“I wanted y’all to know that it has been a real privilege and honor to represent the people of Bee County,” he told commissioners earlier in the day as he went around the community.
Come next year, Hinojosa will no longer be representing Bee County nor its neighbors.
Rep. Filemon Vela will now be representing this area as Bee now falls into District 34.
“It is my opinion that he will represent you very well,” Hinojosa said. “He will listen to you at town hall meetings as I did.”
Vela, who now represents District 34 which includes Bee County, won his bid for the newly created district during the November election. He takes office in January
Vela was born in Harlingen and raised in Brownsville. He graduated from Georgetown University and then received his juris doctor from the University of Texas at Austin.
While Hinojosa praised Vela, that doesn’t make leaving easy.
Hinojosa said, “We have no control over what the Legislature did and will do with district lines.”
Hinojosa’s district will now include a higher populated area from Hidalgo County to Guadalupe County.
“It is a larger population now, 700,00 compared to 530,000 before,” he said.
Hinojosa took time to highlight the amount of federal funding he has been able to bring into Bee County.
Starting in 1997 and through 2010, the county received $2.385 billion in grants, disability payments contracts and salaries.
“I think where I probably made the biggest difference was serving on the education and labor committee,” he said. “One of the things was I was able to get young men and women nominated to the military academy.
“Many came from the Coastal Bend — Goliad, Bee, then to Alice and down to the Valley.
“I can tell you it changed their lives — those young men and women who went on to serve their country after continuing their education.”
Hinojosa described the new district lines which shifts his district away from this area as “bittersweet.”
Judge David Silva said, “We appreciate all you have done for this county.”
With Hinojosa leaving, so goes his office housed next door to the Justice Building.
“Now we are not going to have it here,” Silva said. “We will miss out on that and having close contact with your people and all you did for Chase Field, BDA, the college and Sikorsky.
“We don’t know what is in the cards. We are waiting on this fiscal cliff.
“I think a lot of businesses are still very interested in Chase Field.”
Silva was referring to Sikorsky Aerospace Maintenance leaving Chase Field after a period of declining work.
The hunt is on to find a company to rent the facility which now has millions of dollars in improvements.
Hinojosa said that he still remembers when they were able to buy Chase Field from the government.
“We had a big celebration when we were able to buy Chase field for $267,000.
“I remember that celebration.
“It was the first big accomplishment I led the effort to make that happen.”
Commissioner Dennis DeWitt added, “I want to compliment your staff.
“They have never ever hesitated to assist us. They reflect upon you.”
Hinojosa added, “We are honored to have represented y’all.”
At the reception that afternoon, dozens gathered in the back room of the local office to say their farewells.
Vic Medina, advocacy and public policy director for Christus Spohn Health Systems, said, “From the first time I met you, I admired you tremendously.
“I wanted to take this opportunity to tell you how grateful we are for you. We are going to miss you.”
Numerous veterans also gathered to present Hinojosa with a picture of him at the dedication of the Veterans Wall in Beeville as a thank you for his work.
Jason Collins is the editor at the Bee-Picayune and can be reached at 358-2550, ext. 121, or at editor@mySouTex.com.