Category Archives: Profiles

It Truly Takes a Community to Inspire Students

Judge JoAnne Garcia presides over the Hidalgo County Probate Court. When she was asked to serve on the PSJA ISD Pre-Law Institute Advisory Board, she readily agreed.  As she looks back on its first year, she identifies three aspects of the Institute that stand out for her. “Number one,” Garcia said, “is it’s a great opportunity for the kids, at a minimum, to be exposed to professionals in the legal…

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Planting the Banking Seed

A commemorative bill marking launch of First National Bank of Mercedes in 1920.

  A drive into town for Jose Platon Ortega usually meant a stop at the bank. For Ortega there was only one bank – the First National Bank of Mercedes. He was greeted there by friendly tellers, with one in particular knowing his account number by memory. “Veinticinco, cuarenta dos, diecinueve,’” said Saul Ortega, Jose’s son, who grew up knowing his Dad’s account number of 254219.  Jose Platon Ortega was a…

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When Passion Becomes Business

Very Artsy owner, Veronica Cerda-Ayala, stands at her checkout counter, which used to be an old restaurant cashier stand that she transformed by added the molding details on the front and painted in a trendy ombre pattern.

Whether writing, playing a sport, dancing or creating something new, our hobbies are a labor of love and enjoyment. Every once in a while, we are lucky enough to turn our hobbies into something more. This is exactly what Veronica Cerda-Ayala did.  After 18 years of being a teacher, Ayala decided she was ready to pursue her true passion … home decor. She began several years ago in her very…

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Finding New Life at a Shelter

Lilia Castillo Jones found a new professional life as executive director of the Humane Society of Harlingen. (courtesy)

Lilia Castillo Jones was coming off a 30-plus year career in the newspaper industry where she reached the highest levels of management. It was a work that had subsequently run its course. The Dallas native first came to the Rio Grande Valley in 2012 to become publisher of the Valley Morning Star in Harlingen. She would eventually go from that post to become the president of the El Paso Times. That…

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Farmers Market Freshness

Rebecca de la Garza buys a specialty bread from April Kminiak of Frannys' Garden of Bayview at the Brownsville farmers market.

Although the Rio Grande Valley is one of the state and country’s best fertile regions to grow fruits, vegetables and livestock, consumers have not had the opportunity to get the best the land produces unless they go to a grocery store or to a fruit stand. Winter vegetables, for example, usually ship to many places in the United States. Goat cheese isn’t a supermarket staple in this part of the…

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Hands-On Healing

Lori and Marc Saldana operate two Total Rehabilitation physical therapy clinics and four pediatric therapy clinics.

It’s rare, but not unheard of, when an accident suddenly makes a body part that was working yesterday dysfunctional today. When that happens, it’s priority number one to find someone that can help repair or rehab that body part. That’s where Total Rehabilitation comes in. Their physical therapy programs have helped countless patients regain use, mobility and strength of damaged limbs and muscles.  The client care at Total Rehabilitation is…

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Edinburg Cultural Arts Brings Communities Together

Sherry Cantu helps fix her 6-year-old daughter Natali Ann's costume before the Frida look-alike contest at the recent Edinburg Cultural Arts event FridaFest. (photo Selene D. Garza)

The sound of Mexican music reverberates throughout the courtyard at the Edinburg City Hall. Colorful papel picado dance above the crowd. Women and little girls walk proudly with their hair pulled back and crowns of colorful flowers adorning their head. They were among the thousands there to celebrate the iconic Mexican female artist Frida Kahlo.  FridaFest is one of 13 major annual events organized by Edinburg Cultural Arts, a division of…

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Old Dominion Stays on the Move

Jason Pettigrew, the company regional sales director, stands by the expanded warehouse at the service center.

Freight line companies are in the business of transporting cargoes from Point A to Point B and vice versa. But in the world of this movement of goods not all freight lines are alike. Take for instance, a North Carolina-based company Old Dominion which has been in La Feria for nearly two decades. Founded in 1934, the land carrier is the nation’s second largest such company after Federal Express’s fleet of trucks. Old…

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Mangoes, Mangoes, Mangoes!

Jason Hess shows one of the many mangoes at the grove in Bayview.

Got mangoes? If not, go this Saturday to Paradise Gardens in Bayview as a fest to celebrate the ever popular tropical fruit. The gardens, previously known as River’s End Nursery, will turn into a celebration of mangoes for people of all ages from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Owners Jason and Lara Hess have one of the largest mango groves in the Rio Grande Valley. It has close to 30 varieties…

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State Association Recognizes HIDTA Agents

Two agents of the Hidalgo County Criminal District Attorney’s Office – High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area Task Force have top honors from the Texas Narcotic Officers Association. HIDTA Commander Juan Pablo Sifuentes is “Supervisor of the Year” and Agent Genovevo “Geno” Martinez III “Narcotic Officer of the Year” for the TNOA South Region. Both will receive recognition at the organization’s annual conference Aug. 19-22 in South Padre Island. Hidalgo County Criminal District…

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