Mystery billboards push to change Brownsville’s reputation for poverty

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The billboards carry a cryptic message: “We want change … now! Brownsville named poorest city in America.” (CBS 4 News)

The billboards carry a cryptic message: “We want change … now! Brownsville named poorest city in America.”

Purchased by an organization called OP10.33, the billboards recently popped up across Cameron County.

“Makes you wonder, doesn’t it,” said Gloria Crishell, a retired Brownsville school district employee.

CBS 4 News reporter Nestor Mato tracked down Roger Lee, the communications director for OP10.33.

Lee said moniker stands for opportunity in October 2033, according to Lee.

A semi-retired businessman named Mike Hernandez III — a Brownsville native who moved to the Dallas-Fort Worth area — funded the campaign, Lee said.

Hernandez heard Brownsville ranked among the nation’s poorest places and wanted to help.

Opinions from residents were mixed.

“I don’t think we need change,” said Bryan Chancellor of Brownsville. “I think we are good they way we are.”

OP10.33 plans to put money toward job creation, scholarships and business recruitment, which would bolster the Brownsville economy.

“McAllen and all those other areas have more jobs and things are thriving,” said lifelong Brownsville resident Dori Moody. “Here everything closes down after a while.”

OP10.33 plans an official announcement soon.

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