May / June 2024 - RGVision Magazine

Page 1

Empowering Dreams

First-generation students achieve the American Dream through PSJA ISD's Early College Program. p.10


Providing prospective doctors with a full medical education. p.26


Lamar Jones delivers flavor with award-winning BBQ sauce. p.36


The history of live entertainment in the Rio Grande Valley p.78


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Proverbs 29:18


In the spirit of Proverbs 29:18, “Where there is no vision, the people perish,” this edition casts a vision for our community's future.

In this edition, we are celebrating the remarkable developments across the Rio Grande Valley's essential sectors. Our healthcare section highlights the groundbreaking work of professionals who combine advanced technology with compassionate care, establishing our Valley as a hub of medical excellence.

Education is also a top priority, with a focus on significant reforms spanning from early childhood to higher education. Our educators' steadfast dedication is shaping a new generation to tackle future challenges, fostering a culture that will maintain and enhance our region's economic and cultural vitality.

The business segment showcases the entrepreneurial spirit thriving locally, featuring stories of start-ups and trade expansions that highlight our economic resilience and growth.

We take pride in our enviable quality of life, from natural reserves to cultural festivals, enriching our community spirit and overall well-being.

Join us on this inspirational journey as we delve into the achievements and potential that shape the Valley's promising future.


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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 10,000 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 1912 Beaumont Ave., McAllen, TX 78501.

















Cynthia Ybarra

James Walker

Port of Brownsville

Victoria Garcia

Valley Baptist Medical Center

Colleen Curran Hook

The UTRGV Center for Latin American Arts

Venessa Ramon

Bryan Kirk

Rafael Mendoza-Farias Jr.

Bill Hill

Caroline Waldrip

Thom Denton

Bárbara Delgado

James Hord

Esteban Del Angel


Dr. Robert Bradley

University of Oklahoma Press

Fino Perez

Silver Salas

David Pike

Paul Chouy

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2024 VOLUME 16 ISSUE 3


First-generation students achieve the American Dream through PSJA ISD's Early College Program. EMPOWERING DREAMS


Providing prospective doctors with a full medical education.


Lamar Jones delivers flavor with award-winning BBQ sauce.


The history of live entertainment in the Rio Grande Valley.


Early College Credit

pg 18

New Superintendent

pg 22

A Leap in Connectivity

pg 28

Brighter Future

pg 32

Aisha Gonzalez

pg 42

Elite Poker Lounge pg 46

Pelvic Health

pg 50

Robotic Procedures

pg 52

Elevating Patient Care

pg 54

Interventional Radiology

pg 56

Specialists Break Barriers

pg 60

Transforming Skin

pg 62

Driscoll Quick Care

pg 64

Tiny Forest

pg 70

Eating Peru

pg 72

The Vibe

pg 76

Flood Mitigation

pg 84

ON THE COVER 10 26 36 78
BUSINESS 10 36 78 26


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.



First-Generation Students Achieve the American Dream Through PSJA ISD's Early College Program

In the heart of the Rio Grande Valley, a remarkable journey unfolds as first-generation students at PharrSan Juan-Alamo ISD (PSJA ISD) are among those redefining the odds and shattering barriers through the transformative power of Early College. As the sun rises on the horizon of their aspirations, these students are not just dreaming; they are achieving, inspiring, and paving the way for a brighter future.

Over half of all college students in the United States are estimated to be first-generation. According to Forbes, although definitions of first-generation vary, most colleges and universities define these as students whose parents do not have four-year college degrees, including those whose parents completed associate programs or attended college but did not graduate.

Research shows that when pursuing a post-secondary education, about one in three first-generation students leave college within the first three years and face many psychological, academic, financial, and social challenges. Despite these daunting statistics, students in the Rio Grande Valley are breaking these barriers and getting a jump-start on college and their careers in high school through PSJA ISD's Early College Program.

For Nicole Almaraz, a dual-language first-generation student and soon-to-be Early College graduate at PSJA ISD, the opportunity to graduate with an Associate Degree in Interdisciplinary Studies of Science from South Texas College while attending PSJA Collegiate School of

Health Professions in San Juan has been life-changing for her and her family.

"Right now, I am in high school earning two years of college, saving my parents money and getting a big load off their shoulders while saving time on my education," said the 17-year-old. "My parents are super proud of me. They tell our family in Mexico that they are very proud of me and who I've become. I know they've sacrificed so much for my education."

As the youngest of three children, Almaraz shared how much reaching this milestone means to her and her immigrant parents, who didn't have the opportunity to finish school. Her father didn't complete elementary school to support his family in Mexico. Still, her mother helped provide for them while working at Bodegas. They immigrated to the U.S. in search of the American Dream and to provide Nicole and her siblings with better opportunities and a better life.

"I'm so grateful to my parents for sacrificing so much for us so that we can be here. I want to make them proud and show them it was all worth it," said the 17-year-old. "I'm also grateful to PSJA for the opportunity to earn my associate degree and be part of the phlebotomy program."

According to the district, the impact of PSJA ISD's Early College Program extends far beyond academics. It's about breaking barriers, easing financial burdens, meeting the needs of a high-demand workforce, and making a multigenerational impact among students and their families. Almaraz's parents, immigrants


pursuing the American Dream, sacrificed immensely for her education. Now, their pride in her achievements echoes across borders, inspiring her family and an entire community.

In addition to earning an associate degree, Almaraz is currently part of the PSJA Phlebotomy Technician Academy, where she is on track to earn an Industry-based Certification as a Phlebotomy Technician. Her goal upon graduation, she says, is to work as a phlebotomist as she continues to pursue a bachelor's degree at the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley starting this fall.

Almaraz's participation in the PSJA Dual Language Program and her upcoming achievement of earning a Seal of Biliteracy on her high diploma are significant accomplishments that will enhance her career opportunities. Being bilingual and bi-literate are valuable assets that will open many doors in today's globalized workforce.

Like Almaraz, hundreds of other PSJA ISD high school students share similar stories and inspiring journeys of perseverance. Through PSJA ISD's nationally recognized Early College Program in partnership with South Texas College, thousands of high school students like Almaraz can graduate with an associate degree or up to 60 college credit hours free of cost each year.

Yareli Hernandez, a 12th-grade student at PSJA Early College High School in San Juan, recently earned an Associate Degree in Interdisciplinary Studies from South Texas College in Dec. 2023, an entire semester before receiving her high school diploma. Like Almaraz, she's part of the PSJA Academies. She will be earning Industry-based Certifications in Phlebotomy and electrocardiogram to get a jump-start in her career while gaining a competitive edge for a future career in the medical field.

"Attending PSJA ISD has proved to be a transformative experience for me with a dedicated support system comprised of dedicated teachers, counselors and mentors," Hernandez said. "I have flourished academically and have seized every opportunity that came my way, embracing the rigorous coursework and extracurricular activities that were offered to me."

Similarly, Victoria Garcia, a 12th grader at PSJA T. Jefferson T-STEM Early College High School in Pharr, earned an Associate Degree in Interdisciplinary Studies in December. The first-generation college student is grateful for the opportunity and the preparation she's gained to continue pursuing a bachelor's degree.

Garcia's choice to also take advantage of the PSJA Dual Language Program will earn her a Seal of Biliteracy on her high school diploma. Her commitment to bilingualism and biliteracy further enhances her skills and broadens her horizons.

With the head start she received while in high school at PSJA ISD, Garcia aspires to become an elementary teacher, eventually teaching English at the high school level.

"Dual credit courses help students with the transition from high school to college," said Victoria Garcia. "The exposure of college courses while in high school prepares students for what will be expected. We gain knowledge and the experience of taking the classes which allows for a smoother transition."

Since its inception in 2008, the PSJA Early College Program has enabled thousands of PSJA ISD students to graduate from high school with a head start on their college work and with up to an associate degree from South Texas College.

With all high schools designated as Early College, PSJA ISD has the only wall-to-wall Early College Program in the state and nation. With an equity-focused approach, PSJA ISD's Early College Program's success is rooted


in a holistic approach, offering rigorous academics alongside unwavering support from dedicated teachers, counselors, and mentors.

Looking ahead, PSJA ISD's commitment to empowering students remains unwavering. As the district prepares to host its 2024 PSJA College for All Conference at the Mission Events Center on October 22-24, 2024, educators, districts, and higher education institutions are invited to witness firsthand the impactful initiatives shaping futures and transforming communities.

"PSJA ISD takes pride in providing life-changing opportunities for all students," said PSJA Superintendent of Schools Dr. Alejandro Elias. "Our college for all, equity for all approach helps us make sure we are not just educating our students but providing them with the rigor and preparation needed for them to succeed

as they continue their post-secondary education and enter the workforce. We commend our students for taking advantage of these opportunities and positively impacting their families and our communities."

In the spirit of equity and opportunity, PSJA ISD continues to welcome students from all walks of life, ensuring that every student has the chance to soar. For those seeking a brighter tomorrow, PSJA ISD's Early College Program isn't just a pathway—it's a beacon of hope and possibility, bringing students one step closer to reaching the American Dream.

The district is accepting students for the 20242025 school year. For more information about these programs and opportunities, visit earlycollegeprogram. To schedule a campus tour or register, call 956.354.2167.

Victoria Garcia, PSJA T. Jefferson T-STEM Early College High School, Associate Degree in Interdisciplinary Studies December 2023
Yareli Hernandez, PSJA Early College High School, Associate Degree in Interdisciplinary Studies December 2023


PSJA ISD Alum Shares Inspiring Educational Journey From Early College to NASA

In space exploration, dreams are often fueled by a passion for the unknown and an unwavering determination to push boundaries. Bryan Acosta, a NASA, and Pharr-San Juan-Alamo ISD Alum flight software engineer, embodies this spirit of exploration and resilience. His remarkable journey from PSJA Memorial Early College High School (ECHS) in Alamo to the NASA corridors in Houston, Texas, inspires students.

According to Acosta, his academic journey first took flight at PSJA Memorial ECHS, where he participated in the PSJA Early College Program. Through the program, Acosta graduated with an Associate Degree in Mathematics from South Texas College before receiving his high school diploma in 2019.

Through PSJA ISD's nationally recognized Early College Program, in partnership with South Texas College and other higher-education institutions, high school students can graduate free of cost with up to an associate degree or 60 college credit hours before graduation.

After graduating from PSJA ISD, Acosta continued his educational journey at the University of Texas at Austin, majoring in Computational Engineering and ultimately becoming the first member of his family to graduate from college. Immersed in the Texas Spacecraft Lab, he honed his skills as a flight software engineer. He drew inspiration from peers who had charted their paths to aerospace careers.

"I always had a love for space and engineering, and when I got to college, I realized I could combine both of those interests, but I honestly never saw a career in NASA being within reach," said the PSJA Alum. "Two members of the UT Society of Professional Engineers inspired me and made me realize a job at NASA was not just a crazy dream."

Acosta contributes his expertise to developing the Gateway Spacecraft, a cutting-edge space station poised to orbit the moon for scientific exploration. His internships at aerospace titans such as Northrop Grumman and Lockheed Martin have provided invaluable insights, enriched his understanding of the industry, and fueled his passion for innovation.

Beyond his professional achievements, Acosta remains deeply committed to fostering diversity and inclusivity in STEM fields. As vice president of the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers, Acosta spearheads initiatives to support underrepresented students, ensuring equitable access to opportunities for growth and advancement.

To read more, scan the QR code.

As a NASA Johnson Space Center team member,


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Cynthia Amparo Vasquez (L) and Izabel Vasquez (R) have shown that a strong familial support system can pave the way for incredible educational opportunities.


Student Success Story at Harlingen High School South Sets a Precedent for Dual Credit Programs

Transitioning from high school to college is a momentous time in students' lives. Traditionally, it has presented itself as an opportunity for students to leave the carefully structured format of high school and exercise a greater sense of independence. At the same time, they begin to work toward their career goals.

However, what is to be said if a student makes significant strides in earning college credits before they even sit down in their first college classroom?

For young Izabel Vasquez, this is more than just a hypothetical situation—it's a reality. Izabel is preparing to graduate from Harlingen High School South in May 2024, and she'll do so with a significant head start on her college studies.

Izabel's situation is a direct result of Texas Southmost College's Dual Credit program in partnership with Harlingen CISD. This program allows high school students to earn early college credits, saving them time and money while also giving them the chance to enter college with credit hours already earned. However, Izabel will be Harlingen High School South's first student to graduate as part of the program.

To her, the decision to become part of the dual credit program was easy. "I've always managed to excel in academics, and since I was already going to be taking advanced classes during my freshman year, the dual credit program seemed like a natural choice," she said. "I was limited to just two classes as a freshman, but I passed them and just kept going."

Students who qualify for the program can enroll in college courses while technically still working through the normal high school course load. The college courses they may enroll in can vary, with some taking the place of a normal high school class while others are to be taken alongside their already mandatory classes. To Izabel, the increased workload was a challenge, which she approached confidently.

"At one point, I was taking seven classes in total – a

combination of dual credit and high school courses, but I knew it would be worth it in the long run," she said.

In terms of resources, dual credit students have access to TSC's Digital Library and tutoring services, allowing them to interact with and familiarize themselves with two vital services designed to enhance their educational experience. Armed with these resources, dual credit students get a sneak peek into college course requirements and the chance to put some college-level academic skills into practice.

"It's given me the chance to start learning small things that I know will be required once I become a fulltime college student," said Vasquez. "For example, my writing course introduced me to APA style formatting, so now when I have to write a paper for class using APA style, I won't be scrambling to figure it out because I already have experience."

The value of a high-quality education isn't evident to just Vasquez, as her success has inspired Cynthia Amparo Vasquez to consider her own educational pathway.

"I started and stopped taking college courses many years ago, but I'm only three credit hours away from earning my degree and could literally get it done in a semester, so I realized that both Izabel and I could walk together at the same graduation ceremony," said Amparo Vasquez. "That rekindled a little bit of fire in me to consider giving that last push and finishing up my degree."

Success stories like these demonstrate Texas Southmost College's continued commitment to working closely with districts, such as Harlingen CISD, to provide students with the best high-quality educational opportunities throughout the South Texas region and prepare them for their futures.

"I'm already counting down the weeks until I can continue taking college classes as a full-time student, on a college campus," she said with a smile.

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Brownsville Native Brings Vision of Success to District

Brownsville ISD is proud to welcome new leadership in 2024, naming Dr. Jesus H. Chavez as its superintendent in March. Chavez is a graduate of Porter High School in Brownsville, now returning to the district with a vision of steadfast progress as its leader.

Chavez became the district's interim superintendent in November 2023. It was not until he had served in the position for several weeks that he began to consider a long-term appointment.

"I was hired to serve for a few months until they named somebody else," Chavez said. "Then I started getting questions about whether I would stay longer. I refused for about a month, but finally I told the board that I would consider staying."

Chavez notified the board of trustees in December of 2023 of his decision, which came at the encouragement of board members, district staff, and supporters in the Brownsville ISD community.

Chavez brings over 30 years of administrative experience to Brownsville ISD. He has previously served

as the superintendent of three school districts in Texas, including Harlingen CISD, Corpus Christi ISD, and Round Rock ISD. Chavez notes that his former experience provided a broad range of administrative duties, such as research evaluation, district facility planning, construction, maintenance, and transportation. His goal of leading Brownsville ISD dates back to 1976 when he told the principal of Porter High School that he hoped to serve as the district superintendent one day.

"I've always had that dream of coming back to Brownsville," Chavez said. "I want to give back."

Chavez now serves the district with a four-point vision of success, including continuous improvement, reliance on teamwork, and respectful treatment of others. Most important to his educational philosophy, however, is prioritizing children and students within the district.

"We want to arrive at good decisions that help students," Chavez said. "I want to make sure that they have opportunities that are specifically tied to job needs – not only here in the Valley, but in the state."


Chavez hopes to emphasize career support for students, including opportunities for college credits and certifications for technical and trade schools. He also seeks to improve the state of facilities throughout Brownsville ISD, noting that some campuses require renovation while others can no longer support the growing number of students in the northern part of the district.

"We have a lot of facilities that were built thirty, 40 or 50 years ago," Chavez said. "We'll need additions to existing schools, and maybe some new facilities in the north, within the next year or two."

The upcoming school year will also see the merging of several elementary schools, including the consolidation of Garza and Southmost, Del Castillo and Morningside, and Cromack and Castañeda. Chavez hopes to transform each of these schools into magnet schools with specialized curricula in the future. A strong team dynamic among staff members is key to his mission, ensuring that employees are unified in their long-term goals and short-term strategies.

"In order for any organization to become great, you need to have a very good climate," Chavez said. "I emphasize teamwork between the board and myself, teamwork at the central office, and teamwork at the campus level where teachers work closely with administrators."

Chavez remains committed to students' accomplishments. He explains that the district has a strong record of test performance and extracurricular honors, especially compared to comparable demographics in larger school districts.

"When you look at the major urban areas and compare their performance to the Valley, our students do tremendously well," Chavez said. "This district has more than I've ever seen as far as enrichment and extracurricular activities for our students."

The district's after-school programs encompass various academic achievements, from science and engineering competitions to participation in national chess tournaments. Chavez aspires to uphold the district's excellence with an emphasis on a strong curriculum, comprehensive teacher training, and committed staff development for all employees.

"The main work is making sure that students succeed," Chavez said. "I've already gotten a good feel for some of the work we can do so that Brownsville continues to shine and become a better district."



Providing Prospective Doctors with a Full Medical Education

The Rio Grande Valley has long been at a disadvantage regarding medical care, both in the volume of care available and its degree of advancement. To increase medical accessibility, the University of Texas at Rio Grande Valley School of Medicine was founded in 2015, training doctors, providing care, and conducting research to fulfill the region's medical needs.

A primary goal of the School of Medicine is to foster the number of practitioners in a region otherwise lacking in medical professionals, increasing available healthcare.

"Texas has a shortage of physicians. Specifically, the Rio Grande Valley has a significant shortage of every specialist and every physician type," said Dr. Micheal Hocker, Dean of the School of Medicine, in an interview.

The implications of medical undermanning are severe for individuals whose conditions cannot be treated locally, causing people to seek care outside of South Texas, which is not always an option for some given personal circumstances.

"We see a lot of folks who come into our practice that have never seen a physician that may have advanced cancers, advanced diabetes, advanced Alzheimer's, or other diseases. If you're underserved and don't have opportunities, your diseases are more advanced. They go undiagnosed and oftentimes are fatal," said Dr. Hocker.

The school also provides prospective doctors with a full medical education, with four years of schooling and available residency programs. Before its founding, there was no prior pathway to becoming a practitioner within the local region. Students had to leave the area and attend distant medical schools, often not returning to the Rio Grande Valley, further driving the scarcity of physicians. Now, local students may remain home throughout the course of their education.

"40 to 50 percent of our students are from the Rio Grande Valley. We anticipate that a good number of those will be returning to serve our community," said Dr. Leonel


Vela, Senior Associate Dean at the School of Medicine.

Education at the school is also financially accessible. It has a low cost of attendance, allowing more people the opportunity to become doctors.

"Our medical school is one of the most affordable medical schools in the country, and certainly here in the state of Texas. Our students, when they leave medical school here, have some of the lowest debt, literally some of the lowest debt than any other medical school in the country," said Dr. Vela.

Another measure of the school in revolutionizing the health of South Texas is its research tailored to the region's most afflicting of ailments.

"The medical school is really focused on developing areas of research to address major causes of morbidity and mortality here in the Valley," said Dr. Vela.

"We have a group of neuroscientists and behavioral scientists looking at Alzheimer's, which is very prevalent in the Rio Grande Valley. We also have a group focusing on diabetes, obesity, and genetics and understanding why people are developing diseases," said Dr. Hocker.

The School of Medicine also provides clinical care to patients, bringing an

academic scope of treatment to the region. Contemporary, innovative approaches to treatment are applied, and there is a greater emphasis on learning and the cultivation of medicinal knowledge from the care provided.

"We bring a different kind of quality to the Rio Grande Valley and really are recruiting, you know, top-notch physicians who practice state-of-the-art medicine," said Hocker.

Amongst the school's innovations is its upcoming Cancer and Surgery Center. A $145 million project funded by the University of Texas System to provide advanced, highquality cancer care to the region. It will be staffed by UTRGV professors and physicians, providing academic care to patients going above and beyond standard cancer care.

"We provide care for cancer patients while also being responsible for the development of new cancer treatments and conducting research into the various cancers prevalent in our community. In addition to our clinical and research missions, we aim to educate the physicians we train—whether they are medical students or residents—so that when they enter the community, they are equipped to provide quality care to patients," said Dr. Everardo Cobos, who leads the Medicine and Oncology Department at the School of Medicine.




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VTX1 Fiber in Cameron County

Cameron County, known for its prosperous cities, such as the port town of Brownsville or the economic hub of Harlingen, is bridging a problem: a digital divide between urban areas with widespread internet access and rural regions with limited access to the internet. This issue was brought to light by the COVID-19 pandemic, which left many individuals in rural areas disconnected

and in the dark. At the same time, the rest of the world retreated online. Efforts to overcome such disparity have culminated in a partnership between Cameron County and VTX1.

VTX1 is a South Texas telecommunications company. The company will execute five projects to establish accessible internet coverage, starting with one in Bluetown, followed by works in Lozano, San Pedro, and south of South Padre Island, including Isla Blanca Park.

The project was launched with a groundbreaking ceremony on March 15th, 2024, in Bluetown, TX. VTX1 officials, including CEO Patrick McDonnell, Cameron County officials, such as Judge Eddie Trevino Jr., and state legislators, attended the event.

"Together, we embark on a journey toward a more inclusive and prosperous future for all residents in this area," said Orlando Quintanilla, chief operating officer for VTX1, at the event.

The consequences of a digital divide have been present since the proliferation of the internet but were made evident during the lockdown, and the gravity of their implications was made apparent. Unequal access to education, limited communication, and the inability to


VTX1 aims to continue establishing and developing affordable, high-speed internet in Cameron County. The company will assist the county by providing grant-writing services to obtain the funds necessary for further broadband expansion and successfully bridging the digital divide.

benefit from the digital economy in rural areas were among some of the hindrances faced.

"Kids were trying to do virtual, but if you lived out in the country, you didn't have access to broadband internet access. We started realizing they were having a really tough time being able to go to do their work," said Judge Trevino Jr.

"They were having a drive to the Santa Maria parking lot in order to try to get broadband access. So we realized that we were woefully lacking in our broadband and our internet infrastructure."

Noticing the difficulties experienced by residents, Cameron County conducted studies evaluating the necessity of internet area coverage expansion, leading to a search for an internet provider that would work to develop the county's broadband reach.

"Through a competitive process, VTX1 proved to Cameron County that they were the best partner for us, and we're proud to stand with them here in order to expand reliable and affordable internet to the people of Cameron County," said Judge Trevino Jr.

VTX1 is fully funding the first five projects,

investing over $10 million of its resources and costing the county zero funds. Moreover, using fiber technology to provide bandwidth means that residents will have access to state-of-the-art internet connectivity with the fastest speeds and minimal interruptions.

"This expansion will make it possible to expand services related to economic growth, education, health care, emergency management, and even agricultural operations for our residents and businesses," said Texas Senator Morgan LaMantia, present at the ceremony.

Looking to the future, VTX1 aims to continue establishing and developing affordable, high-speed internet in Cameron County. The company will assist the county by providing grant-writing services to obtain the funds necessary for further broadband expansion and successfully bridging the digital divide. It will benefit from the capital set aside by federal and state legislatures, such as Texas 2021 House Bill 5 and Texas 2023 House Bill 9, which allocates $1.5 billion in aid to support internet service expansions across the state.














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Port Awarded $1.1M for Vessel Suitability and Feasibility Project

by Port of Brownsville | photo provided

The Port of Brownsville was recently named the recipient of $1,116,279 in federal funding for its Port of Brownsville Vessel Suitability Analysis and Feasibility project. Congressman Vicente Gonzalez (TX-34) announced the award March 22 as part of $15,622,100 in Community Project Funding for the 34th Congressional District of Texas.

"By passing this final tranche of long-awaited funding bills, the U.S. House of Representatives has avoided a devastating and unnecessary partial government shutdown and provided vital funding for our region," said Congressman Vicente Gonzalez in a press release. "I am proud to deliver millions of dollars to improve roads and drainage, support local law enforcement and increase economic development in South Texas."

The Vessel Suitability Analysis and Feasibility project is essential to planning and preparing infrastructure improvements at the port. The project will evaluate a range of nonstructural and structural options to support and increase the port's capacity to accommodate larger vessels efficiently and safely, contributing to a greater economic impact.

"Congressman Vicente Gonzalez time and time again continues to deliver for the Port of Brownsville and the people of South Texas. By securing the crucial funding for major infrastructure projects, we continue building toward a brighter future with thoughtful and strategic planning. Our Vessel Suitability Analysis

and Feasibility project seamlessly aligns with our ongoing efforts to sustain safe, reliable and effective infrastructure so that businesses continue to thrive," said Brownsville Navigation District Chairman Esteban Guerra. "On behalf of the Brownsville Navigation District, we extend our gratitude to Congressman Gonzalez for his steadfast dedication to the port, our industries, and the communities we serve."

Major infrastructure projects in progress at the Port of Brownsville include the construction of a 118-acre business park to support the industrial and manufacturing industries of the Rio Grande Valley and the Brazos Island Harbor Channel Improvement Project to deepen the Brownsville ship channel from its current 42 feet to 52 feet.


The Port of Brownsville is the only deep-water seaport directly on the U.S.-Mexico border. It encompasses 40,000 acres – the country's largest land-owning public port authority. The port transships more steel into Mexico than any other U.S. port. As the major multimodal transportation hub serving the Rio Grande Valley and northern Mexico, the Port of Brownsville supports investment opportunities and jobs. Activity at the port is responsible for adding more than $2 billion to the regional economy, $3 billion to the Texas economy, and creating more than 51,000 jobs statewide. For more information, visit www.portofbrownsville.

For over 25 years, our community have chosen Cornerstone Regional Hospital for quality, compassionate care in our personalize boutique facility. At CRH we are dedicated to meeting your healthcare needs with the lastest innovation technology and highly specialized providers to get you back to your active pai f lif Spine Surger y Robotic Surger y Knee Replacement Shoulder Pain Hip Replacement Foot & Ankle Pain Spor ts Medicine Pain Management Musculoskeletal O u r S e r v i c e Physicians are independent practitioners who are not employees or agents of Cornerstone Regional Hospital The hospital shall not be liable for act ons or treatments provided by physicians Cornerstone s directly or indirectly owned by a partnership that includes phys c an owners includ ng certain members of the hospital medical staff For language assistance d sability accommodations and the nondiscr m nat on notice v sit our webs te
Quality Care


Lamar Jones Delivers Flavor with Award-Winning BBQ Sauce

Lamar Jones is among the Rio Grande Valley's (RGV) shining stars of entrepreneurship. He is a father, an artist, and a masterful creator of savory flavors. His creation, the Jank Gourmet BBQ Sauce, has won various awards and has been in partnership with H-E-B, featuring a variety of flavors.

Originally from Camden, New Jersey, Lamar was raised in South Florida. Later in life, he moved to the RGV, bringing his musical touch and a distinct taste of flavors to the region. His first endeavors were in music, a passion he keeps cultivating today.

"When I was 9 years old, I started singing in the choir at Mt. Olive Primitive Baptist Church. That is where my love for singing began. At 16 years old I performed in my first talent show. That was my first time performing outside of the church choir. The reaction from the crowd was validating. I had not ever felt that type of excitement. After that experience, I was hooked! I was 17 when I made my mind up that music was going to be my career," said Jones.

Eventually, Jones moved to the RGV, where he planned only to stay for a short time while working on a social skills program at Weslaco ISD. This short while has become 16 years of being an RGV resident.

Jone was inspired to create his sauce brand when he could not find flavors like those he had once known and loved elsewhere.

"Not many people think of South Florida when they


talk about good BBQ. What most people don't know is that in the Miami, Hollywood area you cannot have a BBQ without a good sauce in the mix."

"The Jank only started because I needed something that reminded me of home after relocating to the Rio Grande Valley. I would go into a store, buy something to try, not like it, and have to put my own touch on it."

Jones would perfect his flavor, which he began sharing with friends and family, who found it delightful. This inspired his venture into commercialization.

"My friends and family were really impressed with the flavor profile. They began to ask me what I was doing with this sauce. Prior to that question, I hadn't even thought about it beyond showing up at a cookout and bringing the smiles and positive vibrations with me in a bottle. I began to think, 'What if? Could I really start selling this stuff?'," said Jones.

Jones sees his sauce as more than just a delivery of flavor; it is akin to the effects of music, through which he shares feelings of glee and felicity.

"The reward of positively affecting someone's life through music is fulfilling. It has always given me purpose. However, I also enjoy great food. BBQ to be more specific. So, when I fell into the BBQ industry and started to see that I could have the same effect

on people, I bought into the mindset of bringing those same positive vibrations from music into BBQ sauce world."

Another aim of the Jank Gourmet BBQ Sauce is to provide an amazing, unparalleled taste without compromising health.

"What sets the Jank apart from everything else on the market is the health-forward promise at the core of the business. Customers are drawn to the Jank because it allows you to enjoy a variety of really good sauces without worrying about added preservatives and ingredients you can't pronounce," said Jones.

One of Jones's latest product developments is a smoked serrano flavor sauce made in partnership with the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley. As Jones puts it:

"In a Historic Collaboration the #1 University in Texas Teams up with The #1 Gourmet BBQ Sauce in Texas. The Jank & UTRGV Presents: The "Vaqueros" Smoked Serrano Gourmet BBQ Sauce."

When looking ahead to the future of his company, Jones envisions the ultimate aspiration of leaving behind a legacy with his work and the products he has created.


Aisha Gonzalez LA JEFA

Owner and President of B2Z Engineering

Full of vitality and ambition, Aisha Gonzalez makes her way into the business department of B2Z Engineering, where she leads as owner and president of the 100 percent women-owned civil engineering consulting firm. Like her stride, Gonzalez continues her day at an exceptional pace, accomplishing more by 9 a.m. than most would attempt in a day.

Her journey starts here in the Valley at The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley. After college, Gonzalez received her MBA and decided to jump into the education field, where she served as the pioneer for the McAllen Independent School District dual enrollment program. In addition to working with high school-age students, Gonzalez taught night classes at South Texas College

(STC), instructing students in small business ownership and sharing her passion for business leadership.

As if this wasn’t enough, she and her husband proudly welcomed two beautiful boys into their lives during this time, whom she fondly calls “pride and joy.” Life was in full swing. However, Gonzalez isn’t one to stay stagnant. She strongly believes in “constantly bettering herself and her family by taking every opportunity that presents itself and running with it.” As it would turn out, quite the opportunity presented itself.

Her brother had recently started a civil engineering consulting firm, B2Z, in addition to his regular nineto-five engineering day job. He needed a Director of Operations, but not just any Director of Operations

"My goal is to make every employee know that they can come to me whenever and wherever. Even if it’s a simple conversation in the parking lot, getting to know my co-workers is huge to me."
Aisha Gonzalez, B2Z Engineering owner and president

would do; he wanted the best of the best. His sister quickly came to mind.

Gonzalez was heartbroken at the thought of leaving her students. Still, she knew juggling two jobs, teaching high school in the day and college at night, was not sustainable with two little boys at home. “Family is always a priority to me and I will do anything and everything to ensure that they come first,” Gonzalez said. She saw the potential in B2Z and viewed it as a “goldmine of opportunity.” So, she packed up her classroom, gathered her Teacher Retirement System (TRS) pension, used all the funds to buy her brother’s business, and took on the role of owner and president. Fueled by determination and a willingness to succeed, she embarked on her new full-time role at B2Z in April 2017 with six trusted employees, “and the rest is history,” she said.

Since 2017, Gonzalez has scaled B2Z at a staggering rate. She started by getting their firm certified in a multitude of sought-out certifications. “Anything that has a ‘BE’ I went after. This opened so many doors for us here at B2Z,” she said. Some of the certifications that B2Z currently holds are Women’s Business Enterprise (WBE), Minority Business Enterprise (MBE), Hispanic American Business Enterprise (HABE), and the coveted U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) 8(a) certification. Gonzalez proudly refers to her company as having a “Rolodex of certifications,” as B2Z currently holds 23 respected certifications that set B2Z apart. Currently, B2Z employs 101 hard-working employees

and has offices in Houston, Austin, San Antonio, and Seguin outside of their headquarters in Mission, Texas. Gonzalez affectionately refers to her ever-growing staff as her “B2Z family” and makes it her mission to get to know each employee they hire on some level. “My goal is to make every employee know that they can come to me whenever and wherever. Even if it’s a simple conversation in the parking lot, getting to know my co-workers is huge to me,” Gonzalez said. Gonzalez believes not only in the work done at B2Z but also in her employees.

During their relatively short time in business, B2Z has collected quite an outstanding variety of awards, such as:

· Mission Texas 2023 Business of the Year

· Rio Grande Valley’s Medium Corporation of the Year 2023

· Regional Hispanic Contractors Association 2022 Firm of the Year

· Rio Grande Valley’s Hispanic Chamber of Commerce

Women of Distinction Award

Despite her impressive accomplishments, Gonzalez’s proudest titles are mother, wife, daughter, and tia. She humbly attributes her success to her “strong network of family that has always believed in her and challenged her to be the woman she is today.” She continues, “Without my family’s belief in me, I would not be sitting in the place that I am today as the president and owner of a highly successful company.” Aisha Gonzalez is a true Rio Grande Valley success story.



Transporting Guests into a Mini-Las Vegas

The Elite Poker Lounge in McAllen has distinct decor and amenities that give visitors the impression of being in a luxurious gambling hall like those found in Las Vegas or Reno. According to Ashwin George, the lounge's owner, the intention was to provide customers with experience transporting them out of South Texas and into a mini-Las Vegas. The lounge has numerous wall-to-wall screens that display a wide range of sports competitions.

George attributed his inspiration for the club to his father, "Dad has been a big inspiration in most of my business," he said. "He has always been an avid poker player and loved going out to bars and restaurants. There's one other place in the Valley that has legal poker. We basically thought we could do it a little bit better."

The main lounge floor has approximately 10 full-sized poker tables where regular people can be seen playing poker games with great enthusiasm. The games offered include the traditional lower-stakes Texas Hold 'em and more advanced variants like Omaha HiLo and Pot Limit Omaha, played for even higher stakes. Cash games are available daily, where players can buy in for as little as $50-$100 or as much as they prefer. In addition to cash games, the lounge hosts tournaments with guaranteed prize pools of $50,000 or even $100,000, where top players can win big. George is also considering a tournament that will send a local player to compete in the World Series of Poker held in Las Vegas over the summer, with an opportunity to win as much as $8 million.


People are attracted to the establishment for its legal poker games and the world-class restaurant and bar Nowhere, which is located on the premises. Visitors can enjoy a delicious restaurant meal or even bring their orders to them at the poker table.

At Elite, customers can enjoy high-end food and drinks and a fully stocked humidor and cigar room. A smellproof glass separates the lounge to prevent the pungent cigar odor from seeping into the poker room. "The main thing," George said, "is to make sure customers have a high-end experience here."

Guests interested in having a nice dinner with highend cocktails can visit the Nowhere restaurant and bar. It is open to the public and is an excellent place for an elegant dinner or night out. One recommended dish is the Hickory Bacon-Wrapped Sea Scallops with Chorizo Salsa. Another popular dish is Steak Au Poivre with Roasted Garlic Potato Puree. The signature High Card Old Fashion cocktail, which uses a mixture of rye whiskey, brown sugar, and (smoked) bitters, is highly recommended and pairs nicely with the food.

The atmosphere inside the poker room is filled with a sense of camaraderie familiar to poker players. Although the game aims to win money from the other players, unique sportsmanship is observed at poker tables, with few exceptions. It is common for players to congratulate others on big pots, even if they happen to be on the losing end. This is one of the benefits of having a welcoming community of poker players who understand what it's like to be on both sides of the table and appreciate a good play.

Elite Poker Lounge has an exceptional feature that guarantees a good gaming experience — almost all its staff members are enthusiastic poker players. If you've been to any of the legal poker rooms in the Valley, you'll most likely recognize a few of the renowned dealers who eagerly rush in as soon as the poker room opens.

"It's been a learning process," George said. "I've been lucky that the poker community really responded to our opening and we've had immense success in the first month — definitely better than expected."

Elite Poker Lounge offers a specialized and unique service the community has received positively. The lounge tends to be fully booked most nights, and tables are in high demand on weekends, with a waitlist for seating. However, the establishment is open to everyone, regardless of whether they win or lose.

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Starting Conversations about Pelvic Floor Physical Therapy

Women's health encompasses a broad spectrum of medical concerns, including pelvic floor dysfunction, which ranks as a prevalent yet often under-discussed issue due to the stigma, embarrassment, or lack of awareness about symptoms related to pelvic floor dysfunction. The societal taboo surrounding topics related to pelvic health further contributes to the lack of open dialogue and education about the importance of pelvic floor physical therapy.

The pelvic floor is a group of muscles, ligaments, and connective tissues that form a hammock-like structure at the bottom of the pelvis. It plays a crucial role in supporting the pelvic organs, including the bladder, uterus, and rectum, and helps control bladder and bowel function. These crucial muscles work together to provide strength and flexibility to the pelvis, support your spine, contribute to sexual function, and maintain overall well-being.

According to available data, pelvic floor dysfunction affects 10% of women in their 20s and 30s and more than 30% of those over the age of 40. Pelvic floor physical therapy has emerged as a vital aspect of women's health care, offering specialized interventions aimed at addressing conditions such as urinary incontinence, pelvic organ prolapse, pelvic pain, and sexual dysfunction. Women can utilize it during pregnancy and postpartum. Some common conditions, such as low back pain, have also been associated with pelvic floor dysfunction.


Like any other muscle in the body, things begin to go wrong when the muscle is too weak and loses flexibility or coordination. Once this happens to your pelvic floor, it can no longer support your pelvic organs, contract and relax during sexual function, regulate your sphincters that hold in your urine and bowel movements or assist your back and hips in stabilizing your core. Being able to identify common symptoms associated with pelvic floor dysfunction can aid you in seeking help from an appropriate provider.


· Heaviness on your lower abdominal region or vaginal area (caused by poorly supported pelvic organs pressing on your vagina)

· Leaking urine when you sneeze and jump (even a little) or not being able to hold in gas or poop can be a symptom of incontinence

· Urinary urgency

· Pain during intercourse or when inserting a tampon

· Pain in any part of your pelvis, including your vulva, vagina, or bladder

One of the most familiar interventions associated with pelvic floor disorders is Kegel exercises. While these exercises may be helpful when prescribed appropriately, they can backfire by tightening pelvic floor muscles. When working with a specialized physical therapist specializing in the pelvic floor, your interventions can be carefully prescribed based on your specific symptoms. If you identify any symptoms related to pelvic floor dysfunction, share your concerns with your primary care provider or gynecologist/obstetrician. After determining if you're a candidate for pelvic floor physical therapy, you can be referred to a physical therapist specializing in pelvic floor. A typical visit for a pelvic floor patient begins with a thorough evaluation, which includes a detailed medical history discussion and assessment of pelvic floor function and strength using an internal or external exam. After an initial examination, follow-up treatment can consist of techniques and modalities such as

manual therapy, biofeedback, therapeutic exercises, and relaxation techniques tailored to each patient.

Recognizing the need for pelvic floor physical therapy services in the RGV, Moveo Performance is moving forward to provide comprehensive solutions to address pelvic floor dysfunction. Moveo Performance aims to fill a crucial gap in women's health care, offering specialized interventions to support pelvic health, improve mobility, and enhance overall quality of life. Through a patientcentered approach, Moveo Performance hopes to empower women with the knowledge, tools, and support to overcome pelvic floor issues and thrive in all aspects of life.

Increasing awareness and normalizing discussions about pelvic floor health are crucial steps in ensuring that women receive the care and support they need to address these often debilitating issues.

Source: Chicago Medicine (n.d). Pelvic floor disorders. pelvic-floor-disorders

Https:// source=google&utm_medium=PPC&utm_campaign=LS_ SE_Brand_Satelite. (n.d.).



Dr. Jose Nieves Performs the 600th Robotic Procedure at Valley Baptist-Brownsville by Valley

Baptist Medical Center | photo provided

For nearly two decades, Dr. Jose Nieves has been helping women throughout the Brownsville community and beyond lead healthier, happier lives through his expertise as an obstetrician/gynecologist.

Dr. Jose Nieves, a cornerstone of Valley BaptistBrownsville's robotic surgery program, recently achieved a significant career milestone — his 600th roboticassisted surgery at Valley Baptist Medical CenterBrownsville in mid-February.

Valley Baptist-Brownsville has been the leader in da Vinci-assisted robotic surgery since 2012, when Nieves completed the first robotic-assisted operation in Brownsville, a total laparoscopic hysterectomy.

"Dr. Nieves has completed more than 400 hysterectomies and more than 130 advanced pelvic reconstruction operations, among other robotic-assisted procedures. Additionally, he has been instrumental in expanding this technology in the Valley by proctoring surgeons from Brownsville to Edinburg looking to add advanced robotic procedures to their armamentarium," said Miriam Longoria, Valley Baptist-Brownsville's Director of Women's Services, Labor and Delivery, Obstetrics Operating Room and Mother-Baby Unit.

When performing robotic procedures, surgeons like Nieves treat patients through just a few small incisions instead of a large open incision. Magnified, 3-D HD vision helps surgeons see the surgical area more clearly. Tiny instruments bend and rotate to provide greater mobility than a surgeon's wrist in traditional gynecological surgery. As a result, the surgeon operates with enhanced vision, precision, and control. Robotic-assisted surgery helps surgeons perform advanced operations with decreased pain and faster recovery associated with minimally invasive surgery.

Since 2012, Valley Baptist-Brownsville's Robotic Surgery program has added general surgery, colorectal surgery, bariatric surgery, and urology to the specialties, offering robotic-assisted surgical solutions to patients throughout the Rio Grande Valley. "As we near the end of our 12th year providing da Vinci-assisted surgery to

the Brownsville community, Valley Baptist-Brownsville wishes to congratulate Dr. Nieves on such a remarkable milestone," said Valley Baptist-Brownsville CEO Leslie Bingham. "We are incredibly grateful for his dedication to ensuring that we remain the most experienced Robotic Surgery program in Brownsville. That high level of experience equates to better care and better outcomes for our patients."



The Latest Dental Technologies at Rodeo Dental

Rodeo Dental has received national attention for its impact in the Rio Grande Valley and beyond. The pioneers of the Texas-based company hope to lower the price of start-of-the-art dentistry while setting the standard for patient experience.

Five dental practitioners founded Rodeo Dental in 2008, hoping to provide high-quality dental services at reasonable costs. Chief among their goals were patient satisfaction, technological adaptation, and the pursuit of services for members of all socioeconomic backgrounds. Dr. Suliman Salman, D.M.D., M.S., the

company’s regional orthodontic director for the Rio Grande Valley, reports that accessibility is vital to highquality care.

“There are a lot of barriers to access dental care,” Salman said. “Sometimes people can’t access it because of money, or because they don’t know what to do or who to talk to. We focus on making care accessible.”

Rodeo Dental operates 15 locations in the Rio Grande Valley and 45 locations in Texas, Arizona, and Colorado.

“Every office provides the same high-quality service,” said Dr. Mahesh Gondi, D.M.D., who leads a regional


council for Rodeo Dental. “They want to provide a highend dentist with a great experience.”

The experience at Rodeo Dental is rooted in superior customer service. Its doctors and staff work to enrich the procedures of routine appointments and are therefore committed to individual customer interests.

Salman notes that the company aims to relieve patients of any inconvenience, including their commute to appointments if necessary.

“Dr. Gondi and I drive thousands of miles a year,” Salman said. “Maybe even tens of thousands of miles. We drive to the remotest areas so that the patient doesn’t have to travel.”

Each company’s location is a one-stop destination for dental and orthodontic needs, including fillings, cleanings, oral surgery, and braces. Among their orthodontic services is the Spark Clear Aligner System, an innovative and patient-friendly option for tooth alignment.

“The key is to make the teeth movements comfortable,” Gondi said. “That’s what we provide with these clear aligners. It’s all about the patient.”

Spark aligners work with the help of digital scanners and cutting-edge software. Patients first undergo a digital scan of their teeth while a computer program determines the desired state of alignment. The software can then create incremental formations between the original scan and the target alignment, determining the structure of the clear aligners given to patients. Gondi and Salman note that Spark aligners are less visible and less prone to staining than rival products, demanding fewer lifestyle changes than traditional braces.

“Each aligner is hand-polished by a technician,” Gondi said. “That is very important because, at the end of the day, comfort is the key. Spark is providing that for us.”

Clear aligners are only one example of technological progress at Rodeo Dental, which recognizes the need to adapt in a rapidly changing industry. Dental procedures have grown more time-efficient with the development of digital x-ray machines and scanners, allowing Rodeo Dental to fulfill its mission of exceptional customer service.

“Dentistry is going digital, and we embrace it,” Gondi said. “You get a crown done today within a week. That’s how fast things work at Rodeo.”

The company also seeks to streamline scheduling appointments, relying on social media and text messages to establish contact with patients. Salman explains that virtual engagement has resonated with younger generations and that patients can even assess their orthodontic needs by sending photographs to Rodeo Dental.

“We’ve been trying to deliver care through the internet,” Salman said. “That’s an essential. We’ve been experimenting with it across the country.”

The company hopes to expand throughout the nation, adding to its success. It is one of 20 businesses selected by Fortune magazine for its Impact 20 list in 2023. This survey identifies younger companies with strong potential to impact their surrounding communities. The honor reflects a mission to increase nationwide dental care access and prioritize patients with high-quality service.

“If you’ve ever wanted to go to the dentist and feel like royalty,” Salman said. “Go to Rodeo.”

For more information about Rodeo Dental, visit



Innovative Procedures Gain Traction in the Valley

South Texas Health System (STHS) is expanding its medical services in the Rio Grande Valley by recruiting interventional radiology specialists for its locations in McAllen and Edinburg. These specialists rely on medical imaging systems for diagnostic and therapeutic procedures, thus providing a wide range of preventative and life-saving measures across the region.

Specialists in interventional radiology can perform image-guided operations by inserting devices into small incisions on the body. Radiology has depended on medical imaging since its earliest developmental stages, but its interventional uses originated in the 1960s. Among the earliest documented examples is a

percutaneous transluminal angioplasty, a now-familiar procedure in which endovascular specialists use a balloon catheter to expand blood vessels and remedy blood flow disorders. Interventional radiology has since grown to encompass a number of complex procedures, many of which are increasing in availability throughout the Valley.

Dr. Mario Moya, M.D., a board-certified interventional radiologist, arrived at STHS in Jan. 2024. His passion for medical specialties has enabled him to combat a wide range of disorders in multiple organ systems.

“I came to introduce new service lines that are not currently in the pipeline of South Texas,” Moya said. “I’m


trying to establish an interventional radiology practice to give the quality service that the community deserves.”

The interventional techniques at STHS offer a diversity of remedies for conditions such as high blood pressure, pulmonary embolisms, and metastatic cancer. One method of battling cancer involves injecting radioactive particles into malignant tumors, such as the radioactive isotope yttrium-90. Moya hopes to utilize additional interventional methods in the future, such as liquefying tumors with ultrasound waves.

“It’s through innovation like that that we’ve progressed to where we are,” Moya said. “I’m happy to be here because we’re providing a high-quality service.”

Documented cases in medical literature can affirm the success of image-guided procedures. Adding to their effectiveness is their simplicity for patients, who can enjoy the benefits of interventional radiology without hospitalization. Interventional procedures do not require general anesthesia, allowing specialists to provide same-day surgery for patients. Such operations rely on minimally invasive incisions, which enable fast recovery with little pain or scarring.

“I work with wires and catheters,” Moya said. “These can go in the groin or the radial artery at the wrist and work anywhere in the body.”

The lack of general anesthesia makes interventional procedures safer for high-risk patients, such as those with high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity, and other risk factors. The procedures depend on rigorous imaging technology and are therefore less likely than invasive surgeries to cause major blood loss or infection. Moya identifies hysterectomies as an example of an operation with a radiological alternative, explaining that particle injections can remedy uterine bleeding and enlarged fibroids without damaging fertility or the colon.

“Those types of complications don’t occur,” Moya said. “The treatments work, and patients don’t have to be hospitalized.”

STHS is optimistic that reduced hospitalization will allow superior services at lower costs. Their recruitment of specialists in McAllen and Edinburg reflects a larger mission to maximize local medical care quality and reduce dependence on major urban areas for effective treatments.

“Any system is only as good as the services it can provide,” Moya said. “As STHS has grown, they’ve realized the need to bring specialty services on board. That’s important for any type of health system to be able to survive and thrive.”

The organization’s enrichment of radiology services signifies the growing influence of the specialty as a whole. Efforts to institutionalize interventional treatments have spanned an entire generation of patients. Still, STHS hopes that the Rio Grande Valley can add to the specialty’s long record of success.

“Interventional radiology has a remarkable history,” Moya said. “Its pioneers had the vision to go against established norms to develop techniques which are integral to current clinical practices. I’m glad that we can bring this here to South Texas.”

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Rio Grande Valley Hospitals Upgrade Neurological Care in Brownsville and McAllen

The subspecialty is expanding in Brownsville and McAllen and provides faster and more effective treatments for patients needing immediate attention.

Interventional neurology represents a labor-intensive approach to counteracting strokes and other emergencies.

Traditional stroke treatments include the administration of tenecteplase (TNK) and tissue plasminogen activators (tPA), blood-thinning medications that dissolve blood clots in ischemic or blood flow-related strokes. More specialized treatments, however, allow neurosurgeons to remove blood clots with minimally invasive operations manually. Such interventional techniques require neuroendovascular specialists, who conduct procedures inside blood vessels to target neurological disorders. These specialists are trained to combat a number of neurological emergencies, including ischemic and hemorrhagic strokes, aneurysms, and arteriovenous malformations.

Dr. Hamzah M. Saei, M.D., a neurology specialist at Rio Grande Regional Hospital in McAllen and Valley Regional Medical Center in Brownsville, explains that the need for subspeciality in the Valley has expanded over time.

“When our program first started about seven years ago in McAllen, people were intrigued to have 24/7 neurology coverage finally,” Saei said. “The more complex cases began to come in because now there was a larger pool of patients."

The increase in interventional cases led to a need for neuroendovascular specialists. Rio Grande Regional Hospital faced a challenge in recruiting physicians to the Valley, so Saei and his colleagues sought to create a

devoted team from within the surrounding community.

“We’re heavily invested in this community because most of us are from the Valley,” Saei said. “Our program is set up from within, and that’s the key difference of how it’s structured compared to others. We’re building a family.”

Among the program’s local recruits is Dr. Sohum Desai, M.D., a board-certified neurosurgeon at both hospitals. Desai has practiced general neurosurgery for two years at Rio Grande Regional Hospital and notes that the availability of interventional techniques can provide better patient outcomes at both facilities.

“The faster we can get to patients who have any sort of neurologic issue, the better off they’ll be,” Desai said. “They’ll be treated faster and earlier rather than being transferred.”

Patients have varied responses to blood-thinning medications, meaning that interventional techniques are critical in some cases of ischemic stroke. Neuroendovascular specialists in Brownsville and McAllen seek to increase treatment options at no loss of time.

“There’s been a definite community need,” Desai said. “By the time a stroke leaves Brownsville and gets up to the Harlingen area, that tissue that we were trying to salvage may already be lost.”

The hospital’s neuroendovascular capability represents a new medical service in Brownsville. Desai notes that preparations are ongoing, and that the neuroendovascular program at Valley Regional Medical Center is expected to launch this June.

Neuroendovascular treatments come with reliance on


Interventional neurology is a medical advancement in the Rio Grande Valley. The subspecialty is expanding in Brownsville and McAllen and provides faster and more effective treatments for patients needing immediate attention.

medical technology. Specialists determine the cause of neurological disorders with a bi-plane imaging system, in which two cameras generate a three-dimensional blood vessel scan known as an angiogram. Procedures such as mechanical thrombectomy, which targets brain arteries in strokes with large vessel occlusion, utilize a small mechanical device at the tip of a catheter tube to remove arterial clotting.

“It’s very technology-driven,” Desai said. “But people are even more of a key piece.”

“When you get into the interventional world, you have to rely on so many different factors,” Saei added. “That includes the technological equipment, devices, and personnel. You go from being a one-man show to relying on a whole team of personnel.”

Saei and his team are working to create a fail-proof

medical network within the Rio Grande Valley, a goal that has required eighteen months of specialized training. He notes that industry advancements and personnel needs have spurred the need for medical progress in the community.

“My biggest pride thus far is being able to recruit people that I trust to care for me and my family,” Saei said. “Since we could not recruit somebody who could do these interventional procedures, we decided to teach ourselves.”

The Hospitals’ initiative has, therefore, equipped Brownsville and McAllen with the foremost advances in neurological care. Specialists at Rio Grande Regional Hospital and Valley Regional Medical Center hope to provide security for families throughout the Valley by refining their services at every opportunity.




Maria Ramirez is Bringing a New Era of Skincare to the Valley

Elan Medical Aesthetics is more than just a boutique spa. It offers a luxurious escape that envelops clients in an aromatic scent, transporting them to a world of relaxation and rejuvenation. The immaculate surroundings of the space resemble a five-star hotel lobby with an elegant and muted color palette.

Maria Ramirez, the owner, likes to describe her spa as a place where "luxury meets approachability" due to the wide array of services she provides for ultimate skin health. Clients can find services from modest price points

like a basic facial to pricier procedures such as laser hair removal or scalp micro pigmentation. No matter the budget, Maria believes in "welcoming all clients as family and making each customer feel special and seen."

Maria Ramirez founded Elan Medical Aesthetics in 2022 to provide high-end quality services to her loyal clients. Before starting Elan, Maria worked with renowned plastic surgeons, top-rated dermatologists, and luxury spas, perfecting her skills in skin care and accumulating numerous certifications and licenses. As an expert in


Permanent Makeup (PMU) and Scalp Micro-pigmentation (SMP), Maria and her team are up to date on all licensing and protocols to deliver cutting-edge results safely and responsibly to their clients.

In addition to her hands-on work with skin treatments and laser modalities, Maria also serves as an Aesthetic Practice Consultant, advising aesthetic, medical, and laser hair removal practices and spas. She even mentors individuals seeking to start or scale their businesses.

Ramirez creates custom plans for clients based on their unique skin types and demanding lifestyles, valuing their time and prioritizing results. "Everything I do is in the best interest of my client," Ramirez said. "If I can accommodate their lifestyle by jumping on a Facetime consultation to save a trip to the spa, I will make it happen. We are all about serving our clients with the utmost care and service." Ramirez's commitment to excellence does not go unrecognized. Some of her customers have been seeing her for 20 years – a testament to her degree of attention and expert techniques.

Hard work, grit, and determination are all pillars Ramirez attributes to her success. From a young age, she was taught by various women role models that success does not come by accident. She has taken these lessons to heart, viewing her business as her "baby" and always going the extra mile for her clients. To Ramirez, "Work doesn't feel like work – it feels fun. That's because it's fulfilling and something I wake up every morning looking forward to doing." Each day, she feels "privileged to serve the men and women of our community," this passion and work ethic fuels her through the long days.

As a local, Ramirez understands the importance of protecting skin from the Texas sun. She's passionate about skin education and helping people find the best products for their unique skin type. "I'm big on skin education, especially in regard to sun protection and exposure," Ramirez said. She proudly carries medicalgrade products like Elta MD and SkinCeuticals that offer extra sun protection while catering to individual complexions and compositions. She takes the time to educate each client on products appropriate to their skin. "I would rather spend the time to find that perfect product for you instead of letting you waste time and money searching for the product on your own," she said.

Maria Ramirez is a wealth of knowledge and is bringing a new era of skincare to the Valley — one where relaxation and results come together in a truly transformational experience. The ultra-lux environment she has created at


an expert in Permanent Makeup (PMU) and Scalp Micropigmentation (SMP), Maria and her team are up to date on all licensing and protocols to deliver cuttingedge results safely and responsibly to their clients.

Elan is one of a kind and leaves customers feeling more confident in their skin, which is Ramirez's goal for every client. For more information about Elan Medical Aesthetics and to book a consultation, visit



Effectively Convenient Children's Care

By 5 o'clock p.m. or the weekend, most of the working world has shut down. Businesses slow their operations, workplaces empty, and people go home, shifting their focus to the waning day. The same goes for most health care providers, such as clinics or doctor offices, often leaving hospitals as the sole providers of medical attention. This prompts people who require non-emergency care to attend the hospital, which can overload emergency room rooms, making emergency care harder for those who direly need it. To avoid this, urgent care centers exist to supplement the care provided by hospitals outside of typical work hours, treating ailments that do not need emergency care.

Driscoll is a healthcare provider dedicated to children's health in South Texas. Founded in 1953 by Clara Driscoll, it provides pediatric care services and specialties throughout the region, featuring hospitals, clinics, and urgent care places.

Driscoll's urgent care is its Quick Care services, which provide pediatric care on evenings and weekends

at multiple locations in the Rio Grande Valley and Corpus Christi. These centers relieve the strain on local hospitals and extend the availability of children's care into the night, making it easier for parents to get their children treated compared to an ER visit.

"We want to make sure that we really protect our emergency care resources and preserve those resources for true emergencies, it keeps the pressure off of our emergency department by having some of those lower acuity, more urgent care visits go to the Quick Care," said Matthew Wolthoff, President of Driscoll Children's Hospital Rio Grande Valley.

The Quick Care centers are outfitted to provide treatment and diagnoses for minor ailments, with imaging services and lab tests focusing solely on pediatric care. If urgent care is not able to treat a condition or injury, the center offers quick referrals to emergency care.

"We do have a streamlined process to get you over to the emergency room so you don't have to go and re-

"We want to make sure that we really protect our emergency care resources and preserve those resources for true emergencies, it keeps the pressure off of our emergency department by having some of those lower acuity, more urgent care visits go to the Quick Care."
Matthew Wolthoff , President of Driscoll Children's Hospital


should I take my child?

Where should I take

Did you know? More than half the visits to the ER are non-emergencies.

Did you know? More than half the visits to the ER

Driscoll Children's Quick Care


Sprains or minor pains

1120 E. Ridge Road, McAllen, TX 78503

Monday - Friday: 6PM - 11PM

Saturday & Sunday: 1PM - 11PM


2821 Michelangelo Dr., Suite 101, Edinburg, TX 78539

Monday - Friday: 6PM - 11PM

wait again we have a process where our nursing and physician team picks up the phone, connects, and gets some orders in so you can get over to the emergency room and get any subsequent care you might need," said Sarah Garza, Vice President of Clinics and Physicians Groups at Driscoll.

Saturday & Sunday: 1PM - 11PM


According to Driscoll, minor symptoms such as small cuts and mild fevers are acceptable for Quick Care; however, any serious symptom should prompt an immediate visit to the ER.

"If you think it's an emergency, you always want to err on the side of caution," said Wolthoff.



"If there's a seizure, if you've lost mental status, consciousness, had a really bad accident, if you can't breathe. If you see the bone is broken, go to the ER," said Garza.

troublesome endeavor for parents who may already be stressed about the health of their child.

"Going to the emergency room is a much bigger undertaking than just walking into a clinic. You go to an emergency room, you're registering at a hospital that can be more expensive if you don't need to be there, but it also sometimes can take longer and not be as pediatric friendly depending where you're going," said Garza.

Children's Quick Care

1120 E. Ridge Road, McAllen, TX 78503

Monday - Friday: 6PM - 11PM

Small cuts that may require stitches Eye redness, discharge or itchiness

Driscoll seeks to continue delivering high-quality pediatric care to South Texas. Driscoll Children's Hospital is currently in development in Edinburg, Texas, which will be the first dedicated children's hospital in the Rio Grande Valley.

Saturday & Sunday: 1PM - 11PM

A benefit of attending a Quick Care center rather than a hospital is the psychological advantage provided. Given that it is often a quicker, smoother, less


2821 Michelangelo Dr., Suite 101, Edinburg, TX 78539

Monday - Friday: 6PM - 11PM

Scheduled to open on May 1, 2024, the hospital will bring a new focus and advancement to childcare within the region.

Saturday & Sunday: 1PM - 11PM

Scan for hours & more info

injuries or trauma

and is for informational purposes only. The content is not intended medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. If you are not sure if your child needs urgent or emergency care, go to the

Minor illnesses, injuries & non-emergent issues such as: Emergent
is meant as a guide
Please note that
Infant under 3 months with fever greater than 100.4 F Di culty breathing or swallowing Severe
Cold or flu-like symptoms
Rashes Minor illness or injury
Minor illnesses, injuries & non-emergent issues such as: Emergent issues such as:
meant as a guide
informational purposes only. The content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis
you are not sure
your child needs urgent or emergency care, go to the closest emergency room
call 9-1-1.
note that this
Rio Grande Valley Infant under 3 months with fever greater than 100 4 F Di culty breathing or swallowing Severe injuries or trauma Loss of consciousness or change in mental status 1st seizure or prolonged seizure 5 minutes+ Dehydration due
inability to keep down fluids Cold or flu-like symptoms Sprains or minor pains Rashes
Eye redness, discharge or
Scan for hours & more info 65 RGVISION MAGAZINE . MAY/JUN 2024 LIFE
Minor illness or injury Small cuts that may require stitches



As the largest provider of stroke care in the Rio Grande Valley, the South Texas Health System Neurosciences & Stroke Institute has received numerous awards and accreditations, including:

The American Heart Association®/American Stroke Association®’s Get With The Guidelines® Stroke Gold Plus Achievement Award with Honor Roll Elite and Target: Type 2 Diabetes Honor Roll in 2023.

South Texas Health System McAllen has received a Comprehensive Stroke Center designation from DNV and a Comprehensive (Level I) Stroke Facility designation from the Texas Department of State Health Services.

South Texas Health System Edinburg and South Texas Health System Heart have been designated as Primary (Level II) Stroke Facilities by the state and each has been certified as a Primary Stroke Center by The Joint Commission.

South Texas Health System’s six Freestanding Emergency Departments have each earned an Acute Stroke Ready Hospital certification by The Joint Commission.

To learn more, visit

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. 242088265-2131950 3/24


Students Create Tiny Forest at Sam Houston Elementary

On March 7, 2024, the community of Sam Houston Elementary in McAllen came together to plant 1,800 native trees and shrubs in a 10,000-squarefoot area. This created Quinta Mazatlán's second school and Tiny Forest. A Tiny Forest is a small, densely planted environment of native plants, just

| photos provided

larger than a tennis court, designed to be placed in city spaces.

Led by principal Jessica Lowe, the students began the Tiny Forest inauguration with a skit titled, "I speak for the trees as they have no voice." Thirty students each presented a different native

Before the Tiny Forest.

plant and spoke of "their" benefits to both people and wildlife. McAllen City Commissioner Rodolfo "Rudy" Castillo and Commissioner Tony Aguirre also spoke of the many benefits of a Tiny Forest for the children and the surrounding community.

The concept of Tiny Forests, a unique initiative, was inspired by the observations of Japanese botanist Akira Miyawaki. During his visits to old temples in Japan, he noticed remnants of historic forests surrounding them, which he referred to as "tiny forests." Miyawaki studied the composition of these old forests and successfully recreated one in his hometown. Miyawaki, who passed away in 2021 at the age of 93, is credited with growing over 1,300 Tiny Forests.

Tiny Forests offer a host of significant benefits. They serve as a science education tool, providing an outdoor living laboratory and forest curriculum. Moreover, they address three critical environmental issues that are crucial throughout our students' lives: climate change, loss of forests and green spaces, and biodiversity loss. The past year, the RGV experienced a record high of 97 days over 100 degrees, tripling the number from just a decade before, underscoring the urgency of such initiatives.

The Executive Director of Quinta Mazatlán, Colleen Hook, thanked the Friends of Quinta Mazatlán nonprofit group for raising over $30,000 for the schoolyard Tiny Forest. She said, "Our valuable partnership with McAllen ISD is one that will continue to grow to benefit both education and the environment."

“I Speak for the Trees” Student Program.
After the planting. 71 RGVISION MAGAZINE . MAY/JUN 2024 LIFE
During the planting.


A New Book by Professor Robert Bradley
by The UTRGV Center for Latin American Arts | photos provided courtesy of Dr. Robert Bradley and the University of Oklahoma Press

Twenty-five years ago, Bob Bradley looked out at the Andes from the window of a Fokker turboprop bound for the north highland Peruvian town of Cajamarca. As he contemplated the huge Andean range below, he became concerned about his nonexistent Spanish and finding a driver willing to negotiate the twelve hours of dirt road switchbacks through the Marañón River canyon. This was the inauspicious beginning of Professor Bradley’s transition from a wholesale wine merchant to a pre-Columbian scholar specializing in the cloud forest Chachapoya people.

As a graduate student at Columbia University, Bradley spent each summer in northeastern Peru. This cloud forest landscape is a particularly draining environment of verticality and foot-deep mud. So, when he finished his work in the cordillera, he would head to the coast for a few weeks of much-needed rest and relaxation. There, he discovered that the food in the coastal Peruvian


towns and villages was outstanding. Ceviche became Bradley’s daily repast, and after meeting a Peruvian woman from the North Coast town of Ferreñafe, ceviche became the opening dish at their wedding ceremony. Bradley earned his Ph.D. in 2005, and he went on to teach pre-Columbian art history at the New School, University of North Carolina, Charlotte, and University of North Texas before landing a tenure-track position at the University of Texas Pan-American, which is now the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley.

As a tenure-track and then tenured faculty member, he would lead a study abroad program in Peru each summer, which introduced students to pre-Columbian architecture and the history of Peru. In addition to visits to the ever-popular Machu Picchu, Professor Bradley has led students to the remote ‘sister city’ of Machu Picchu, Choquequirao, across the fifteen-thousand-foot pass at Salkantay and on the high-altitude trek around the mountain Ausangate. These trips also provided access to Peru, which enabled the research required for Bradley’s academic articles and his monograph on Peruvian Food and History, Eating Peru: A Gastronomic Journey. Oklahoma University Press published this book in September 2023, and Dr. Can Saygin's Division of Research at UTRGV has provided important support to promote this research.

Eating Peru begins with a chapter on Bradley’s transition from wholesale wine merchant to scholar, then quickly moves on to a discussion of fish, fishing, and ceviche. An elaborate dialogue focuses on four unique Peruvian peppers or ajíes : Capsicum chinense , frutescens , pubescens, and baccatum . The use of these peppers in food preparations is thoroughly analyzed, as is the history of these fruits. The next chapter explores the use of alcohol from the pre-Columbian era to the present day, with a particular focus on the Peruvian brandy Pisco and the pre-Hispanic corn beer chicha. The discussion then moves to well-known Peruvian crops like potatoes and quinoa, the lesser-known cushuro , blue-green lake algae, and tarwi, a nutritious legume. Different waves of foreign incursions are then assessed, beginning with the upheaval of the 16th-century Spanish conquest, then the influx of Chinese workers at the end of the 19th century, and finally, the immigration of Italians and Japanese. All these foreign influences profoundly affected Peruvian gastronomy, and Bradley has thoroughly examined each of them.

Although Eating Peru is a meticulously researched work with hundreds of endnotes and a comprehensive bibliography, Professor Bradley had a large audience in

mind when he wrote the book. He says the text would interest both the first-time Peruvian traveler and the seasoned aficionado of Peru. Since its publication, Bradley has been interviewed on numerous radio programs and podcasts. One of them is New Worlder, an excellent Substack venue that highlights new happenings in Latin America. Professor Bradley’s book also received an Editor’s Choice award from the NEWPAGES blog this past December. Eating Peru: A Gastronomic Journey is available nationwide at Barnes and Noble, Amazon, and other good bookstores. You can follow Professor Bradley’s posts about Peruvian food, mountain trekking, and pre-Columbian architecture on his Instagram: @ precolumbianbob77. Finally, Professor Bradley relayed that the book would not have come to fruition without the help of Katherine McAllen, Director of UTRGV’s Center for Latin American Arts, Mark Andersen, Dean of Honors College, Jeffrey Ward, Dean of the College of Fine Arts, Ed Pogue, Director of the School of Art and Design, and Can Saygin, Senior Vice President for Research and Dean of the Graduate College. For more information, visit



Curate Your Space with Interior Design

As a child, I was fascinated by Interior Design shows like "While You Were Out" and "Trading Spaces," which left me wondering when a designed space is truly finished. This question has stayed with me throughout my life. I developed a deep passion for interior design and a desire to understand its essence. Growing up in Victoria, TX, I noticed a gap between innovative and modern design, but I also had a strong preference for a timeless traditional style. Later, I pursued my interest in design by attending school in Chicago, where I began to comprehend the numerous ways one can design a space.

"Why should you listen to me?" you ask. Let me introduce you to Creative Colectivo, also known as CC&Co. It's a design haven that became the passion project of NOMA Design Studio's principal and owner, Claudia Chanin. Together with Kasandra Tamez, we have developed strong relationships with influential brands to provide you with the best designs from around the world. We have been given the opportunity to showcase our discoveries on these pages, and we can't wait for you to experience our beautiful world. This series of articles will explore various interior design philosophies and showcase the most fabulous accessories, lighting, materials, furniture, art, and trends to inspire you.

Let's address my initial question about why we always feel like our homes are never complete. Well, you're either a designer yourself or you are a caffeinated shopaholic. We have the privilege of having a brick-and-mortar store, so we observe fabulous customers daily. In this era of fast furniture, we're constantly bombarded with seasonal impulse purchases, but we always yearn for that one-of-a-kind piece that stands out. That's where we can help. We specialize in finding items that have a special meaning to you and become the centerpiece that ties a room together. Once you start curating your joy, the ambiance will follow. The vibe of a room is in the details. If not, we're always here to offer a little style session.

For this month's collection, we have designed an effortlessly chic dining vignette, combining various colors, patterns, and textures to make it unforgettable. We encourage you to be adventurous and steer away from the usual white plates. Instead, try mixing and matching your tableware and incorporating statement pieces to impress your guests. Don't forget to add lighting for a dramatic effect and some flowers for warmth. These two elements are always a safe bet. Until next time, cheers!



The History of Live Entertainment in the Rio Grande Valley by Thom Denton | photos by Aaron Garcia, Fino Perez, and provided

Arnaldo 'Nano' Ramirez has been a significant figure in the Valley's entertainment industry since the late 1970s. Nano has a long-standing association with music, and he started working at his father's home recording studio in the 1950s. He eventually moved on to booking weddings and quinceañeras. He later transitioned into booking music for Tejano stars of the time. Nano booked numerous shows for Selena and presented her with a Tejano Music Award on Feb. 11, 1995, just over a month before her tragic death.

Nano had a passion for music from an early age and was influenced by Tejano legends and icons like Elvis and The Beatles, whom he saw on T.V. as a child. In the late 1970s and early 1980s, he established La Villa Real. This venue specialized in hosting music acts in the Border region. The venue attracted diverse artists, including Guns N Roses, AC/DC (with Bon Scott), and Metallica (in 1984), among others. Nano also brought country legends such as Waylon Jennings and Willie Nelson to the RGV and hosted wrestling matches featuring the Von Erichs and comedy shows featuring George Carlin.

In 2000, Nano organized an event at the Mercedes Livestock Show Grounds. The event featured the popular band Creed, which was considered one of the biggest music acts at the time. According to Nano, the event set a record for attendance in the Valley, with approximately 18,000 people.

Despite being 78 years old, he continues to attract renowned artists to the RGV. In 2024, he successfully booked The Randy Rogers Band, Ringo Starr, and Ice Cube to perform in the South Texas arenas.

J.R., Nano's son, started working for the family business immediately after completing high school in 1996. However, he was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis at the age of 51. Earlier this year, Nano published a 300-page book that chronicles the numerous events J.R. organized in the Valley. The book is available for purchase via email at All proceeds from the sale of the book go toward J.R.'s medical expenses.


Nano has moved on to bigger projects, which has opened up opportunities for upcoming artists to establish themselves. In 2009, Patrick Garcia founded Tigers Blood and started booking small venues around the Valley. Having realized that it has been 15 years since he started his venture, Garcia reflects on his journey.

Garcia acknowledges that he started booking music events primarily out of his interest as a lifelong music enthusiast. "My friends and I just wanted to see different genres and bands," he said. "I also realized, like a year into it, it's tough for many of us down here to drive 4-6 hours to see these acts. I wanted to create a connection with the rest of Texas; we're usually not seen at all."

When asked about his favorite business memory, he said he had too many to choose from. "It's always changing," Garcia said. "I'm very fond of a festival I used to throw about 10 years ago. It was called GALAX Z FAIR. I was also particularly proud of the MXLAN 2021 lineup."

These days, Tigers Blood frequently books local venues such as the Cine El Rey and The Gremlin, as well as the McAllen Center for Performing Arts, where he sold out his first event last year. He has expanded his repertoire and gained popularity in the local music scene. Last year, he brought the punk band Circle Jerks to Cine El Rey, among other performances. "I'd like to explore larger venues, just to try it," he said. "I have always been independent and worked smaller rooms. That's where my heart is, but if it made sense, and the artist was right, I'd love to experience that feeling, doing something big at an arena."

Garcia and Nano are familiar with each other despite never having met in person. Garcia regards Nano as a legendary figure, and both individuals are dedicated to organizing community-oriented events that promote a sense of unity and leave a lasting impact on the people of the Rio Grande Valley.

photos by Fino Perez photo provided
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Water Conservation With $115 Million Delta Region Water Management Project

Floods are hardly uncommon in the Rio Grande Valley, especially when a hurricane or tropical storm zeros in on the southern tip of the Texas coastline. Because the land is flat in that region, runoff from heavy rains can’t flow efficiently to Laguna Madre, which results in flooding.

Historically, water runoff was collected in irrigation ditches–many designed by the Hidalgo County Drainage District–to divert irrigation water off of farmland. However, this system can’t handle the runoff from parking lots, roadways, or car washes.

However, the Delta Region Water Management Project–an ambitious and innovative flood mitigation plan–is in the works. When fully implemented, it would capture runoff from floodwaters, which could become a new water source for one of the fastest-growing regions in Texas.

The Delta Region Water Management Project, which is projected to cost upward of $115 million, has been in the works since 2012 when the Texas Water Development Board contacted representatives from Hidalgo County to launch the study and address the potential of flood occurrences and find a way to reclaim that storm runoff as an alternative water source.

The strategy has undergone significant modifications over the past 12 years. 2016, the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) granted a wateruse permit.

However, the plan wasn’t advancing as quickly as local government leaders hoped, so in 2017, Hidalgo County leaders contracted with Halff Associates Inc., which is highly experienced with water-use projects.

Their expertise led to the creation of a 225-acre water detention facility in La Villa. This facility captures water and treats it before pumping it to any of the three proposed reservoirs that will be constructed under the Delta Water Management Plan.

“Buying linear detention is very expensive because you have to go lot by lot and acquire land,” said Hidalgo County Pct. 1 Commissioner David Fuentes. “If we can create one large detention facility like we did here in La Villa–in this one 225-acre facility–we can divert all this water into one area. That’s the efficiency of this; it creates non-linear detention, essentially.”

The plan also calls for the construction of reservoirs and treatment plants on three proposed sites in Hidalgo County. The first is the proposed Santa Cruz Reservoir,


built on 418 acres to capture, treat, and pump most runoff. The second site is the existing and proposed Engleman Reservoir in Edinburg, and the third proposed site is the Panchita Reservoir in eastern Hidalgo County.

“We also have a floating permit in Willacy County that could allow us to establish another water treatment plant anywhere along that main drain,” he said. “We can roughly treat 18 to 20 million gallons of water a day once this is a fully developed project with four functioning water plants.”

Of course, funding is the biggest obstacle. In 2023, Region M of the Texas Water Development Board amended the Rio Grande Regional Water Plan after receiving water testing protocols from TCEQ.

This allowed this project to be included as a water development board water source project. It also allowed testing on the water, which, in many cases, can take a year to complete due to equipment shortages.

Meanwhile, Fuentes said they met with state lawmakers in Austin last year to seek approval to allow

the drainage district to issue revenue bonds for capital improvement projects since the Delta Region Water Management Project would be able to generate revenue. That was approved by the state.

“This is the only drainage district in Texas that can do this,” Fuentes said.

Other funding options include P3 [publicprivate partnership] funding or grant programs that can be leveraged to ultimately fund this project without going to the taxpayers.

Funding the project, however, can’t begin until the county receives the water test results from Halff Associates, expected before the end of June.

“Once we submit that report to the TCEQ, we can start trying to find the funding for this,” Fuentes said. “This project is the first of its kind in the State of Texas. It’s a trailblazer so we have to create the rules as we go along.”

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deliver the absolute best pediatric care, whenever you need it. We know it takes a village, and we’re proud to be part of yours.

Together, we heal.


Recognized as a Platinum Broker by Crexi. Received the Power Broker award by Costar for Top Sale in Q4 of 2023.


Hanna Solutions Commercial Real Estate is setting t he bar high in the Rio Grande Valley (RGV) real estate market. Our recent recognitions, includ ing the Platinum Broker award by Crexi and the Power Broker award by Costar for Top Sale in Q4 of 2023, are testaments to our commitment to excellence. With the highest digital footprint in South Texas, we ensure your property gets unparalleled exposure. Our impressive 87% List to Sale ratio demonstrates our efficacy in marketing and selling commercial proper ties. At Hanna Solutions, we don’t just list your property; we craft a strategic marketing plan to meet and exceed your goals.

Unmatched Presence:
digital footprint in South Texas for maximum property exposure Outstanding Performance:
List to Sale ratio, underscoring our success in selling properties we represent. Tailored Marketing: Every property is given a strategic marketing plan for optimal results Local Focus: Dedicated exclusively to the Rio Grande Valley area, with extensive knowledge of the local market Proven Results: Showcasing a series of recently sold properties, reflecting our ability to close deals Mark Hanna Commercial Real Estate Advisor (956) 821-8001 (956) 360-5062 Edson Carvajal Commercial Real Estate Advisor WE MAKE DEALS HAPPEN McColl N 611 322-4001 (956) Road McAllen, TX 78501 - Suite D
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