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General Interest

STC proposes bond election, tax increase

20130710 Buenes-Tardes-Luncheon REED Myers 0004Bursting at its seams with over 31,000 students, South Texas College recently announced they will be asking Hidalgo and Starr County voters to approve $159 million in construction bonds plus a three-cent increase in maintenance and operation (M&O) taxes. The bond money would be used for the construction and equipping of college facilities. The property tax increase would help pay for the maintenance, staffing and operation costs of the college, including new buildings.

The proposed construction bonds would increase the tax rate by one-half cent, making the total proposed increase 3 ½ cents. The current tax rate for STC is 15 cents. With the proposed increase, the new tax rate would be 18 ½ cents per $100 valuation.

To accommodate current student enrollment growth rates and educational needs, the college wants to build four new buildings at the Pecan Campus; expand the Nursing and Allied Health and Technology campuses in McAllen; construct Health Professions and Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) classrooms and expansions at the Mid Valley Campus in Weslaco; construct a Health Professions and Science Center, expand technical workforce training facilities, construct a new library and expand the current one for a Cultural Arts Center and expand two other buildings at the Starr County Campus in Rio Grande City; establish a Regional Center for Public Safety to provide training for law enforcement in Pharr; and develop STEM labs and entry level workforce training programs at the STC teaching site at La Joya ISD.

Read more: STC proposes bond election, tax increase

   

HCRMA to issue $60 million in bonds for county loop projects

Hidalgo-County-SealRepresentatives of the Hidalgo County Regional Mobility Authority (HCRMA) were in Hidalgo County Commissioners Court again on Tuesday, July 9, to obtain approval of an agreement that will allow the RMA to levy bonds for the planned development of the Hidalgo County Loop. The agreement approved by county commissioners Tuesday, pledges the county’s $10 vehicle registration fee to be used to retire the RMA bonds.

HCRMA Executive Director Pilar Rodriguez later explained that the RMA plans to issue $60 million in bonds. The debt would be issued over a 30-year payback period. Commissioners were told, based on the 2013 Capital Improvement Plan figures, from $90 to $100 million of debt could be issued over the next few years. While the details of the bond issuance are not finalized, Rodriguez hopes to fund the bonds by the fourth quarter of this year.

The money would first be used to retire a $12 million debt from a line of credit with First National Bank. The bond proceeds will primarily be used for project development costs and construction of SH 365, which will connect the Anzalduas Bridge with the Pharr Bridge. Bond monies will also be allocated for the International Bridge Trade Corridor (IBTC) and a reserve fund for the RMA.

Read more: HCRMA to issue $60 million in bonds for county loop projects

   

County road widening project approved; Alton to benefit

Hidalgo-County-SealALTON — Recently, the Texas Transportation Commission approved $16.8 million in funding for the widening of FM 681 and FM 2221 near the City of Alton.

Texas Department of Transportation Pharr District Engineer Mario R. Jorge explained the project might take two-to-three years to complete.

The anticipated start date is September, and the construction work will run for nearly three miles of roadway on FM 681/FM 2221 between Conway Avenue and La Homa Road.

Read more: County road widening project approved; Alton to benefit

   

Fireworks safety tips for Independence Day

When using fireworks this Independence Day, Dr. Brad Scott, associate professor of surgery at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston recommends a number of safety tips.

Since many fireworks injuries occur in children, early education is the key. To keep the celebration safe:

Read more: Fireworks safety tips for Independence Day

   

One-man show features autistic artist Anthony Rivera

20130628 Anthony-Rivera-featureLimitations and boundaries are most often created by belief and perception. The works of autistic artist Anthony Rivera defy those self-limiting definitions.

A room full of his works, testament to how self-limiting barriers can be brought down, will be presented in a one-man show hosted by the Upper Valley Art League. The opening reception will be held on Saturday, July 13, from 7 to 9 p.m., and his works will be on display through Aug. 7 in the UVAL gallery.

A very special part of the evening’s program will feature a demonstration with Rivera creating a new piece that night.

Read more: One-man show features autistic artist Anthony Rivera

   

Matchmaker Gets Federal Prison for Marriage Fraud

doj logoMCALLEN—United States Attorney Kenneth Magidson announced on June 21, an Edinburg woman had been sentenced to two years imprisonment for conspiracy to commit marriage fraud. 

Chief U.S. District Judge Ricardo H. Hinojosa handed Sandy Botello Ramirez, 77, a sentence of 24 months in federal prison and further ordered she serve two years of supervised release following completion of that prison term.

According to a press release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Texas, when sentencing Botello, the court noted she was a matchmaker of marriages that did not exist and that through those sham marriages, she committed a huge fraud on the U.S.

Read more: Matchmaker Gets Federal Prison for Marriage Fraud

   

Gov. Perry calls special session to begin July 1

GovRickPerryAUSTIN – Gov. Rick Perry this week announced another Special Session of the Texas Legislature will begin at 2 p.m. Monday, July 1.  

“I am calling the Legislature back into session because too much important work remains undone for the people of Texas. Through their duly elected representatives, the citizens of our state have made crystal clear their priorities for our great state. Texans value life and want to protect women and the unborn. Texans want a transportation system that keeps them moving. Texans want a court system that is fair and just. We will not allow the breakdown of decorum and decency to prevent us from doing what the people of this state hired us to do.    

Read more: Gov. Perry calls special session to begin July 1

   

June 24-30 State Capital Highlights

House vote clears way for new abortion regulations

AUSTIN — Legislation to revise redistricting maps, regulate abortion and change punishment guidelines regarding youths convicted of a capital felony occupied state lawmakers in special session last week.

Called by Gov. Rick Perry on May 27, the 30-day session ends on June 26. Drawing the House floor spotlight through Sunday night and early Monday morning was Senate Bill 5, relating to the regulation of abortion procedures and providers. Citizens for and against crowded Capitol corridors and the House gallery. SB 5, tentatively approved on a 97-33 vote at 3:24 a.m., faces a final vote before moving back to the Senate.

The legislation proposes to amend the Health and Safety Code and the Occupations Code regarding regulation of abortion procedures, providers and facilities, prohibiting abortions at or after 20 weeks post-fertilization and adding a violation related to abortions performed after the same time window to the list of prohibited practices by physicians or license applicants. Included is an exception that allows an abortion in the physician's reasonable medical judgment that so complicates the medical condition of the woman, to avert the woman's death or substantial and irreversible physical impairment of a major bodily function, other than a psychological condition.

Read more: June 24-30 State Capital Highlights

   

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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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