Raymondville, Roma top national list for poverty rates

Leon Gonzalez has lived in Raymondville for the past three years.

In just that short time span, he's noticed the city's potential, but he said it's stagnant.

"You've got a lot of kids here that have a really high I.Q. TMs, that are not being exploited for their intelligence and given opportunities," Gonzalez said.

Gonzalez said it's that lack of, or push to achieve a higher education that has the city ranking amongst the highest in poverty levels in the nation, as stated by a recently published Business Journal article.

"It's not like the government is not doing enough to get us educated, Gonzalez added. It's that there's a lot of people that are not taking advantage of the projects and the different avenues they can take, to get better educated to get a better job."

Willacy County Judge John Gonzalez said having his hometown rank in the highest poverty rates is not something to boast about, and agrees with Gonzalez that education needs to be at the forefront of tackling the issue.

"We have a little over 50 percent dropout rate in our county, Gonzalez said. Aspects that we're looking at now is with the technology building that we have now, we have Texas State Technical College and the University of Texas at Brownsville present in our county."

Gonzalez said Willacy has lagged in development for the past 20 years, while Cameron County and Hidalgo County continued to progress in all aspects.

However, Gonzalez said change is on its way.

"Willacy County is the most technologically advanced county in South Texas - you look at it you don TMt see it...but they're just finishing up an intricate infrastructure of fiber optics throughout the entire county, Gonzalez said. By the end of the year, every home and business is going to have fiber optics, and that's something you can TMt get even in downtown Austin."

Gonzalez said two turbine companies are already at work, and $12 million in infrastructure projects are in the works this year, all which he says will create jobs.

Once all that construction is happening, then the large private corporations that I TMve been meeting with, will be able to see that we're now at a pivotal point at Willacy County to make that 180 degree (turn)."