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Wed - Mostly Sunny. High: 92 Low: 77
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General Interest

Hidalgo County recovers body of 11-year-old Guatemalan boy

20140704 LA-JOYA Guatemalan-immigrant-childWhen Hidalgo County deputies were called to recover a dead body in the brush west of La Joya, it had been decomposing for two weeks.

The body was covered in blue jeans, black boots, a brown belt and had a white rosary around the neck. The shirt had been removed. A forensic pathologist estimated the age of the male in the late teens.

A phone number was inscribed on his belt buckle.

That number led authorities to the decedent's brother in Chicago, who said the body was 11-year-old Gilberto Francisco Ramos Juarez, of Guatemala. The clothes he was wearing matched the description of what Ramos Juarez was wearing the last time he was seen, which was 25 days prior in Reynosa. He was traveling with an uncle into the United States, but family members said the uncle was detained by Border Patrol. Ramos Juarez was released to a coyote with a big group, and authorities believe the 11-year-old was going to meet up with his brother in Chicago.

Read more: Hidalgo County recovers body of 11-year-old Guatemalan boy


Winter Texans warns county ‘not to kill the golden egg’

Hidalgo-County-SealA Winter Texan drove 1,600 miles to the Valley this week to protest his property appraisal and warn Hidalgo County officials that doubling and tripling property values may cause him and others to reconsider wintering in the Rio Grande Valley.

At Monday’s commissioners court meeting, Dale Miller said the financial impact of Winter Texans on the Rio Grande Valley is a big asset to Hidalgo County and the Hidalgo County Appraisal District should not tax Winter Texan property so heavily or they might put an end to something that is good for the county.

Miller, who lives in Ohio, said he also was speaking on behalf of others who were unable to return. Miller resides in Paradise Park in McAllen. People there pay a fee to rent their lots for as long as they stay and own only the personal property left on the property. Ownership of the land remains with the corporation. Yet people who bought property leases with older model mobile homes on them were being taxed as if they owned the land as well.

Read more: Winter Texans warns county ‘not to kill the golden egg’


Lone Star UAS Center conducts drone test flights over South Texas ranchland

20140627 Area-DroneCORPUS CHRISTI–Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi’s Lone Star Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) Center is conducting a series of flight missions this week, the first since becoming fully operational as a federally-designated test site.

Researchers conducted missions Wednesday and scheduled additional flights Thursday with the University’s RS-16 unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV).

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) designated the center as one of only six test sites in December, and approved it as operational on Friday, June 20.

Read more: Lone Star UAS Center conducts drone test flights over South Texas ranchland


The eyes of Texas are upon the border

20140623 AREA Immigration-influx 2039Two different messages were heard this week as the number of undocumented minors and families flooding the Rio Grande Valley received state and nationwide attention.

“What we’re trying to avoid is a perception that the criminal element is prevalent in our area or the situation is at a crisis,” said Hidalgo County Judge Ramon Garcia at a news conference Monday morning. “It’s not, and that’s the message we’re trying to communicate. “

Meanwhile, Gov. Rick Perry said at a news conference Monday afternoon, “There are babies that have been transported all across Mexico. I’m telling you in July and August if the message does not get out into those countries in Central America, you’re going to see a Trail of Tears again from Central America to Texas.”

Read more: The eyes of Texas are upon the border


Operation Interdependence seeks volunteers for Packing Party

20140627 OI-Packing-Party-PicMcALLEN – Operation Interdependence (OI)-RGV is a community based project led by a committee that raises contributions to make and send care packages for our active US troops overseas. OI-RGV has been accepting donations of general care items and letters of support for the annual send-off to our soldiers.

OI-RGV is inviting the community to join them on Thursday, July 10, from 5-9 p.m. at the Salvation Army located at 1600 N. 23rd St., McAllen, for the "Packing Party" where these care packages will be put together. This will be a fun and family-oriented event that will give everyone an opportunity to give back to our deserving military troops.

“It's a great way to teach our children and youth our appreciation for the military's sacrifice and dedication to our country. We ask if everyone could please bring a box of quart size freezer bags to the event. Refreshments will also be provided,” said IBC Bank-McAllen Senior Vice President and OI-RGV Committee Chair Dora Brown.

Read more: Operation Interdependence seeks volunteers for Packing Party


County clerk offers marriage license certificate options

Hidalgo-County-SealEDINBURG – The County Clerk’s office is now offering Hidalgo County couples an option when applying for a marriage license.

County Clerk Arturo Guajardo Jr. said couples can select from two styles of the marriage license certificates, which come in burgundy or blue, to commemorate their special day.

The County Clerk’s office began researching and organizing the transition into the two styles after the New Year and debuted the new options at the end of May. Guajardo and his staff issue about 5,000 licenses each year.

Read more: County clerk offers marriage license certificate options


ERO pegs courthouse cost at $157 million

20140425 Courthouse featureIf the county doesn’t act quickly, the cost of a new courthouse could escalate, architects told the Hidalgo County Commissioners Court when discussing the schematics approved Tuesday.

Eli Ochoa, of ERO Architects, estimated the project construction cost for the courthouse at $127,705,007. In addition there are project soft costs (such as furniture and security equipment not included in construction costs) that would add an additional $29,372,152 to the cost of the building for a total of $157,077,159.

But Ochoa told the court the county must “speed to market” to keep costs down before anticipated inflation from rising fuel and materials costs. Ochoa estimated that at four percent inflation, the cost of the building could rise to $176,690,250 by 2017 when it is completed. Based on a six percent inflation cost, the building would cost an estimated $187,081,210.

Read more: ERO pegs courthouse cost at $157 million


RGV seeing more border activity

20140121 Area Homeland-Security 0775Peñitas saw 35 drug seizures from December through February, according to Police Chief Roel Bermea. In April, that number increased 97 and May saw 171 seizures.

“I really don’t know what’s going on,” Bermea said. “We do what we have to do. I guess Border Patrol has seen an increase themselves.”

Before an aerostat, a helium-filled balloon with infrared cameras meant to deter illegal activity in the area, went up last year, Bermea said the city had been averaging between 60 and 90 a month.

La Joya Police Chief Geovani Hernandez echoed Bermea’s observations, estimating a 300-400 percent increase in recent activity. He pointed to three minor pursuits involving La Joya officers on Saturday as an example.

Read more: RGV seeing more border activity


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