Author Archives: Gerry Garcia

Man & Woman of the Year 2015

City Commissioner Richard Cortez and Sister Norma Pimentel A politician and a humanitarian; what a wise and wonderful blend to make up the Chamber’s 2015 Man and Woman of the Year. First, the Humanitarian. Who comes to mind when one thinks of that person who was the leader in bringing dignity back to those who believed they were lost souls? Sister Norma Pimentel, director of Catholic Charities, has become the shining star to those women and children feeling so alone in a foreign country. “Those first weeks and months, the surge of people came in 2014 and throughout 2015, we saw women and children walk up to the door in the worst conditions. It broke my heart,” she said, emotionally. “Actually, when my mentor, Sister Juliana Garcia, saw the surge begin, she said it was deja vu. ‘We did this in the 80s,’ she said.” Growing up, Sister Norma believed…

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  1) What is your favorite book? Aside from the dozens of cookbooks I have, I would say The Celestine Prophecy. I read that book about 20 years ago and it helped me change my perspective on things. I’ll never forget that book. 2) What is your favorite movie? That’s going to be tough because there are several movies that, if they are on, I have to watch them. The Rocky Series tops them all; the story of the struggle that he has to overcome in every movie. Also, Breakfast Club is one of my favorites. Tarantino is a beast. Reservoir Dogs is another one of my favorites. 3) What was your favorite vacation spot? I don’t think I’ve vacationed enough. For many years it was Fredericksburg. It was close to where we lived and was a great escape. Now, when we travel, we don’t like to go to the…

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PEOPLE YOU SHOULD KNOW – Greg Turley, Attorney at Law

Local attorney, Greg Turley, is on an adventure of a lifetime. He’s published his first book,  Hideaway, and entered an exclusive club. Though there are millions of books out there, it’s still a privilege to become part of the “Authors” club. “In the last 10 years I’ve become more interested in writing,” he said. “I have a personal blog,, and a movie review site,,” said Turley. For the last two years, between life and the career he loves as an attorney in Business Law, Estate Planning, real estate and construction matters, he has brought to life his dream of writing a book. “I had an idea for an interrogation and started with that in mind. One of the things I didn’t realize was when I came to a fork in the road with the story, I was the one who had total control over whether to go right…

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Air Evac Lifeteam – Air Ambulance service is looking for a Membership Sales Manager

The position is based in McAllen, TX for membership development in the Valley area. College degree and previous sales background is preferred, but not mandatory. Candidate must be community minded, adept at public speaking, computer literate, have a strong work ethic, and be willing to work some evenings and weekends. Bilingual candidate is preferred. Air Evac is part of AirMedCare Network, is a fast growing Emergency Medical Care service provider with over 230 Helicopter and Fixed Wing aircraft in 32 states. If interested, please forward a resume to John Gates is Area Director, Membership for AirMedCare Network, South Texas.

Raba Kistner promotes F. Howard Holland, PE to Vice President

Russel Lenz, PE and COO of Raba Kistner Infrastructure, Inc. (RKI), a wholly-owned subsidiary of Raba Kistner, Inc., has announced the promotion of F. Howard Holland, PE to Vice President. With substantial experience overseeing all facets of project management, including planning, design, construction, and maintenance, Mr. Holland is responsible for all areas of project operations for the Infrastructure group of Raba Kistner, including employee and corporate leadership, operational oversight, and project development and management. Prior to joining Raba Kistner, Mr. Holland had a significant career with the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT). In his more than 24 years with the organization, Mr. Holland served in numerous positions including District Engineer in Amarillo before retiring as the Director of the Maintenance Division in Austin. Holland is a graduate of Texas A&M University and is a licensed engineer in the State of Texas.

Latest BBQ team to join Sizzling in the Tropics BBQ Competition

H-E-B and the McAllen Chamber of Commerce invite everyone to the “Sizzling in the Tropics” BBQ Competition on Saturday, April 2 from 12 noon to 5:00 p.m. at the McAllen Chamber, 1200 Ash Ave. One of the latest teams to join in the fun is the “You Rub Me Long Time” Cooking Team headed up by Alma Vera.  Her team is ready for competition and they would like everyone to come out and sample the meat they prepare for the judges.  The cooking teams will be judged on the best Chicken, Pulled Pork, Pork Ribs, Beef Brisket, Pan de Campo, and Beans.  There will also be awards for best showmanship and The public will judge the People’s Choice Award so come out and support your favorite team! Tickets to attend the event are $15.00 per person, which includes all-you-can-eat tasting from all 35 teams, drinks, a beverage garden, live entertainment…

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McAllen Chamber Innovation Grants – Changing Lives

McAllen Chamber of Commerce Innovation Grants is a program designed to encourage product innovation and venture creation in the McAllen trade area. Every year, the McAllen Chamber provides up to $50,000 in grant funding to McAllen innovators, allowing entrepreneurial pioneers to advance their groundbreaking ideas towards reality. Meet the grant winners whose ideas were the strongest, best presented and most potentially viable ideas. While most of the Valley population goes about its business working, sleeping and eating, there are individuals who delight in discovering new goods and services to offer the world – be it food, fun, or problem-solving ideas. McAllen Chamber Innovation Grants of 2015 highlight the variety offered. Be-live Deodorant Starting off the list is an all-natural deodorant. Alejandra Rabago was studying to become a Health Coach, which sent her searching for healthier options in eating and lifestyle habits. “I started paying more attention to my personal care…

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People You Should Know: Mike Hernandez, McAllen Parks & Recreation Director

Mike Hernandez was raised in the Valley and proud of it. Being part of a very large family is what ultimately brought Mike back to the Valley after he graduated from St. Edwards University in Austin. “I had found Mrs. Right and began asking myself questions,” Mike Hernandez, Director for the City of McAllen Parks and Recreation Department, said. “What if we decide to have a family? I want our kids to have the kind of life I had. There’s no better life than growing up in the Rio Grande Valley, getting to enjoy the outdoors and small town life.” Moving back to the Valley, he began his work in the media/communications field as a photographer for Britton’s Photography in McAllen. Working a multitude of events, learning his craft, his expertise with people was evident to his clients, one of which was Sunglo Fellowship. He was hired by Sunglo Fellowship to…

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12 Questions with McAllen Chamber Board Member Brian Godinez

BRIAN GODINEZ, CHIEF MARKETING OFFICER/PRINCIPAL, ERO A/E 1) What is your favorite book? I’d have to say To Kill A Mockingbird. 2) What is your favorite movie? To Kill A Mockingbird. It reminds me of growing up in Pharr, small town, just like the community in that movie. My father was an attorney; he was my Atticus. He had cases very similar, civil rights cases. It’s a perfect snapshot of my years that I can remember from the ages of 4 to 13. 3) What was your favorite vacation spot? Huatulco. It’s a part of the Mexican Riviera on the Pacific side. Spring of 1996, that’s where I proposed to Leigh Ann. Everything I love to do we did – fish, golf, party, drink, dance. On top of that, I won a grito contest! 4) What is your life’s motto? Connected Communities. It’s what I do. It’s what I live…

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On January 29, City of McAllen & McAllen Chamber to host Open Carry Law Seminar

The City of McAllen and the McAllen Chamber of Commerce will host a Texas Open Carry Law Seminar on Friday, January 29, at 8:30 a.m. at the McAllen Chamber of Commerce, 1200 Ash Ave. in McAllen.   During the 84th Legislative Session, new legislation passed that will affect handgun licensing in the state of Texas, and since the law became effective on January 1, there have been many questions from the community regarding the new open carry laws, in particular the authority of a person who is licensed to carry a handgun to openly carry a holstered handgun. In response to these questions the City and the Chamber have organized this informative seminar for the business community and any interested citizens who wish to get answers to some of their questions. Topics that will be covered: The eight requirements to be eligible for open carry Four things that must be completed…

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Save the Date, April 2, for the “Sizzling in the Tropics” BBQ Cook-off

Mark your calendars!  Join H-E-B and the McAllen Chamber of Commerce for the 5th annual “Sizzling in the Tropics” BBQ Cook-off competition on Saturday, April 2, the McAllen Chamber. The event is designed to help the Chamber underwrite programs in the arts, innovation, small business development and education. Thirty cooking teams will be cooking up delicious Ribs, Brisket, Pulled Pork, Chicken, Beans, and Pan de Campo for everyone to enjoy. The teams will also compete in Showmanship and for the People’s Choice Award. Other event sponsors include The Monitor, L&F Distributors – Budweiser and AEP Texas.  Tickets to attend will cost $15.00 per person for a wristband that will allow attendees to sample from all 30 cooking teams, and also includes beverages and live entertainment.  Kids 10 and under eat free! For more information, please contact Gerry Garcia at the Chamber at 682-2871.

People You Should Know

Debi Chavez Debi Lou Modeling & Debi Lou Productions Debi Chavez, owner of Debi Lou Modeling and Debi Lou Productions, sat behind her desk gazing at walls covered in pictures of beautiful faces. Smiling back at her were the women, all of whom were students of one of her companies. Especially prominent was a face now known around the Valley, Texas, and the entire U.S. – Ylianna Guerra, first runner-up in the most recent Miss USA pageant. Guerra began her career at Debi Lou Modeling. Moving to Debi Lou Productions when she decided to go into the pageant world, Debi’s companies have had contestants place in the Top 15 and Top 5 respectively of Miss Texas USA and Miss Texas Teen USA pageants. Her first history-making winner in 2011 was Danielle Doty from Harlingen, who won both Miss Texas Teen USA and Miss Teen USA. “I’m very proud because it’s…

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Business You Should Know

CPR – Cellphone Repair Most Repairs Done While You Wait Don’t let the name fool you. Along with phones, CPR Cell Phone Repair also fixes most other technology – laptops, iPods, iPads, Mp3 players, tablets, GPS devices, game systems – and it also buys and sells phones. Ruben Peña and his son, Ruben Peña IV, wanted a business they could run together. Working with Cesar Cepeda, they opened a CPR franchise in Centennial Plaza on Highway 83. “It’s the biggest franchise for cell phone repair in the states, with over 200 stores nationwide,” Ruben III said.  “We were voted number one in cell phone repair by Entrepreneur magazine for this year.” Obtaining training in Florida added to son Ruben’s expertise with his Computer Science degree. “I love this work. I’ve always liked helping people out, and this business actually helps people with their devices,” son Ruben said. “Having a phone…

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Amistad Wholesale Foral & Crafts

Bringing Events Life! When planning an event, and you want it to be special, where do you start? Where do you go? Amistad Wholesale Floral and Crafts, of course. Marcelino and Francisca Garcia started the business out of their living room 39 years ago. When it got to the point that it was threatening to take over the entire house, they took a leap of faith and opened Floreria la Amistad Wholesale. “My father had worked for a wholesale floral company for eight years, doing every part of the business as the right hand man,” said Sylvia Cantu, manager and one of the two Garcia daughters working at Amistad. When customers began asking him to open his own business because they didn’t like the way the owner did business or how the employees were treated, he decided to do it.” We were a small business but he had faith in…

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Driscoll physician receives Distinguished Service Award from Texas Pediatric Society

Mary Dale Peterson, MD, MSHCA, FACHE, President and CEO of Driscoll Health Plan, has been awarded the 2015 Texas Pediatric Society’s Distinguished Service Award. The award, which was presented on October 3 at the Texas Pediatric Society annual luncheon in Sugar Land, recognizes a non-member pediatrician, non-pediatric physician, allied healthcare provider or a lay person who has gone beyond the norm in expressing their dedication and love of children. Dr. Peterson was recognized for her ideas, perseverance, advocacy and the respect she commands and wields in Austin for the benefit of the children of Texas.