Tag Archives: Mercedes

Magnet Schools Adapt to Changing Times

Simulation Lab Facilitator Linda Valdez shows the variety of equipment in her lab at Med High

Engineering students are at work inside a new innovation lab building on the Mercedes campus of the South Texas Independent School District campus. They peer over laptops and move from table to table, conferring over projects and looking over numerical formulas that offer solutions.  “These kids know they’re not on an island,” said Gabe Valdez, an instructor at the school. “They collaborate. They look for opportunities to teach each other.”…

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Pointing a Business Skyward

Esteban Mejia Jr., founder and owner of Sky I.T. Solutions

Esteban Mejia Jr. has the restless energy of an Air Force veteran who once worked long shifts as a nuclear cruise technician. Returning home, the Mercedes native built an information technology business from scratch. He’s now working to extend his brand. “My dad would tell me, growing up, ‘Never back down from work,’’ he said. “So I’m always thinking, ‘what else, what else can I do?’” Mejia is the founder…

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Local Businesses Adapt to Thrive

Hardknox owner Rodney McClanahan

Small businesses across the Rio Grande Valley are moving quickly to adapt to a new and shocking environment they were thrown into by the coronavirus crisis. New days, new paths Linda’s Cakes & Desserts in Brownsville is now selling essential items such as eggs, milk, potatoes and beans in addition to their usual assortment of sweets. Hardknox Strength & Performance, also of Brownsville, is using its social media outlets to…

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Quiroga Uses Immigrant Experience As Motivation

Joe Quiroga is the first Valley banker to serve on the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas.

It’s an eventful road from being a 6-year-old child and recent immigrant struggling to learn English to being on the board of directors of the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas. Joe Quiroga has been on that journey. He recalls the days when as a young boy, he would spend hours at the library in the coastal Texas town of Palacios. Quirgoa would pore over books, taking in a new language.…

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School of Medicine Clinics Broaden Reach

Dr. Sawyer Lambert, an optometrist at the UT Health RGV Vision Center, provides one of the many different types of medical services offered at clinics in the Valley. (Photo provided by UT Health RGV).

The UT Health RGV/Knapp Family Health Center in Mercedes sits across the street from a high school for medical professions. For Dr. Miguel Tello, the proximity of the health center he oversees to the South Texas ISD High School of Medical Professions is more than symbolic. It points to the range of possibilities now available to Rio Grande Valley youth.  “The whole cycle” is how Tello puts it in noting…

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VIDA Nurse’s Budding Career Path

Aime Bautista, who graduated from South Texas College in Dec. 2019 with an associate’s degree in nursing, holds a candle at STC’s ceremony recognizing new nurses. The candle, when lit, is symbolic of a nurse passing on the flame of hope, service, compassion and peace.

Aime Bautista was a single mother of an 8-year-old daughter, working as a sales associate and earning $8.25 per hour. A lifelong resident of Mercedes who was raised by her grandparents, Bautista and her daughter were living with her grandmother.   In the summer of 2019, Bautista gave birth to another daughter and no longer had a job. A student in the Valley Initiative for Development and Advancement told Bautista about…

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Holidays Keep Catering Business Busy

Holiday treats by Shannon’s Sweets.

Black Friday was coming and Shannon Farrell knew what it would be like on the day after Thanksgiving. “They won’t let their employees leave,” Farrell said of store managers at the Rio Grande Valley Premium Outlets in Mercedes. “The stores will be full, the workers will be busy, and we’ll be there to feed them.” Shannon’s Sweets is itself located at the outlets and has become a go-to place for…

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Magic Valley Empowers Communities

Kids in Lasara at the playground built and funded by Magic Valley and Noble Builders. (photo MVEC)

The first Magic Valley Electric Cooperative utility pole went up in 1937. It was on Mile 9 West in Weslaco. The cooperative was in business and would establish seven principles that would guide it. The seventh principle is one that is at the heart of what Magic Valley has done for more than 80 years. It’s “Concern For Community,” as the value states. This is a value that still lives…

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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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Big Boots Are Filled

In the mid-1990s, Carlos Rodriguez found himself back in his native Mexico. He had an industrial engineering degree in hand, but with an economy in tatters, he found no real jobs in his field. “I had no job, no car, no nothing, but a lot of enthusiasm to start a new adventure,” he recalled. Rodriguez had just returned from Canada. Here he took intensive English classes in Vancouver to bolster…

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