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General Interest

County considers new minimum wage for low-level employees

Hidalgo-County-SealHidalgo County Commissioners Court is considering a request made by President Barack Obama to raise the minimum wage to $10.10 for anyone earning less than that amount.

The minimum wage received by county employees is $7.25 an hour. While the county employs between 3,800 and 4,000 employees, only 2.5 percent, or 85, earn less than the $10.10 recommended by President Obama for minimum wage. The court was told it would take about $137,000 to bring those 85 personnel up to the minimum wage proposed by the President.

Commissioner Hector “Tito” Palacios said the county might have to streamline and cut down on a few employees, but he thought “raising salaries for those earning less that $10.10 could be done.” He added the funds might have to come from cutting back on the number of employees the county has.

Read more: County considers new minimum wage for low-level employees

   

Retaliation alleged in flurry of lawsuits

20140530 lawHidalgo County Pct. 3 Commissioner Joe Flores has filed his own lawsuit after he was called out in yet another case alleging he is pulling the political strings of western Hidalgo County.

Flores’ suit was filed May 8 against former State Rep. Kino Flores; Ruth Villarreal, a former insurance provider for La Joya Independent School District; and Arnold Ochoa, a former La Joya ISD trustee and former city of Palmview employee.

Also named in his suit is Javier Peña, the attorney who filed separate suits on behalf of Villarreal and Ochoa.

Read more: Retaliation alleged in flurry of lawsuits

   

OI kicks off care package campaign

20140522 Operation-Interdependence-Kickoff JB 3905“Once you’re over there, receiving that care package gives you a little piece of home,” said U.S. Army Sgt. David Facundo during the Operation Interdependence (OI) campaign kick-off event last week in McAllen.

The goal of this year’s OI campaign is to ship over 40,000 care packages to soldiers serving overseas. The official campaign period – a drive for donations of goodies for the soldiers – started last Thursday and continues until July.

Speakers at the kick-off event included IBC Bank President David Guerra, McAllen Mayor Jim Darling, State Representatives Sergio Munoz Jr. and Terry Canales, Col. (Ret.) Frank Plummer, U.S. Army Sgt. David Facundo (two time Afghanistan veteran), and Sergio Sanchez, of KURV. Channel 5’s Letty Garza served as emcee.

Read more: OI kicks off care package campaign

   

Hidalgo County sees low voter turnout in runoffs

Hidalgo-County-SealMore than 8,000 votes were cast in the Democratic Party primary runoff, compared with 47,000 ballots cast in the March primary with far fewer races to decide. There are more than 312,000 registered voters in Hidalgo County.

About 1,300 voters opted to go Republican, compared with 6,000 in March.

Incumbent Juan R. Partida, a Democrat, had a sizeable win over Fidencio Guerra Jr. in the race for 275th District Judge. Partida garnered 5,894, or 74 percent, of the votes to Guerra’s 2,112, or 26 percent. With no Republican opponent, he’ll keep his office in January.

Read more: Hidalgo County sees low voter turnout in runoffs

   

Ag delegation looks at border security

20140521 Mission Staples-boat-tour 1764 featureCindy Hyde-Smith had read about the border and seen news reports about Mexican drug cartels, but Wednesday she and eight other agriculture commissioners from around the country toured the border for themselves.

“I thought the river would be bigger than it is,” said Hyde-Smith, Mississippi agriculture commissioner. “We were very surprised coming from the Mississippi River. The rest of us throughout the country, we just are not aware of the problem that’s here. It's very real, and it makes you realize this is just the front line. This is everybody’s problem; this is not just Texas’ problem.”

Texas Agriculture Commissioner Todd Staples invited Hyde-Smith and seven other commissioners from Maryland, Maine, Wyoming and other states to tour the border with him and see first-hand the challenges with border security and immigration.

Read more: Ag delegation looks at border security

   

County scrambles to get $9 million for indigent health care

Hidalgo-County-SealA demand from Hidalgo County Clinical Services that Hidalgo County pay the entire $9 million promised for services to the indigent for next year by the first week of June sent Hidalgo County Commissioners scrambling to determine where the money was coming from in the Tuesday, May 20, meeting of the Commissioners.

This is the money sent to the state yearly to be multiplied by the state formula to provide more funds for indigent health care. Usually the money is fully returned with half as much added for indigent health care in Hidalgo County because so many citizens need indigent health care services.

Personnel from the staff of Eddie Olivarez, director of Health and Human Services, explained in past years the money could be paid in quarterly payments.   However, no quarterly payments had been requested this year. The county had set aside $5 million in the budget, and had accumulated another $1,64,000 to add to the initial figure. Staff was counting on having the fourth quarter drawdown to fund the rest of the money, a sum of almost $2.4 million.

Read more: County scrambles to get $9 million for indigent health care

   

Operation Interdependence Kick-Off event is May 22

20140516 Operation Interdependence 2012-OI-Kick-Off-EventMcALLEN, TX – IBC Bank and the National Professional Hispanic Organization (NHPO) – RGV Chapter, along with other organizations like the Boys & Girls Club of McAllen, KURV, Texas Regional Bank, STC Veteran Affairs, and the RGV Partnership, have teamed up to support the Operation Interdependence (OI) – RGV Campaign. OI - RGV is a community-based project led by a committee that raises contributions to make and send care packages for active US troops overseas. Between now and July, OI is accepting donations of general care items and letters of support for the annual send-off to soldiers.

The official Kick-off Event is Thursday, May 22, at 10 a.m. hosted by IBC Bank at 1 S. Broadway in McAllen. The event is open to the public and attending this event will be many community, city and county officials as well as military veterans and their families. In addition, a series of fundraising mixers will also be held where supplies and/or monetary donations can be made to help make this campaign possible. Participating McAllen businesses include Fromage Bistro & Wine Lounge, Pepper’s at Uptown, Koko’s Café Uptown, Santa Fe Steakhouse and Remington’s Restaurant inside the Embassy Suites. Several businesses such as the Boys & Girls Club of McAllen, IBC Bank, Texas Regional Bank, Gym at Uptown and Tierra Dulce will also serve as a “donation drop” for this campaign. Donations can also be dropped off at the Progress Times newspaper, located at 1217 N. Conway, Mission.

Read more: Operation Interdependence Kick-Off event is May 22

   

County initiates Operation ‘Safe Communities’

Hidalgo-County-SealHidalgo County Sheriff’s deputies arrested 32 people during Operation “Safe Communities” last week, according to a news release.

Beginning at 5 a.m. Monday, May 5, and ending Friday, May 9, at 1 p.m., the initiative was a joint effort by local, state and federal law enforcement agencies to apprehend gang members involved in criminal activity and disrupt gangs that present a significant problem to the communities in the county.

During that time, 41 people who were in the country illegally were discovered and 55 warrants were executed on charges ranging from possession of a controlled substance, aggravated robbery, burglary of a habitation and sexual assault. Fourteen people were already in custody in federal or state facilities, and two were determined to be dead.

Read more: County initiates Operation ‘Safe Communities’

   

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CoverageAreaThe Progress Times is the hometown newspaper for the local communities of Mission, Sharyland, Alton, Palmview, La Joya and surrounding areas in Western Hidalgo County. We have a staff of veteran reporters who work diligently every week to bring our readers the latest news as it affects their hometown area and people.

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