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Local Weather


Current Conditions:
Cloudy, 69 F

Forecast:
Thu - AM Showers. High: 83 Low: 68
Fri - Isolated Thunderstorms. High: 81 Low: 63
Sat - Mostly Cloudy. High: 86 Low: 69
Sun - Mostly Cloudy. High: 83 Low: 69
Mon - AM Clouds/PM Sun. High: 84 Low: 67

Full Forecast at Yahoo! Weather

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General Interest

Ringling Bros. Circus comes to town

20130719 Ringling-Bros Dean-KelleyHIDALGO—Dean Kelley explained at only 4-years-old, he knew he was destined to be an entertainer. After seeing clowns performing for the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus for the first time, he knew that’s what he wanted to be – a circus clown. Where else could adults jump around and have so much fun?

The Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Fully Charged Gold Edition show opened this week at the State Farm Arena on July 18 and runs through to July 21. Kelley said 2013 marks the 144th year of the circus’s run, though each year their show is unique.

“We do anywhere between 250 and 300 shows per year,” Kelley said. “Fully Charged is a show Hidalgo hasn’t seen. We have a strong man, Battulga Battogtokh, he is a direct descendent of Genghis Khan. He balances telephone poles around his body and juggles bowling balls.”

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TxDOT unveils Interstate signs in Pharr

20130715 Interstate-sign-unveiling AF  0037PHARR—Local, state and federal officials celebrated on Monday as signs were ceremoniously unveiled, officially designating the first 100 miles of interstate highway in the Rio Grande Valley. The new interstate highway segments are the fruit of a 20-year effort to bring an interstate highway to the Valley.

The first signs were placed in Pharr Monday, marking the Interstate 69 East, Interstate 2 and Interstate 69 Central.

Former U.S. Senator Kay Bailey Hutchinson, U.S. Congressman Henry Cuellar and the Texas Transportation Commissioner Jeff Austin were all in attendance for the unveiling of the new signs.

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County approves Healthcare Funding District

Hidalgo-County-SealThe Hidalgo County Commissioners Court Tuesday approved formation of a county Healthcare Funding District. The district will provide a mechanism for hospitals in Hidalgo County to receive federal matching funds to reimburse them for indigent healthcare services. Through the district, local hospitals will have access to Medicaid reimbursements not previously utilized here.

According to Hidalgo County Director of Health and Human Services Eddie Olivarez, the new Healthcare Funding District could provide access to up to $310 million in funding for indigent health care. This figure includes a local contribution and federal matching funds. The district will collect a fee from hospitals in Hidalgo County up to six percent of the hospitals’ aggregate net revenues. Once these fees are collected, they will be administered by the Hidalgo County Healthcare Fund District managers (Hidalgo County Commissioners). Through a federal funding match of approximately $1.50 for every $1, the county will then receive additional funds that will be distributed among Hidalgo County hospitals as reimbursements for indigent care. The legislation that authorizes this funding mechanism expires in two years, however.

OWLS (Objective Watchers of the Legal System) Virginia Townsend told commissioners to keep in mind that after the two years expires, the burden would shift to county taxpayers to pay an additional tax to replace the indigent care fee that is to be borne by the hospitals now.

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Bull Riders compete at Arena tonight

20130712 PBR JB-Mauney-FAR 8586 featureHIDALGO—This is the most dangerous sport in the country, Reece Arnold, general manager for Wolf Creek Cattle Company, said of professional bull riding. Professional Bull Riders, Inc. (PBR) is celebrating its 20th anniversary in 2013, and will bring their professional bull riding competition to the State Farm Arena on July 12-13.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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:

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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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