Author Archives: George Cox, VBR Managing Editor

George Cox is a veteran journalist with more than 30 years experience as a newspaper writer and editor. A Corpus Christi native, he started his career as a reporter for The Brownsville Herald after graduating from Sam Houston State University with a degree in journalism. He later worked on newspapers in Laredo and Corpus Christi as well as northern California. George returned to the Valley in 1996 as editor of The Brownsville Herald and in 2001 moved to Harlingen as editor of the Valley Morning Star. He also held the position of editor and general manager for the Coastal Current, a weekly entertainment magazine with Valleywide distribution. George retired from full-time journalism in 2015 to work as a freelance writer and legal document editor. He continues to live in Harlingen where he and his wife Katherine co-founded Rio Grande Valley Therapy Pets, a nonprofit organization dedicated to raising public awareness of the benefits of therapy pets and assisting people and their pets to become registered therapy pet teams.

Forum Focuses on Highways

Texas Secretary of State addressed TxDot officials and contractors at the Heavy Highway Forum held in Pharr. (VBR)

Texas Secretary of State David Whitley expressed confidence that the Texas Department of Transportation’s 10-year, $70 billion statewide infrastructure program will bode well for the future economic development in the Rio Grande Valley. “As TxDot begins to the rollout of the Unified Transportation Program bill, it’s even more important that we continue to communicate with one another to accomplish our goals of enhancing capacity, maintenance and safety of our critical…

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Harlingen Dedicates New Convention Center

Harlingen Mayor Chris Boswell cut the ribbon to officially open the Harlingen Convention Center. (VBR)

City officials and community leaders gathered May 1 for a ceremony and ribbon-cutting to formally dedicate the Harlingen Convention Center. Attendees had a chance to tour the building and a community open house was on the schedule for the evening. Mariachis entertained guests upon arrival. A color guard made up of officers from the Harlingen police and fire departments started the ceremony. Harlingen school district students then led the pledge…

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Bootique Creates Retail Niche

Chrissy Santana arranges merchandise in the Bootique’s newly created western wear section. (VBR)

The history of a legendary Rio Grande Valley bootmaker provides the backdrop for the Bootique, a clothing and gift shop in downtown Raymondville. The store is in a portion of the brick building where Abraham Rios crafted custom footwear for decades. The building’s current owners, Cruz and Sonya Tijerina, ran the Bootique until they sold the business to Elma Chavez, former director of the Raymondville Chamber of Commerce. The Tijerinas…

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Jumping to Heights of Success

The business plan is pretty simple. Offer modern facilities with kid-friendly fun, competitive pricing and top-notch customer service, and people will come. Xtreme Jump Trampoline Parks began in San Benito about three years ago and last month opened its newest location in Harlingen. They also have operations in McAllen, Corpus Christi and Laredo, with more planned in the near future for the Rio Grande Valley and other towns in Texas…

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Natives Grow in Popularity

Mike Heep surrounds himself with hardy native plants known to attract birds and butterflies. (VBR)

Mike Heep spends his days cultivating native plants and educating people about the benefits of using indigenous vegetation in gardens and landscaping projects. Native plants are drought and freeze tolerant, and attract the birds and butterflies for which the Rio Grande Valley is famous. In 1964, Heep moved from San Antonio to the Harlingen area with his family. He operates Heep’s Nursery on the same two-acre tract where he grew…

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Curtain Call for Old Theater

Weslaco’s iconic concrete water tower rises above the original ground water storage building that now serves as a community theater. (VBR)

There was a time that the round, domed building with 12-inch-thick concrete walls stored much of Weslaco’s water supply. But for almost half a century, the historic structure has served as a community theater. Now, following a renovation with the help of the Weslaco Economic Development Corporation, the Tower Theater has a new lease on life. Constructed in 1928, the ground-level water storage facility was replaced in 1941 by the…

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Program Helps Leaders Emerge

Emerging Leaders

Applications from 22 South Texas businesses were in by the March deadline for the U.S. Small Business Administration’s Emerging Leaders Initiative intensive course. Interest is high for the first area offering of the course via the SBA’s Lower Rio Grande Valley District. The SBA started the initiative nationwide in 2008. Yet, this is the first time businesses from Deep South Texas north to Corpus Christi can take advantage locally. “We…

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Fresh, Tasty Tale of Success

Francesca and Carlos Hernandez team up as the beauty and the beast behind the success of a healthy food company. (Courtesy)

A beauty and beast team is riding a wave of success of almost fairy tale proportions with a line of fresh, healthy meals and other related products. On a good week, Beauty & Beast Cuisine cooks and packages in the neighborhood of 27,000 meals in its Edinburg kitchen. “It’s just been an explosion of opportunity,” said Carlos Hernandez, the beast in the partnership with his wife, Francesca, the beauty. “It…

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Selling the Love of Music

Matt Perez and his wife, Debra, operate Valley Keyboards in McAllen with a passion for music. (VBR)

A lifelong devotion to the love of music drives the success of a Rio Grande Valley business that has shared that passion for more than four decades. “Everything we do and continue to do flows from our love and passion for music and music education,” said Matt Perez, president and chief executive officer of Valley Keyboards of McAllen. His wife, Debra, manages the education department of the company, which is…

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Port Sets Records, Eyes Future

Brownsville Navigation District Board Chairman John Reed

The Port of Brownsville once again posted a record year for 2018, moving 11.3 million tons of cargo with operating revenues of more than $24.2 million. That translates into a 6.6-percent increase in cargo along with a 25-percent bump in rail movements. Revenues were also up 2.5 percent over the previous year, according to figures released during the State of the Port event in March. “The Port of Brownsville made…

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