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‘Be Brownsville’

Brownsville Mayor Tony Martinez greets the audience during the 2016 State of the City Address & Symposium last Tuesday in the Brownsville Events Center. The event highlighted the accomplishments and the status of different projects taking place in the the city. MARIO GONZALEZ/ THE RIDER

Mayor Tony Martinez delivered his third annual State of the City Address last Tuesday, saying Brownsville doesn’t need to be like other cities.

“I often walk down the street and have someone say to me something like this, ‘I wish Brownsville had this. Why doesn’t Brownsville do that? I wish Brownsville was more like some other city,’” Martinez said.

“But as I reflect on that, I say, ‘You know what? Who we are is better than any other city. What we have is gorgeous, if we just kind of sit down and take a look at it. There’s nature’s beauty; it’s all around us. It lies in over 90 miles of bicycle infrastructure that traverse our city. It lies in our community gardens that grows fresh produce [and] herbs like carrots, lemongrass, cabbage and even basil.”

The mayor invited residents to take on a challenge by signing up on the BeBrownsville.com website for one of three advisory councils: higher education, job creation and a thriving city center.

“To Be Brownsville is to be active in a civic sense, in a holistic sense and by simply being engaged, so that at the time we are finished with our task, on this journey we can say to ourselves, ‘We did the very best that we can, and that we left this place in a much better place than we found it,’” Martinez said. “At the dawn of this year, the state of our city is vital and strong. It is strong financially, it is strong economically, but most important, it is strong in our spirit and our optimism.”

The mayor presented a video on the “ecosystem” of Brownsville, which consisted of four sections: health and wellness, economic development, revitalization and education.

“We need to be healthy.You know what they say, ‘If you have your health, you have everything,’” Martinez said. “Well the latest research conducted by the University of Texas School of Public Health estimates that one in three people is diabetic in our area, and 50 percent of those don’t even know it.”

He said the community is combating the epidemic by visiting the Brownsville Farmers’ Market and participating in multiple Cyclobia events sponsored by the city.

A Brownsville Farmers’ Market booth was set up in the back of the room at the Brownsville Events Center for the audience to get a “little taste of the enjoyment of the truly native taste” of the city.

Melissa Delgado, director of the Brownsville Wellness Coalition, said the Farmers’ Market has 32 vendors and receives about 500 to 800 visitors from 9 a.m. to noon Saturdays at Linear Park. All produce sold is grown locally and free of pesticides.

“Brownsville is changing every day in front of our little eyes, and let me tell you, great things are coming,” Martinez said about economic development.

Some of those great things include SpaceX beginning to launch commercial rockets in 2018 and potential manufacturing companies moving to Brownsville. The city hopes to make an official announcement in April.

Downtown Brownsville is undergoing revitalization. “The heart of the city,” as Martinez calls it, will see “reinvigorating streets, buildings, people and life.”

Brownsville is one of three cities in Texas to be designated a 2016 Texas Main Street City by the Texas Historical Commission. Local Main Street programs receive a wide range of services and technical expertise from the THC, which include design and historic preservation, economic development and organizational management.

In addition, the mayor announced that UTRGV and the city are finalizing paperwork for the sale of the Cueto building in Downtown Brownsville.

“Soon, UTRGV will be located in the heart of the city. Thank you, Guy. Very much,” Martinez told UTRGV President Guy Bailey, who was in the audience.

The education component of the ecosystem is the “My Brother’s Keeper” Community Challenge, which the city accepted in January to ensure that all young people, regardless of who they are, where they come from or the circumstances into which they are born, can reach their full potential.

“Our Brother’s Keeper Community Challenge encourages people across the nation to implement a coherent cradle-to-college-and-career strategy for improving the life outcomes of all young people,” Martinez said.

During his address, the mayor recognized Brownsville Independent School District students for participating in a chess tournament hosted at Rivera High School with more than 2,000 people from across the country attending. The students received two standing ovations
and were presented a trophy.

In between the ovations, Martinez said Brownsville was the “chess city of the nation” and that the students recognized that day would be the future of the city.

The UTRGV Chess Team, which was also in attendance, swept the 2016 Lone Star Open, held March 18 in Houston.

The team dominated the tournament in the grandmaster section. Vladimir Belous, who attends the UTRGV Language Institute, placed first; Carlos Hevia placed second; and Andrey Stukopin placed third.

Also placing in that section were Guillermo Vasquez, who placed sixth, and Felix Ynojosa, who placed seventh. Sixty players competed in this section.

In the expert section of the tournament, Mkhitar Hobosyan placed third.

On April 1, the team will send four grandmasters to New York City to

square off in the President’s Cup, also known as the “Final 4 of College Chess,” where they will compete against defending champion Webster University, Texas Tech University and Columbia University.

The university will host a send-off for Anton Kavalyov, Stukopin, Holden Hernandez and Hevia at 11:30 a.m. today on the Student Union lawn.

For more information visit, bebrownsville.com.

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