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VIA Info/News

June 16th, 2010back


Mayor Chris Boswell has appointed two Harlingen residents to the Harlingen Airport Board, the group which sets long-range policies for Valley International Airport.  Brigadier General (Ret.) Stephen A. Cheney, President of Marine Military Academy and Manuel M. Vela, Chief Legal Officer for Valley Baptist Health System, are the Board’s newest members.

            “General Cheney’s executive experience in the Marine Corps and at the Marine Military Academy brings a unique perspective to the Board,” said Mayor Boswell.  “MMA students, their parents and alumni account for hundreds of passengers flying into Harlingen each year.” 

            General Cheney graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1971 with a B.S. in Marine Engineering.  For 30 years he served in the U.S. Marine Corps in command and staff positions including tours of duty as Commanding General of the Marine Corps Recruit Depot, Parris Island, and Inspector General of the Marine Corps. Gen. Cheney, a graduate of the Marine Corps Command and Staff College and the National War College, earned a master’s degree from University of Southern California.

             “I travel through dozens of airports every year, and Valley International Airport is the best of them all,” said Gen. Cheney. “This airport is the gateway to the Valley.  I am delighted to be joining the Airport Board and to be able to contribute to its success.”

            Mayor Boswell noted that, “Manny Vela has extensive experience with Valley International Airport since he previously served on the Airport Board.  His position in Harlingen’s healthcare community brings valuable insight to the airport as our healthcare industry continues to expand.  His love of public service is unparalleled.”

            Mr. Vela, who graduated from Harlingen High School, earned his law degree at the University of Texas.  After years in private practice, he joined the Valley Baptist Health System in 2003 as Senior Vice President and Chief Counsel.  That year, Mr. Vela was appointed to his first five year term on the Harlingen Airport Board by then-Mayor Connie de la Garza. 

            “Valley International has established itself as one of the best run airports in the entire country,” Mr. Vela said.  “I couldn’t be more excited and honored to be joining the team again as a board member.  It is my intent to support the team at VIA in every way possible to perpetuate its success.”

            Mr. Vela has served on numerous community and state boards including the UTB-TSC Development Board, The STARS Steering Committee, the Texas State History Museum Foundation, and the Harlingen Consolidated Independent School District’s Future Facilities Task Force.   Mr. Vela’s long history of civic service includes his current appointments to the U.S. Senate Federal Judiciary Evaluation Committee and the Texas Health and Human Services Commission’s Task Force for Children with Special Needs.

            Valley International Airport serves over 740,000 passengers a year and it is the home of Southwest Airlines, Continental Express, Sun Country Airlines, DHL, FedEx, UPS, D B Schenker Air Cargo and UPS Supply Chain Solutions.