Mission earned All-America City recognition for the first time in its history on the same weekend that it lost a local hero, police Cpl. Jose Luis “Speedy” Espericueta.
The weekend of June 22-23 was a joyous one. City leaders were in Denver to compete for and eventually gain the All-America recognition. Earning the award came after months of preparation to go with the years of work that went into the projects gaining the city the prestigious award. Upon arriving in Denver just days before, Mission leaders learned of one of their police officers being shot and killed in the line of duty.
“More than ever, the delegation wanted to show a united front and to share with everyone the closeness of our community in the face of adversity and pain,” said Cristina Garza of the Mission Economic Development Corporation in comments made available by the city. “The delegation made sure to publicly uphold and celebrate the worth of the community and Corporal Espericueta lived to protect and serve.”
The tragedy bound the Mission delegation closer together. They then learned on June 23 that their efforts and programs had gained the city All-America status. The National Civic League bestows the honor, and Mission was the only Texas city chosen as a winner. It is among 10 nationally gaining the honor in 2019. Edinburg, El Paso and San Antonio were also among the list of finalists.
The National Civic League cited Mission’s efforts in economic development, improving the health and well-being of its residents. Also cited are upgrading the city’s food pantry and animal shelter operations. The city used state grants to go with foundation and city funding to create a Health Through Tennis program. The Mission EDC has been a leader in assisting local startup businesses with both grants and technical assistance. The city boosted its food pantry and expanded its operations in becoming the Mission Food and Service Center.
“We did this for Speedy,” said Mayor Dr. Armando O’Cana. “Our community came together and honored his memory with this historic win.”