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20120203_PT_Sen_HinojosaHIDALGO — Mission native state Sen. Juan “Chuy” Hinojosa was selected as BorderFest’s Border Texan of the Year 2012. He was chosen for his contributions to the border region.

The festival’s committee and City of Hidalgo leaders honored Hinojosa on Monday. Lt. David Dewhurst, who was last year’s honoree, was also present at the event.

He will later be honored at a reception dinner that raises money for scholarship programs of Hinojosa’s choice. Officials said the benefit dinner has raised over half a million dollars for Rio Grande Valley students.

Hinojosa, who represents District 20, which covers Hidalgo, Brooks, Jim Wells and Nueces counties, said he was humbled and honored by the recognition.

BorderFest officials said they selected Hinojosa based on his dedication to bringing economic and educational benefits to the region he serves.

“Over the years, we’ve been recognizing people who give unselfishly” and without expectations, said Hidalgo Mayor David Franz.

 

While there were several worthy candidates, Franz said one name kept coming up in discussions to select this year’s honoree.

Hinojosa, he said, has worked “tirelessly in trying to help South Texas.”

Working in Texas government, Hinojosa said it was important that people raised here give back to the community.

Previously, BorderFest has recognized Mission resident and South Texas College board member Mike A. Allen, Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchinson, STC President Dr. Shirley A. Reed and Gov. Rick Perry as Border Texan of the Year recipients.

Dewhurst said Hinojosa’s selection was fitting as he’s worked to improve public schools.

“Sen. Hinojosa and all our leaders have said that there is no limit to what you can accomplish in Texas,” he said.

He said Hinojosa had done a great job reaching out to at-risk children in his work with Texas education.

“They can succeed and realize their own version of the American Dream,” he said.

Hinojosa is currently the vice-chairman of the senate finance committee, and he also holds seats on the senate's agriculture and rural affairs, criminal justice, jurisprudence and natural resource committees. Hinojosa is in his second term on the Sunset Advisory Commission, a bipartisan panel that reviews the effectiveness of state agencies. The panel decides to continue agencies or abolish unnecessary and duplicative state entities.

Hinojosa volunteered to serve in the U.S. Marine Corps and served in Vietnam as a squad leader from 1966 to 1968.

The Mission High School graduate attended the University of Texas-Pan American before receiving his law degree at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C.

He was first elected to the House of Representatives in 1981, serving until 1990. He served again in 1997 to 2002 before he became a state senator.

The BorderFest Border Texan of the Year dinner will be held March 1.

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