Wednesday, October 26, 2011

RGC Fire Dept. Visits North Grammar Elem.

RGCCISD Press Release
North Grammar Elementary students and staff were treated to a lively presentation entitled “Sizzling for Safety” by our own RGC Fire Department on Tuesday, October 11th. Fire Department members demonstrated various methods of fire prevention, as well as fire safety. Sparky, the Firehouse Dog also made an appearance much to the delight of all present. North Grammar Elementary would like to thank the Rio Grande City Fire Department for providing these educational and entertaining presentations.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Grulla Teen Apparently Takes Own Life

La Grulla High school varsity football player Adrian Peña apparently committed suicide early Sunday (Oct. 23, 2011) afternoon, just one day before his birthday. (Read Source Article)

Monday, October 24, 2011

Veterans Middle School Teams-Up with BP

RGCCISD Press Release
VETERANS MIDDLE SCHOOL – Veterans Middle School students and staff worked together with the Border Patrol in a collaborative effort to give back to the community by holding a Canned Food Drive at VMS. Students donated 2000 canned goods in a one week time period during the month of September. The winning classroom with the most donated canned goods was Mrs. Mindy Barrera’s homeroom with 178 cans of food that were donated. Due to the community service efforts of the students at VMS, their generosity will help feed the families of the Rio Grande Valley Food Bank. Pictured above are some VMS students, Border Patrol representatives, Mrs. Maricela O. Garcia (VMS Principal), and Mrs. Laura Reyes (VMS Student Council Sponsor).

Friday, October 21, 2011

Grulla Middle School Observes Breast Cancer Awareness Month

RGCCISD Press Release
Grulla Middle School has participated in different activities to support Cancer awareness month for the last few years.This year teachers are encouraged to wear Pink every Friday to show their support. Another important event that GMS is proud of participating in is the "Relay For Life". GMS Student body, GMS Cheerleaders, and student athletes were enthusiastic about participating in these events as well, most of them were showing their support by sporting pink tee-shirts and pink shoelaces for every game played in the month of October. Mr. Serapio Trillayes,GMS Principal, would like to thank Teachers,Staff, Students, and the community for supporting Breast Cancer Awareness.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Veterans Middle School Students Participated in HESTEC Event

RGCCISD Press Release
VETERANS MIDDLE SCHOOL – Veterans Middle School students from Mr. Juan Andrade’s Career and Technology class participated in HESTEC’s 10th year of promoting science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education at the University of Texas Pan American on September 29, 2011. The VMS team consisted of five students who competed in HESTEC’s Robotics Day Flight Competition. The team’s objective was to learn how to fly and communicate with an AR Drone (remote controlled helicopter) through an obstacle course in the fastest time possible for the most points. Veterans Middle School is extremely proud of their VMS team who placed 10th out of 51 middle schools from throughout the Rio Grande Valley at this year’s competition. Congratulations to the VMS team and their sponsors. Pictured above are VMS students who participated and their sponsors: Ali Garcia, Noel Garcia, Roxanne Garcia, Mario Lopez, Gabrielle Pena and Mr. Juan Andrade (VMS Career and Technology Teacher) and Savannah Lopez (VMS Teacher).

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Local College to offer Cake Decorating Courses

Are you an avid baker? Do you enjoy the “ahh’s” you get when you present a new cake to your friends and family? If so, now is the time to take your skills to the next level with the Fundamentals of Cake Decorating Class at South Texas College.

Offered through the college’s Continuing, Professional and Workforce Education Program, the course runs every Saturday from Oct. 22 through Nov. 5 from 8 a.m. to 12 p.m. at the college’s Pecan Plaza located at 2621 W. Pecan Blvd. in McAllen. The cost is $72 per participant. Participants will be asked to provide their own decorating materials and cakes for decoration at each class session.

“This class is a great way to get ready for the holiday season, which is the prime time for those of us who like to bake,” said class instructor Jessica Perez. “I will teach students a variety of tips and tricks to create some stunning designs. This is also a great skill to have for a little extra money or make homemade inexpensive, but delicious gifts.”

The class is open to participants ages 14 years and older. Minors must be accompanied by a parent or provide a parental consent form. It is open to the first 15 registrants. For more information or to register call 956-872-3585 or 956-872-6783.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Group to Study Predatory Lending Practices in Local Communities

Dr. Peter Ward of the LBJ School of Public Affairs has made it his life's work to study the Texas colonias. He is launching into a new research project with LBJ School and UT Law students to study the predatory lending practice known as "contract for deed" that is prolific among the colonias, on the border. Because many colonia residents don't qualify for bank loans, landowners enter into an informal contract whereby the resident pays cash for property. In most cases, the property stays in the possession of the landowner until the balance is paid in full. In the past, many colonia residents have found themselves evicted with no evidence that they ever paid anything for their property. Legislation was passed in 1995 to help protect people who enter in contract for deed arrangements but predatory practices and other problems remain.

Since contracts for deed are often not recorded with the county clerks office, there is no way to know how many colonia residents in the Central Texas area and in border counties have entered into these kinds of financial arrangements. Dr. Ward and his team of students will research contract for deed practices in seven border counties (Cameron, El Paso, Hidalgo, Maverick, Starr, Val Verde and Webb) and five Central Texas counties, which house approximately 500,000 Texans, to determine how many people are using contract for deeds to finance their homes. This research project is being performed on the behalf of the Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs.

Dr. Ward is available for interview about this project and the colonias in general and can talk specifically about the colonias located in the Central Texas area. Below is a link to a press release with more information, including information about the Law School's part in the project.

Monday, October 17, 2011

La Union Elem. Participated in Homecoming Event

RGCCISD Press Release
La Union Elementary Viper cheerleaders followed the yellow brick road to the homecoming parade for the Grulla Gators on Thursday, September 29, 2011. The Viper cheerleaders participate in various events throughout the school year in support of their school. Go Vipers!

Local College Salutes Starr Co. Alum.

The stars were shinning bright as community leaders gathered at The Club at Cimarron on a breezy October evening for the sixth annual South Texas College Valley Scholars Program’s A Night with The Stars. Attendees enjoyed an evening of dining and entertainment as the college saluted program alum and Starr County native Alexandro Sarabia.

Sarabia graduated as the valedictorian at Roma High School in 2006 prior to becoming an STC Valley Scholar. He graduated STC and transferred to The University of Texas-Pan American two years later. In spring 2009 he was the top graduate of UTPA’s College of Social and Behavioral Sciences, earning two bachelor’s degrees - one in psychology and one in sociology. In august 2011 he earned his master’s in clinical psychology from the university and is currently serving as a psychology instructor at STC’s Starr County Campus.

“I feel very proud to be selected as this year’s Valley Scholar’s alumni honoree,” said Sarabia. “It’s a great program and I will always be extremely grateful for the opportunities it afforded me like becoming involved in community service, learning about leadership and dreaming bigger. Now as an instructor I hope to serve as a role model for others and give back some of what I was given. Through education and determination anything is possible. I consider STC a home and it’s great to be back helping students achieve their dreams.”

Also honored at the event for support of higher education were Atlas & Hall, LLP and Charles Clark Chevrolet Co.

“We are thankful for the recognition tonight, but the real thanks comes when we hear the success stories of the students who have succeeded through the program,” said Atlas and Hall Managing Partner Gary Gurwitz, who also serves as chair of STC’s Board of Directors. “We elected to support the Valley Scholars because it is a great cause. The program encourages all students to come to college, especially some really fine students who might not otherwise have had the means. It’s been a great success for ST C and our community.”

“I have been very impressed with the vision for STC and I think that any good venture really needs the support of the local community,” said Kirk Clark, president and CEO of Charles Clark Chevrolet Co. “I have a heart for the college and I helped develop the GM-Automotive Service Educational Program at STC, and quite frankly 80 percent of the technicians that work for me are graduates of the program. I really do appreciate all the efforts of the STC family and the great job they do to support our students. It’s been a pleasure to be a small part of that.”

In total, the college raised more than $90,000 in cash and in-kind through the event. Net proceeds benefit the STC Valley Scholars Program. Founded in 1997, the program provides financial assistance, academic support and leadership development to academically gifted and highly motivated students. More than 600 program students have graduated and gone on to study at premier universities around the nation to become doctors, lawyers, teachers and other professionals.

For additional information about the annual event visit or call 956-872-2621.

Photo caption:
STC’s administrators with honorees at the college’s Valley Scholar’s Program sixth annual A Night with the Stars. From left are STC Vice President of Academic Affairs Juan Mejia, STC Valley Scholars Coordinator Corinne Kelley, STC Board of Trustees Chair Gary Gurwitz, Alexandro Sarabia, Kirk Clark, STC President Shirley A. Reed and STC Assistant to the Vice President for Academic Affairs Anahid Petrosian.

Valley Student Successful at Cake Decorating Competition

Eleven South Texas College Culinary Arts Program students battled their way through butter cream, fondant, crystallized sugar, chocolate bark and a variety of other weapons of mass deliciousness. But only one stood out above the rest as Joseph Moore was named the STC Culinary Arts Cake Decorator of the Year.

Moore and his fellow newbie chefs recently participated in the college’s first Cake Decorating Competition, through which contestants brought their homemade cakes and took one hour to give the cakes one extreme icing makeover.

“I literally spent weeks meticulously planning out my design,” said STC student Karla Flores, whose farm scene cake was a top contender in the contest. “My husband loves chickens and so I think the inspiration came from him and my children. It’s very geared at children. I really loved the idea of this competition because it keeps up active outside the classroom, keeps us on our toes and helps us stay at the top of our game. It was a cool experience.”

Students submitted cakes ranging from a mushroom inspired by the popular TV series “The Smurfs”, to a Day of the Dead altar, fairy, present and football party cake, just to name a few. The competition was certainly stiff and the judging, which took more than one hour to complete, was no piece of cake.

“The level of talent for this being the first time for many of these students to create pieces on this level was really incredible,” said Cynthia Ebrom, owner of world-renowned Cynthia’s Cakes and a judge for the event.”The designs were very creative and the techniques used were pretty impressive. Of course there is room for improvement and I think the students will learn from some of their mistakes. You can strive for perfection, but there is really no such thing. It’s all about practice, practice, practice and creativity. But overall, I am really impressed.”

Ebrom was joined by fellow professionals Jennifer Guerra, pastry chef for Sante Fe Steakhouse, and Tiffany Anders, pastry chef for Bistro M.

“These are all first year students and we wanted to give them a reason to work hard, that is to impress these amazing professionals with their work,” said Chef Emma Creps, STC Culinary Arts Program chair. “Although Joseph was selected the winner, I am so proud of each of our participating students. They showed some real ingenuity beyond the skills they have learned so far. This contest reaffirms my belief that we have some of the most talented young chefs starting at STC. The Valley can look forward to some amazing eating for generations to come.”

Entries were rated on three factors including overall appearance, creativity of the design and the level of complexity of the decoration. Participating students including Yabeli Banda, Elaine Cercas, Raphael DeLeon, Jennifer Flores, Karla Flores, Yermaine Garza, Jodi Guerra, Kristina Lopez, Joseph Moore, Andrea Ramirez and Krystal Santos.

Photo caption:
Moore putting the finishing touches on his winning entry for STC’s first Culinary Arts Program Cake Decorating Competition.

Starr Co. Students Could be Next NASA Space Explorers

State Representative Ryan Guillen is pleased to announce the launch of the 2011-2012 High School Aerospace Scholars (HAS) program. The program enables selected Texas high school juniors to explore new frontiers and become part of NASA’s plan for space exploration.

Students selected will apply their math and science skills to complete 10 web-based assignments during the school year and then will travel to Johnson Space Center (JSC) in Houston during the summer to put those skills to use. At JSC, they will propose and design missions focused on deep space exploration alongside their peers as well as NASA scientists and engineers.

“This is a one-of-a-kind opportunity for our students to expand their academic knowledge and apply what they learn in an exciting real-world environment,” said Rep. Guillen. “The High School Aerospace Scholars program is recognized for inspiring the minds of our state’s young people."

Eligible students are required to be a U.S. citizen; a Texas resident; a current high school junior; have an interest in science, math or engineering; be able to commit to a relationship with JSC, including a one-week residential experience during the summer; and have access to the Internet and e-mail (home, school or public library).

The State of Texas, in partnership with JSC, and the Texas educational community, developed the High School Aerospace Scholars in 1999 to encourage students to pursue studies and careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics. Additional partners include the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo, University of Houston System and Rotary NASA. More than 6,500 students from across the state have participated in the program.

High school juniors interested in applying for the 2011-2012 program should visit the web at The deadline to apply is Friday, Dec. 9, 2011.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Local College Brings “Dracula” to the Valley

Have you long been a fan of vampire lore? Are you excited about Halloween? Now is the time to kick off the fall holiday fun and enjoy an updated version of a legendary thriller. South Texas College’s Theatre Department kicks off its second full season of productions with Steven Dietz’s “Dracula.” The show runs from Oct. 13 to 15, 2011 at 8 p.m., with a Sunday matinee on Oct. 16 at 2 p.m. The Count takes stage at STC’s Pecan Campus Cooper Center for Communication Arts located at 3201 W. Pecan Blvd. in McAllen.

“Dietz restores the suspense and seduction of Bram Stoker’s classic novel in this thrilling adaptation, adding a modern edge that will resonate with our community,” said Joel Jason Rodriguez, STC drama instructor and play director. “Our Count Dracula is all vampire lovers will expect and more, and audiences will be captivated by his charisma as he exerts his will upon the residents of London as they valiantly attempt to save themselves from a hideous fate.

“In addition to some stellar performances from STC students and community members, audiences will be stunned by the costumes and sets, which have all been hand crafted by STC students and faculty,” added Rodriguez. “This is a remarkable showcase of the rising talent we have in the Valley, both on and off the stage. Both visually rich and packed with humor and horror, the show will be a wicked delight for any theater patron this season.”

Tickets are $5 for STC students, faculty and staff members, senior citizens, and members of the military and $10 for general admission. The Sunday matinee production will be interpreted in American Sign Language by student interns from STC’s Interpreter Training Program.

For those who wish to attend the theatre year round and support the students’ artistic endeavors, patrons are invited to subscribe to the STC Theater Department’s Season Pass Program. With the pass, subscribers are given tickets for all productions and receive special deals for added guest performances that may occur throughout the year. Season pass prices are $15 for STC students, faculty and staff members, senior citizens, and members of the military and $25 for community members.

For additional information about the show, upcoming performances, tickets or season passes visit or call 956-872-2366 or 956-872-2348.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

New Requirements for 2012 Livestock Shows

Rio Grande City, Tx - Starting in 2012, Quality Counts verification will be required for all youth exhibiting livestock (market and/or breeding) at major livestock shows in Texas (including the Ft. Worth Livestock Show, San Antonio Stock Show & Rodeo, Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo, Star of Texas Fair in Austin, San Angelo Livestock Show, Sandhills Stock Show in Odessa, State Fair of Texas in Dallas, and Heart O’ Texas Fair in Waco). The verification process will require junior exhibitors to pass an online test that measures their knowledge on quality assurance and character education content items.

The Quality Counts Program has now been in existence statewide for six years. Over this time, it has reached an average of 30,000 youth per year through the 4-H and FFA Programs. The program outcomes clearly demonstrate youth being more knowledgeable of best management practices associated with livestock projects. More importantly, the program’s impact has demonstrated positive changes in personal character attributes as well as adoption of livestock best management practices.

Over these six years, Quality Counts has been supported and endorsed by every major livestock show in Texas. These livestock shows have been instrumental in helping market the program statewide and have also been a strong partner regarding the educational content developed for the Quality Counts Program. In addition, these livestock shows have fully endorsed this verification process.

Starting in May, youth are able to go online to take the test and become verified. A verification number will need to be provided at the time of making an official entry into a Texas major livestock show. Thus, youth will need to have completed and passed the test before the major livestock show’s entry deadline. A passing score has been determined to be 80%.

Youth educators and the major livestock shows in Texas believe strongly in Quality Counts. Collectively, they are confident that this significant step of requiring youth to be “Quality Counts Verified,” starting in 2012, will strengthen and enhance the youth livestock program in Texas.

For more information, please contact your Omar Montemayor, Starr County Extension Agent –AGNR at (956) 487-2306 or your Agriculture Science Teacher.

Monday, October 10, 2011

More Local Residents Attending College

In spite of the national economic uncertainty, 30,558 Rio Grande Valley students recognized the value of higher education by investing in their future at South Texas College. And because of that investment, STC saw an increase of five percent over its fall 2010 enrollment. This means approximately 1,504 more students are attending STC this fall than last.

“These students made STC part of their lives this year and that enrollment is a testament to the value students and their families see in the affordable, high-quality education we offer across our Hidalgo and Starr counties service district,” explained Dr. Shirley A. Reed, STC president. “With more than 100 degree and certificate program options across six campuses, really there is something at STC for everyone.

“We saw tremendous growth in online enrollment, which is due in large part to the launch of our sixth campus this fall, our eSTC Virtual Campus,” she added. “Students need a flexible and convenient outlet. We built this fully-online campus to give students access to courses at the times and location of their choosing. Life happens and we are here to help students no matter their situation. That’s why we focus on access and affordability, it creates options and opportunity. Higher education is the only path to improved economic prosperity for our region.”

With continued enrollment growth at STC, there is no doubt the college will expand as a source of economic stimulus for the regional economy. “The Economic Contribution of South Texas College: Changing Lives, Changing Communities,” a study commissioned by the college’s Board of Trustees, shows that the average associate’s degree graduate in Hidalgo and Starr counties earns $320,000 more over the course of a working lifetime than someone with only a high school diploma. In one year, STC students cumulatively earned sufficient credits to add $107 million in income to the local economy.

“We are excited and elated every year that we witness an increase in enrollment in the college, because it improves the overall level of educational attainment, while allowing our graduates a better opportunity of securing higher-paying jobs,” explained Rose Benavidez, vice president of STC’s Board of Trustees. “We know that a large portion of these students will graduate in the next two to three years, helping sustain our economic growth and fostering an exciting future for our region. They are the foundation of recruiting new businesses to our area and creating those positive opportunities that change lives and communities.”

The Brookings Institution, a nonprofit, public policy organization based in Washington, D.C., recently issued a report that parallel’s the importance of continued enrollment growth in higher education in the Valley with the growth of the region’s economic opportunity.

"The Brookings study of the top 100 U.S. Metro areas identified the McAllen-Edinburg-Mission area as the lowest in educational attainment among the top 100 U.S. Metro Areas,” concluded Reed. “At the same time, the area ranked number one for job growth and regional economic development. What a challenge that creates for us and it really puts in context why we feel it is so important to provide access, because STC's graduates will be the workforce for the high-skill, high-wage jobs coming to the Valley in the future."

For additional information about South Texas College call 956-872-8311 or visit

Photo caption 1:
In fall 2011, 30,558 students in South Texas recognized the value of higher education by investing in their future at South Texas College.

Photo caption 2:
Rosa Benavidez, vice president of STC’s Board of Trustees.

Friday, October 7, 2011

RGCCISD Grulla Gators Win Homecoming Game

RGCCISD Grulla Gators victorious over MMA on Friday, September 30, 2011 with a score of 56 to 7. The Gators took control early and continued to dominate the game throughout the night. The team celebrated their homecoming game with a big victory. Although the Gators have a young team, they have demonstrated to be united and are on the road to success. Congratulations on a job well done to the Gators and their coaches! (RGCCISD Photo).

A multitude of community supporters came out to cheer the RGCCISD Grulla High School Gators on Thursday, September 29 for the Homecoming Parade and Bonfire The Gators played against the Marine Military Academy (MMA) on Friday for their Homecoming game. Mr. Joel Trigo-Principal for RGCCISD Grulla High School welcomed all of the supporters, administration, parents and students to the festivities.

To kick off the program the Grulla High School Mariachi Band played a selection for the team members. The roaring crowd was filled with enthusiasm as different groups went up to cheer for the team. Performing for team members were the Grulla Mighty Band, Cheerleaders, Drill Team and the Grulla Gator Mascot.

Football Head Coach Abel Gonzalez gave the players a pep talk to encourage them to go out and do their very best. The team captains for the game are; #20-Raymond Garza, #1-Jose (Cheeto) Martinez, #63-Mark Chapa, #8-Hector Villarreal, #28-Rosbel Ramirez and #52-Juan Villarreal. All the captains were introduced and also addressed the players with encouraging words. The team huddled and cheered as if preparing for a play. Christian Eguia Gator #23 lead the players with a Rap song and dance.

Mr. Joel Trigo addressed the players with words of wisdom and emphasized that grades and school performance are of the utmost importance. He also encouraged them to do what they loved the most which is p
laying football. Trigo feels so appreciative with the support that is given to his school and his Gators by the whole community.

Community Supporters Mr. Oscar Garcia and Mrs. Sandra Martinez presented Coach Abel Gonzalez with a Gator Banner. The Homecoming Court was recognized was also recognized before culminating with the lighting of the traditional opposing team mascot and the singing of the Grulla Alma Mater. (RGCCISD Photo).

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Grant Money Available to Starr County Art Students

AUSTIN – State Representative Ryan Guillen (D-Starr) today announced a grant program geared to help Texas students in 8th to 11th grade with a passion for the arts enhance their skills and pursue their dreams. Students who apply, fit the necessary criteria, and display outstanding artistic talent may be awarded grants of up to $2,500 per year for two years to further their advanced studies in their art disciplines.

"Serving as Chairman of the House Committee on Culture, Recreation, and Tourism, I believe this program will enrich students' lives by giving them a unique chance to further develop their talents," said Rep. Guillen. "I urge educators, civic leaders, and parents to join me in encouraging our students to take part in this exceptional opportunity."

The Young Masters grant program, administered by the Texas Commission on the Arts (TCA) every other year since 2002, is funded through the efforts of the Texas Cultural Trust, a nonprofit group whose mission is to inspire, integrate, and illuminate the arts in our state. The intent of the program is to advance the creative economy of Texas by investing in the future of the arts.

Eligible students must be in 8th to 11th grade, must be involved in a dance, literary arts, media arts, music, theater, or visual arts school-based program, and must maintain passing grades in all academic areas. In addition, they must be legal United States and Texas residents. The application deadline is Tuesday, November 15, 2011.

Past Young Masters award recipients have used the grant to attend summer programs at Juilliard, the Joffrey School of Ballet, the Sewanee Young Writers' Conference, the Digital Media Academy, the Aspen Music Festival, the California Broadway Theater Project, the School of the Arts Institute of Chicago, and the Rhode Island School of Design, among other national institutions.

For more information on the Young Masters grant program and for a printable copy of the application, please visit the Texas Commission on the Arts website at

Wells Fargo Foundation donates funds to Local College

The Wells Fargo Foundation recently donated $5,000 to South Texas College’s Valley Scholars Program to provide scholarships for deserving students.

“Education is the foundation of success for our global economy and we made this donation to ensure that worthy students have a chance to make a positive impact on our region, nation and world in the years to come,” said Alma Ortega Johnson, president for the Upper Rio Grande Valley Division of Wells Fargo.

STC Valley Scholars was founded in 1997 to provide the financial assistance, academic support services, mentoring, and leadership development to help academically talented and highly motivated students be successful in college. More than 630 students have graduated through the program and gone on to study at premier universities around the nation including The University of Texas-Pan American, Texas A&M University, The University of California and Emerson College.

“The Wells Fargo Foundation donation means more of our Valley students have their dreams within reach and we extend our sincere appreciation to the entire Wells Fargo family for believing in our students,” said Anahid Petrosian, STC assistant to the vice president of academic affairs “These monies will keep our academic stars shining at STC. It shows our students that their hard work and determination is recognized and gives them the motivation to keep working toward the important goal of earning a college degree."

The mission of the Wells Fargo Foundation is to build strong and vibrant communities, improve the quality of life, and make a positive difference. It is a private foundation providing grants to eligible 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organizations to support these focus areas: education, community development, health and human services, arts and culture, the environment, and civic life.

For more information about STC’s Valley Scholars Program call 956-872-1952 or visit

Photo caption:
From left are Anahid Petrosian, STC assistant to the vice president for academic affairs; Itzel Canales, STC Valley Scholar recipient; Mario Reyna, STC division dean of business and technology; Alma Ortega Johnson, president for the Upper Rio Grande Valley Division of Wells Fargo; Gabrielle Marroquin, STC Valley Scholar recipient; and Corinne Kelley, STC Valley Scholars Program coordinator.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Starr Co. Crime Unit Receives Assistance Grant Money

AUSTIN – State Representative Ryan Guillen (D-Starr) today announced that the Starr County Violent Crime Unit (SCVCU) is the recipient of a grant totaling $509,873 that will enhance the unit's continued efforts to protect Starr County families.

"For the county to continue toward economic progress, our communities must be safe and our law enforcement officials must possess the resources necessary to protect our families from harm," said Rep. Guillen. "This grant will provide the Starr County Violent Crime Unit with the ability to better serve county residents. Increased public safety paves the way for increased economic opportunity."

The Byrne Justice Assistance Grant, received by the SCVCU, is annually awarded to local law enforcement agencies as well as crime control and prevention districts to help them address violent crimes in their communities, particularly in the areas of drug enforcement and criminal enterprise.

In total, the counties of Starr, Hidalgo, Duval, Webb, and Zapata were awarded more than $1.3 million in Byrne Justice Assistance Grant funds this September. The other grant recipients include the Duval County Central South Texas Criminal Investigative Unit, Hidalgo County's DWI Court, Webb County's 406th District Court Drug Court program, and Zapata County's Operation Border Star project.

The Criminal Justice Division's (CJD) mission is to create and support programs that protect people from crime, reduce the number of crimes committed, and to promote accountability, efficiency, and effectiveness within the criminal justice system. CJD focuses on the enhancement of Texas' capacity to prevent crime, provide service and treatment options, enforce laws, train staff and volunteers, and the restoration of crime victims to full physical, emotional and mental health.

For more information on the Criminal Justice Division and Byrne Justice Assistance Grants, please visit

Local College Honors Heroes of 9-11

On the morning of September 11, 2001, 2,973 people lost their lives when tragedy struck the United States as a group of terrorist attacked what they consider to be our nation’s heart – New York City. That day would live on in the hearts and minds of every American. And three days before the 10 year anniversary of 9/11, South Texas College’s Starr County Campus held a remembrance to honor those who passed away as a result of the tragedy, but also those who showed true heroism in the days and months following.

“Coming to this event really hit me in the heart because when you’re doing your job, you just do it. You don’t think about it, you just run to any situation they tell you to go take care of because lives are at stake,” said Ismael Rivas, fireman for the La Rosita Fire Department. “That’s what those brave firefighters and police men did that day. They didn’t think about it; they just went in there and did what they had to do. That is real bravery.”

Firefighters, police and emergency medical responders for departments from across Starr County participated in the ceremony. STC Starr County Coordinator Ruben Saenz and Rio Grande City Mayor Ruben Villarreal paid tribute to those lost on 9/11, but also local responders who risk their lives every day.

“This ceremony was a very heartfelt, filled with genuine emotion. Seeing all these first responders here let me know that that this community is ready for anything,” said Mayor Villarreal. “What happened that day did not just affect the people of New York; it affected the whole nation. We will never forget and we thank all those who put their lives on the line for us every day. You are all heroes.”

It was after the speeches and a moment of silence that the U.S flag was lowered and then lifted again to half mast in remembrance of the tragedy and bravery that occurred that day.

Photo caption:
STC Administrators, Board Member, and Mayor of Rio Grande with local Responders

RGC, Roma Border Wall Sections; A Real Possibility?

In this week's episode, guest Scott Nicol discusses recent developments on the progress of the "Border Wall" that could cause serious problems for the Starr County area of the Rio Grande Valley. Get more info. at Subscribe to this Podcast for FREE, and never miss an episode, just search "bpscast" in the Apple iTunes Store.