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Pharr Annual State of the City Address

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The City of Pharr held its annual State of the City Address-themed "Together We Can Win” on Thursday, January 20th at the brand-new Pharr Natatorium. Courtesy Image
The City of Pharr held its annual State of the City Address-themed “Together We Can Win” on Thursday, January 20th at the brand-new Pharr Natatorium. Courtesy Image

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Mayor Ambrosio Hernandez, M.D. Courtesy Image

PHARR, Texas – The City of Pharr held its annual State of the City Address-themed “Together We Can Win” on Thursday, January 20th at the brand-new Pharr Natatorium located on 3001 B. Cage Blvd. in Pharr. The event was emceed by acclaimed actor and valley native Joseph T. Campos.

This year’s theme “Together We Can Win” paid homage to the collaborative approach Team Pharr uses as they continue to move the community forward through new projects, partnerships, and programs.

Mayor Ambrosio Hernandez, M.D. started his remarks by highlighting the innovative and state-of-the-art Olympic-sized facility that the event was taking place in.

Hernandez stated, “We chose this unique venue to host this event because we wanted to highlight the endless opportunities that are possible when: we dream big, we come together, and we make things happen.”

The facility is a monumental initiative between the City of Pharr, PSJA ISD, and UTRGV, that will expand opportunities for students and community members to have access to a state-of-the-art, Olympic level, competitive training facility in the healthy, low-impact sport of swimming. 


  
“Despite the challenges we faced over the last year, our community of Pharr and its partners remained resilient, embraced new opportunities, and we have emerged stronger than ever,” said Mayor Hernandez. “Together, we braved adversity and like true champions, we have been victorious in our endeavors,” he added.

In his address, Mayor Hernandez highlighted the city’s COVID response, the launch of Pharr EMS, financial growth, public safety initiatives, advancements and partnerships in health, legislative efforts, transportation expansions, drainage improvements, city services, infrastructure developments, and the new TEAMPHARR Broadband Internet Service.

Officials join Mayr Hernandez for The State of the City Address. Courtesy Image


“In 2022, the City of Pharr is prospering, highly innovative, exceeding expectations, and continuing to strive towards excellence,” continued Hernandez. “We look forward to the year ahead because Together, We Will Win!”

Keeping with tradition, Hernandez ended his address by awarding the “Mayor Leo “Polo” Palacios Service Award,” bestowed annually on an individual who embodies the spirit of the award’s namesake. This year, for the first time ever, the city to recognized two champions for their legislative efforts in helping Pharr pass critical transportation and infrastructure bills – State Senator Juan “Chuy” Hinojosa, and State Representative Terry Canales.

Each year, the City of Pharr donates excess funds raised from the State of the City event that is one hundred percent funded by sponsor donations to nonprofit or community organizations that are working to improve conditions and the quality of life of families in Pharr and the surrounding areas. 
 
This year, Mayor Hernandez announced that the city of Pharr would allow the Polo Palacios Award Recipients – Senator Chuy Hinojosa and Representative Terry Canales – to each award a $2,500 grant to an organization of their choosing. The city also presented a grant in the amount of $5,000 to UTRGV Aquatics and a $5,000 grant to PSJA ISD Aquatics.

The event concluded with the final award—the Team Pharr Award, which was presented to Pharr’s Innovation and Technology Department, headed by director Jose Peña. The Innovation and Technology Department provides the highest quality technology-based services, in the most cost-effective manner, to facilitate the Pharr mission as it applies to management, learning, and community service.

Mayor Hernandez’s speech can be found below:

WELCOME 
Good afternoon, and welcome to the City of Pharr’s 2022 State of the City Address! 

It is such an honor to be delivering this address once again, in person.  
 
Even as we remain in the midst of a global pandemic, now entering its third year, we are hopeful and appreciative of: the scientific breakthroughs; the education and tools that we know work to help prevent the spread and treat this disease; and, the resources that are helping us manage this as best we can. INTRODUCTION 
I want to thank you for being here with us today, in this breathtaking new facility which has just completed construction. Just take a quick moment to look around at its grandeur. 
 
It’s AWESOME! 
 
Thank you to our sponsors for making this event possible.
 
As always, this event is put on with 100% sponsor funds and any proceeds are made toward donations to local organizations that are serving our community. 
 
We chose this unique venue to host this event because we wanted to highlight the endless opportunities that are possible when: we dream big,  we come together,  and we make things happen.  This facility is a partnership between the City of Pharr, PSJA ISD, and UTRGV, that will expand opportunities for students and community members to have access to a state-of-the-art, Olympic level, competitive training facility in the healthy, low-impact sport of swimming. 
 
I want to recognize representatives from PSJA ISD, Dr. Jorge Arrendondo and PSJA ISD Board Members, and UTRGV who have joined us here today. Can you please stand. 
 
Thank you for your support of this monumental initiative. 
 
When I was growing up, my generation rarely had opportunities to participate in the leisurely activity of swimming. I don’t know about you, but our perception was – that was for rich people.  
 
We did not have widely-available access to swimming pools, either at homes or in the community, so many of us never learned how to swim, or even considered it a sport. 
 
Special occasions such as staying in a hotel, or going to the beach, provided the rare opportunity to try our best at… doggie-paddling, or treading water. Not exactly Olympic-sanctioned sports! 
 
But, that changes today! As leaders now, in our communities, we have the opportunity to dream big and do big for our residents and for our future generations. 
 
This is definitely life-changing. 
 
We have a calling to leave behind a legacy of hope, of infinite possibilities, and of letting them know that they are worthy, and deserving, of the best we can give them! 
 
And that is why, this year’s State of the City theme pays tribute to that.
 
Because here in Pharr, Together, We Can Win! 
 
Just as we are transforming the landscape of our great community of Pharr, with major construction and infrastructure upgrades that can be visibly seen, we are transforming the mindset of our Pharr residents and future generations and planting the seed that indeed, anything is possible! Like HOSTING high school and collegiate level swimming competitions against the best competitors on a National and State platform  Preparing our students to compete at the next US Olympic Trials Acquiring the necessary, life-saving techniques to prevent young kids from drowning. Or even, like learning how to swim at a ripe age of 70 years old, training hard, and competing in your first swim competition. Jim Darling, you have a chance!!  Anything is possible!
 
Dream Big. Come Together. Imagine the Possibilities! 
That’s what we do in Pharr. 
 
So, as Mayor of this great city…
 
I am here to announce that in 2022, the state of the city of Pharr is:  Prospering. Highly Innovative.  Exceeding Expectations.  And Continuing to Strive Towards Excellence! 
 
ACCOMPLISHMENTS 

COVID RESPONSE 
2021 continued to be a year filled with both challenges and opportunities for us to meet, address, and resolve head-on. 
That’s what the City of Pharr did. You saw our efforts in the highlight video but it’s important to remember that as the pandemic evolves, 
 
Pharr will continue to remain vigilant and ready to proactively strategize and respond to any situation as it develops. 
 
For example, in 2021, we responded swiftly and decisively with the utilization of the federal funding made available to deal with the COVID crisis, including: Collaborative DHR Health and Hidalgo County Precinct 2 for Vaccine clinics; We were First in the state to implement homebound visits and vaccinate our elderly and high-risk population; Along with the largest effort to vaccinate Farmworkers in the Valley; We provided Pharr families financial resources for their daily needs;And invested in broadband infrastructure which I’ll touch upon later.We kept city operations functioning at full capacity, our businesses remained open, and we continued supporting the efforts to keep our schools and our families safe. 
 
Pharr continues to lead in providing innovative responses to the ongoing and everchanging COVID crisis, with partners such as DHR Health and Hidalgo County Precinct 2. 
 
You can be rest assured that this administration will always, always keep the health, safety, and wellbeing of our residents and families as our top priority! 
 
Let’s recognize both DHR Health Leadership CEO Dr. Manish Singh, and Commissioner Eddie “Big Dog or La mera pipa del condado” Cantu for partnering with the City of Pharr. 
 
One of the major moves that Pharr made in 2021, unlike any other, was to acquire assets and take over Emergency Medical Services from a company that went bankrupt. 
 
PHARR EMS 
We saw an urgent need to increase the quality of Emergency Medical Services that would impact the health, safety, and lives of hundreds of thousands of residents across the city and county.  
 
Why would the city do such a proactive measure? Well, in a medical emergency, don’t you want your loved ones to have access to safe, rapid, emergency ambulance services?  
 
But it’s more than that! 
 
It’s having the right personnel with certifications and equipment to meet our needs. Not waiting for additional personnel or another ambulance that has the correct equipment to arrive. 
 
We all deserve better!
Time is everything in an emergency, and we could not let our community down. 
Here in Pharr, we will do everything in our power to ensure that our families, and our neighboring communities, have access to the best emergency medical services available. 
PERIOD.  
 
And so, in April 2021, we received approval from the United States Bankruptcy Judge to purchase all assets of the former EMS company, and we established the first-ever City of Pharr Emergency Medical Services Department – Pharr EMS. 
 
We transformed the former Pharr Events Center into a state-of-the art Emergency Medical Services facility. In just 2 months, we were operational, an unheard-of accomplishment! 
 
We currently have 112 employees in the Department, with a current fleet of 11 front line ambulances and 20 reserve, 10 command staff vehicles, a helicopter and an airplane.  
 
That’s what I call a good START! 
 
Our 9-1-1 service areas cover approximately 460 square miles and include the City of Pharr; Hidalgo County Emergency Service District 2, which is comprised of the cities of Monte Alto, La Villa, Edcouch, and Elsa and surrounding rural area; and Hidalgo County Precinct 3, which includes the cities of Alton, Palmhurst, Penitas, Sullivan City, and McCook. 
 
Without Pharr’s swift response to address the EMS service gap that the former EMS company serviced, there is no telling what state of emergency these surrounding communities may have found themselves in.  
 
I am proud of the leadership of our City – our city commission, administration, and employees – for their rapid response to this dire situation and responding accordingly to the needs of our surrounding community. 
 
And in 2022, I am excited to announce that we are making even more ambitious moves with a New Vision and approach to Emergency Services.  
 
A merger of resources by creating ONE united department and facility that includes, EMS, Police and Fire personnel – ALL certified in EMS capability.  The first of its kind in the RGV… a new Fire/EMS Superstation! 
 
This brand new, state-of-the-art Superstation is a 2-story, 35,000 square foot facility which will include: Fire and EMS Administration Conference and training rooms Dorms for staff Warehouse space And hangar and helicopter landing pad for RGV Angel FlightThis new facility will allow Pharr to effectively respond to emergencies region-wide! 
 
Because in Pharr, that’s what we do. 
 
We innovate. And We strive for Excellence. 
 
BALDRIGE AWARD 
Speaking of Excellence… 
I mentioned last year, every decision we make in Pharr is weighed against the following criteria: Strategy – How we establish and plan to implement strategic directionsConstituents – How can the decisions we make best benefit our constituentsOperations – How can we design, manage, and improve processesAnd Results – How we perform in terms of constituent satisfaction, finances, operations, governance, and social responsibilityAs we have mentioned in previous State of the City Addresses, Pharr took on the initiative to strategically improve operations, aligned with the evidence-based practices of major companies, corporations, and government entities that subscribe to the philosophy of excellence.  
 
This past year, Pharr moved closer to achieving the highly-coveted Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award, the nation’s highest presidential honor for performance excellence, and one to which Pharr strives to achieve. 
 
At the City of Pharr, we continue to emphasize the importance of performance excellence.
 
In April, we were awarded “Progress Level Recognition” from the Quality Texas Foundation. We are currently two steps away from reaching our goal of national recognition. This is a journey that many organizations attempt and very few achieve. However, we continue to strive to be a City that provides service excellence and a culture of continuous improvement. 
 
Here in Pharr, we know that nothing is impossible, and we will continue to adapt, address, and attain the necessary tools and processes to achieve and be recognized for performance excellence in our city government operations. 
All for you, the residents of Pharr.  
 
CITY’S FINANCES
Pharr remained among the top three compared to neighboring cities in growth. 
 
Our property tax values increased by 6.88 percent for this Fiscal Year. 
 
Our General Fund budget increased by 22 percent due to the city growing in personnel, civil service new collective bargaining, and major investments in street repairs. 
 
Meanwhile, our city-wide budget increased by 44 percent  – because of our Capital Improvement Projects, the new TeamPharr.Net city-wide broadband services,
and the new EMS Department. 
 
Complementing these investments is a healthy fund balance and accompanying credit rating of AA+, both representing a healthy and strong fund balance that supports our growth. 
 
So, to be clear None of these investments mentioned will require an increase in tax rate!! 
In Pharr, we are responsibly investing in our community, and laying the foundation for the success of our future generations. 
 
PUBLIC SAFETY 
As I just mentioned, this administration will always, always keep the Health, Safety, and Wellbeing of our residents and families as our top priority! And we are not afraid to think outside of the box! 
 
In April, we made history at our Police Department with the first-ever Nationally Certified Horse Patrol officers in the Rio Grande Valley! 
 
It was another moment that we seized the opportunity to acquire land in Pharr for the training facility, in an effort to introduce new, safer, innovative, and most importantly, community-friendly policing initiatives. We partnered with the National Horse Patrol Certification Program through the Rio Grande Valley Border Patrol sector. This was a history-making moment, and
the FIRST horse-patrolled policed department unit in the region that allows direct contact with law enforcement agencies, such as Pharr police department and Border Patrol, in a friendly, social environment.
 
After all, who doesn’t like petting or riding horses? Kids love it! 
 
It also introduces our children to a potential career at a young age and reduces anxiety associated with law enforcement.
 
A win-win scenario!!! 
 
Congratulations to the Pharr Police Department and the RGV Border Patrol.
Thank you Chief Brian Hastings and your team, please stand and be recognized. 
 
Further affirming our commitment to public safety, in July, Pharr made significant progress to a longstanding negotiation process that spanned more than two years, and approved 3-year contracts with both Fire and Police Unions.  
The collaborative efforts will help to efficiently manage all our responding units and stations during emergency situations.  
 
These new agreements demonstrate how much the City of Pharr VALUES its employees and we are grateful for such excellent staff that continues to serve our citizens. 
 
HEALTH
Continuing on the theme of keeping the health, safety, and wellbeing of our RGV families as our top priority here in Pharr, 2021 brought us major advancements. 
 
As a physician and your mayor, the city commission and I see firsthand the importance of access to healthcare funding for the region. 
 
We all have personal stories of loved ones that have been struck with “cancer” and were limited to life-saving cancer treatments. 
 
That is unacceptable!!!  
 
Historically, the state legislature has funded the Cancer Prevention Research Institute
(better known as CPRIT)  that oversees a whopping $3 billion budget. CPRIT awards highly competitive funding mechanisms in areas of cancer prevention, academic research, and product development in its fight against cancer state-wide. 
 
However; prior to 2020 the RGV had no voice on CPRIT funding.  Our higher ed institutions, hospitals, and patients were continuously left out of millions of potential
life alerting funding mechanisms.   
 
As such, a CPRIT appointment was desperately needed for our region. You guys know the old saying “ el que no habla dios no lo oye.” Well, we did ask and I was appointed to the CPRIT board. 
 
This appointment was a direct result of our local health system governing board request, Doctors Hospital at Renaissance Health, and our two senators Chuy Hinojosa and Eddie Lucio.
Thank you DHR Health, senators, and Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick for believing in me, the great city of Pharr, and the RGV. 
 
In August, we were pleased to announce that a $2.5 Million Cancer Research Grant was awarded to UTRGV by CPRIT.  
 
This was very exciting news for the Rio Grande Valley and Texas, as it further solidifies UTRGV’s fairly young medical school’s significant and emerging role as a leader in cancer research. Funding will provide researchers with countless opportunities for innovation and creativity to examine cutting-edge and breakthrough treatments for cancer patients, right here in our backyard! 
 
Congratulations to Dr. Bailey, Dean Hocker, and UTRGV research teams on this notable achievement and for their effort to continue working to research effective cancer treatments!
UTRGV table, please stand and be recognized.
  
And this is only the beginning. Partnerships matter. We matter. 
We are Bringing Exceptional and Comprehensive Cancer Care to you at home. 
 
Continuing the discussion on health care needs and collaboration. The Pharr city commission recognizes that the pandemic has exposed critical weaknesses in our healthcare system, specifically in the nursing profession.  
 
Remember, the nation had already been suffering from a nursing supply shortage prior to COVID.  This stemmed from a lack of available training slots nationwide. COVID exacerbated this already broken system; nurses were exhausted, fell ill and some even were recruited to other areas of the nation.
 
Leaving our LOCAL health care systems severely understaffed to the detriment of our families. As such we have taken a proactive role for our region for the benefit of not only OUR residents but for the entire RGV.  
 
Thus… 
In September, the City of Pharr and UTRGV announced a historic partnership – the Signing Ceremony for UTRGV’s New School of Nursing Facility in Pharr! 
 
The new facility will be constructed in Pharr as part of a U.S. Department of Commerce
 $2 million dollar grant from CARES Acts funding. The project’s goal is to address nursing shortages in the RGV to resupply and provide a continuous supply of nursing graduates. 
 
We are extremely proud to partner with UTRGV to educate and train the future nursing workforce in our region using RGV students.
 
Dr. Mary Jane Lewitt, Dean of the School of Nursing, thank you for your efforts,
Please stand and be recognized.
 
 As a physician myself, I understand the need we have for nurses and as a Mayor, I am proud that this facility will be located here in Pharr, where access to UTRGV and all our regional hospitals are closely situated.  
 
BRIDGE
Like I mentioned last year, we received a Presidential Permit approval from the White House and the U.S. Department of State in record time – under 90 days to be exact, and that’s impressive! 
 
But wait, the city didn’t stop there.  
 
This past legislative session, Pharr played an active and strategic role in implementing and passing legislation to improve and expand programs and initiatives at the Pharr International Bridge to benefit international trade and commerce, and ultimately, benefit Pharr’s position as a global trade leader.  
 
As an economic engine of the region, Pharr’s emphasis on specific legislation not only helps Pharr but helps all 28 ports of entry in the RGV. 
 
Some of our successes this legislative session included: 
• House Bill 2843 and Senate Bill 1334 were filed by Senator Hinojosa and sponsored by Representative Canales, Chairman of the House Transportation Committee. Prior to our efforts, under Texas law, cities and counties WERE NOT permitted to issue bonds to invest in facilities, technology, or other infrastructure to donate to the federal government for port improvements. This bill provides cities and county-owned toll bridges another funding tool to invest in ports of entry infrastructure, allowing ALL communities like the cities of Pharr, McAllen, and Donna to leverage our own local dollars to strengthen our economy and bolster
the safety of our ports of entry. 
 
• House Bill 1371 and Senate Bill 1566 was originally co-sponsored by Lucio and Representative Guerra in their respective chambers. The bill provides continued congestion relief at ports of entry along the South Texas-Mexico border by extending the Trade Agricultural Inspection Grant Program, better known as the South Texas Assets Consortium Program (or STAC). 
The continued implementation of the program will allow our Texas ports of entry to build the personnel and the efficiencies needed to protect our Texas farmers, encourage the growth of the Texas fruit and vegetable industry, and help our Texas economy grow by creating a partnership where local communities alongside the state government can fund necessary personnel resources needed for the successful flow of trade. 
 
• Yet another KEY piece of legislation that was approved this past session was Senate Bill 2243, or famously known as the Hail Mary bill, was championed by both Senator Hinojosa, Senator Lucio and Chairman Canales. The legislation amends the Transportation Code by providing an exemption from Texas Transportation Commission approval for the reconstruction or improvement of existing bridges over the Rio Grande, including the Pharr International Bridge.
This Hail Mary bill was filed, AFTER THE FILING DATE DEADLINE, as an emergency bill in the Texas Senate and made its way to passage in a record time of 21 days. Now, that’s influence…
 
By allowing an exemption for existing bridges, who have the permit and have already undergone the process, this will expedite the rate at which we can work on improvements, reconstruction, or construction at our current bridges. Since the City of Pharr received the Presidential Permit for the expansion of the bridge in late 2020, this bill expedites the lengthy process to move construction of the expansion along expeditiously. The City of Pharr is thankful for the support and dedication of our elected officials who led the City Commission’s efforts to pass this important legislation. 
 
The City of Pharr’s legislative successes could not have been possible without the hard work of the City governmental relations team and the support of our State legislature.
 
Thank you to our South Texas Delegation for always supporting our efforts to enhance efficient trade and commerce and contribute to our local, state, national, and global economies! 
 
As stated earlier, our city commission is proud to move forward the City of Pharr and ALL 28 ports of entry along the Texas southern border.  What is best for Pharr is great for Texas. What moves Pharr Forward moves all present and future bridges and ports of entry forward.   
 
Let’s all take a moment to recognize and thank our RGV State legislators. 
Please stand and be recognized. 
 
What better way to culminate successful legislation than to see its impact firsthand.  
 
There is no better example of this than our Annual Start of the Produce Season event.
 
As is customary, we celebrate the Start of the Produce Season by welcoming guests to a showstopping array of brightly displayed fresh fruits and vegetables held at the Pharr International Bridge. 
 
Guests include dignitaries and produce growers, importers, distributors, and consumers from the United States and Mexico. 
 
What a great event demonstrating the importance and impact of international commerce, but also the robust binational cooperation and family unity. It is truly beautiful to see the regional and international collaboration between our border communities!
 
TRANSPORTATION 
As you can tell by the construction of the interchange, and many other road projects, Pharr and partners continue to move swiftly to enhance transportation for our booming South Texas population.  
 
In April, City of Pharr Hosted Texas Secretary of State and the RGVMPO to discuss the Border Transportation Master Plan, or BTMP, which addresses the needs, challenges, opportunities, and funding strategies, such as public-private partnerships, to move people and goods more quickly and efficiently across Texas’ 28 border crossings.
Another major transportation milestone was made in September, with Pharr and TxDOT hosting the Groundbreaking Ceremony for the $303 Million dollar 1-2/1-69 C Interchange Project, one of the most significant investments in the infrastructure of the Rio Grande Valley. 
 
Finally, as I finished my term as founding chair of the RGVMPO in October, I am honored to have accomplished what we set out to do through the regionalization of transportation infrastructure and a windfall investment of funding for our road projects. 
 
It is estimated that the Rio Grande Valley will receive more than $11 billion dollars to address the transportation needs of the region. 
 
DRAINAGE 
In June, major storms throughout our area caused devastating flooding and damage to Pharr homes and businesses. Pharr swiftly responded to remove water from the streets and neighborhoods and continues to work on ongoing drainage infrastructure improvement projects to reduce the impact of future flooding.  
 
In November, we hosted a regional municipal drainage committee meeting, to discuss drainage issues impacting Hidalgo County. The Committee was created to coordinate efforts to mitigate stormwater drainage events and to develop best practices, ordinances, and other measures to further solidify efforts at regional solutions to our drainage needs. 
 
We anticipate the completion of both the Hidalgo County drainage bond projects
and the City-Wide drainage projects to be completed by June of this year. (YES I did say June of THIS YEAR), just in time for hurricane season. 
 
Everything we do in Pharr is strategically planned and executed. 
 
I’d like to recognize my colleagues on the (right) Pharr City Commission as well as (left) County Commissioner Eddie Cantu for their hard work and leadership on these important drainage projects. 
 
CITY SERVICES & QUALITY OF LIFE 
Other significant city accomplishments for the year included the opening of Pharr’s first dog park and regional detention facility to help with drainage issues.  
 
We unveiled Pharr’s Time Capsule that will be housed at the Development and Research Center for decades, filled with items, tokens, and mementos captured of our lives today and to be opened by our descendants.  
 
We unveiled the Mayor’s Mural at the newly-renovated City Hall first floor, honoring all the Mayors who have led this great city.
 
We created, in partnership with the Pharr Economic Development Corporation, the Pharr EDC Foundation, and awarded Pharr students with the first-ever Pharr EDC Foundation Scholarship, providing over a hundred and twenty students with scholarships in the amount of $2,000 dollars.  
 
In April, Pharr joined forces with a new partner, the Military Highway Water Supply Corporation, through an interlocal agreement to interconnect our systems to expand water for residents and improve services to the area in a collaborative and mutually prosperous manner. I’d like to ask the members to please stand and be recognized.  
 
BROADBAND 
Finally, we have all learned during this pandemic how critical basic infrastructure is to our existence. 
 
One significant area of infrastructure is Broadband.  Broadband doesn’t not exist equally throughout the nation and especially in the RGV. It is unfortunate that the City of Pharr has been identified as the least connected community in the nation.  That is why we have strategically invested and aligned our city plan for long term success, with or without state or federal funding. 
 
We are getting it done. 
 
Closing this digital divide is critical, because having universal access to high-speed broadband in our digital economy IS as essential as having heat, water, and electricity. 
 
Connectivity helps Pharr Residents go to school, work remotely, find a job, start a business, access healthcare, and communicate with loved ones. Further investment in this vital public infrastructure will not only strengthen the progress of our city’s initial investment, it will boost economic growth and local innovation far into the future. 
 
As such, our flagship achievement for 2021, was the launch of Pharr’s citywide solution to close the digital divide and provide residents with access to high-quality, fast, reliable, and most importantly, AFFORDABLE Broadband Internet Service. 
 
And now…I give you TeamPharr.Net 
 
POLO PALACIOS AWARD 
As has become a tradition, every year we honor an individual that embodies the spirit of service, leadership, and pride, that its namesake Mayor Polo Palacios did throughout his life. 
 
Please help me welcome to the stage, Mayor Polo Palacios.
This year, for the first time ever, we are honored to recognize two champions of our legislative efforts – who helped take our priorities across the finish line!
On behalf of Pharr, we thank you for being instrumental in stewarding our transportation and infrastructure bills in the recent 87th legislature in their respective Committees on Transportation on both the House and Senate.  
 
This year’s recipients of the Leo “Polo” Palacios Service Award are: 
State Senator Juan “Chuy” Hinojosa, and State Representative Terry Canales! 
 
NONPROFIT AWARDS 
Now don’t go anywhere just yet!
We have another surprise for our recipients.
 
As you know, every year, we are grateful to generous sponsors who have made today’s event possible. 
 
As we have done every year, we donate excess funds from this event that is 100 percent funded by sponsor donations. 
 
We select nonprofit or community organizations that are working to improve conditions and the quality of life of families in Pharr and the surrounding areas. 
 
And, we are doing things a little differently this year…
The first grant award will actually be split between two recipients. We have decided to allow the Polo Palacios Award Recipients – Senator Chuy Hinojosa and Representative Terry Canales –
to each award a $2,500 grant to an organization of their choosing. We are proud to be able
to do this in your honor, and know that the organizations you select will be worthy of this award! 
 
Now, for our second award, in alignment with this year’s theme, we are proud to present a grant in the amount of $5,000 to UTRGV Aquatics – coaches names.  
 
Congratulations! 
 
The final grant recipient in the amount of $5,000 is to PSJA ISD Aquatics, led by Aquatics Director Jonathan Landeros.
 
Congratulations!
 
DEPARTMENT AWARD
As we started last year, every year we aim to recognize a city department that goes above and beyond our normal responsibilities. With our monumental broadband project, TeamPharr.net, and the various other communications and technology projects that this department manages to keep our city operational.
 
So this year’s Team Pharr Award goes out to Pharr’s Innovation and Technology Department, headed by director Jose Peña.
 
The Innovation and Technology Department provides the highest quality technology-based services, in the most cost-effective manner, to facilitate the Pharr mission as it applies to management, learning and community service.
 
Congratulations to the IT Department, and thank you for your hard work and continued service!
 CONCLUSION
Ladies and gentlemen, on behalf of my colleagues on the Pharr City Commission and all our employees… 
 
Thank you all for joining us today! 

So Remember…. In 2022, The City of Pharr is: Prospering. Highly Innovative. Exceeding Expectations. And Continuing to Strive Towards Excellence! We look forward to the year ahead because Together, We Will Win! 

Thank you! 
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