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General Interest General Interest

Hospitals assessed $44 million for indigent care

Hidalgo-County-SealThe nine private hospitals participating in the Hidalgo County Health Care Funding District will be assessed 3.5 percent of their profits, or $44 million, for indigent health care based on their net profit of $1.3 billion, Eddie Olivarez, director of Hidalgo County Health and Human Services told Hidalgo County commissioners at their Friday, Dec. 20 meeting.

The hospitals include Doctors Hospital at Renaissance, Knapp Hospital in Weslaco, Lyford Hospital, McAllen Medical Center, Mission Regional Medical Center, Rio Grande Regional Hospital, Solera in McAllen, South Texas Hospitals and Tropical Texas Behavioral Health.

The Hidalgo County Tax Department will be responsible for collecting the money from the hospitals and sending it to the state each quarter.


County, state sees influx of flu cases

Hidalgo-County-SealHidalgo County, along with the state of Texas, has seen occurrences of influenza during influenza season becoming more prevalent as the season progresses.

Hidalgo County had 18 estimated cases of Influenza A-H1N1 in the county as of Dec. 26. There were four adults hospitalized for other medical diagnoses, which had been complicated by H1N1. This estimate is calculated from the Influenza Surveillance Program conducted by Hidalgo County Health and Human Services Department.

Seasonal influenza is not a reportable condition in the state of Texas; local health departments do not receive reported cases of influenza. While influenza-associated pediatric (individuals under the age of 18) mortality cases are reportable, these occur in very rare instances. As a result, counts are estimates and are nearly impossible to track on a regular basis.


CBP project offers rancher peace of mind

20131219 Penitas Border-Patrol-Aerostat 0569 featurePEÑITAS—Standing on a piece of property about a half-mile south of U.S. 83 with a clear view of Mexico, rancher Mauro Reyna could think of no better place for a pilot project aimed at tracking illegal traffic across the border.

It's the second phase of testing for aerostats, helium-filled balloons with infrared cameras, in the Rio Grande Valley. Border Patrol Rio Grande Valley Sector Chief Rosendo Hinojosa said the equipment, originally deployed in Afghanistan by the Department of Defense, will undergo six months of testing on the Texas-Mexico border.

"Understanding that we've got 54 miles of what we call tactical infrastructure, which is the fence, the reality is that that fencing stops in Peñitas. I've seen several news reports from the police chief talking about the issues that impact this community as a result of that," Hinojosa said.


La Joya students bring cheer to local families

20131218 LJISD Toy-giveaway IMG 5262LA JOYA—Claudia Portales, a mother of five daughters, said her only wish for Christmas was for her children to be happy. She carried her 1-year-old on her side and he held tightly onto a peppermint candy cane.

Only a few minutes before, Portales was hanging her children’s clothes out to dry on a wire fence that bordered her burgundy home—made from plywood and pieced together on cement blocks.

There was no chance of gifts or a real holiday in the Portales home before they received a Christmas surprise Wednesday. La Joya High School National Honor Society students arrived on a school bus and marched up her driveway, gifts in hand, wearing antlers and Santa Claus hats.


IWBC will not pay to fix Peñitas levee problem

Hidalgo-County-SealIt may take years to obtain the funding to fix flooding around Peñitas, a project that was supposed to be completed by the International Water and Boundary Commission when the levee system was repaired.

Godfrey Garza, manager of Hidalgo County Drainage District No. 1, told the Commissioners Court in a Dec. 10 meeting he had met with Commissioner Edward Drusina of the International Water and Boundary Commission on the problems with the Peñitas pump station that were part of the project to fix the levees in Hidalgo County several years ago. Repairs that were not made there were supposed to be funded with the $260 million upgrade to the levee system. Because the repairs were not made, much of Hidalgo County is still likely to face heavy flooding in the event of a hurricane.

Drusina took responsibility for the error, which occurred because a subcontractor did not do the preliminary job to specifications and the contractor in charge refused to complete the job. As a result, when all the other levees in Hidalgo County were repaired, the area around Penitas was never completed.


Mission Historical Museum opens Castilian Roses in December

20131213 Mixed-media-guadalupeMISSION—The Virgen De Guadalupe is a legend that not only piques the interest of those that practice Catholicism, but others who find warmth in her story.

The story starts with a dark-skinned Virgen de Guadalupe who appeared to Juan Diego as a sign for a new church to be built. The tale includes the blooming of Castilian Roses in the middle of December, where the Mission Historical Museum found the name for their most recent exhibit.

The museum is showcasing artwork from artists across the Valley who use photography, acrylic paints and mixed media to tell the story of the Virgen De Guadalupe.

Castilian Roses in December will run at the museum through the month, ending on Dec. 28.

In the exhibit, community members can see artwork of the Virgen De Guadalupe depicted in different versions, including her image sewn into a shawl, only drawn from tiny lines of pen ink and out of string and small painted boxes.


Mission welcomes Winter Texans Dec. 14

20131213 empty-pockets-blue-grassMission’s annual Winter Texan Welcome Home party is scheduled for Saturday, Dec. 14 from 1 to 4 p.m. at Leo Pena La Placita Park in downtown Mission on Conway Avenue and Business 83.

Rich Bellert, well known for his humorous cowboy poetry, will once again act as emcee. Bellert the pre-show featuring the Our Lady of Guadalupe School choir will start at 12:30 p.m.

Bellert has lined up four acts of Winter Texan entertainers to perform. In between performances, Bellert will recite poetry and members of the Greater Mission Chamber of Commerce will give away door prizes. Refreshments will be served but there is no meal at the fall event.


Residents go all out for perfect tree

20131129 Christmas-Tree-story AF  4100The Gonzalez family had no dollar limit when it came to picking out this year’s tree. The taller the better.

Ivan Gonzalez, of Dallas, is spending the holidays with his brother’s family and he said their tradition every year is to shop for a tree the day after Thanksgiving.

The one they picked out was about seven feet tall.

“It’s big. It looks full,” Gonzalez said. “We told them to open it up, and it looks like it’s completely full from top to bottom.”

When picking a tree, buyers are encouraged to look at the strength of the limbs to hold ornaments, make sure it’s all green and brush the limbs with their hands to see if any needles fall.

Volunteers with Boy Scouts Troop No. 83 said Thanksgiving and the day after are usually strong days for sales of trees. For the past 10 years, the Boy Scouts have sold trees at a site along Shary Road to benefit the organization.


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