September/October 2022 - RGVision Magazine

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SE P T E M B E R/O C TO B E R 2 0 2 2 | VO LUM E 14 ISSUE 5

The Valley’s Economic

Evolution Leaders from across the Valley discuss region’s growth. p.18

SIMPLIFYING THE JOB SEARCH

WELCOMING HOSPITALITY

Express Employment Through solution-oriented, Professionals forges personable nature Andrea community ties to connect Rodriguez flourishes in job seekers and employers. p.30 hospitality. p.38

BORDERLANDS A new exhibit comes to the Museum of South Texas History. p. 72


ENROLL TODAY!

PK children participating gain up to one year of additional learning. Established curriculum follows the state’s Pre-K Guidelines, state resources, and CIRCLE Progress Monitoring Assessment, which ensures a solid foundation for literacy. Scheduled activities focus on developing readiness skills for reading and math. Pre-K 3-year-old programs are offered full day at 34 elementary school sites and 8 elementary sites are in collaboration with NIÑOS Headstart.

BISD supports Early Childhood Education for school readiness with our Pre-K Programs! Our mission is to ensure that our BISD students get a firm foundation with skills to be curious, confident and successful learners! Early literacy opens the door to higher learning.

Pre-K 4-year-old Programs are offered full day at all 34 elementary school sites for all students. Campuses provide extended day activities for our young learners based on need. Children will participate in our food services program to address their nutritional needs. Parents are engaged in parental involvement activities at each school. All BISD teachers are Early Childhood Certified. All safety guidelines are followed.

To enroll your Pre-K child and for more information, contact the individual BISD campuses or check the BISD website at www.bisd.us.

1900 E. Price Road, Brownsville, Tx. 78521 (956) 548-8000 | www.bisd.us


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RIO GRANDE VALLEY CHAPTER

WE BUILD THE VALLEY Experience the priceless advantage of RGV AGC membership. THANK YOU TO OUR 2020 RGVAGC BOARD OF DIRECTORS

Noel Munoz President

Michael Montalvo Treasurer

Tre’ Peacock GC Director/ State Director

Jason Eberle Associate Director

NM Contracting LLC

Holchemont Ltd.

Peacock General Contractors Inc.

Eberle Materials Inc.

Jorge Gonzalez Past President Tri-Gen Construction LLC

Alfredo Garcia Vice President Noble Texas Builders LLC

Kevin Bennett GC Director Vaughn Construction

Thomas Bennett Associate Director Aguaworks Pipe and Supply

Gilbert Enriquez Alternate State Director E-Con Group LLC

Joey Trevino Executive Director RGVAGC

Rio Grande Valley Chapter of AssociatedGeneral Contractors of America 6918 West Expressway 83 Harlingen, Texas 78552 | Phone: 956-423-4091 | Fax: 956-423-0174 RGVAGC


More than an ER

Specialty care services, close to home The first of its kind in South Texas, Valley Baptist MicroHospital – Weslaco provides both emergency and general acute care. We are offering Valley Baptist Health System’s award-winning care in a more intimate setting. Our specially trained physicians, nurses and staff offer the personal attention that patients expect and deserve. ■ Full-service emergency department ■ Inpatient unit for a multitude of medical issues ■ Laboratory services ■ Radiology services (CT, X-Ray and Ultrasound) ■ Pharmacy

When time is of the essence and high-quality, compassionate care is what you seek, look no further than Valley Baptist Micro-Hospital.

To learn more, scan QR Code or call 956-969-7300 1021 W. Interstate 2, Weslaco, TX 78596


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STAFF D O M I N I Q U E Y. Z M U DA

GA B E P U EN T E

GRAPHIC DESIGNER/ILLUSTRATOR/ CONTENT MANAGER

PUBLISHER/CEO

DA N T E T U EX I

PUBLISHER'S NOTE

If you are interested in receiving issues delivered to your home, please go to RGVisionMagazine.com/Subscribe or send us an email at info@rgvisionmagazine. com to subscribe to RGVision for $6.50/month. 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 450 locations with a direct mail distribution to major hospitals and Superintendents within Region 1. The RGVision office is located at 801 N. Bryan Road, Mission, TX 78572.

DIGITAL MARKETING EXECUTIVE/WRITER

WA LD O PA LO M A R ES VIDEO CONTENT DIRECTOR

G A B Y D O M I N G U EZ D I G I TA L A D S A N A LY S T

D I V I N E AG B EKO

PSJA ISD Brownsville ISD Sergio Contreras COSTEP Dr. Alfonso Mercado Quinta Mazatlán

Brenda Bazán James Hord Bárbara Delgado Abe Hernandez Emiliano Peña OG Marketing Jaime Villarreal

WRITERS

GRAPHIC DESIGNER

CONTENT CONTRIBUTORS

Philippians 2:3–4 "Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others."

ELI S A G A R C I A

PHOTOGRAPHERS

In this issue, we get a glimpse of the future horizon of our local economy as we sit with local leaders reflecting on where we have been these past decades as a region. You will also find an article feature with Express Employment in this issue. We talk to the franchise owners about the human capital issue all employers face during the current job market and the leadership qualities in place for organizations that have managed through this time. There is a tale of Earnest Shackleton, a famous Antarctic explorer, posting a wanted ad for men to join his Antarctic expedition in the early 1900s. The ad read, "Men wanted for hazardous journey, small wages, bitter cold, long months of complete darkness, constant danger, safe return doubtful, honor and recognition in case of success." This ad is so unique because it is brutally honest but accurate. Shackleton's shipmates were a large part of his successful expeditions. Having the right people on the boat can help guide your ship to its desired destination or disaster. RGVision is proud to shed light on just a few of these local leaders we can read about each issue. We hope you are encouraged, educated, and inspired. Thank you for picking up this issue!

DIGITAL MANAGER

Rocio Villalobos Nathaniel Mata Bryan Kirk Selene Guerrero Elsa Cavazos Jose De Leon III

For editorial comments and suggestions, please send emails to info@rgvisionmagazine.com. For advertising information, please call us at 956.431.0103 or email us at info@rgvisionmagazine.com. A special thank you to all the advertisers who support this publication: You are the power behind the flywheel igniting positive change that keeps the conversation going. P RI N T ED I N MEXI CO

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TABLE OF

CONTENTS 2022

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VOLUME 14 ISSUE 5 RGVISION MAGAZINE

18 ON THE COVER

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THE VALLEY'S ECONOMIC EVOLUTION

Leaders from across the Valley discuss region's growth.

EDUCATION Leading the Way pg 10 School Progress pg 12 Flight Academy pg 14

BUSINESS Growing Opportunities pg 24 Steady as She Goes pg 26 Laying the Groundwork pg 28 The Bomb Dot Com pg 34 McCoy's Building Supply pg 42

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S IM PLIFY ING T HE J OB S EA RC H

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WELC OM ING HOS PITA LIT Y

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B ORDERLA NDS

Express Employment Professionals forges community ties to connect job seekers and employers.

Through solution-oriented, personable nature Andrea Rodriguez flourishes in hospitality.

A new exhibit comes to the Museum of South Texas History.

HEALTH Towering Forward pg 44 Mental Health pg 48 Specializing in Care pg 50

QUALITY OF LIFE The Mesquite Tree pg 54 Keeping Hokey Rolling pg 58 Halloween Attractions pg 62 National Butterfly Center pg 68

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RGVISION ADVISORY BOARD

Each and every member of our advisory board charges RGVision with growth and commitment within our business development, social engagement, and editorial efforts. Through their feedback and contributions, RGVision will continue to help tell and share the Rio Grande Valley’s stories and extend the invitation to join the conversation.

RO B E R T D UN K I N

J AV I ER D E LEO N

M ARITZA L . R A MIREZ

R E N E A. F LO R E S

J UA N A . G A R C I A

B Y R O N J AY LEW I S

E D D I E LUCI O I I I

D R . R EN E I . LU N A

B I LL M A R T I N

M A RK P E T E R S O N

A N D R EA R O D R I G U EZ

SAR AH SAGREDO HAMMOND

TO M TO R K E L S O N

V ER O N I C A V ELA W H I TAC R E

S A B R I N A WA LK ER H ER N A N D EZ

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LEADING THE WAY PSJA ISD Works to Fill Workforce Gaps for In-Demand Jobs

PSJA Chief Academic Officer Dr. Rudy Treviño. “On the business side, there is a great demand and focus on energy and conservation, and we want to get ahead of that.” The goal for the campuses is to fill workforce gaps for in-demand jobs in industries like healthcare, business entrepreneurship, energy, and engineering in the Rio Grande Valley. Dr. Treviño explained that they worked with the Texas Education Agency (TEA) and their Systems of Great Schools Network for guidance and mentorship through the planning, which was done a year in advance for both campuses. The district also received grants that will be disbursed in increments as the schools grow. “We’re making history in PSJA being the first 6th-12th grade Early College campus,” said

Every new school year is an exciting time. This school year was no different, the same nervous butterflies fluttered in anticipation of the first day, except this new school year came with some notable additions at Pharr-San Juan-Alamo ISD (PSJA ISD). The district welcomed for the first time hundreds of students to two new redesigned high schools. PSJA Collegiate School of Health Professions, serves 6th-12th grade and is the district’s first 6th12th Early College campus. The school has opened with a limited 6th & 9th grade cohort, with plans to add the remaining grades in the coming years. PSJA also transitioned PSJA Elvis J. Ballew to a School of Business and Energy. “We based everything on research and data, and we did a job market analysis and recognized areas that are both in high demand and great need,” said

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“As one of the largest school districts in the Rio Grande Valley, we take our responsibility of educating and preparing students while helping meet the educational needs of our region, state, and nation seriously."

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“We have more personalized learning for students and address any gaps immediately, ” said Ruben Garcia, PSJA Elvis J. Ballew School of Business and Energy principal. "For our parents, we provide customer service in order to ensure that we are there for the families." Garcia also mentioned the three principles that the school has: Humility, leaving the ego at the door. Attitude, maintaining a positive culture at all times. Persistence, for everyone to develop grit; failure is not an obstacle. Failure is an opportunity to be innovative and to learn. Garcia and the rest of the team plan to meet with local economic development organizations in the coming months to get a closer look at those indemand industries and what PSJA ISD can do to fill those gaps. “As one of the largest school districts in the Rio Grande Valley, we take our responsibility of educating and preparing students while helping meet the educational needs of our region, state, and nation seriously,” said PSJA Superintendent Dr. Jorge L. Arredondo in a recent announcement. PSJA ISD recently earned an A-rating by the TEA for the 2021-2022 school year.

Mariza Saenz, PSJA Collegiate School of Health Professions principal. “Being a healthcare campus gives us the opportunity to create more healthcare programs and offer far more opportunities for our students in the health science fields.” Joining Saenz was a 6th-grade student, Hugo Villanueva, who hopes to receive the proper building blocks he needs in order to pursue a career in medicine. “I want to become a doctor, because ever since my mom got cancer, I’ve been worried. I want to cure cancer so no one who has a family member with it has to go through that pain,” he said. Hugo joins his sixth-grade cohort of less than 100 students who are motivated to learn and grow in the healthcare profession. The schools have a 12:1 ratio and follow a small school concept, and all students must apply for the programs. The application process is rigorous. Each student must fill out an application, be interviewed by the school principal, and provide letters of recommendation. The programs also involve parents and guardians in the process. Administration staff and teachers make themselves accessible to families in order to work together to achieve the overall academic, emotional, and social successes of the student.

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SCHOOL

PROGRESS Brownsville Receives a TEA A-Rating, Overcomes Challenges from Pandemic

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by Selene Gu er r er o | p h o to s b y Ja mes Ho r d For the first time since 2019, the Texas Education Agency (TEA) has released school ratings for Texas school districts. The agency evaluates a school’s performance based on a three-part domain rating involving student achievement, school progress, and closing the gaps. Brownsville Independent School District received an A, with an overall score of 92 and a designated distinction for postsecondary readiness. This is an increase from 2019’s rating of 91. “With COVID - 19 hitting hard, it widened that learning gap throughout the state and, for many students, it affected their learning and the social and emotional component as well,” said Beatriz Hernandez, BISD director of Assessment, Research, & Evaluation. As students began to trickle back in for in-school learning in the 2021 to 2022 school year, the Brownsville ISD administration worked together with teachers and parents to measure and evaluate progress in order to rise above. The TEA calculates an overall rating using three domains. Seventy percent of the overall rating comes from the best performance in either student achievement or school progress, and the remaining 30% comes from closing the gaps. Hernandez said the district recognized that in order to get the academics right, they also needed to get the social and emotional aspect right by providing resources and support to students who had trouble coming back to inperson learning. The wide learning gap exhibited in 2021 test scores presented a further challenge. Many experienced the loss of a loved one to the virus, and many students needed to feel secure once again in their classrooms. Students had to re-learn simple tasks, such as asking for permission to use the restroom, interacting with friends, and learning how to be social in a setting that looked much different than when they left it in 2020. “We had two major challenges before us, so we

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embraced them,” Hernandez said. “We wanted them to do well in academics, but we understood that in order for them to do well, the social-emotional component had to be there too.” Amazed at the progress, collaboration, and communication — from parents and teachers, to the campus and administrative levels — Hernandez said they came up with a plan to continue improving. “We love every minute of it,” she said. “Yes, there will be challenges here and there, but let's find a solution. How can we make it better? How can we help?” After all the challenges Brownsville ISD faced, the district’s strategic planning paid off. It was the hard work and dedication from teachers, students, their families, staff, and administration who made the A rating possible at the end of the day. “We’re thrilled and excited,” Hernandez said. “This shows the determination and commitment of the Brownsville ISD staff toward our students. It’s all about adapting and being resilient, despite everything.” There are 54 campuses with more than 38,000 students in Brownsville ISD, and none of those campuses received less than a B rating. To find a complete list of all the TEA ratings, visit their website txschools.gov.

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FLIGHT ACADEMY McCreery Aviation Tradition of Excellence Helps Future Pilots Earn Their Wings

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Curriculum to teach fledgling pilots to fly the Cessna 172. This can take several months to a year, depending on how much time the student takes to log the requisite minimum of 40 flight hours for obtaining a private pilot’s certification. Like any business, there have been changes at McCreery Aviation. Since 2018, the business has added another Cessna 172 to its fleet of training aircraft and upgraded a few of the five existing Cessna’s avionics and GPS equipment. And when the COVID-19 outbreak happened in early 2020, McCreery said they were not sure what was going to happen next. “We kind of followed the rest of the world, and we kind of shut things down on the flight training side,” he said. “We probably did that for maybe two, three, or four weeks — until we could figure out what was going on.” McCreery said his instructors began calling him frequently, each of them saying, “We want to fly.” “They wanted to get back to work, and the students wanted to get back to their plane and get flying,” he said. The McCreery Aviation team quickly created a COVID-19 plan that allowed for masking up during flight training and disinfecting the aircraft after each session in order to reopen.

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The drone of Cessna engines and the majestic sight of student pilots taking flight in those same small aircraft is a testament to the success of McCreery Aviation. For nearly 75 years, the McCreery Aviation brand has been associated with making dreams come true for anyone who has ever wanted to spread their wings and fly. “We’ve had youngsters come out to do some playing, and if they are less than 16 years old, then they are probably just doing it for the fun or the experience of it,” said Bob McCreery, owner, general manager, and president of McCreery Aviation. “You can’t solo or get too deep into your training until you’re 16, and you can’t get your pilot’s license until you’re 17.” In 1946, J.F. “Mac” McCreery — Bob’s father — opened a flight school at Central Valley Airport in Mercedes. Two years later, Mac, who had been an instructor stationed at Harlingen Army Airfield during World War II, moved with his wife to McAllen, where they established roots for themselves and McCreery Aviation. Like his father, Bob says flying is in his blood, and a part of who he is today. “I grew up around aircraft,” he said. “I got my license at 16 and soloed when I was 17. I don’t fly as much as I used to, though, because I am busy running things down here.” McCreery Aviation uses the Cessna Flight Training

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provided by McCreery Aviation are almost as diverse as their student pilots. This is what makes them stand out from other flight training organizations in the U.S. “What makes us different from other FBO’s (fixed base operators) in the Valley or around the country is that we do provide all the services,” he said. “Some sell fuel and some provide maintenance. We provide all the services of an aviation company. “We have a maintenance and avionics shop, we have the flight school and charter service, we have an aircraft sales department…we do support for the airlines, as well. If you look at the FBO’s in the Valley, none of them provide all the same services we do.” To learn more about opportunities for flight training at McCreery Aviation, visit McCreeryAviation.com.

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The flight school was extremely busy, and McCreery said there were no reported cases of the coronavirus among instructors or students. “People didn’t want to sit around and hide out,” he said. “They wanted to get back out there, and we were happy to do it.” Many of McCreery’s student pilots come up for the summer from Monterrey, Mexico, but the majority of their students are from the U.S. “We’ve always had a good mix of customers here from the U.S. and Mexico,” he said. “It’s always been that way because of our proximity to the U.S.-Mexico border.” According to McCreery, the ages of their students are also diverse — ranging between 17 to nearly 70. After more than 70 years in business, the services

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For nearly 75 years, the McCreery Aviation brand has been associated with making dreams come true for anyone who has ever wanted to spread their wings and fly.


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B U S I N E S S

The Valley’s Economic

Evolution Leaders from Across the Valley Discuss Region’s Growth b y Sel ene G uer r er o | cov e r a n d p h ot os b y B r e n d a B a z á n p h o to s p r o vi d e d | p h ot o b y O G M a r ke t i n g

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For a long time, the Rio Grande Valley’s economy was tied to the agricultural industry. And while still relevant, there has been a steady shift as the Valley has become more urbanized. To better understand the progression and see the big picture of where this region is heading, one must step back in time and take a look at the contributing factors that have played a role in making the RGV an economic powerhouse. In a recent roundtable discussion hosted by COSTEP’s Matt Ruszczak, a group of local leaders from across the Valley with a pulse on this region’s growth took a deeper dive into the Valley’s evolution.

the needs of the evolving workforce. UTB and UTPA recently merged to create University of Texas Rio Grande Valley, which has made education even more accessible. “Access to education, and the ever-increasing partnership opportunities between the public sector, private sector, and education facilities have given residents opportunities to better themselves while allowing the region to attract higher-waged jobs,” said RGV Partnership President/CEO Daniel Silva. In that same time period, the North American FreeTrade Agreement (NAFTA) impacted how business was being done in the Valley. “It opened the door for trade with Mexico, and a lot of U.S.-based companies started moving to Mexico,” said Raudel Garza, Harlingen Economic Development Corporation CEO. “A lot of our local communities took advantage of that, and the industrial sector blossomed. Logistics blossomed, as well. Now we weren’t just shipping fruits and vegetables, we were shipping finished goods back and forth.” It was this boom in trade that began to catch the eye of major businesses from beyond the Valley’s four-county borders. Due to its location, international companies recognized the opportunity. This spurred the growth of our tourism and real estate markets as more people began traveling and relocating to the area.

WHERE IT STARTED “The single one thing that began the transformation of this region was the access to education,” said Rose Benavidez, president of Starr County Industrial Foundation. “The work we (South Texas College) do is directly related to impacting the economic success of this region. We were one of the only regions that didn’t have access to higher education. It changed the dynamic.” Benavidez, who also serves as the board chair for the South Texas College Board of Trustees, added that when STC was developed in 1993, it pushed the region to begin considering the needs of the growing economy. It was educational systems like STC and Texas State Technical College (TSTC), University of Texas Brownsville (UTB), University of Texas Pan American (UTPA), and Texas Southmost College that provided paths for residents to advance their careers and support the local workforce. Today, these entities collaborate with economic development organizations, regional and state leaders to assess

P h o t o f r o m le f t to r i ght, Ma nny Ve la , Ma tt Ru zszcak , Rose Ben avides, Rau del Garza, an d Josh M eijia.

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D a ni el Si l va , Pr esiden t/CE O, RGV Partn ersh ip. Ph oto by OG M arketin g.

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“The region is starting to work together in the planning of education, infrastructure, and logistics which has made a dramatic difference."

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CONNECTIVITY, GEOGRAPHY, AND A CHANGING INDUSTRY LANDSCAPE Its geography has always been one of the RGV’s strongest assets. The United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement, a renegotiation of NAFTA, has been instrumental in bringing companies off-shore and


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communication, regionalism, and blending of workforces. “If there is a huge project coming into Starr County, who is going to fill those jobs? It’s a regional thing.” Connecting via roadways, bridges, and digitally will enhance the performance of the local workforce and supplement new industries. These connections are what continue to build up the RGV’s economy and attract industries, such as wind and aerospace. The Valley is shifting from wide-open spaces for agriculture, to utilizing this real estate for broader industries that are propelling it into space. The needs of the workforce are changing, and the aerospace industry is a major catalyst in this change. The SpaceX Launch Facility first began construction in the late 2010s, with a groundbreaking in 2014, adding to the already existing aerospace industry. United Launch Alliance has been in Harlingen for more than 30 years. The required skill sets to meet the needs of the aerospace industry look familiar, but the welding, manufacturing, and metal fabrication skills have adjusted to meet the needs of the aerospace industry. This industry has also changed which jobs and skills are indemand. The demand for mechatronics and robotics has increased, and local colleges are

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bolstering the nearshoring initiative. The region, with its generous open land and strong winds that come off of the Gulf Coast, has also seen a rise in renewable energy and solar power. “The reason they (green and solar energy) are here is because of geography,” Ruszczak said. “It was an economic play, but it is providing a basis for new investment looking for that power source.” Connectivity is another major advantage of the region. Major highways that lead in and out of Mexico, the current construction of I-69 that will greatly transform logistics, miles and miles of rail, many ports of entry — including two water ports — and air. “The connectivity after all these great events happened in the Rio Grande Valley, started accelerating or providing much more opportunity,” said Josh Mejia, McAllen Chamber of Commerce CEO and former director of the Brownsville Community Improvement Corporation. “The interchange of human capital, trade economy going from both countries, and seeing the geographic advantages, are among the main reasons SpaceX is here, and their impact is being seen region-wide.” Mejia went on to explain the importance of not just the physical connectivity, but the digital connection and the impacts all these factors will have on the future of

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expanding instruction to meet these needs. “The region is starting to work together in the planning of education, infrastructure, and logistics, which has made a dramatic difference,” Silva said. WHAT’S NEXT? An improved educational system created more opportunity for growth and strengthened the workforce. It produced skilled human capital in order to attract big companies that bring high-paying jobs. As the industry focus shifts and more high-paying jobs become available, that transformation will place the Valley in a better economical position than when this all began 30 to 40 years ago. “It is a creation of synergies; you can talk about the direct impact from Space X and their 1,500-2000 employees and high-paying jobs,” added Manny Vela, CEO, Valley Baptist Health System, Valley Baptist Medical. “Peripherally, understand that effect that they have on our economy. They go out to eat; they go out and are buying homes. They’re seeking healthcare services — it’s a ripple effect.” The Valley has a population of 1.2 million, add in the binational population from across the border, and that puts this region at approximately 2.6 million. The population is expected to double by 2045, an increase driven by significant economic and employee growth. It’s easy to say that the Valley can

no longer be considered just another sleepy farming area. Economically, it rivals top metro areas like San Antonio and Austin. “I would not call it the growth period of the Valley, I would call it a growth period of the Rio Grande Valley,” Mejia commented on the growing opportunities and resources found here. As the discussion wrapped up, Ruszczak asked the group what they thought would define and influence the region’s future. “The region’s future is largely impacted by how the region works together to tackle large economic development initiatives, funding, and planning opportunities,” Silva said. “We have the chance to get it right the first time around and, as we work together, the entire region will benefit from our foresight.” Benavidez reiterated the importance of education, diversification, and how that will impact the labor force. Garza continued with the connectivity theme and growing airline services in order to expand international travel to accommodate global business executives. But another key influence the group recognized was the importance of regionalism — working together and collaborating as a whole. “To a large degree, we have been looked at as the back door to the U.S.,” Vela said. “People should start looking at us as the front door. People should take great pride in where we are and where we’re going.”

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GROWING OPPORTUNITIES

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Preparing Rio South Texas for the Battery Boom

After attending the Battery Show Europe 2022, the Council of South Texas Economic Progress (COSTEP) team made some important observations. “Battery-based electrification is a megatrend that trickles across many industries and develops opportunities for new careers and skillsets,” said Matt Ruszczak, vice president of economic development. As more and more powerful batteries run everything from handheld devices, over electric vehicles, up to and including heavy duty equipment, that changes how everyday life will look like in the not to distant future. Which leads the COSTEP team to think bigger and beyond just the manufacturing of the battery. “When folks think of manufacturing, they think we need to have engineers or technicians on the production and assembly lines,” Ruszczak said. “But if the world makes this massive paradigm shift in electrification, how will we handle the re-use of a battery, the recycling of the battery, the repair of a battery, etc.?” The battery industry’s skills needs include electrical chemists, robotics experts, mechanical and electrical engineers, software developers, and many more. “We don’t have a battery industry facility in Rio South Texas, yet, but we need to prepare for it,” said Adam Gonzalez, senior vice president of program and sponsor development. “We will need to have the workforce available, so let’s invest in that now so that we are ready when the battery industry comes to Rio SouthTexas.”

Modern batteries are made up of advanced materials and are highly sophisticated devices, which require specific handling and treatment. That means careful thought needs to be taken into how they are transported. To safely transport batteries, there is a need for specialized containers, handlers with know-how, specific safety inspections, and specialized storage. The Rio South Texas region is a major player in North American logistics, offering road, rail, air, and waterborne transportation. Maintaining the region’s position at the Heart of the North American Supply Chain for the emerging battery industry means focusing the region’s infrastructure and workforce development on the needs of battery production and transportation. If successful, the battery industry could bring many new job opportunities and economic growth to Rio South Texas. COSTEP is focused on advancing prosperity in Rio South Texas through a strategic framework for regional economic development. For more information, visit our website www.costep.org today or follow us on social media @COSTEP.

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B U S I N E S S ARTICLE PROVIDED BY

Gabe Puente RGVision Publisher/CEO

“Steady as she goes.” RGVISION MAGAZINE

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How to Start Up a Business Looking Forward in 2022

In my 14 years as CEO and Founder of RGVision, “Steady as she goes.” is a phrase I have become accustomed to in leading a successful business during some rough patches in recent years. That nautical phrase I read in sea odysseys as captains would navigate ships through treacherous storms at sea to calm the crew. In business, leaders must do what they can to keep the ship on course during rough courses. And be

careful of outliers, which I would analogize here as the sirens of the sea. If you are an entrepreneur or founder, you may have been tempted by these “sirens” in the business world calling for rapid growth and scaling to meet that “B$” number. This article may be useless if you have already set your navigation to meet that “number” to the investors you have pitched to back your idea. And I wish you luck on your journey!

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their primary location burned down in the middle of the Covid pandemic. As one of the leading distributors for local builders with 50-plus employees, this impacted the local economy. One year later, they have risen from the ashes and are looking to be stronger than before, with the full support of the community, employees, and customers. Matt’s leadership, who’s gone through a bad storm, is now rallying the crew, building back what has been wrecked to stay on course in their journey. There is no substitute for hard work and pulling yourself up from the bootstraps during times like this. It takes time to build something that will last, and that understanding must come from leadership that is committed to the task. This unwavering commitment is seen in most small to medium size companies because the CEOs are, in most companies, the founders. That is what I love about entrepreneurship. Before you think about starting any business, I highly recommend a deep understanding of the journey towards the destination you are trying to reach. And the goal must mean something far more significant than a number for an exit strategy to reach the level of success you want. Sustainability in growing a business has many success factors, which may mean many different things to many people. And there are tradeoffs to consider as well. Once you identify that, stay focused on that destination without being swayed by the outliers in business. Those outliers are the sirens of the sea and could, at times, throw you off course, enticed by their success. Your startup is unique and special, so be sure to take it steady and stay on course. The journey could be more rewarding than the destination with your crew!

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Ah, “The Journey.” Before going further, let’s identify that. In business, I believe the journey should be just as important, if not more important, than the destination. Over the past two decades, the tech industry has transformed the mindset on how we think about business valuation and entrepreneurship. Scaling up with hightech and low-asset-heavy business models has shown to be highly enticing for most venture capitalists in the past. An exciting time for entrepreneurs looking to ride that wave of growing a business and selling it off for that x-factor, providing high alpha for the investors willing to take on the risk with those entrepreneurs. This rapid growth is good for multiple reasons, BUT there are far fewer unicorns than good sustainable business models reaching steady profit margins that no one hears about in the news today. I have come across many good companies with great leaders impacting our local economy whose stories still haven’t been told. Those untold business stories provide: • High-demand job security. • Quality of life. • Positive culture. • A Legacy. • A concentration on Environmental, Social, and Governance while paying out great returns. • Continued annual recurring revenue and historical positive profit margins. When I started RGVision publications, my goal was to shine a light on those untold success stories and compliment a region lacking representation. RGVision magazine’s recent cover story features Matts Cash and Carry, a local building supplier. Last year, they went through a catastrophic event as

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LAYING THE GROUNDWORK FOR A CONNECTED TEXAS The Pandemic Exposed How Vital Broadband Access is to Texans Co -Auth o r, G r eg Co nte, D i r e ct or, Te x a s B r oa d b a n d De v e l op m e n t O f f i ce Co -Auth o r, Ser gi o Co ntr e r a s , C E O, At l a s , H a l l & Rod r i g u e z L L P.

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areas can be especially challenging places to provide access due to the long distances between residents. Providing service via fiber to many households “wouldn’t be financially possible,” said one director of an economic development consortium who attended an Edinburg townhall, but there are alternatives. “People want the Cadillac out there, but really the Civic will do.” Hegar is concerned that new rules by the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) requiring states to prioritize fiber connectivity will further hinder access for these areas, in contradiction to their intention. Prioritizing fiber technology might complicate existing supply chain kinks and labor shortages, ultimately adding to delays and costs. “That technology is not feasible for many smaller and more remote communities — and those communities should not be penalized,” Hegar said. “I’ve had the chance to meet with the NTIA and voice these concerns, and I am hopeful they will work with us to find a solution that helps Texas bridge the digital divide.” The South Texas region is considered one of the most vulnerable for lack of broadband due to issues of affordability and digital literacy, despite its extensive coverage. Education levels and household income can greatly impact whether individuals receive the full benefit of high-speed internet. The state’s plan is intended to lay the groundwork, and Hegar notes that the work is far from finished. “We want to connect every home and business, and we’ll do what we can to ensure providers will continue to follow through on their contractual promises after the construction ends,” Hegar said.

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The state of Texas wants to bring reliable, affordable high-speed internet to all Texans to ensure equal access to education, health care, and commerce. The Broadband Development Office, created by the Legislature last year and operated by the Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts, is tasked with making this goal a reality. “The pandemic exposed how vital broadband access is to Texans,” said Texas Comptroller Glenn Hegar. “Parents, teachers, consumers, and farmers all depend on the internet in their daily lives and work.” The Comptroller’s office recently published the first Texas Broadband Plan, which shares the results of a study on connecting the state. The plan is built around survey responses from more than 16,000 residents, discussions at 60 virtual roundtables, and feedback gathered during a dozen townhalls, including a stop in Edinburg at The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley. “The Legislature prioritized broadband access across Texas to expand economic development opportunities," said Sergio Contreras, CEO, Atlas, Hall & Rodriguez LLP., and a Broadband Development Office Board of Advisors, appointed by Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick. “The office will award grants or other financial instruments to meet the goals of the plan and address barriers for future expansion efforts.” Within the South Texas region, an economic area that encompasses the Rio Grande Valley, 92% of households have access to high-speed broadband, and the region has some of the highest coverage rates in the state for schools and hospitals. But the region has challenges when it comes to service and device affordability. Thirty-eight schools, almost entirely in rural areas, lack coverage. Rural

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THE JOB SEARCH Express Employment Professionals Forges Community Ties to Connect Job Seekers and Employers b y Roci o V i l l a l ob os | p h ot os b y A b e H e r n a n d e z

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Your next great opportunity is awaiting. It’s lying on the other end of a job search. Opening yourself to new possibilities by embarking on a job search is an exciting, though sometimes scary, process. Your objective is to find a fulfilling career that nurtures your professional growth. However, researching companies where you might fit in that align with your values and figuring out how to distinguish yourself from the competition can kill that excitement and instead make it feel like a draining process. This is where Express Employment Professionals comes in. Express Employment is a leading staffing company in the U.S. and Canada — with a franchise location in McAllen.

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Leo Vargas and Matt Foerster are the franchise managing partners at Express Employment Professionals McAllen. Vargas said the biggest benefit they offer to both job seekers and employers is their community ties. “We have a good standing in the community and have companies that we’ve worked with for over 28 years,” he said. “We’re here to help anyone that has a skillset to find a good company and join their team. Our mission is to help people find employment, and to help companies find good people.” People of all educational and professional backgrounds can utilize Express Employment’s job connecting services for both full and part-time employment. Job categories are divided into four service lines:

on their degree or skills,” Vargas explained. “Once they complete our onboarding process, they should be able to get placed within a week or so. “Now if someone is just starting off and doesn’t yet have any skill set, we connect them with local organizations we partner with that offer great programs that can help them build their resume.” Onboarding begins with a general application in which the applicant lists their experience and skill set. For those interested, Express Employment also offers assistance with creating a resume and preparing for an interview. Through their website, express associates also have access to dozens of free online courses to help them grow their software, workplace, and safety skills. According to Vargas, in 2021 — from the McAllen operation — Express Employment helped connect more than 2,500 people to jobs in McAllen, Pharr, Edinburg, Donna, San Juan, Mission, and other surrounding cities encompassing most of Hidalgo County. Express Employment Professionals also serves businesses and employers of all sizes, helping save them time and hassle. “Essentially, we do the legwork for them,” Vargas said. “Before a candidate shows up to their door, they have been pre-qualified and pre-screened to make sure they fit the company’s needs.

Light Industrial/Commercial • Machine Operators, Construction Workers, Shipping/ Receiving Clerks, and more Office Services/Administrative • Clerical Positions, Executive Assistants, Call Center Agents, and more Professional • a wide range of industries utilizing higher education Skilled Trades • Forklift Drivers, Welders, HVAC Technicians, and more “We help those we serve market themselves based

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“We have a good standing in the community and have companies that we’ve worked with for over 28 years. We’re here to help anyone that has a skillset to find a good company and join their team. Our mission is to help people find employment, and to help companies find good people.” Leo Va r ga s , Fr anchi s e Ma nagi ng Partn er at E xpress E mpl oy men t Profession al s M cAl l en

Job seekers interested in learning more about Express Employment Professionals can call ahead to set an appointment or simply walk in. Job connecting services are offered for free to employees; there is a charge for employers. Express Employment Professionals McAllen is located at 504 N 10th St., Suite B1, McAllen, Tx 78501. Scan the barcode to view a list of available jobs through Express Employment. For more information, contact them over the phone at 956-664-9675 or via email at mcallentx@expresspros.com.

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“When we have a position available, we post that to our different social media and recruiting sites so people can apply, then we go ahead and start the screening process to make sure they fit the position.” With the levels of labor shortages the country has experienced in recent times, Vargas said more and more companies are finding value in going to a third-party employment agency to help them fill positions. “COVID did change the mindset of the job seeker,” he said. “It’s more fluid, and they are looking for the right fit. We’re here to be that middle person that can help them find that — both for employees and employers.”

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THE BOMB DOT COM Kaboom Comics & Collectibles Celebrates its 12th Anniversary

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by Elisa Ga rcia | p h o to s b y E mi l i a no Peña The year was 1983 and the third installment of George Lucas’ Star Wars had just hit theaters. Sullivan City native Ramsey Ramirez could be found sitting in the front row. From that moment, Ramirez would develop what he refers to as a “love affair” with the series, going as far as to make a lightsaber by sharpening the straightest stick he could find. His passion for geek culture would lead him to open Kaboom Comics & Collectables in 2010. This July, Kaboom Comics celebrated its 12th anniversary. “I originally opened Kaboom hoping that I could read comics all day, and it ended up not being true,” Ramirez said. “It ended up requiring a lot of work and even involved less comic reading than I would have had, had I not opened it. “Basically I had a decent-sized comic book collection. I had a huge ‘Star Wars’ and Marvel collection. I coupled all that with new products, then I was able to open up the store.” Today, Kaboom Comics is located in North McAllen off 10th St., but it began in a smaller location further south off of 8th St. and Pecan. Ramirez ran an advertising agency from the original location. The office had some extra room, which he decided to use as a way to gain an extra income. Thus, Kaboom Comics was born. “My main focus for Kaboom is for people to be able to walk in, and if you're older, you'll see things from your childhood that'll bring back good memories, good feelings,” Ramirez said. “If you're young, maybe it will make your eyes grow wide with wonder. Sometimes parents don't have the money to take their kids to

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“I do want to thank the Valley for allowing us to grow the way we have." Ra m s e y Ra m i r e z .

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really expensive vacations or anything, but, hey, right here in the Valley, you can take them somewhere and hopefully help replicate some of those good feelings for free.” When a customer enters Kaboom Comics, they’ll see life-size statues of Han Solo frozen in carbonite, the Silver Surfer, and retro arcade games. Having already worked in advertising and obtained a degree in graphic design, Ramirez had a good foundation to build the Kaboom brand. “Comic books are kind of famous for the ‘pow’ and ‘bam,’ type of sound effects,” he said. “So, I wanted to go with something along those lines. “I was sitting at a computer thinking, ‘OK what am I going to name this thing?’ And I just thought, ‘Kaboom.’ There was no real grand, intricate story, no. It's just a famous sound effect that you would see in comic books, and I wanted to associate that. I created the two little bomb logos and we went from there.” Ramirez said he would not be where he is today without the support of the Rio Grande Valley community and its love of geek culture. “I do want to thank the Valley for allowing us to grow the way we have,” he said. “I didn't really think geek culture, nerd culture would necessarily work down here at the time. If you wanted to go to a comic con or something, you'd have to travel. “I decided to give it a try and just hoped that the Valley was ready for it. Luckily, they were. Hopefully, we'll keep creating things that they want to come to and attend.” Visit Kaboom Comics & Collectibles at 3525 N 10th St., McAllen, TX 78501, or scope them out online at KaboomComics.net.

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We lc om ing Hospitality Through Solution-Oriented, Personable Nature Andrea Rodriguez Flourishes in Hospitality

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b y Ro c i o Vi l l a l o b o s | p h o tos b y B á r b a r a D e l g a d o Within her first year in hospitality, Andrea Rodriguez hit a career milestone. She was working as a hostess and receptionist at the Tower Club — a fine dining club in McAllen — and when the catering manager departed, she took over. At 19, she became the youngest catering manager in the country for Club Corporation of America. This would be the first career achievement of many. Rodriguez grew up in a suburb outside of Chicago as the youngest of seven children. It wasn’t until after high school that she and her family moved to the RGV, and while she had family roots in the region, it took her some time to adjust. “The move came as a huge culture shock,” she said. “In a big city, you have everything. However, working in hospitality really helped me because I dealt with customers all over the country and all over the world.

“With time, I learned to love the area, and diving into a busy job right from the start definitely helped me adapt.” Rodriguez describes her parents as the embodiment of the American dream. They left their beloved home and families in the RGV with nothing and moved to Chicago to build their own future. “My dad began his career as a business agent and worked his way up; he later became the vice president of the AFL-CIO, the second largest union in the United States,” she said. “I’m really proud of the work he did, and I think he’s probably the reason I am who I am today.” Rodriguez credits her career achievements to inheriting her father’s work ethic and having self-confidence. These are values she aims to instill in her two daughters, Daniella and Gianna.

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Following several jobs in hospitality across the RGV, Rodriguez grew interested in working for DoubleTree Suites by Hilton Hotel McAllen (formerly Embassy Suites) — the largest hotel south of San Antonio. She was hired as a sales manager, and within two years, she received a promotion to director of sales & marketing — her current role. In total, she has been with the hotel for 19 years. “This is my second family; it’s something very unique and special,” she said. “I think people in hospitality have the ability to make people’s lives and experiences better. “I really believe in creating solutions. If a problem hits your desk, you have to take ownership, communicate, and make it right with the customer and/or team member. Then you move forward.” She adds that hospitality is also about having a personal touch with customers to make them feel welcome and appreciated — such as going the extra step to remember their names, writing a personalized note, or leaving them a special welcome amenity. “That’s just my nature,” Rodriguez said. “I’m going to try to meet everybody I can in the room and make them feel comfortable.” In her time with DoubleTree, the hotel has earned several awards, including Hilton’s Pride Award for the Best of the Best — an award given to only five hotels throughout the Americas. Additionally, they have maintained a 98% occupancy rate for the last two-and-ahalf years. “It’s been hard work, especially since we don’t have the same number of staff from previous years,” she said. “We’ve all just really pivoted, worked smarter and harder.” During the height of the pandemic, Rodriguez led an appreciation effort for the travel nurses staying at the hotel. With the help of her coworkers and members of the community, the hotel was able to provide the nurses with care packages. Additionally, she organized a dinner from the in-house restaurant and over 30 local restaurants for the nurses once a week.

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“I really believe in creating solutions. If a problem hits your desk, you have to take ownership, communicate, and make it right with the customer and or team member. Then you move forward.”

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“If you want to be heard, you have to be knowledgeable and speak with the right intentions. If you speak with the right intentions and for the right reasons, I think that’s a great start.” While she stays busy in her career, Rodriguez also makes time for local nonprofits. She is the new president for the Organization of Women Executives — the first nonprofit she joined over twenty years ago. She is also the regional board chair for IDEA Public Schools and helps with their annual scholarship gala each year. Previous involvements include serving as advisory board chair for the McAllen Convention Center and Performing Arts Center, Food Bank RGV vice president, McAllen Chamber of Commerce hospitality task force chair and ambassador chair, and others. “Serving my community and representing DoubleTree really brings me a lot of joy,” said Rodriguez, adding that managing everything is made possible with the help of her professional and personal support systems, which includes her husband of 25 years and their daughters. After more than two decades in the hospitality industry, Rodriguez said she remains eager to improve and achieve. “I still want to make more connections; I’m not done yet,” she said. “ I would like to continue to have the drive and passion to keep sharp and always be learning. I’m just ready to keep going and to continue to grow.”

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Parades were another way she helped the visitors feel appreciated. She organized one in which the community came together to cheer them on as they left the hospital, and another as they returned that included a red carpet welcome. And to keep their spirits up, she created a wall of love and kindness featuring letters of appreciation to the nurses. Through sharing the mission to all she encountered, she received hundreds of cards and letters to include. Further highlights for Rodriguez with the hotel include working with the White House under the Clinton and Trump Administrations, Congressional visits, and visits from Mexican government groups. Other notable clients include famous musical artists and groups, Cirque du Soleil, and several NBA teams. The hotel hosted the Houston Rockets and Golden State Warriors at the same time during an exhibition game. “To have had them under our roof in such a small market like ours is phenomenal,” she said. “I’m very happy coming to work every day. I feel so blessed and grateful.” Her can-do spirit comes from her continual education. She keeps an office library stocked with personal development and business books and encourages her colleagues to utilize it as well. “I’ve always felt like I should be at the table, that I should be in the room,” she said. “I’m never shy to give my opinion in a professional, respectful way.

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And r ea Ro d r i guez , D i r e ctor of Sal es & M arketin g Dou bl eTree Su ites


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MCCOY’S BUILDING SUPPLY Making Life Easier for Those Who Build for 45 Years in Harlingen

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b y Jo s e D e Le on I I I | p h ot os p r ov i d e d A sapphire anniversary is a celebration associated with joy and prosperity. It’s also what customers at McCoy’s Building Supply experience after shopping there. In April, the Harlingen location of the supply company marked its 45th anniversary with a grand reopening to celebrate the full remodel of the store. “Our motto is ‘To make life easier for those who build,’” said Bo Ortiz, McCoy’s Building Supply store manager. “We take pride in that. Just as we like to invest in our customers, McCoy’s is always investing in our stores.” Founded in 1927, the Harlingen location of McCoy’s Building Supply is among the 90 throughout the state, and is the oldest in the Rio Grande Valley. Prior to the anniversary reopening, McCoy’s spent five weeks remodeling the store by upgrading the lighting,

redoing the flooring, moving the shelves around and bringing in different products to give the store a completely new appearance. “This was the first one built, and they wanted to do an uplift on it,” Ortiz said. “We’re bringing these new products in and making sure we take care of our customers and provide for their needs. Customers who have been coming in for years tell us it looks amazing.” Ortiz has worked for McCoy’s since 1995. He got his start as a part-time employee in the same Harlingen location he has been managing since 2009 after working his way up to his position. In this time, Ortiz has seen many changes to the store, including the conversion from fans to A/C. The parking lot transformed from a caliche pit to a concrete yard, Ortiz recalled.

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"Whether it’s a DIY customer or a contractor, we want to make sure we have what they need to complete their projects.”

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“These are upgrades and reinvestments that made things better for the store’s team and our customers,” Ortiz said. “I love what the company stands for and how they treat us. “We’re not just a number to them; we’re a family. They make us feel important.” That level of investment McCoy’s Building Supply puts into their stores and employees matches the service the store provides to customers, Ortiz said. “When they reinvest in stores, they want to make it easier — more fulfilling — for our customers to come in, shop, and find what they’re looking for,” Ortiz said. “Whether it’s a DIY customer or a contractor, we want to make sure we have what they need to complete their projects.” For Ortiz and other employees at McCoy’s, customer service is the most important factor for anyone shopping and working on a project. That means making sure McCoy’s does their part in helping customers. “That’s who we are; we want to make sure they have what they need,” Ortiz said. “When they come in here, they’ll get a one-on-one service with a team member who helps them and shows them we have the knowledge to explain what it is and how to use it. “We don’t want our customers to come in and feel lost. We’re here for them every step of the way.” According to Ortiz, the store has customers who have been consistently shopping for over 30 years. “We know a lot of them by name because that’s what McCoy’s is — building relationships,” Ortiz said. “You walk in here, get greeted as you come in, and get approached and shown around the store because while you’re here, you’re our priority.” Ortiz predicts these relationships in the Harlingen location and other McCoy’s Building Supply stores will make a lasting impression. “This company thinks ahead,” he said. “We’ll see what the needs of the people are and use that to continue providing for customers. For anyone who hasn’t come to McCoy's, come visit us and see what friendly customer service is about.”

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TOWERING FORWARD As the Community Expands, So Does South Texas Health System Edinburg b y Sel ene Gu e r r e r o | p h ot os p r ov i d e d their physicians, staff, patients, and local families in the early planning stages to create the master plan for the new tower. “We are passionate about raising the bar for healthcare in the Rio Grande Valley,” expressed Ames about the new tower, which more than doubles the size of the existing adult acute-care facility. “We want to keep providing the highest level of care for our community, and this tower is an example of our efforts and progress.” The new tower now houses the hospital’s emergency room, bringing it to the front of the hospital, and making it easier for patients, visitors and emergency medical services personnel to reach. This emergency room is double the square footage of the hospital’s existing ER. The ER features a spacious waiting room with comfortable furniture. There are two new top-tier trauma bays that can accommodate multiple patents. The hospital’s radiology department is now located next

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“We just passed the state inspection!” South Texas Health Systems Edinburg CEO, Lance Ames exclaimed. “We can technically open our doors tomorrow if we wanted to!” Ames had just met with state inspectors at the time of this interview in late July 2022. Since breaking ground on the new patient tower in December 17, 2020, Ames and the rest of the STHS Edinburg team have been preparing to bring more top-tiered care to the region's fast-growing community. The first two floors of the 150,000-square-foot state-ofthe-art tower opened in early August 2022, with the third and fourth floors set to open in mid-September. Altogether, this incredible $100-plus million, five-story expansion is bringing the latest in healthcare technology to Rio Grande Valley residents. Ames, who first worked on the business plan for this addition five years ago, said that the designers surveyed

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to the ER, allowing patients to receive advanced imaging services and quality care. The comprehensive imaging center also features a women’s imaging center that gives female patients more privacy in a boutique-like space. In addition, it offers upgraded services for women, including 3D mammography. The radiology department also offers the most advanced MRI imaging service in the Rio Grande Valley, a 3T MRI. This will allow for a much clearer image, a wider opening for the patient’s comfort, and a faster exam time. Patients requiring a CT scan can also receive the latest in imaging technology that will see areas at 640-slices – meaning a radiologist and physician can get a better-defined picture when diagnosing a specific area. “We are able to see daily what the needs are and see the capacity being reached in our ERs,” Ames said, “We need more space, better equipment, improved imaging capacity, modality, MRI, CT scans, and that is how most of this tower was built — based on those needs our community had.” The entire tower is adding 59 new adult patient beds, increasing the hospital’s total adult bed count to 202. It also includes “shell space” for an additional 55 beds for future growth.

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area that also features large glass windows — a theme throughout the tower that Ames says helps in bringing that holistic, natural healing experience to the hospital. The respiratory department has been relocated to the second floor of the new tower. Bringing this department next to the ICU and near the ER is important, especially when there is a need for critical care. A new rehabilitation department is located on the third floor and features a large gym for the rehabilitation of patients who have suffered a stroke, or patients who have been in accidents and have lost their mobility. This spacious floor will allow for STHS’ nationally recognized rehab team to help patients regain their ability to walk, speak and function. The department also has a dedicated dining area for patients to come together socially. The fourth floor houses an adult inpatient nursing unit also designed with patient experience in mind. It includes rounded edges, safety railings leading to the in-room restrooms, scenic backdrops, large windows and bariatric lifts in select spaces. “With this new patient tower, we hope people will see that we are a first-class community with first-class healthcare, technology, and expertise,” Ames said. “It means the world to be able to bring such an incredible facility to our community.”

The ICU department, located on the second floor, offers 16 new beds designed with the patient's needs in mind. Attention to detail and feedback from nurses, respiratory technicians, physicians, patients, and families was sought when the space was designed. The department has plenty of natural light coming in from large windows, which brings a more holistic approach to healing for both the patient and their loved ones. “It’s very calming, and we are doing everything we can to help lift the spirits of our patients and their families,” Ames said. Every room has windows and its own restroom, which is uncommon for ICU rooms. Two ICU rooms also have a ceiling-mounted bariatric lift that will be utilized when moving a patient, adding safety and comfort for both the patient and staff. Visitors can also find comfort in the spacious waiting

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MENTAL HEALTH Back to the Basics

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Spend time outdoors Another way to counteract a demanding day is by taking a break from the indoors. While many may prefer being indoors during the hot summer days, taking a walk and receiving grazes of the sun on the skin can make long days feel more tolerable. Taking a walk in the park or sitting outside under some shade for a few minutes to get some fresh air can really change the outlook of the day. If activity in public parks or areas increases your anxiety, try to find a less lively scene and listen to the sounds of nature around you. These actions may appear to be minuscule, but altering the typical environment you are used to, or just being part of a calmer nature, can help you appreciate life a bit more. Seek help If you find yourself unable to envision silver linings in your circumstances, look for help. It is OK to ask for help. The weight of the world does not need to rest on any one person’s shoulders. Trying to ignore issues or hiding painful emotions compounded by isolation can be detrimental to one’s mental health and lead to greater suffering. There are several forms to discuss difficult thoughts and emotions and find professional help at little cost. Therapy can be conducted via telemedicine in today’s day and age. Additionally, many universities, community clinics, and local organizations have means of providing mental health support for unique or general events. By making positive lifestyle adjustments, and with proper support, anyone can improve their mental well-being. Visit who.int/campaigns/world-mental-health-day/2022 for more information on World Mental Health Day 2022. MENTAL HEALTH RESOURCES: Texas Tropical Behavioral Health Crisis Hotline: 1-877-289-7199 Lifeline prevention number: 1-800-273-8255 (TALK) (Co-Authors include Dr. Mercado’s Mental Health Lab at UTRGV: Cassandra Arteaga, Frances Morales, and

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How have you been feeling lately? How are you currently managing your daily hassles and stress? These are questions that most people do not ask themselves as often as they should. With all the changes forced upon us over the last couple of years by the pandemic, which continues to loom over us, and the never-ending political turmoil in the country, it is no surprise that many of us do not feel as good as we wish. World Mental Health Day is celebrated on October 10 every year. This day gives us an opportunity to recognize the ways mental illness impacts people’s lives, provide education over available services, and highlight ways to be an advocate. Throughout the years, people have shied away from having important conversations about mental health. But recognition and education are effective ways to remove the stigma associated with mental health and mental illness. Although related and sometimes used interchangeably, these terms — mental health and mental illness — refer to different things. Mental illness refers to a diagnosable condition that results in changes in emotion, thinking or behavior, or a combination of this. Mental health can be defined as “the capacities of each and all of us to feel, think, and act in ways that enhance our ability to enjoy life and deal with the challenges we face… it is a positive sense of emotional and spiritual well-being that respects the importance of culture, equity, social justice, interconnections and personal dignity.” In short, mental health is all about mental well-being. Thus, while not everyone has a mental illness, anyone can have moments of poor mental health at some point in their lives. It is normal to feel the stresses of life as challenging or difficult. Luckily, there are different things anyone can try whenever matters do not seem to be the brightest: Take a deep breath Take a step back from the situation and breathe. Literally, take a deep breath. At times of high stress, breathing can dictate how well your body and mind handle an event. If you control your breathing and try to take slow, deep breaths, your heart rate should decrease and settle your mind. This task may seem complicated to complete at first, but it should get easier to perform with practice and will aid in reducing stress levels.

Alfonso Mercado PH.D., Licensed Psychologist Valley Psychological Services - Associate Professor Department of Psychology at the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley | www.utpa.edu/psychology

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SPECIALIZING

IN CARE Texas Digestive Specialists Providing Care to Rio Grande Valley Residents

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b y N a th a ni e l M a t a | p h ot os p r ov i d e d The Rio Grande Valley’s evolution can be seen most clearly through its quality of healthcare. Education has been elevated with a medical school and numerous industry-specific certification paths, as well as community colleges looking to fill the employment needs. One of the biggest indicators of the region’s rise in the field is the number of specialist physicians. This not only shows that doctors are staying in the area to teach and practice, but also allows RGV residents to stay close to home for treatment, rather than drive hundreds of miles for the same care. Dr. Alberto Peña is a colorectal specialist in the Valley. He is a graduate of Edinburg High School and when he left for college, he had no plans to return. Time made him wiser.

When I first left, I had my life packed in my car and I swore that I was never going to come back,” Dr. Peña said. “Then I got a little older, a little wiser, and I saw all of the opportunity in the Valley. “It’s a wonderful place to come back to practice. I’m honored to take care of my people. There are lots of pathology and unusual cases, but more importantly, the people down here are fantastic. They are hard-working and appreciative to have good healthcare — and that’s the best part.” According to Dr. Peña, he and his Texas Digestive partner Dr. Dustin Luebbers are the only doctors in the RGV focusing only on the medical and surgical treatment of the colon and rectum, which Dr. Peña believes was long overdue.

“One of the most important things to take care of your health in this area is to keep up with your colonoscopy. It’s the most important examination because it’s a preventative exam." D r. Al b er to Pe ñ a , col orectal special ist

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“Now, we use robotics, So, in the belly, the magnification is 10-times more. The surgery is more precise. Patients are leaving the hospital two days after major surgery. We’re getting better oncological outcomes, living longer, and just doing better.”

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to patients because these are the people of the Rio Grande Valley.” He has been with the practice for just a few months, but has already put down roots in the RGV with a wife from the area and a child born in the Valley. “Many of the conditions we treat — especially cancers — have become so involved,” Dr. Luebbers said. “It’s more precise care. We’re able to get your colonoscopy right away and to a surgeon right away so you don’t feel lost if you get that bad diagnosis. “It’s a big need. There are a lot of people down here and they deserve the quality care that we can provide.” Dr. Peña emphasized the importance of consuming enough fiber and going in for regularly scheduled colonoscopies — about every 10 years after the age of 50. “One of the most important things to take care of your health in this area is to keep up with your colonoscopy,” Dr. Peña said. “It’s the most important examination because it’s a preventative exam. People can actually prevent cancer; not just treat it, not just find it but actually prevent it. That’s the important part.”

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“It’s a great time to be in the Valley,” he said. “Healthcare is not where it was 15 or 20 years ago. You don’t need to leave the Valley for expertise in your care. You’re able to have the same opportunity you would otherwise if you went out of town. It’s an extremely exciting time period with the medical school, the technology, and advances we have.” Dr. Luebbers is newer to the region, but is proud to put advanced technology and superior care to work for Valley residents. “It has come a long way,” Dr. Luebbers said. “In the old days, it used to be open surgery and patients would be in the hospital for a long time. “Now, we use robotics, So, in the belly, the magnification is 10-times more. The surgery is more precise. Patients are leaving the hospital two days after major surgery. We’re getting better oncological outcomes, living longer, and just doing better.” Dr. Luebbers, who is originally from Georgia, explained that his affinity for this area grew quickly. “After doing my residency down here, I would notice people would get a diagnosis, and they had to get other care away from their family,” Dr. Luebbers said. “It’s important

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THE MESQUITE TREE IS THE TREE OF LIFE Mesquite Tree Benefits People and Wildlife

T h e Hon ey M esqu ite tree can reach u p to 36’ tal l an d makes for a beau tifu l sh ade tree.

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Mesquite trees play an important role in Texas history as mesquite grows in most all areas of the state. It has been dubbed the “Tree of Life” because of its ability to offer life-giving sustenance in harsh environments. The mesquite tree has an amazing history and provides Native people of past and present with the Big Five: food, fuel, fertilizer, furniture, and fence posts. Literally, every part of the tree is useful. The nitrogen-fixing attributes of mesquites are well known and help return much-needed nitrogen to the soil. The deep roots go out as far as the canopy of the tree, reaching down to the water table and making the tree survivable in harsh environments. As the mesquite was the most important food plant for Native Americans, village sites were selected based on mesquite trees. The bark was harvested and used to weave baskets and pounded to make mats and fabrics. The wood was used for firewood, pillars, furniture and tool handles. Today, the wood is still popular for fencing and corrals. The most important uses for mesquite trees come from the pods, which hang in clusters. Great quantities of the beans were eaten fresh by Native Americans. The

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b y C ol l e e n C u r r a n H ook , M a n a g e r of Q u i n t a M a z a t l á n | p h ot os b y J a i m e V i l l a r r e a l


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Ou t of al l th e mesqu it e trees in th e Un ited St a t es , Texas h ol ds 76% — a t ru e Texas Treasu re.

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Bees rely on its pollen to produce food for their young and honey for the winter. Deer, javelina, coyotes, jackrabbits, skunks, quail, and dove consume the beans, as do livestock.

T h e sweet bean pods are n u trition al an d eaten by peopl e an d wil dl ife al ike.

seeds or beans are sweet and offer nutritional benefits. The pods were ground into a meal, usually with a metate, to make small sun-dried cakes and flatbreads. Today, local companies like the Cappadona Ranch sell mesquite goods, and Quinta Mazatlan carries their items in the gift store. They roast the pods and grind them into a beautiful dark flour that smells like roasted chocolate. The Cappadona banana bread recipe is a must for your family — mixed half with all-purpose flour and mesquite flour. Although the pods were the most important resource, all parts of the mesquite were used. The flowers were collected in the spring, roasted, and pressed into a food ball. The leaves were boiled in water for a tea, which was also used as an eyewash and treatment for stomach aches. The mesquite gum that oozes out from the tree bark has medicinal benefits, such as helping with a sunburn, easing stomach distress, and reducing headaches. The sweet chewy sap was used as a spoonful of sugar to help the medicine go down. The sap was also known to be used as a glue and mortar. Mesquite also benefit people and wildlife. Hundreds of animals and plants rely on the mesquite tree for survival and reproduction. Bees rely on its pollen to produce food for their young and honey for the winter. Deer, javelina, coyotes, jackrabbits, skunks, quail, and dove consume the beans, as do livestock. In order to protect our environment, let's continue to grow our relationship with our native plants and animals. Enjoy the magic of the mesquite at Quinta Mazatlán Tuesdays through Saturdays from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Thursday nights. Follow Quinta Mazatlán on YouTube, Facebook, and other social media platforms to learn more about our natural heritage in South Texas.

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T h e ch il dren at Qu in ta M azatl an pl ay on a fal l en mesqu ite tree repu rposed in to a F orest Pl ay grou n d.

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KEEPING HOCKEY ROLLING

On most nights of the week, you will find a group of skaters playing a not-so-common, but growing sport. You’ll see lots of sweat, smiles, and if you listen closely, hear the sounds of hockey players cheering when their team scores or a goalie makes a great save. What you won’t find at the rink? Ice. This is roller hockey, which bears similarities to the better-known sport of ice hockey as far as gear and rules. RGV Roller is a nonprofit organization built to bolster, grow and support the hockey and skating community in the Rio Grande Valley. However, shortly after the organization was founded, the Valley lost its only ice skating rink. This could have spelled the end of hockey. Instead, members of the community stepped up to make sure the void was filled with an organization that would support experienced players and newcomers —

RGV Roller Helps Grow Roller Hockey, Skating from the Grassroots by N a tha niel Ma ta | p h o to s p r o vi d ed

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It was a big undertaking. All of the work is volunteerbased. Fighting for the sport was an uphill battle. But after two-and-a-half-years, RGV Roller has helped breathe new life into the hockey community — bringing new skaters to the rink regularly, and giving veteran players new life. Susana Vargas is the parent of a 12-year-old girl who has been a part of the youth programming since day one. Vargas’ daughter Sofia plays defense for the RGV Chupacabras. “We have had the best experience ever with the sport and the people that are involved,” Vargas said. “In my experience, most sports groups don’t teach you how to get along with your opponents. “It’s only about winning. With RGV Roller, it’s the opposite. Yes, we’re here to play, but we leave as friends and as a family. That’s been the biggest thing we enjoy

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both youth and adults. Alex Chapa sits right in the middle. He is a 16-yearold high schooler from Edinburg and the son of an adult hockey player. Chapa learned a lot from his father, a board member of the organization, and now the high schooler is sharing his knowledge as a youth coach. “The RGV Roller community is super important to me,” he said. “I remember when I started skating there was no group where you could have organized coaches and play for five, 10 years-plus. “I had my dad, but not an actual organization. I am just super happy to give the kids what I didn’t get when I was a kid. I’m really happy to pass on what my dad taught me, what everyone taught me. It’s hard to put into words how amazing this is. Bringing roller hockey to the Valley is really important to me.”

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— keeping everyone, boys and girls, all playing together.” Since the idea in 2019 and gained nonprofit status in 2020, the hockey group has achieved growth and seen interest blossom. In 2019, 15 to 20 adult skaters would meet every other weekend. Today, the adult league has grown to house league teams with between 40 to 50 players per season, plus another 20 players in the “Development League” for adult beginners. The adult group also travels around the state for tournaments and continues to elevate its standards under the guidance of Mike McGee and a volunteer committee. There was no roller hockey program for youth in 2019. In 2022, the first season welcomed 36 skaters; the fall season is expecting to serve nearly 60 kids. A big part of the organization’s vision is to make the typically expensive sport affordable for all newcomers. To reach this goal, the group fundraises to purchase gear and strives to keep costs reasonable. “Sofia went in with so much passion and heart for hockey, so it’s not the same when she goes to volleyball anymore,” Vargas said. “I try to push her, encourage her and guide her to learn because, obviously, we didn’t know

anything about hockey before she joined. The learning has been a really good process. RGV Roller has had so much patience.” JP Lopez serves as vice president and has decades of hockey experience. Originally from Mexico City, Lopez saw hockey groups pop up all over Mexico and the border region after Disney’s Mighty Ducks film was released in 1992. He grew up in Rio Bravo and Mission, so he arrived to the group with experience playing hockey from a Cotton Gin in Harlingen in the 90s and 2000s. He has been playing hockey on both sides of the border for a while and said he is proud of the homegrown nonprofit’s ability to carry on the legacy. “RGV Roller and the community are important because having diversity in sports and different options to play is highly needed all along the RGV,” Lopez said. “Our region needs kids and adults to live a more healthy lifestyle that’s fun. This is a great combination of recreation and exercise.” Lopez said remembering the history and honoring where the community came from is important when planning to grow. He reminisced on the days of the Cotton Gin when the ice and roller rink were built, the numerous coaches he

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“RGV Roller and the community are important because having diversity in sports and different options to play is highly needed all along the RGV. Our region needs kids and adults to live a more healthy lifestyle that’s fun. This is a great combination of recreation and exercise.”

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had in Mexico, and the countless people he has coached, watched grow up, and eventually competed against. “Combining experience with new talent is a good formula to continue producing talented and high quality programming,” he said. RGV Roller is always welcoming new players and accepting help from people of all backgrounds. High schoolers can work with the organization to earn community service hours, photographers can practice action photography, and media and marketing interns can help craft messages and videos. RGV Roller is embedded in the community and its leaders plan to continue working hard to grow the sport of hockey, teach people how to skate, and help young people reach their goals with volunteer opportunities. Four days a week, different divisions of roller hockey can be found at the McAllen Sports Park — Hockey Pavilion. The City of McAllen-owned roller rink, built in 2005, has seen more frequent usage thanks to hockey and roller derby. Reach out on social media or via email at RGVRoller@ gmail.com to get involved in any capacity.

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Halloween Attractions Fun and Spooky Places in the Rio Grande Valley

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UPCOMING EVENTS SUNDAY SEPTEMBER 11 SAT-SUN OCTOBER 1-2 SATURDAY OCTOBER 8 FRI-SUN OCTOBER 21-23 SATURDAY NOVEMBER 12 FRI-THU NOV 18 - JAN 15

SATURDAY DECEMBER 3

@MCACONVENTIONS

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well. So those are the two things that will be happening come October.” Visitors are taken into the monte on a trailer carrying around 60 people. A smoke machine and the darkness adds an extra scary factor people are looking for. “I have a minimum of 20 scenes, and each scene is different,” Billman said. “I could have a vampire waiting for you. Think of any type of character of any villain or scary movie scene and I'm gonna have it.” These attractions open the first weekend of October and are open every weekend after for the rest of the month. Another haunted house worth a visit is the Toluca Ranch Haunted House in Weslaco. For an activity suitable for all ages, consider visiting a pumpkin patch. Maddie’s Pumpkin Patch is located in McAllen. Rick Vega and his wife Melinda have been handling the patch since 2017. “I've always loved ranches — the idea of visiting a ranch and spending time there,” he said. “Other people also would like to be out there and experience the same things. “So the farm experience is what was one of the things that inspired me to do the pumpkin patch to invite people to our ranch.” He added that the opportunity welcomed his wife’s knack for decorating. “We want to be able to provide the community with a place they can come out to and experience a nice outdoor time with their families and take pictures and make memories that will last a lifetime,” he said. The lower Valley has options for activities as well. The fall season isn’t complete without a trip to the T-Ranch Pumpkin Patch in La Feria. Not only does the patch have lots of fallthemed photo displays, but there are multiple ranch games and activities for everyone to enjoy. “Our iconic pumpkin house is the first of

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There are many places to go in the Rio Grande Valley for Halloween activities. With so many fun options to choose from, everyone can stay booked the entire spooky season. There is something for everyone with familyfriendly activities or gory and scary ones. For anyone wanting something scary, Donna’s Corn Maze and Monte De Los Muertos is the place. Located in Donna at 807 N Valley View Rd., this Halloween staple in the Valley has been around for years. Owner John Billman started the corn maze on his property in 2004 after he came across a magazine that featured corn mazes in farms. Billman was a vegetable farmer but wanted to come up with ways to create more business. “I would ask my farmer friends here in the Valley, ‘You think people would come to a corn maze?’ and everybody kind of laughed at me and said, ‘You're crazy. Nobody's gonna pay you to go into a cornfield,'" he said. But in his first year, 3,000 people did. However, the corn maze won’t be available this year. Billman said Donna irrigation ran out of water in June. But his pumpkin patch and haunted attraction will be available. Though he is not into scary movies himself, Billman has been hiring actors for years to go into his monte and dress up as characters to scare visitors. “I have an area that's over 4 acres; it's overgrown and brushy, and I've created trails in there,” he said. “I created a haunted trail several years ago and I've been posting that every year as well in October. “I get different types of customers here — some that just want to be with their families and outdoors and playing all the activities, and then I have some who strictly want to do a haunted attraction. And the bonus part is that a lot of times they're a-first timer. They get to not only experience our haunted trail, but they get to enjoy the corn maze park as


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Rick Veg a , Maddi e’s Pum p k i n Pa tch

its kind in the RGV and sets us apart from other pumpkin patches in the area,” Sarah Treviño, who manages the ranch with her sister, said. “Most can't resist snagging a photo in front of this unique prop. We have all kinds of animals, including goats, sheep, potbelly pigs, donkeys, llamas, cows, longhorns and more.” Every Saturday and Sunday in the month of October, the patch will have local vendors and live music during pumpkin patch hours. “We are so blessed that our parents, Joe and Christy Treviño, allow us to use their cattle ranch and home as a canvas,” she said. “Every year, our family focuses on making things bigger and better.” This pumpkin patch opens Sept. 30 and closes Nov. 13. Alpaquita Ranch, located in Raymondville, grew in popularity around the end of the pandemic. Once people were going outside and doing more outdoor activities, this ranch featuring alpacas opened to the public and became a favorite place for people to visit. The owners then decided to decorate it for every season, whether Christmas, Easter, or Halloween. During Halloween time, families can visit and enjoy the pumpkin patch. This spooky season there is something for everyone to enjoy!

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UPCOMING EVENTS FRIDAY SEPTEMBER 2 SATURDAY SEPTEMBER 10 FRIDAY SEPTEMBER 30 SATURDAY OCTOBER 15 THURSDAY OCTOBER 20 THURSDAY OCTOBER 27 ­ SATURDAY NOVEMBER 26

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EXPERIENCE THE NATIONAL BUTTERFLY CENTER 100 Acre Botanical Garden Home to Diverse Wildlife, Plant Species b y Ro c i o Vi l l a l o b os | p h ot os b y A b e H e r n a n d e z

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The Rio Grande Valley is home to incredible beauty. And much of it can be found at the National Butterfly Center — a 100-acre wildlife center in Mission that sees more butterflies than anywhere else in North America. National Butterfly Center Executive Director Marianna Treviño Wright explained this is due to the RGV’s 11 distinct ecosystems that support unique butterfly species with their flora. The center receives approximately 35,000 unique visitors annually — both Valley natives and tourists from far and wide. “They come to experience the gardens, butterflies, and birds,” she said. “Some of them come just to walk or do nature photography because they enjoy that or find it relaxing.” While the center is a big attraction for those with a passion for butterfly watching from around the world, Treviño Wright said they continue pushing to draw locals, many of whom report being firsttime visitors to the 20-year-old reserve. For anyone looking to get more in touch with nature, she suggests starting by just getting outside and paying attention. “Sit somewhere and observe what is flying, what is in your own yard, what is in the park,” she said. “I think most people will be surprised when they stop and take notice of the bees, flies, butterflies, birds, and even the variety of lizards and spiders and things that they might get to see in a very small patch of flowering plants.” She also encourages people to plant native plants to help support butterfly life. The center features a native plant nursery and offers educational programming for youth and adults. “It’s critical to teach people about the plants and animals that we need to protect,” she said. “Here we have a safe, beautiful space for them to not only learn, but experience firsthand many of those plants and animals.”

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Among the other programs they offer include “M3: Monarchs, Milkweed & Me”, which educates the community on how to become advocates for the monarch species, and “Camping 101,” teaching camp and outdoor safety practices. The National Butterfly Center staff, which includes plant specialists, award-winning wildlife photographers, and other wildlife specialists, operates the programs following Project Wild — the nation’s oldest environmental education curriculum. In addition to making a difference through visiting the National Butterfly Center and supporting wild butterfly conservation, individuals benefit themselves. According to the American Psychological Association, exposure to nature helps improve attention, lower stress, and boost mood. “Instead of medication, you can turn to natural remedies, like sitting still among trees,” Treviño Wright said. “Then there are additional benefits of movement, whether you’re taking a casual stroll with your binoculars or are going for a more vigorous hike. “If you’re walking the trails in the whole property, it’s as many miles as you would like to make it.” Peak butterfly season occurs in fall, coinciding with the National Butterfly Center’s annual Texas Butterfly Center. This year’s festival takes place Oct. 29 through Nov. 1. Registration is open at texasbutterflyfestival.com and the festival kicks off with a free community day. Treviño Wright said this is a great time for people to plan their first visit to the center, as temperatures are cooler and they’re also sure to see many species of birds amid this migration season. The National Butterfly Center has another major celebration this year. In December, Spike — the center’s giant African spurred tortoise — turns 18. When preparing for a visit, she encourages people to check out their social media to be notified of any updates and to dress appropriately. “There are a variety of things you need to protect your body from when you come out so that you can have a pleasant experience,” she said. “We suggest wearing long pants, a hat and perhaps a scarf to protect you from the sun. Don’t forget to bring a water bottle and sunscreen. “We also encourage people to message, email, or call and ask what species are being seen. “Our goal is for everyone who comes through our doors is that they not only understand the fauna, but that they appreciate them and fall in love — whether it’s with the butterflies or birds or lizards.” For more information, visit nationalbutterflycenter.org.

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Cisneros died in 2009 at around 99-years-old. His work focused a lot on horses, which were one of his favorite things to draw. “He does an amazing job at that,” Peña said. “He also really focused on cattle. Those are the two animals he was known for; he also drew a lot of cowboys.” Cisneros’ artwork focused on the use of pencils and ink. He would then go back and color in with colored pencils. An interesting fact about him is he was colorblind. So, all of his color pencils had to be labeled. “A lot of times he looked to his wife and his five

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José Cisneros was an artist born in Mexico before the Mexican Revolution in the early 20th century. He eventually moved to El Paso as a young adult. According to Melissa Peña, exhibits and collections coordinator for the Museum of South Texas History (MOSTHistory), that's where he really started creating art. MOSTHistory is housing an exhibit, “Borderlands — An Illustrated History by José Cisneros,” featuring Cisneros’ art. “He was very famous for his historical pieces,” she said. “He put a lot of research into every piece that he made.”

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daughters to help him choose the correct color,” Peña explained. “But if you look at the artwork around the exhibit, a lot of it has very pink undertones, and that goes back to his color blindness.” Most of the artwork has pink skies. “‘Borderlands’ was created around the art that's here at MOSTHistory,” Peña said. “The museum, at the time, sent Cisneros passages of historical time periods, and then he illustrated those for us. “We started working with him in the mid-90s, and the book was published in the early 2000s. We actually have the largest collection of Cisneros’ art. It's different in that it is illustrated in pen and ink.” Peña added Cisneros used a crosshatch technique in his way of creating art. “We commissioned him to do these pieces, so it's not like anything else we have here at the museum,” she said. “I want people to come in and, first of all, just really

appreciate his work and then appreciate the history that goes through it. “It really does encompass the history of the Valley. It's a timeline of our history. It starts off prehistory, and then just moves its way through colonization and settlements and ranching. It's just really beautiful to see the Valley's history illustrated.” The exhibit has, in conjunction, an app that showcases colorblindness. Visitors can see the exhibit without the app, and then download it to see what Cisneros would have seen. “It's just a very interesting take on the color of everything and how it differs once you take out that ability to see every single color,” Peña said. “Borderlands” is located in the 1910 Jail Cell Block Gallery and will be up until June 4, 2023. Visit mosthistory.

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Towering FORWARD

EXPANDING TO SERVE OUR GROWING COMMUNITY South Texas Health System Edinburg has opened its new patient tower, bringing expanded services, additional bed capacity and an enhanced patient experience to our growing community. ®

Highlights of the new tower include: • 59 new inpatient beds with 55 more reserved for future growth.

The new $104 million patient tower is part of South Texas Health System’s commitment to the City of Edinburg and the rest of the Rio Grande Valley. For more information, visit

southtexashealthsystemedinburg.com/towering-forward

• Updated inpatient rooms created with patient experience and safety in mind, including rounded corners, large windows, additional railings and more. • An enhanced emergency department strategically placed at the intersection of Trenton and Sugar Rd., giving paramedics and the community easier access to an ER that features 20 treatment rooms and two trauma bays. • An upgraded Intensive Care Unit (ICU) with 16 new beds. • An expanded respiratory department with larger treatment spaces. • Expanded rehabilitation services with 28 new beds and a rehab gym. • A modern imaging suite, including MRI, ultrasound and mammography spaces, and a new 3D mammogram machine.

1102 W. Trenton Rd. • Edinburg, TX 78539 956-388-6000

Physicians are independent practitioners who, with limited exceptions, are not employees or agents of South Texas Health System. The System shall not be liable for actions or treatments provided by physicians. For language assistance, disability accommodations, and the nondiscrimination notice, visit our website. 22651359-975551 8/22


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