AUSTIN, Texas – The First Lady of Texas, Cecilia Abbott, is the guest of honor at a Cameron County reception at the Austin Club this evening.

The event embraces Brownsville Chamber of Commerce Day at the state Capitol, which is today, and Harlingen-San Benito Day at the state Capitol, which will be recognized by state Sen. Eddie Lucio, Jr., tomorrow.

Texas First Lady Cecilia Abbott

The First Lady is a former member of the State Board for Educator Certification, where she served from 2001 to 2008. She has also served on advisory boards for the Alzheimer’s Association Capital of Texas Chapter, National Center for Missing and Exploited Children Texas Regional Office, the Holy Trinity Seminary, the Catholic Diocese of Austin Schools, Ballet Austin, and the Principals’ Center at Harvard Graduate School of Education.

The reception takes place from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.

The first Harlingen-San Benito Day at the Capitol was held during the 84th Legislative Session in February 2015.

“We look forward to making history again by joining our neighbors to the east and coordinating this great event,” said Chris Gonzales, president & CEO of the Harlingen Area Chamber of Commerce. “We look forward to this great coordination of community leaders and strive to continue to make improvements for our area.”

Chris Gonzales

In an interview with RGV Public Radio 88 FM and Ron Whitlock Reports, Harlingen City Commissioner Mike Mezmar stressed the importance of unity.

“There are political lines drawn on maps but it is all one community. What benefits one community benefits all the others. It is important for the guys up there to recognize we are an economic force in the Rio Grande Valley,” Mezmar said.

San Benito Mayor Celeste Sanchez agreed.

“We started having Harlingen-San Benito Day in Austin during the last legislative session. By combining our two cities, it shows unity and how we are working together to develop our economies, enrich our tourism, and certainly improve our trade with Mexico, because of our partnership on the (Los Indios) bridge,” Sanchez told the Rio Grande Guardian.

Cameron County, Harlingen and San Benito co-own Los Indios International Bridge. These entities are working to get a cold storage facility built next to the bridge in order to attract trucks carrying fresh produce.

San Benito Mayor Celeste Sanchez

“This joint project with the stakeholders in the Bridge is being developed to fulfill a need to inspect produce in a climate controlled environment,” Harlingen Mayor Chris Boswell said, in his recent State of the City address. “Without such a facility, there is no way to encourage and attract trucks carrying produce to cross at the Los Indios Free Trade Bridge. We know this is a significant part of the truck traffic market as we have seen at other Ports of Entry in the Valley.”

Boswell added: “We hope that soon the cold storage inspection facility will enable our partners here in Cameron County to realize more fully the potential of the Los Indios Free Trade Bridge. It also helps us capitalize on new truck traffic being generated by the Mazatlán to Matamoros superhighway.”

Asked why the visit to Austin is important, Mayor Sanchez said: “We need to sit at the table and talk to state agency chiefs and legislators one on one, to express our needs and concerns. If you are not at the table, you do not get to choose the menu. If we do not have a seat at the table, we get stuck with the menu the others decide. That is not want San Benito wants.”

San Benito City Manager Manuel De La Rosa said he is particularly looking forward to meeting Bryan Daniel, executive director of economic development for Gov. Greg Abbott.

Meetings have been arranged for today through the City of Harlingen’s legislative consultants, Terral Smith and William Yarnell. Among the state offices the delegation will be visiting are those of Education Commissioner Mike Morath, Higher Education Commissioner Raymund A. Paredes, Comptroller Glenn Hegar, and Secretary of State Rolando B. Pablos.

State Sen. Eddie Lucio, Jr., will recognize Harlingen & San Benito Day in the Senate on Wednesday.

Harlingen & San Benito Day at the Capitol sponsors include: Harlingen Medical Center, Valley Baptist Health System, United Capital Financial Life Management, Texans for Lawsuit Reform, City of Harlingen, City of San Benito, Valley International Airport, Harlingen Economic Development Corporation, Town of Combes, Shepard Walton King Insurance Group, Texas State Technical College and AEP Texas.

Brownsville Chamber of Commerce Day at the Capitol sponsors include the Port of Brownsville, EMR, BCIC, Brownsville Chamber of Commerce, Valley Regional Medical Center, Brownsville Public Utilities Board, VIDA, Valley Baptist Medical Center and Harlingen Area Chamber of Commerce.