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General Interest General Interest

County Commissioner Hector “Tito” Palacios announces re-election campaign for Precinct 2

20130830 COUNTY Commissioner HectorTitoPalaciosPHARR – County Commissioner Hector “Tito” Palacios hosted a campaign kickoff event and formally announced his candidacy for re-election Wednesday, Aug. 28, at the Embassy Suites Hotel in McAllen. Palacios will seek a fifth term for the democratic primary election held in March 2014. Palacios has served as County Commissioner of Precinct 2 for the last 14½ years. Precinct 2 encompasses the communities of Pharr, San Juan, McAllen and Hidalgo.

Commenting on his re-election campaign, Commissioner Palacios said, “I have been honored to have served the people of Hidalgo County. I’ve enjoyed my many years of public service and believe that my vision has come to fruition with sound fiscal responsibility and dedication to quality service. I believe that we have produced programs and projects that have enhanced the lives of many people in our precinct. I want to continue with my vision for the next four years.”


Back-to-school: Increased driver caution urged

20130823 BacktoSchoolMISSION—Monday, Aug. 26 is first day of the 2013-2014 school year for Mission CISD, Sharyland ISD and La Joya ISD. With schools back in operation, drivers are asked to watch for school zones and slow down for the safety of the children. And remember that cell phone use is prohibited when driving in a school zone.  

To avoid accidents, drivers should follow reduced speed limits in school zones and be cautious of students who travel on foot, by bicycle and school bus. In 2012, a 3.2 increase was found in pedestrian fatalities and a 19.1 percent increase in bicyclist fatalities.

Tips to driving safely: Pay attention-put your phone down; obey posted speed limits; be on the lookout for bicyclists on the highway and at intersections; when passing a bicyclist, move to another lane, if possible and offer plenty of room; be on the lookout for and yield to pedestrians and watch for children who may dart across the street to catch a school bus.


Border Patrol agents seize nearly 9 tons of marijuana in 2 days

20130823 BP RGV-1EDINBURG—U.S. Border Patrol agents from the Rio Grande Valley Sector confiscated an estimated $14.3 million worth of marijuana in multiple seizures over Aug. 15-16.

Agents assigned to the Falfurrias Checkpoint made the largest seizure on Aug. 15. During an immigration inspection of the driver of a tractor-trailer, a Border Patrol K-9 detected the presence. Agents found more than 10,300 pounds of marijuana hidden inside the trailer.

Another large seizure occurred on Aug. 16 when agents assigned to the Rio Grande City Station spotted a truck traveling away from the Rio Grande. When the driver of the pickup spotted Border Patrol agents and a helicopter from the Office of Air and Marine, he made an abrupt U-turn and sped back to the river.


County, City of Edinburg discuss new courthouse

Hidalgo-County-SealEDINBURG – County commissioners and Edinburg city council members met this week for a workshop to discuss the plans for a new courthouse. The main topic was financing for the now $113 million project.

Last year, the price for a new courthouse was projected at $76 million for a seven-story, 294,000 square foot building. Estimates this week were $92 to $96 million for a nine to 11-story building. Total costs, including engineering, schematic designs and construction, would be around $113 million said Brian Godinez with ERO Architects, the firm working on the schematic designs for the project.

True costs would not be available until the schematic designs are finalized – a process that could take up to two years. After that, construction time could take up to 36 months.


Hidalgo County expands Scofflaw Program to recoup outstanding county and district court fines and fees

Hidalgo-County-SealEDINBURG – In an effort to further recoup monies owed, Hidalgo County began denying vehicle registration services to residents with felony or misdemeanor fines and fees that are 90 days past due.  This new addition to the County’s Scofflaw Program aims to expand efforts to enhance collections by catching “scofflaws” who have skipped out on their obligations.  The expanded Scofflaw Program took effect beginningAugust 14.

Hidalgo County commenced the Scofflaw Program in October 2012, denying vehicle registration services to residents who had outstanding and overdue fines and fees owed to justice of the peace courts; since the program’s inception, over $1 million has been collected either via the online pay portal or at the justices of the peace offices directly.  

The Texas Legislature approved the Scofflaw Program in 1997, which allows county tax assessor-collectors to deny registration of a vehicle if they receive information that the registrant owes the county a past due fine or fee.  The program is a mechanism for counties to chastise “scofflaws,” defined as “contemptuous law violators,” as a means of recouping money that is owed.  


Agents find 8 dead; seize nearly 6.5 tons of marijuana; bust 3 stash houses

us department of homeland securityEDINBURG—U.S. Border Patrol agents from the Rio Grande Valley Sector encountered the remains of eight illegal immigrants, seized an estimated $10.3 million worth of marijuana and busted three stash houses where illegal immigrants were being harbored.

So far for fiscal year 2013, agents have saved the lives of more than 600 illegal immigrants whose lives were in danger due to a variety of circumstances. The number of rescues marks a 132 percent increase over the same time period for the previous fiscal year.

Unfortunately, despite their best efforts and life-saving initiatives such as rescue beacons and the strategic deployment of the Border Patrol Search, Trauma and Rescue team, the harsh environment of south Texas took its toll on eight illegal immigrants over the past week.


DPS Reinstates Fired Trooper

Texas Department of Public Safety shieldAUSTIN – Texas Department of Public Safety Director Steven McCraw has reinstated Trooper Jennie Bui after a Brazoria County Grand Jury declined to take any action against her regarding a body cavity search conducted during a traffic stop in May 2012. The Department took preliminary action in June to terminate Trooper Bui shortly after learning about the incident.

“After extensive criminal and administrative investigations surrounding the facts and circumstances of this incident, it was determined that the relatively inexperienced trooper was directed by a more senior trooper to conduct the inappropriate search.  While the actions of Trooper Bui constitute misconduct, I believe her actions are mitigated such that she should not be terminated from the agency. Instead of being discharged, Trooper Bui will be suspended without pay for 60 days and placed on six months disciplinary probation, and will be required to attend additional training regarding arrest, search and seizure,” Director McCraw said.  

Based upon the results of an internal investigation, the more senior trooper, Nathaniel Turner, was terminated.


Hidalgo County Historical Commission receives Distinguished Service Award

20130809 County-Historical-Commission DistinguishedServiceAward group COHidalgo County Commissioners Court recognized the Hidalgo County Historical Commission last week for receiving the Distinguished Service Award for outstanding preservation work accomplished in 2012.  The Texas Historical Commission gives this award to county historical commissions that successfully manage preservation programs that educate citizens and generate interest in the history and character of Texas. Aleda Ortega, Chairman of the Hidalgo County Historical Commission, received the award and described how countless volunteer hours was the reason for this award.  Also present to receive the award were committee members Kathleen Frye, Harry Rakosky, Alex Moreno, Eddie Olivarez, Maria Leach and Valerie Ramirez. 


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