Years in the making

RIO HONDO — Yesterday marked the beginning to an end of a plan that has been in the works for decades.

Neighbors in Need of Services Head Start and Early Childhood’s officials hosted a groundbreaking ceremony for its future administration and training center site.

More than 100 people were at the groundbreaking ceremony to celebrate the start of the organization’s new building project.

NINOS INC. has already begun construction of a 17,000-square-foot facility on the organization’s 20 acres of land located in Rio Hondo near the local high school.

NINOS received a $3 million loan from the United States Department of Agriculture Rural Development to fund the construction project.

NINOS Head start Executive Director Manuela Rendon said the organization raised $500,000 to help add to the investment with years of fundraising efforts and donations.

Rendon said the building will be ready for a ribbon cutting in May of 2017.

“We will have a meeting room for about 100 people and a kitchen where we can train our staff,” Rendon said.

Rendon said the groundbreaking was a dream she wondered if she would live to see it come true.

“We are seeing a dream come to fruition, a dream people have given their blood sweat and tears for this project,” said Henry Lopez, NINOS board president.

Lopez said this project has been in the works for more than 15 years.

NINOS was established in 1990. It is located at 402 W. Robertson.

NINOS has been operating in San Benito for 26 years. It has 45 head start locations throughout Cameron and Willacy County that it serves with education and nutrition services.

Rio Hondo City Commissioner Gerald Hartzog said NINOS is going to put Rio Hondo on the map.

He said people are going to come to this program and they are going to come to our city.

“The best thing we can give our children in our country is an education,” Hartzog said. “Give them a start to make a good life, and that is what NINOS has done.”

Roel Gomez, USDA, regional director for Texas called the groundbreaking fantastic.

“This $3.5 million investment and it’s going to be a jewel for NINOS,” Gomez said. “This facility we know is going to create more economic opportunities and it’s going to improve the quality of life for the rural residents.”

He said we all know NINOS is in the business of changing lives.

“Imagine what they have been doing with their old facility, and imagine what they can do here with this,” Gomez said.