Good afternoon. Another great day in the City of Edinburg, you are in Edinburg three time “All America City,” not a perfect city, but a city working together to improve the quality of life for all citizens.

I want to thank everyone here for taking time and interest in your city. Letty and Edinburg Chamber congratulations in creating this forum to inform the public in our city’s affairs. Thank you to Pay Express from Pharr and to my good friend Pepe and Social Life Magazine from McAllen for sponsoring their event in the city of Edinburg.

Edinburg is blessed, when parts of this nation and even some of our neighboring cities are having tough economic times, the City of Edinburg continues to share growth, economic development, below national unemployment levels, improved infrastructure, improved quality of life and stability.

To date the latest Census Bureau estimates us at 68,700. This means that since the 2000 Census, the City of Edinburg’s population has grown 42 percent placing this community as third largest in the Rio Grande Valley.

Through master planning over a period of thirteen years we have improved infrastructure and quality of life to bring more families to Edinburg. A city is not built over night nor in three years, it takes planning, dedication and hard work. We the people and businesses of Edinburg are the driving force behind the strong economic activity taking place in the City of Edinburg.

To date our assessed tax valuations are 3 billion dollars. Total construction activity in 2008 was more than $92 million.

The opening of The Shoppe’s in Edinburg corner of Trenton and I69 (Expressway 281), across from the Border Patrol-Edinburg Regional Office has opened six new stores over 260,000 square feet of construction and over 500 new jobs with a total of 1300 jobs to be created by this venture by the year 2010.

On University Drive we welcomed Lowe’s Home Improvement Center, IHOP, Monster Car Wash, Sears, IBC Bank and many other restaurants and businesses that are on the way.

Retail development in South Edinburg continues with retail development as that of Wal-Mart Super Center, Chase Bank, Wendy’s and others with over 43,000 square feet of retail space and others are on the way.

Ground breaking was held for the $6.8 million expansion of the Region One Education Center in Edinburg. The 38,171 square feet expansion will bring the center to over 112,000 square feet. The total project has a completion date of mid-August 2009. Region One Education Center serves more than 383,000 students and educators in seven countries in South Texas.

These are a few commercial developments, but we definitely anticipate that there will be additional announcements in 2009 as there are currently negotiations with several national retailers, so stay turned as those projects are finalized.

In health services more than $180 million has been invested with the expansions in divisions of the South Texas health System and the Doctor’s Hospital at Renaissance. To date there is discussion of a Medical Health Center to further our cause in improving medical health care in Edinburg and the Valley. With the ongoing medical research at the Regional Academic Health Center in Edinburg and continued growth of our medial health care, this medical conference center would definitely improve our underserved healthcare services in this area.

We welcome Santana Textiles to our Community. Santana Textiles is the fifth largest producer of denim in the world, with 1,800 employees in Brazil and Argentina. Santana Textiles will pour roughly $170 million into this area while creating 800 jobs. The first 300,000 square feet complex is expected to open by early spring of 2010.

Edinburg had a great year. For fiscal year 2007-2008 there were five major projects with total capitalization of $185 million and a job creation/retention of 935 jobs.

Our unemployment average rate was at 4.9 percent for 2008. In 2008 our bank deposits surpassed a record milestone of $1 billion. Our sales tax revenues continue to increase and remain stable as a matter of fact the month of December for 2008 we realized an increase of 21 percent over 2007. We are truly blesses because the larger cities have shown decreases.

City Hall is now completed, Police Station and Municipal Court completed, Library completed and the new water treatment plant completed.

In utilities more than 6,000 linear feet of water line were laid to improve and provide an alternative source of water to the north booster station and improve adequate water pressure. The Utilities Department also cleaned out about two and a half miles of sewer line along Canton Road, which finally provided some relief of overflows on Canton.

Two of the cities six water towers were approved for face lifts this year as part of the development master plan for maintenance.

The neighborhood pavement and improvement master plan was adopted once more and $1.1 million went to make improvement to neighborhood roadways and sidewalks, whereas in other years there was no structure to maintain neighborhoods and maintenance was done at random and by request.

Canton Road widening from McColl to U.S. Business 281 is finally underway. A two lane highway will now be a five lane road with curb, gutter and sidewalks. Completion is expected late this summer.

Improvements to Owassa Road from Jackson to McColl, also a two-lane road transformed into a four-lane roadway with curb and gutter. This will help move traffic from that medical corridor east and west.

We are set to begin improvements to north Jackson from University Drive to Chapin, alleviating traffic to the university and developments in that area. Final engineering plans to go ahead with construction of Sugar Road will be finished next week as it was told to me by our city engineer in a public works meeting last week.

So I expect construction of Sugar Road from Trenton to Owassa to begin within a few months. Discussions have started with TxDOT for their help to widen Freddy Gonzalez from McColl to 10th street.

Ribbon cutting took place last week and our new roadway Pin Oak, which runs from University to Sprague, will help improve traffic flow from our businesses on University and improving drainage in that area. This was a unique project because public and private entities came together to make this a successful project.

Our public works did an outstanding job in clearing out over five miles of drainage ditches, along with keeping up with our neighborhood improvement program, striping projects and re-stripping intersections including pedestrian crossways and bike lanes.

Our airport continues to be at the forefront with continued lobbying for Federal and State money to make improvements and make it the number one air cargo facility in South Texas. Along with its user fee designation and foreign trade designation, the state has selected it to be the official staging site for area emergencies.

Most recently in our visit to Austin, we received news that $1.6 million would be released and funded from the State Aviation Capital Improvement Projects to start construction of the apron to connect our runway to our hangar spaces.

Our Volunteer Fire Department secured a $1 million dollar grant from FEMA to be used to convert the old city administration building into a state of the art emergency operation center and along with that great news our fire department also received a portion of a regional federal grant of $814 thousand to be shared by Mission, McAllen, Linn, San Manuel and Edinburg Fire Departments. The money is to help said departments replace their radios. The goal is to get radios that will allow them to talk to each other during emergencies especially on joint responses.

In the area of parks, at the Municipal Park crews installed lighting to our fields and added a fitness station to our walking and jogging trail. Escandon Park got new bathrooms and an irrigation system and our Skate Park received new equipment.

At the World Birding Center, the first of its kind Community Garden was created. The Edinburg Community Garden has many features inclusive raised beds for people in wheelchairs or those who have difficulty in bending.

This teaching garden is meant to show people how to grow organic fruits and vegetables in an effort to live a healthy lifestyle.

Our Coastal Expo, an annual event brought in more than 4,000 school children from across the Valley to obtain an education on coastal ecology and the southwest outdoors.

This past year Edinburg celebrated its 100 birthday and I was very proud and honored that the citizens of Edinburg gave me this opportunity to serve as your Mayor and with your help this past decade we have historically accomplished unprecedented economic growth, improved educational opportunities, gave pathway to state of the art medical facilities and improved healthcare to our citizens, improved infrastructure to attract commercial development, built parks to improve quality of life and lured long awaited family entertainment venues, retail and restaurant facilities to this great city of Edinburg.

We went from $500 million assessed tax valuations in 1993 to over $3 billion to date. Building permits in 1993 were $20 million annually and to date over $92 million. The unemployment rate was 20 percent in 1993 compared to five percent unemployment to date.

Two “All America City” designations in one decade, negotiated and assured boundaries with our neighboring City of McAllen to secure the now retail and medical corridor and keep our air cargo facility. We built infrastructure to provide water and sewer for Lull, Faysville and Colonia Rodriguez.

We widened two lane highways of McColl, Jackson and Trenton with first ever bike lanes in the RGV. We lobbied for widening and designation of U.S. Highway 281 bypass to I-69 and ensured that underpasses at Canton and Trenton Road would take place so there would be better flow of traffic east and west.

We developed the Municipal Park, The World Birding Center, Freddy Gonzalez Park, Dr. Gilbert Diaz Park and the Skate Board Park. We entered into joint ventures with the school district to develop Linda Trevino Park and Escandon Park.

In education we lobbied and helped attain Regional Academic Health Center and the Co-Op Pharmacy School Program and lobbied efforts for expansion of programs and buildings for UTPA.

We the people are the driving force behind this great economic activity and we are truly blessed.

Edinburg is about people working together to improve the quality of life for all citizens. As you know this is my last term and I am very proud and honored for your faith and trust this past decade, but my businesses keep me very busy and I would not be fair to Edinburg to serve part-time. I love and I feel Edinburg was my child and it is not time for me to let go and let this child continue on its own. But I am confident that a solid foundation has been built and I know that Edinburg will continue to grow no matter what and it will always be another great day in the City of Edinburg.

Thank you for your support and VIVA EDINBURG.