larkin Addison can help protect your business and your customers from the potential liability arising from employee misuse, negligence, and the improper disposal of information and lost or stolen equipment. “Most people or companies see insurance as an unnecessary expense, something you hope you never have to use,” McLin said, until you do. Statistics show that the average cost of a data breach has increased to $5.9 million. Although a cyber insurance policy is not required, it is necessary. As a business, there is a duty to secure the information provided to you by your customer, and to notify them when their information has been compromised. Larkin Addison will enable your business with experienced breach response and is ready to assist you with incident and crisis management. For more information on a cyber insurance policy or other specialty insurance products, contact the insurance specialists at Larkin Addison at (956) 232-2700 or visit larkinaddison.com
South Texas Retirement and Investment Guidance for over 30 Years
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THE DOCTOR’S PRESCRIPTION FOR FOUNDING CURRICULUM
Dr. Stan Fisch hopeful for innovative UTRGV medical program By Karen Villarreal
hen the medical school at the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley was founded, the idea was that our region should have more doctors — individuals who are committed to improving the health of the people who live here. However, a brand new school needs a brand new curriculum, and when people’s lives are on the line, the determination of what our future doctors will be learning is a responsibility not to be taken lightly. “I’m honored and excited about the opportunity
to be involved at the very early stages of our school,” said Dr. Stan Fisch, the first appointed chair of the Curriculum Committee at UTRGV’s new school of medicine. He was one of the roughly 30 science science faculty (researchers, professors, and practicing physicians) responsible for determining the founding curriculum for the medical school, and they are all quite familiar with the standards established by the LCME for medical education and professional training. The Liaison Committee on Medical Education is the U.S.
Department of Education-recognized accrediting body for programs leading to the M.D. degree in the United States. “You can’t just open a medical school and start handing out degrees,” said Fisch, a pediatrician with 43 years of experience currently practicing in Harlingen. “When creating the curriculum, we wanted to be creative and use students’ time productively, but also had to be systematic in making sure that we were complying with all the requirements for a new medical school. All of us had to come together and figure this out.” The road to doctorship is a long one. Medical school is a four-year program after a four-year bachelor (or additional two-year master) degree. After a student is awarded a medical degree, they can then specialize if they choose to through a salaried residency (in-training) program. The traditional curriculum that Fisch and many other practicing physicians experienced consisted of two years entirely spent in the laboratory and lecture hall with courses in the basic medical sciences like anatomy, genetics, and immunology. “We never saw a living patient for the first two years,” Fisch said. “Then in our third year we went out and spent the entire third and fourth year in hospitals seeing patients, but never going back into a laboratory and only rarely to a lecture hall.” Though there are some strict regulations about the curriculum, there’s also a certain amount of leeway that medical schools are given so that they can differentiate themselves. Most medical schools today allow students the opportunity to see patients in some way, such as shadowing in clinical settings. UTRGV medical students will get their first exposure shadowing at a clinical practice in their first year. Their medical preceptorship will consist of one half-day a month at a clinic of a practicing physician; as they move along into their second year, students will have experiences almost entirely in hospitals or clinics in all of the major areas of medicine including internal medicine and psychiatry. However, they will not be far from professors and their academics. “In the last two years when they’re doing primarily work in clinical medicine, we still need to bring basic sciences into their daily experience so that they develop a full understanding,” Fisch said. Medical school students typically come into the program idealistic, wanting to serve and do great work for people and the world, with aspirations of being scientists and healers. “We want to let them preserve those feelings and not become cynical by teaching in a way that retains those positive values that brought them into medicine in the first place,” Fisch said. “We also want our students to think of themselves as community advocates, as wanting
“With good faculty teaching around these experiences, they get a realistic sense of what they’re getting into." - Dr. Stan Fisch First appointed chair of curriculum committee at UTRGV's school of medicine.
to be concerned about the health of all the individuals.” He explains that one way of encouraging these ideas, besides addressing the issue directly, is to send them out to have some direct contact with patients and practicing physicians. “With good faculty teaching around these experiences, they get a realistic sense of what they’re getting into,” Fisch said. Giving students exposure to the community early entails a certain amount of engagement with community groups and agencies, but in our underserved area, there is never a lack of interest. UTRGV will help place students in community service learning projects that are mutually beneficial to community as well as the student’s development as a medical student. “We want our young doctors to be active in the community in whatever capacity suits them and is appropriate for them,” Fisch said. The school is also working on creating summer internships and research opportunities that could be lab-based or communitybased clinical research, looking at issues related to public health. “We have lots of ambitions,” Fisch said. “The team at the school is very keen on making this a successful undertaking and graduating confident and strong contributors to their profession.”
SAFETY FIRST, THEN RESOLUTIONS! Avoid Injury with 9 Tips from a Physical Therapist By Fortino Gonzalez, PT, Dip MDT, FAAOMPT, OCS
very New Year, one can expect to be asked or told about resolutions. For many, these come in the form of exercise. People get excited about going to the gym and getting fit, which is great; however, many times their exercise programs may lead to injury. Many gym goers have their own ideas about which exercises they should or shouldn’t be doing; unfortunately, there are a lot of harmful practices that can derail them from their fitness goals. The following tips may help save you from costly injury and allow you to fulfill your fitness goals.
People like to run or walk with weights – specifically, ankle weights—thinking that they’re creating resistance training and aerobic training; however, the two just don’t jive. Attaching weights to your extremities changes your center of gravity and dynamics of movement, which changes the way muscles relax or contract. The weights make your body function contrarily to the way it is designed, leading to potential injury. Separate aerobic and resistance training while listening to your body to create fluid movement regardless of what you are doing.
BEWARE OF TRENDS.
Fitness represents the mental awareness of your body. Movement with purpose goes much further than distracted, stationary pounding on a treadmill. You see a large percentage of people slouched or hunched over on the treadmill, stair climber, or elliptical, leaning in to read or look at a screen while unknowingly destroying their spines. Instead, one should focus on the exercise. Think about your breathing, posture, and movement. You can read or watch TV later in a position that is better for your back!
DIVIDE YOUR TIME.
PRACTICE FITNESS FOR ITS OWN SAKE.
Popular workout trends come and go, but what people may not realize is that some exercises can actually be dangerous if not practiced correctly. Western entrepreneurs love to modify ancient Eastern practices to make them enticing and sellable to the modern consumer. However, the body likes homeostasis, an even keel, so don’t fight your body. You want to stretch it to the edge of comfort and push the limit just enough so you prevent injury while still attaining the progress you seek. Some trendy exercise regimes try to push newcomers to extremes. Lesson: don’t allow a “professional” to hurt you.
Change is good. This mantra definitely pertains to exercise programs, but this doesn’t mean that your workout needs to change minute to minute. You want to vary your workout every 3-4 weeks because your body will adapt slowly and when it is not being stressed, it is not going to change any more. So you have to push it a little bit to ensure constant progress. However…
We tend to forget about sustainability in many areas of our society. For example, can people who work out vigorously maintain this high level of exercise over several years without breaking down their tissues? On the other hand, can people who do not exercise maintain a healthy physical condition? We’ve always recommended gentle yet brisk exercise a few times a week. Ideally, keep your body in full motion. Your focus must be on preventing injury by listening to your body and taking your body through full motion. This applies to any exercise or activity.
ENGAGE IN SUSTAINABLE MOTION.
DON’T GET STUCK IN A RUT.
DON’T DO TOO MUCH TOO SOON.
Are you an “all or nothing” kind of person? That mentality can lead to injury in the gym. The weekend-warrior quick fix doesn’t exist. Don’t start doing so much so fast that you sabotage your work out routine. You can wear down your muscles instead of building them up or even tear or sprain something. Think of building up endurance and strength like forming a callous instead of creating a blister. Gradually introduce exercise to a sedentary lifestyle by starting with simple stretching and walking.
THINK LONG TERM.
PROLOGUE AND EPILOGUE TO EXERCISE
You’ve got your sneakers on and are raring to go, but don’t forget that proper warm-up and cool-down are essential to your workout and one is just as important as the other. Stretching is invaluable and should be part of your warm-up or cool-down, as can be brisk walking. I would choose stretching after the workout as more effective, if I had to choose.
FIND A HEALTHY HABIT YOU ENJOY.
What do you want your health or fitness to be like in five years? It begins with lifestyle changes and setting some real, achievable goals for yourself. Many people don’t think about changing their habits until they have a big, upcoming event that they want to look good for. Now, if your looks motivate you, think about what you want to look like in five years and form a plan to get you there. But know that it will take willpower to get through slow periods and more than just a few months to see results; therefore, patience and perseverance are essential to success. Focusing on what you want to feel like or what activities you want to be able to do as opposed to your appearance is a healthy mindset.
I believe that being physically active is a habit, and in order to create a habit, you have to keep it fun. Set aside a designated hour of your day three times a week to do something for your body and your long-term health. For the first several days, start by just going for a walk, and once you’ve got that habit established, then add something extra to the program. Homeostasis likes even, gradual change, so your body will adapt much better to it. For more on injury prevention visit www.fortinogonzalezpt.com.
Many gym goers have their own ideas about which exercises they should or shouldn’t be doing; unfortunately, there are a lot of harmful practices that can derail them from their fitness goals.
THIS ARTICLE IS PROVIDED BY
Fortino Gonzalez Mcallen Physical Therapy 956-661-1964 | Fortinogonzalezpt.com
EVERY HEARTBEAT MATTERS Cardiologists at Rio Grande Regional Hospital follow their hearts to treat patients with care. By Amy Casebier Photos by James Hord Much like all of the different parts of the heart function as one, Rio Grande Regional Hospital’s many departments work together to ensure their patients’ cardiovascular health every single day. With heart disease as the leading cause of death in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control, the entire staff at Rio Grande Regional Hospital implements a team approach and the latest technology to recognize when a patient’s chest pain means there are heart issues present. They act decisively to image, diagnose, monitor and manage them. 64
The heart conducts some of the most essential functions of the human body, including circulating oxygenated blood to the rest of the organs. The fist-sized muscle includes key arteries, veins, and other structures that combine to pump life throughout the body. Immediate response to possible problems is key to successfully diagnosing and treating cardiovascular-related issues. “Once you have chest pains, you must react,” said Cynthia Noche, RN, Director of the Cardiac Telemetry Department at Rio Grande Regional Hospital. “The patient should not take any risks.” Noche, a 23-year veteran of the hospital, has led the telemetry department 13 years. The telemetry unit of the hospital has special equipment used to closely monitor patients’ changes in blood pressure and the rate and rhythm of their heart. Patients in this unit experiencing chest pains can have peace of mind as technicians specially trained to recognize abnormalities are always monitoring patients via a portable heart monitor. A patient’s heart rate can be affected by many factors, including blood sugar, medications, activity, and other influences. This is why it is crucial for both the cardiologist and nurses to ask questions about the patient’s condition and help educate them on how to monitor their own health once they’re out of the hospital and back home, by making appropriate lifestyle changes to become healthier. The hospital often sees patients seeking help after experiencing shortness of breath with minimal physical activity, or chest pain while at rest — called angina. Other symptoms, including lightheadedness and dizziness, along with abnormal heart rates and rhythms, are indications that people should seek diagnostic tests to analyze what’s going on with their hearts. Rio Grande Regional Hospital provides all major tests and treatments as a part of its Heart and Vascular services. Rio Grande Regional Hospital has all of the latest technologies, procedures, and devices to help its patients with their health issues. Jose Martinez, Director of the Radiology Department, states that his department is staffed with highly trained technologists who see a vast number of patients each day for various imaging services, including CAT scans, MRIs, and other tests. Rio Grande Regional Hospital also offers calcium scoring, a non-invasive CT scan of the heart. This test aids in calculating risk of developing Coronary Artery Disease (CAD) by measuring the amount of calcified plaque in the coronary arteries. “We’re offering these procedures to make it easier to answer questions about coronary heart disease,” said Martinez. “Especially when the patient is in the emergency room and we need immediate results.” In addition, the radiology department sees children. “Sometimes the children are fearful of the equipment, but my staff and I make sure to ease their fears by explaining that the intimidating machines are just big cameras,” says Martinez. “You have to take your time with children, just like we do with adults.” He is proud of the dedicated group of employees in the radiology department, some of whom have been with the hospital for over 20 years. Serving the Rio Grande Valley since 1982, Rio Grande Regional Hospital offers complete cardiovascular services, from the fast
When I decided to go into cardiology, something that motivated me was the fact that we could intervene at the exact point when somebody’s having a major heart attack and really change in a matter of a few minutes how they’re going to do." - Dr. Guillermo Salinas treatment of events like heart attack and stroke, to treatment of underlying heart and peripheral vascular diseases. Their cardiologists, and the rest of their cardiovascular care team, are unparalleled in their use of innovative technology to prevent, diagnose and treat cardiovascular diseases in both adult and pediatric patients. The hospital’s full-range of Heart and Vascular services are available in the cardiac catheterization lab, which provides diagnostics and intervention. It is available 24-hours a day, 7 days a week. Their heart and vascular surgical options help treat a wide range of cardiovascular conditions, and their electrophysiology studies provide non-surgical diagnoses and treatments of heartrelated issues. “Problems in the arteries are primarily genetic, but risk factors such as smoking and high blood pressure affect individuals as well,” said Manny Cavazos, Director of Cardiology Services at Rio Grande Regional Hospital, including the Cardiac Cath Lab, Echo Lab, Stress Lab, and EKG Department. “The main areas of concern in the population of the Valley are diabetes and obesity. People can help manage their heart disease by exercising and monitoring their cholesterol and blood pressure.” February is American Heart Month, which serves as an opportunity to help raise awareness of heart disease. A healthy heart is the goal, ensuring that one of the most important organs in the body is performing as efficiently as possible. Should an individual’s heart need anything from an emergency jump-start to a yearly check up, they can find help at Rio Grande Regional Hospital’s cardiology department. Dr. Guillermo Salinas, Interventional Cardiologists and Medical Director of Cardiology Services at Rio Grande Regional Hospital for nine years, performs procedures to help clear plaque and other blockages from blood vessels to boost blood flow by performing mesh stent insertions, balloon angioplasties, or atherectomy. “When I decided to go into cardiology, something that motivated me was the fact that we could intervene at the exact moment when somebody’s having a major heart attack and really change how they’re going to do in a matter of a few minutes,” he said. “It’s very gratifying to see how much you can impact somebody’s condition by doing these procedures.” Furthermore, he says there’s a great need for this work in the Valley. He describes himself as a “plumber” of the heart, and his colleague, Dr. Jeremy Enslein, as the heart’s electrician.
Dr. Enslein, Cardiologist and Medical Director of Cardiac Cath Lab Services at Rio Grande Regional Hospital for 11 years, is responsible for looking at electrical solutions to dealing with heart problems. This can range from a Holter monitor that keeps track of a patient’s heart rate and rhythm for one or two days for diagnostic purposes, to a pacemaker device, which is implanted in the chest to control the heart’s rhythms and can last anywhere from eight to 10 years. “It’s an extremely rewarding profession,” Enslein said of his work. “There are times you really do make huge differences in people’s lives.” Patients at Rio Grande Regional Hospital receive the most expert care possible, whether they are there for heart-related problems or other issues. Individuals who work at the hospital genuinely care about their patients and proudly provide you and your loved ones with healthcare you can trust.
To learn more about American Heart Month and other issues in heart health and care, go to the American Heart Association’s website at www.heart.org. For more information about Rio Grande Regional Hospital and the services it provides, visit the facility’s website at www.riohealth.com.
Cynthia Noche, RN Director of Cardiac & Medical Telemetry Manny Cavazos Director of Cardiology Services
Joe Martinez Director of Radiology Services Dr. Jeremy Enslein Director of Cardiac Cath Lab Services
Dr. Guillermo Salinas Medical Director of Cardiology Services RGVISIONMAGAZINE.COM
DOCS Joseph Horton, MD, Provides Orthopedic Surgery at Valley Baptist Medical Center By Karen Villarreal
he human body is amazing, but like anything else, it wears down with time and use. However, we do not have to accept pain as a fact of life. When facing serious musculoskeletal injury or pain that limits movement of the muscles and bones, the specialist to see is an orthopedic surgeon. Locally, Valley Baptist Medical Center’s orthopedic surgeons are resources for individuals facing sore joints and muscle aches, carpal tunnel syndrome, arthritis, and in the case of Dr. Joseph Horton, sports injuries, too. Dr. Horton is board certified in general orthopedic surgery and also holds a fellowship in sports medicine. In addition to hip and knee replacements, simple fractures and hand work like trigger finger and carpal tunnel releases, Dr. Horton can perform different techniques specific to sports-related injuries. “People are tearing or breaking something on a daily basis, unfortunately,” says Dr. Horton. While the sports injuries he sees are usually caused by overuse, or a collision or other mishap that results in a strain or break, some injuries like a torn rotator cuff can happen from just doing things around the house. “You can strain the rotator cuff and tear it from just lifting a gallon of milk out of the refrigerator,” he says, and explained that falls result in many injuries as well. “Luckily you don’t have to worry about snow down here,” says Dr. Horton, who came to the Valley in August from Pennsylvania. However, he sees falls yearround. “I’ve seen people with broken bones as a result of a fall from looking down at their cell phones.” When treating weekend warriors who are experiencing sore knees, he often recommends viscosupplementation injections that lubricate the joint to ease the pain. However, they do not slow the progression of arthritis, which he sometimes finds to be the culprit for patients’ pain. He explains that cartilage in the knee is like tread on a tire. “When the tire wears down, eventually you get down to the steel belts and it’s time to replace the tire,” he says. At that point in the human body metaphor, injections don’t help anymore. “When it's too far gone and you have bone-on-bone, you will need knee replacement.” Knee replacement surgery involves installing metal caps on the bones in the knee using a plastic spacer between them to replace the missing cartilage.
New Developments Dr. Horton explained that there have been many advances in technology. “We are not able to replace cartilage yet, but there are new techniques for treating early arthritis,” he says. “A lot of techniques utilize arthroscopy to see and work inside the joints.” A thin instrument with a camera tip is inserted into a small incision, allowing the surgeon to look for the problem without having to cut the whole limb open. “We have more options now, so people don’t have to suffer in silence,” he says. “Having a sports medicine background, I’m much more comfortable and familiar using the scope than say, someone who only does joint replacement,” says Dr. Horton. “Some surgeons are still doing open procedures, especially for rotator cuffs.” Dr. Horton treats rotator cuffs with the scope, as well as meniscus tears, ACL tears, and other sports injuries.
What might Help Dr. Horton recommends that individuals suffering from arthritis do what they can to relieve the pain before it gets to the point of surgery. “Decreasing your weight puts less force on the knee,” he says. “Some people have found that after they lose 20 pounds, their knee pain goes away.” Non-weight bearing exercise like water aerobics or stationary biking are particularly helpful because they take pressure off the joints. Likewise injections of cortisone or viscosupplementation injections can help alleviate the pain and may put off surgery for a while. Individuals who are experiencing any sort of pain with their muscles or bones can find Dr. Horton at Valley Baptist Medical Center in Harlingen. “We have more options now, so people don’t have to suffer in silence,” he says. To learn more, visit www.valleybaptist.net.
HEARTBURN OR GERD? GASTROESOPHAGEAL REFLUX DISEASE IS TREATABLE AT TEXAS GASTROENTEROLOGY INSTITUTE BY LORI HOUSTON
n the Rio Grande Valley, we love our salsas and picantes, and suffer joyfully through the burning feeling as we finish our meal. We’re not quite so happy when the acids make a second appearance, manifested as heartburn. Some heartburn is normal, such as after a meal or if it occurs less than once a week, and the discomfort can be relieved by over the counter antacids. However, heartburn that occurs more often, is severe, or occurs at night, could be a sign of a condition you don’t want to ignore. Gastroesophageal reflux disease, also
known as GERD, is a very common disease in relation to the stomach and esophagus. According to Dr. Valeska Balderas of the Texas Gastroenterology Institute, it is very prevalent in the RGV. GERD is characterized by tissue damage that results from repeated or prolonged exposure of the lining of the esophagus to contents from the stomach. Other symptoms of GERD include chronic acid reflux and heartburn, difficulty or pain when swallowing, excess of saliva, laryngitis, hoarseness, bad
breath and belching. Dr. Balderas points out that in some cases individuals feel a burning or pain in the middle chest or upper abdomen and mistake it for heart-related chest pain. They go to the emergency room, where after evaluation, they are sent to a gastroenterologist. Diagnostic Options There are multiple methods to test for and diagnose GERD. To conduct an esophagram, the patient swallows barium and a radiologist views the esophagus and stomach under fluoroscopy to see if there is a problem with narrowing or inflammation of the esophagus. An upper endoscopy allows doctors to visualize the esophagus, stomach and small intestine and to check for damage such as inflammation of the esophagus and ulcers. Other tests include esophageal manometry which measures esophageal function through pressure readings and a 24-hour pH probe in which a sensor measures acid exposure. Three-Tiered Treatment The first steps in treating GERD often lie in lifestyle changes. The high fat and spicy diet common in the Rio Grande Valley is a contributing factor in many resident’s symptoms. It is recommended that you avoid habits such as overeating, eating before bed and eating too quickly. It is also important to avoid eating heartburn-triggering foods such as chocolate, coffee, onions and acidic foods such as soft drinks, citrus and tomatoes. Fatty foods and spicy foods are also a trigger for heartburn and should also be limited. Other options for treating GERD include over the counter and prescription medications. The purpose of the drugs range from your simple antacids (Maalox, Rolaids, Tum) to medication that reduce acid production (Pepcid AC, Zantac) and even medication that can heal the esophagus (Prevacid 24 HR, Prilosec). More invasive treatments include different surgical procedures to reinforce or to strengthen the lower esophageal sphincter at the top of the stomach. One such procedure involves wrapping the very top of the stomach around the outside of the lower esophagus and it can be performed
Laproscopically. It is done by a surgeon and is called a Nissen fundoplication. Get Treatment Today Dr. Balderas is stressing the importance of managing these symptoms because untreated GERD Can develop into a more serious condition called Barrett’s esophagus which is diagnosed with an upper endoscopy. With direct visualization of the esophagus, the Doctors at TGI can detect this condition. It is recommended to have an upper endoscopy if you have had a long standing history of acid reflux and are over the age of 50 to screen for Barrett’s esophagus . Other indications for an upper endoscopy WHAT IS GERD aside from a long history of GERD are alarm symptoms including Tissue damage that dysphagia (difficulty swallowing), results from repeated or prolonged exposure anemia or weight loss. Barrett’s of the lining of the esophagus occurs when the lining esophagus to contents of the esophagus are damaged by from the stomach exposure to acid from the stomach and is most often diagnosed in people SYMPTOMS who have long-term gastroesophageal reflux disease. In Barrett’s esophagus, > Chronic acid reflux normal tissue lining the esophagus > Heartburn changes to tissue that resembles the > Difficulty or pain lining of the intestine, increasing when swallowing the risk of developing esophageal > Excess of saliva adenocarcinoma, which is a serious, > Laryngitis potentially fatal cancer of the > Hoarseness esophagus. According to Dr. Balderas, > Bad breath treatment for the precancerous cells > Belching associated with Barrett’s esophagus can consist of Radiofrequency ablation which uses heat generated by radio waves to selectively destroy tissue. Although less invasive than other treatments, it may take more than one procedure and healing would take longer. Diet and lifestyle changes are still the best and first response to controlling symptoms of GERD. “I always prefer these changes to control symptoms instead of having to take a medication for life,” says Dr. Balderas. To learn more about the Texas Gastroenterology Institute, visit their website: www.digestivehealthpro.com.
Combating Depression in the Workplace W
e all have experienced the dread of going back to work after holidays. After enjoying the time off, it may be hard to return to work. However, in the spirit of the new year, we should try to remain optimistic and face another year of work with hope and determination to accomplish more. Unfortunately, 14.8 million American adults are faced with the reality of depression. After some time off of work, it is hard to
go back into work mode with full force. In the upcoming weeks, we will all be out for the winter break and returning to our work mindsets may be tough. Perhaps the break may not even be relevant to the later inactivity and depression that we experience. Itâ€™s possible that we may just not like the place where we work, or we might be just experiencing symptoms of depression in all activities and environments.
To meet the criteria requirement, the individual must be experiencing at least five of the aforementioned criteria for a two-week period. In addition, the symptoms must be causing the significant impairment in occupational, social, or daily life. Symptom expression varies from person to person. The symptoms may be mild, or they may be severe. The person experiencing these symptoms may show no motivation, low productivity, high irritability, increased fatigue, and they may call in sick to work often. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, depression is one of the most prevalent mental disorders in the United States, with 6.7 percent of the adult population reporting that they have experienced a major depressive episode in the year 2015. The Centers for Disease Control reports that adults with depression may be absent from work an average of 4.8 days a year and they may experience on average 11.5 days of reduced productivity. What is the reason for such high rates of depression, specifically with working adults? A nine-to-five job can become a routine. Sometimes, individuals are required to be at their desk for hours, and they may begin to feel overworked and underappreciated. Although, most of these jobs provide stable financial security, they can also me mentally overwhelming and can affect overall psychological well-being.
Tips and treatments
There are different ways to combat depression in the workplace. The first and most important step is getting professional help if you need it. Although there is stigma attached to those that attend therapy, getting help is one of the best things that you can do for yourself. Sleeping enough, completing exercise routines, social interactions, or engaging in any other relaxing daily activity may also prove to be quite helpful. In addition, you may want to join a support group. Support groups facilitate new friendships and allow you to interact with people who may be experiencing the same symptoms that you are. These tips may nswot work for everyone, so it is important that you find what works best for you. Think of something that may relieve stress and that may bring joy into your day-to-day life. January is the start of a new year, so out with the old and in with the new. Strive to make 2017 a more productive year with happiness and optimism at the forefront of everything you do. Remember, if you need help, you can reach out to family, friends, or professionals. The National Suicide Prevention Hotline is available 24 hours a day and can assist you in all situations. The number is (800) 2738255. References available upon request (Co-authors include Dr. Mercadoâ€™s Mental Health Lab at UTRGV: Melissa Briones, Monica Garduno, Raquel Guerra, Samantha Hernandez, Abigail Nunez-Saenz, and Yvette Hinojosa)
What is Depression? The fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders lists the following diagnostic criteria for Major Depressive Disorder: - Feeling in a depressed mood almost every day (such as feeling sad, empty, and without hope) or affected by comments by others (perhaps resulting in a tearful situation). - Little to no interest or pleasure in any activity or in daily events. - Significant unintentional weight loss or weight gain (for example, a 5 percent change of weight in a period of one month), or increment or reduction in appetite in a short period of time. - Experiencing insomnia or hypersomnia more than three times a week for a period of two weeks. - Psychomotor disturbance or slowness on a regular basis. - Low levels of energy almost every day for a period of two weeks. - Extortionate guilt and invaluable attitude towards life. - Decrease in the ability to concentrate or function on a day-to-day basis. - Repetitive thoughts of dying (including not only fear of death but also high levels of suicidal ideation).
Remember, If you need help you can reach out to family, friends, or professionals. The National Suicide Prevention Hotline is available 24 hours and can assist you in all situations. The number is 1-800-273-8255.
THIS ARTICLE IS PROVIDED BY
ALFONSO MERCADO, PH.D.,Â LICENSED PSYCHOLOGIST Valley Psychological Services - Assistant Professor-Department of Psychology at the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley www.utpa.edu/psychology
MAKING AN IMPACT WITH DENTAL IMPLANTS
Dr. Omel Cardenas Provides Oral Surgery Services
By George Cox
he mere mention of oral surgery is enough to make some people shudder. But for individuals who can no longer bite into an apple or dig into corn on the cob due to poor dental health, regaining the ability to chew can be the motivation to take action. And technological advances can make oral and maxillofacial surgery a less frightening option. Dr. Omel Cardenas is an oral surgeon specialist who is establishing himself in the Rio Grande Valley with a new practice in Harlingen. His parents grew up in the Valley and, after practicing in North
Texas for 11 years, he returned last summer to open CARDENAS Dental Implants & Oral Surgery in Harlingen. Located in the Valley Baptist Medical Arts Pavilion on Pease Street, Cardenas’s practice offers oral surgery services ranging from wisdom teeth extractions to dental implants and other specialized procedures. He is also on staff at Valley Baptist Medical Center. “For many of my patients, their main goal is to be able to function in regards to chewing,” Cardenas said. “Next would be their smile.”
“They are seeing the importance of why they need to have their teeth.They want to be able to chew, feel self-confident again and build their self-esteem.” Dr. Omel Cardenas
People with gum issues that have not allowed their teeth to remain strong and in place are turning to oral surgery in growing numbers. “They are seeing the importance of why they need to have their teeth,” he said. “They want to be able to chew, feel self-confident again and build their selfesteem.” One of the fastest growing procedures in dentistry, dental implants provide options to replace a single tooth or install a complete denture. The implants are placed in the jaw as an artificial root to anchor the custom-fitted replacement teeth. While commonly referred to as dentures in a day, the entire process involves planning and preparation in advance. But the procedure, from tooth extraction to the placement of implants and dentures, can be completed in a single day. Technological advances have simplified the procedure and made it more precise with less discomfort. “We use computers with three-dimensional imaging,” Cardenas said. “There is no longer a need for impressions or molds anymore. And the technology is still advancing.” From consultation and the planning stages to actual surgery can take about a month. As with many elective medical or dental procedures implants can be expensive, but Cardenas said the outcome can justify the cost. “Patients have to look at it as an investment for themselves,” he said. “The guarantee for implants today is about 96 percent. The manufacturer, however, guarantees their product at 100 percent.” While dental implant patients tend to be older, Cardenas also performs wisdom teeth extractions for younger people. He also does reconstructive surgery for patients who suffer from oral cancer, genetic defects, or trauma. “We can go in a reconstruct the jaw because it is
misaligned. That’s a primary reason for the surgery,” he said. Cardenas said he gets a great deal of satisfaction from helping people solve their dental issues. “It does make a difference in their lives because when they come to us they can’t chew, they can’t enjoy their food anymore,” he said. “Our goal is to provide them with that again.” A graduate of MLK/Charles R. Drew University in California after attending Texas A&M University Health Science Center Baylor College of Dentistry, Cardenas is also involved in using his expertise to give back to the community. “I also do a lot of charity work in the community with other dentists as part of Dentists Who Care,” he said. “It’s a nonprofit organization put together by dentists and we want to provide and give back to the community.” Dentists Who Care is a Rio Grande Valley organization that has offered dental services to children for more than 20 years. “The schools determine the need,” he said. “If a child has issues they can go to the school nurse and see if they qualify. We also have a mobile van that goes around and does screening.” Dentists and their assistants donate their services with the mobile unit, according to the Dentists Who Care website. Basic treatments include a digital panoramic x-ray and a comprehensive oral exam by the dentists. Treatments such as cleanings, restorations, fluoride treatments, and extractions may also be performed. “There are dentists throughout the Valley who help do the work,” Cardenas said about the organization. “And now we are trying to expand to help adults and the elderly.” To learn more about CARDENAS Dental Implants & Oral Surgery, visitwww.facebook.com/rgvoralsurgery.
HEART LEAD YOU
Rio Grande Regional Hospital provides patients with full-service cardiovascular care, from the fast treatment of events like heart attack and stroke, to treatment of underlying heart and peripheral vascular diseases. At Rio Grande Regional Hospital, we put our hearts into caring for yours. Our cardiologists and heart surgeons, and the rest of our cardiovascular care team, are unparalleled in their use of innovative technology to prevent, diagnose and treat cardiovascular diseases in both adult and pediatric patients. Our full-range of Heart & Vascular services includes: • Calcium Scoring • Cardiac Catheterization Lab • Coronary Computed Tomography Angiography • Electrophysiology (EP) • Heart and Vascular Surgery
101 East Ridge Road | McAllen, TX 78503 | 956-632-6000 | RioHealth.com
LOOKING GOOD, 2017! Explore upcoming additions and activities and make 2017 the year you get better acquainted with the RGV! This is just a taste of what's to come. Check out www.rgvisionmagazine.com for an extended edition of this article with more information. Did we miss something we should know about? Let us know on our Facebook page or twitter, @rgvisionmagazine.
OCELOTS OFF THE ROADS
REGIONAL PLANNING The 2017-2022 Regional Strategic Plan is a comprehensive, unified plan for the RGV categorized into five strategic vision domains which interconnect a spectrum of community priorities: Economic Development, Health & Human Services, Public Safety, Environmental Resources & Community Development, and Transportation. “It’s a starting point for tackling issues,” says Ron Garza, Executive Director of the Lower Rio Grande Valley Development Corporation. The blueprint
for implementation of action plans across the Valley is available to the public and all planning agencies. “We’re working closely with the four public transportation organizations across the RGV and we’re working to plan together to address transportation more efficiently in the future. This is key because as population grows even more in this area, public transportation is a resource we’re going to have to start relying on a little more than we have in the past."
Two projects to be completed by summer will balance TxDot’s obligations to the public and to Texas nature. “The ocelot is a Texas treasure and we want to maintain it but we wanted to find that perfect balance between our goals,” says Octavio Saenz, public information officer for the Texas Department of Transportation. “It’s all about safety. If we can keep the animals off the road, it’s much safer for the drivers.” 8 “ocelot crossings” on FM 106 and four crossings on State 100 aim to get all types of wildlife completely off the road. “It’s important that people are not distracted and they slow down when they see animal activity,” says Saenz. “We’re only asking people to respect the limits and drive to conditions.”
FUN FOR THE WHOLE FAMILY IN THE UPPER VALLEY The bowling alley in Mission formerly known as Valley Bowl has been transformed into the family fun center “IncrediBowl,” complete with new Adventure Tower, a threestory obstacle course with rock-climbing walls, balance beams and a zip line - the only tower of its kind in Texas! Other entertainment options coming to the McAllen/Edinburg area include Dave & Buster’s, in April, an IMAX Theatre, which will be part of the existing Carmike Cinemas, and the H-E-B Park, the 9,700-seat soccer stadium and home of the Rio Grande Valley FC Toros of the United Soccer League. Adults also have a fine option for gaming and dining in McAllen at the newly opened Europa Cuisine & Entertainment. “Europa came about because the owners travel a lot 76
through the European countries and they really like that sporty, clean, laid back casual environment. It’s an entertainment center of a different level,” says Jason Kien, general manager. “People can come in and bowl, play in the arcade, or just come in and dine or have a drink. The bar is huge, with a 3D TV covering the entire length. We want to be one step above in everything we do.”
EUROPA JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2017
A PIT STOP FOR TOURING BANDS Yerberia Cultura in downtown McAllen lends its stage to large indie performers; coowner Patrick Garcia has brought Phantogram, the Zombies, Of Montreal, the 1984, and Sotomayor. Galax Z Fair in early March is on again and Garcia has national and international bands lined up for January and February: a hip-hop group from Uruguay, Eli Almic & Dj RC; Denmark’s Marching Church; the LAbased, post-punk Drab Majesty; Priests from Washington, D.C.; and the Brazilian, postpunk, female-fronted Rakta.
MEN’S GROOMING & STYLE Doc’s Apothecary in McAllen caters to men by offering several services you typically don’t see together. “We’re a hybrid coffee/barber shop and men’s goods store,” says coowner Hugo Alvarez. “You see a lot of one-stop-shops like this for women, but men don’t have many places to hang out where they can get everything they need.” An eclectic selection of goods like gourmet peanut butter, turntables and everything retro ensures your finding the perfect gift or treatyo’-self item.“We’ve invested a lot in our chairs and barbers to give that classic barber-shop feel,” says Alvarez.
FOLDIO 3D PRINTING SOLUTIONS
PROFESSIONAL GRADE 3D MODELING AND PRINTING
DEVELOPMENTS & EVENTS AT SOUTH PADRE ISLAND The South Padre Island Economic Development Corporation is planning to make SPI even more of a travel destination. The Sand Dollars for Success Grant Program is a business plan competition, while the Design Façade Improvement Grant Program matches half of the cost of renovations for businesses who improve their storefronts, beautifying the island shopping strip. Other infrastructure improvements like new sidewalks, a fishing pier over the Gulf of Mexico, and an offshore artificial reef to enhance fishing opportunities will allow visitors to bet-
ter enjoy the outdoors, while new businesses like a Dollar General, Marriott Hotel, and the Skipjack LLC Bayside master plan development contribute to the local economy. SPI will host the 21st Legislative Tour of the Rio Grande Valley on January 26-29. The legislative tour brings a delegation of lawmakers to South Texas to engage our local communities and supporters in a direct conversation with our policymakers. SiteLink Forum SPI on Feb. 22-24 is a conference that connects leaders in the automotive, logistics, aerospace, call center and other industries with economic development ideas.
Professional and production 3D printing has made its way to the RGV throughfoldio 3D Printing Solutions, located inside the new CEED building in Mission. The company offers top-of-the-line professional and production 3D p rinters that produce objects in high detail in a variety of plastics, metals, elastic materials, ceramic, wood and more. Foldio also offers advanced, high-resolution 3D scanners and scanning services as well as 3D design and modeling software. “We’re envisioning to help boost the RGV economy by enabling businesses to increase capability and efficiency,” saysJose Laguna. “We enable manufacturing companies to move through iterations of product development prototypes much faster and at a lower cost. Our technology also enables the creation of end-user ready and even functional parts in a single print.”
CELEBRATING HISTORY AND LOOKING TOWARD THE FUTURE IN THE LOWER VALLEY Walk through Brownsville and find the fourteen historical signs marking the Rio Grande Valley Civil War Trail. These observe the last land battle of the American Civil War, which took place at Palmito Ranch Battlefield. A convention center is in the works for Harlingen. The convention center will hold as many as 1,503 people in its 17,100-square-foot main ballroom. The Brownsville Museum of Fine Art is having an international art show in March. Deadline to enter is the end of February, and $4,500 in prizes is up for grabs. Teach For America Week brings community leaders into classrooms for guest lessons. A breakfast on February 16th at Harlingen Country Club will bring the
community together in support of the mission of TFA in the Rio Grande Valley. Fresh off an international learning visit to Singapore, Harlingen CISD Superintendent Dr. Arturo Cavazos will share reflections and lessons learned from this recent trip. JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2017
Keep Harlingen Beautiful has several initiatives planned for next year, including the groundbreaking in January for a renovation project at the entrance of the city. A 250k grant through the Governor’s Community Achievement Award will be used to transform the area across the street from the visitor information center with a walking path, lighting, and new trees. It’s expected to be done in April. At an e-waste event and clean sweep on Jan. 14 from 8 a.m.-12 p.m., individuals can recycle their electronics, (or anything else they want to get rid of ), free of charge to Fairpark Blvd next to Harlingen Police Department. In April, a Spring Litter Bash is planned to keep hightraffic areas like parks free of garbage. Over 500 volunteers have joined the effort in the past.
La Playa GOES AGAINST THE CURRENT By: Allan Fisher-García Photos by James Hord
La Playa Fajita Grill blends quality cuisine from every region of Mexico with Texan palate
o say McAllen has Mexican restaurants is an understatement. There are over 80 Mexican restaurants in the city listed on Google alone. The exact number of restaurants is sure to be higher. In this sea of tacos and botanas, it is easy to develop a simplistic view of our native cuisine. However,“La Playa Fajita Grill” from Harlingen is moving in a different direction than its competitors since opening a second location in North McAllen last September. “Our menu is inspired by every single region in Mexico. We have the coastal region with our seafood, the northern region with our burritos, even Tex-Mex with our fajitas,” says Treviño, nodding in agreement of the establishment’s gastronomic homage to Mexico. Treviño owns the restaurant along with his mother, Elizabeth, and brother, Isreal. The family founded the business in 2006 with the humble objective of providing great tasting Mexican food. 78
While La Playa has become one of the most successful restaurants in its hometown of Harlingen, the family is not resting on their laurels. Their pragmatic, family-oriented business approach appears to be working. The Treviño family has curated a menu, bar and facility that spares no effort to detail. “My mother did all the design,” says Daniel Treviño, co-owner of La Playa. As you cross the frosted glass entry, it is hard to believe the building was once a national chain restaurant. Inside, the fluid curvature of the rows of booths and muted lighting set the tone for the welcoming atmosphere of the restaurant. Throughout the cavernous dining area, insignia from different regions of Mexico act as an indicator of the diverse menu the guest is about to enjoy. Building off the foundation of a family recipe, the Treviños collaborated with a chef to develop the inimitable flavor in every dish at La Playa.
We collaborated with our chef and overtime created what our flavors are now. - Daniel Treviño
“We collaborated with our chef and overtime created what our flavors are now,” says Treviño. “We use our own combination of spices which is what creates our taste for the meats, the base of the soups - everything.” From the salsa and tortillas de maiz, to the blended queso dip, every ingredient in the kitchen at La Playa is sourced locally to provide the most integrated sabor. “We meet with local vendors to make everything,” says Treviño proudly, a pride that’s evident in the dishes. Out of the kitchen and behind the bar, La Playa continues to push the boundaries of McAllen brasseries with its nouveau interpretation of classic libations, like the habanero margarita. A Jimador mixture of traditional sour and lime, topped with three dashes of Tabasco, gives an antiquated concoction a new breath. “We want a comfortable atmosphere for everyone,” says Treviño. With a still nearly full restaurant at two in the afternoon on a Monday, it appears as though La Playa is fulfilling it mission of “providing high quality Mexican food and award-winning cocktails, at reasonable prices.” If you are from McAllen and would like to elevate your Mexican dining experience, visit La Playa Fajita Grill at 4400 North Tenth Street. For more information about the restaurant, or to have them cater your next corporate or personal event call (956)928-1515.
E xploring th e
G U E S T
R A N C H
A MULTI-PURPOSE RESIDENCE Family-run, extended-stay hotel among the orange groves offers alternative lodging for Texas travelers BY KAREN VILLARREAL
outh Texas is layered with history and growing fast, so it’s no surprise that apart from the new commercial plazas and hotels lie fabulous ranches and small businesses that even locals don’t know about. The Texan Guest Ranch is one such surprise in McAllen. It’s easy to drive by its rustic fence, unaware that it holds a family-run, historical extended-stay hotel that’s been renovated to suit modern needs. Sitting on Ware Road just a few miles south of State Highway 107, the Texan Guest Ranch is a 20-acre retreat from the hustle of city life. Tropical birds are a common sight along the walking trail that edges the entire tranquil property. With an organic or-
chard on one side and a canal along another, there is a natural buffer between urban sprawl and the Texan Guest Ranch. Along the canal’s private greenbelt, the Davis family, who has owned the ranch for 50 of the 98 years that it's been in business, has planted olive, pecan, banana, and citrus trees. This is all part of the family’s effort to keep the ranch’s southern, rustic feeling while offering close proximity to three of the Valley’s fastest growing cities. ORIGINS in OPPORTUNITY
In the early 1920s, Lloyd Bentsen, who would later amass a fortune in real estate, oil, and cattle, purchased a farm house north of McAllen to convert into a guesthouse for his traveling sales-
men and interested investors. At the time, the Rio Grande Valley was purely agricultural, and the year-round sunshine presented an opportunity for growers to maximize their profits. Curtis, or “Citrus” Davis, as he came to be known, was a salesman from Oklahoma pushing orange groves, drawing interest from up north down to the lush Valley. The guesthouse offered extended-stay lodging and meals, and after years of working with Bentsen and staying at the guesthouse, Curtis bought the property from him. “Anything north of Nolana was just country,” said June Davis, the family matriarch. However, McAllen, Edinburg, and Mission quickly grew around the ranch, and it came to fill the niche of offering lodging close to these cities while maintaining the feeling of being far away from it all. “The town came to us,” June said. As the Valley became well known as a destination for entrepreneurs and salespeople, the family expanded their facility to be able to host more guests who needed extended-stay options while they finalized their business dealings. First, Curtis expanded on the guest facilities with full laundromat, kitchen, and an additional 24 apartments. Later, the pool and spa were improved upon and overnight bunkhouse rooms were added. The third generation of Davises, Doug and Karina, have joined the team and continue to improve the guest experience with updated amenities. Online billing, new recreational facilities, and a beautiful pergola with a firepit can now be found at the Ranch. Karina, who has a background in health and wellness, updated the fitness amenities herself. “I designed exercise stations on our shuffleboard court to make the most out of our space so guests can enjoy our multipurpose areas,” Karina said. “And the fire pit is the perfect place to enjoy a quiet evening of fresh air and tranquility with a gathering of friends.”
The Texan Guest Ranch is open year round, catering to traveling business people, students and professors, medical professionals, maquiladora specialists, tourists checking out the Valley, and Winter Texans. Guests can stay as long as they wish, from an overnight stay to a few months — and those looking for longterm residence can live in the apartments. Offering further housing options, a mobilehome and RV area is nestled in the back with a pond, tropical trees, and walking paths. “When most people travel, staying in a hotel can be an impersonal experience. Our guests find a home here whether it's for a short time or long term. Some of our guests have been here for over 15 years.!” The atmosphere and warm hospitality of the Texan Guest Ranch is unlike anything you’ll find in South Texas. Much has changed throughout the years, but guests who have stayed have a hard time finding another place like it. “Our ‘home away from home’ experience is something we always strive to give our guests,” Karina said. “Providing this feeling for all who stay here is something that will never change, and what has made us a true Rio Grande Valley treasure.” TO LEARN MORE ABOUT THE RANCH, VISIT WWW.TEXANGUESTRANCH.COM.
Amenities > New recreational facilities:
Basketball court Shuffle board Gym Exercise stations > Pool > Parking > Laundry facilities > Pergola with a
> Short and long term studios > 1, 2, and 3 bedroom units
> Mobile Homes
> Nature trails > Online billing >Tropical plants > Event space > Pond
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STXideas Change the Mindset
Studentorganized festival aims to celebrate the success and potential of South Texas
By David Alvarado
t started with a seemingly random flier in the mail announcing applications for the Bezos Scholar program, which IDEA Quest teacher Marcos Silva held up to his classroom full of high school juniors and seniors. Michael Mireles, future co-founder of STXideas Festival, was the only one of Silva’s students to show any interest. The application was a process completed together as a student and teacher. It was a role that Silva, a third-year teacher with other experiences in the educational field (such as co-founding Border Kids Code), naturally took on. Mireles went on to represent IDEA Quest at the Aspen
Institute in Colorado last summer before attending the Aspen Ideas Festival, an opportunity awarded to only 12 juniors in high schools across the country. “When it was announced that I was a semi-finalist, I told Mr. Silva that we should be on-board with this,” said Mireles, now a senior looking to graduate this spring. “It was something that I knew both of us would be excited about.” The Bezos Scholars Program, founded by the Bezos Family Foundation in 2005, is year-long leadership development program that begins with a scholarship to attend the week-long Aspen Ideas Festival, where students and educators listen to JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2017
guest speakers to learn about how others are studying or tackling different issues and what ideas inspire them. Vice President Joe Biden, Secretary of State John Kerry, and former Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney were among the notable speakers who appeared at this year’s Aspen Ideas Festival. Silva and Mireles want STXi to push the notion that there are inspiring individuals who are already impacting the community. “We need to put them in front of young adults so they see the good in the community and not necessarily what comes up in the news,” said Mireles,
who hopes to study neurology at Brown University. “We wanted our festival to be about changing the mindset of young people and their perception of what this area actually offers to the people in the community.” STXideas is being organized as a conference celebrating the power and potential of youths in the Rio Grande Valley, and will be held at the Mission Economic Development Corporation’s newly constructed Center of Education and Economic Development. Inspirational speakers from the Rio Grande Valley will be presenting on a variety of personal topics simultaneously under a central theme: Culture, Community, and the Identity of our Rio Grande Valley. The attendee ultimately decides what speaker they wish to listen to. “When searching for speakers, we were looking for people who can embody a common trait, such as the struggle to grow up here,” Silva said. “We want to show stories of progress, how individuals from the community have lifted themselves up and utilized the resources available here.” The event has confirmed a diverse set of speakers including Dalinda Gonzalez-Alcantar, the CEO of Boys and Girls Club of McAllen, Abel Gonzalez, American Ninja Warrior, and U.S. Rep. Vicente Gonzalez (D-TX15). As their teacher, Silva hopes to motivate these 20 individuals to be passionate about the Valley, learn the history of it, and in turn feel excited to share their passion with the attendees of STXi. Silva is currently the only adult managing the team, which is composed of about 20 IDEA Quest students ranging from freshmen to seniors. When Mireles returned from the Aspen Ideas Festival, he knew he had to take charge of what was going to happen next: Formulate a prismatic team of passionate and engaged students who can tackle the burdens of organizing a festival. “It came down to learning how to become a leader and organizing people to achieve a common goal,” Mireles said. “Oftentimes I come
across the challenge of students not knowing what to do or leaving something undone, but if we’re going to create the festival we envision, we have to communicate amongst ourselves.” The STXideas Festival represents a great opportunity for the community to be involved and for youth to drive the focus of where we should be. “Our classroom shouldn't have walls and our community should be invited into them - and vice versa,” Silva said. “Our community should feel that they can make a difference in the education we provide and you can do that by helping a teacher or efforts that are student-led and student-focused.” To learn more about the event, visit www.stxideas.com.
“We want to show stories of progress, how individuals from the community have lifted themselves up and utilized the resources available here.” MARCOS SILVA IDEA QUEST TEACHER
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Gives Back Mcallen International CarFest Raises Funds For Charities While Sharing Love Of Classic Cars By Amy Casebier
un gleaming off a custom paint job, buttery leather refurbishing interior, perfectly restored engine… There’s a lot to appreciate in a well-loved classic car. One might be forgiven for failing to notice the auto’s most significant facet: its ability to give back to charitable organizations in the Rio Grande Valley. The McAllen International CarFest has raised nearly $40,000 to give to charitable organizations to date. Now in its seventh year, goals for this year’s fundraiser tally from $7,000 to $8,000. Al Diaz, a producer for the McAllen International CarFest and operations manager for the McAllen Convention Center, has been there since the beginning to ensure that his passion for the unique autos translates into tangible aid for groups that give back throughout the area. “We met with the car club members,” said Diaz, remembering the first CarFest. “They always compete against each other, and they came to us about doing a charity car event.” Diaz says car aficionados love to show their cars and talk about the stories that went into their restoration. “It’s something that they grew up with,” says Diaz, “with their dads and over generations and generations.” What started out as a modest undertaking with about 200 cars on display in the exhibit hall of the convention center has accelerated into an internationally known event. The atmosphere of CarFest is welcoming to families and anyone interested in learning about cars. There is something for everyone, including chances to test drive high-end cars, witness or take part in drag races and demos, compete in harrowing feats of vehicular balance, talk shop with vendors, and see makes and models of cars that haven’t been shown anywhere else, including celebrity cars. Diaz estimated that about 500 classic cars will be on hand per day throughout the convention center and surrounding grounds for the weekend event. Funds for charity causes are raised by the $30 entry fee for show cars applying for consideration in the festival-wide
competition: Winners get plaques and bragging rights in categories ranging from best within a make of car, such as Ford and Corvette, to people’s choice awards. A seven-member committee chooses the charity organizations each year and helps determine how the money raised from the event is divided among the different causes. Groups and charitable efforts that have benefited from funds raised in years past include Palm Valley Animal Center, The Make-A-Wish Foundation, and the Antique Automobile Club of America, among others. City of McAllen volunteers have contributed in a big way to the success of the event, helping with everything from setting up and ticketing to ushering and directing competitors to their designated spots. Though volunteers must go through an application process and background check with the city, those already registered to volunteer at other events, like December’s McAllen Holiday Parade, qualify to help out at the CarFest. David Guzman, CEO of The Mopar Shop in Mission, has volunteered at this event since its first year. “We’ve been so blessed,” said Guzman, explaining that while automobile aficionados get to enjoy putting their “toys” on display, their contribution to organizations like the Make-A-Wish Foundation ensure that less fortunate children get to enjoy toys and experiences of their own. “When you participate in CarFest, you give back,” Guzman said. “You’re setting a good example and being a part of something bigger than yourself.” This year’s McAllen International CarFest will take place Jan. 27-29. Tickets are $15 for adults, $12 for seniors, $12 for students ages 13 to 18, and free for children ages 1 through 12. Three-day passes cost $30, and tickets may be purchased online through www.ticketmaster.com. For more information on the McAllen International CarFest, go to mcallencarfest.com.
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you’re invited 3 Ways to Own Valentine’s Day If You’re Single By Robert Lopez, ninetofiveguy
here’s nothing worse than bitter singles on Valentine’s Day. If you belong to the Lonely Hearts Club, celebrate your single status and find comfort knowing 44 percent of the American population is a member, too. To help you avoid the minefield of high expectations and low results on Valentine’s Day, here are three ways to celebrate being single.
"According to the U.S. Census Bureau, for every 100 single women, there are 88 unmarried men available." Go to a single’s event There’s no shortage of celebrations to keep your mind off lovey-dovey status updates and public displays of affection at your favorite weekend watering holes. There is always a handful of bars in McAllen’s entertainment district serving Anti-Valentine’s Day specials, so pick your party and dance the night away, even if you’re dancing alone. Ironically, these Anti-Valentine’s Day parties are ideal for meeting like-minded singletons. If the downtown club vibe is not your thing, join the culture of barflies at your local dive bar. Dive bars are well known for being places where single strangers congregate. Who knows? You might not be alone on Feb. 14 after all. "14 percent of women send themselves flowers on Valentine’s Day." Throw your own singles party With a little creativity and some thoughtful planning, you can host your own singles party. There are three elements to hosting a successful single soiree: a good mix of partygoers, interactive games, and themed drinks. Invite your non-bitter single friends, and ask them to bring a guest who you may not know. The goal here is not to play Cupid but to get a good mix of friends and newcomers who are open to mingling and meeting new people. Ensure your guests will have a fun, memorable night by planning some interactive games to get them socializing. A white elephant gift exchange is a great icebreaker that’s sure to get the laughs going. Other popular games for singles include charades, truth or dare, and spin the bottle, if you feel like taking it back to your teenage years. Every great party centers on drinks, and there’s no shortage of love-inspired libations. Keep it simple with a Valentine’s Day champagne punch or serve a high-octane negroni, which is a bittersweet aperitif sure to loosen up your single partygoers. Treat yo’ self Valentine’s Day is a day to celebrate love, and the first person you need to love is yourself. This Feb. 14, take the day off from work and do whatever your lonely heart desires. After all, there’s no one to tell
you what you can or can’t do on this fabricated corporate holiday. Instead of that fancy dinner, which you probably didn’t want to pay for, anyway, treat yourself to your favorite cheat-day meal with a side of guilty pleasure. Go on a shopping spree, put in that extra long cardio sesh, or Netflix and chill alone with a classic anti-romance movie like “Basic Instinct” or “Fatal Attraction.” Whatever you do, make it about you.
THANK YOU MYSELF
"The average consumer spends $116.21 on Valentine’s Day." This Valentine’s Day, be proud of your singleness, and find comfort in knowing you don’t have to do your best John Cusack impression and hold a boombox over your head to express your love for someone. Embrace the fact that you won’t have to plan the perfect date or deal with uncomfortable gift exchanges. This is not a reminder that you’re probably going to die alone, so enjoy the day regardless of your relationship status. Meet the Nine To Five Guy: What should I eat for lunch? Where’s best place to go for live music? Who makes the best cocktails in town? If you find yourself asking these types of questions, Nine To Five Guy is the blog for you. Check out NineToFiveGuy.com and be social on Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, and Twitter @ninetofiveguy. Questions? Reach Robert Lopez at info@ ninetofiveguy.com THIS ARTICLE IS PROVIDED BY
Robert Lopez firstname.lastname@example.org NineToFiveGuy.com
A LETTER TO DAD AVANCE FATHERS IN ACTION
By Abbey Kunkle Photos by Jose Antonio Peña
DEAR Dad, Being a parent is one of life’s most precious gifts and greatest challenges. Through your children, both your strengths and faults are projected back at you, forcing daily self-reflection and giving you the opportunity each day to fulfill your greatest role. We often get distracted by work, finances, relationships, and daily struggles, but remember, we don’t have to do this on our own.
From the sweet and funny, to the sometimes surprising words coming out of our kid’s mouths, we realize how important we are to who they will one day become. Time with them is short. They seem to get bigger after every nap, and though we can’t stop their growing, we can do our best to take advantage of each precious moment we have with them. No matter our level of income or education, we all want the same thing — to give our kids more opportunities and a better life than we have. We all do the best we can to be positive examples in their lives, but, as the saying goes, it takes a village. Today in our communities, we have so many opportunities to come together to share our knowledge and learn from others. To start off the new year, parents can take advantage of a resource provided by AVANCE, a national nonprofit with a community-based approach, which is bringing its new Fathers in Action, or Padres Actívos program to the RGV for its second session since kicking off the program last fall. Fathers in Action serves dads with young children from birth to age 5 as a free resource to enhance their understanding of their child’s needs and how to meet them, while also providing job skills and support for a brighter future. AVANCE has been in the Valley for 27 years and has grown nationwide, delivering innovative family education and support services in both English and Spanish. With programs like Early Head Start along with the new Fathers in Action, the nonprofit strives to encourage early childhood development with family engagement, and ultimately aims to break through the bonds of poverty. Research tells us that children are significantly more successful when fathers are a part of their lives. Through their programs in the community, AVANCE aims to directly impact children while also enabling parents to achieve their own educational and professional goals. According to parent educator Francesca Brown, AVANCE is
currently registering participants for the session starting mid-January. “We want to encourage any father who wants to improve the bond with their child,” she said. “They don’t just get the courses and certificate; they receive all this individualized support from resources throughout the community. We don’t do this on our own.” The new program is funded through a grant awarded to AVANCE by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Administration for Children and Families. The nonprofit organization will receive $1.3 million per year for five years to facilitate the program starting right here in the RGV as well as in Houston. The goal is to start by reaching 100 fathers and to continue to grow, promoting responsible fatherhood and economic stability. Registration for the free program is open now for any fathers of young children or soon-to-be fathers.
Participants can expect eight weekly sessions with child care and a meal included. For convenience, sessions will likely be scheduled in the evenings, but consideration will be given based on the availability of participants to accommodate working fathers and busy schedules. Highlights of the sessions include topics covering child development, employment and financial literacy, child support services, communication, discipline, and activities to do with children. Transportation is also available as needed. Dad, you are fundamental to your child’s success. They want to be just like you. If you feel like any one of these topics could benef it your family, call AVANCE at (956) 354-2130 or visit www.avance. org/RGV for more information.
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